A whistle stop stay in the Big Apple

Posted by on Jun 12, 2016 in Traveling

New York, the city that never sleeps.

Which is why it’s probably my favourite city in the world.

Since my first visit in 2003, I keep going back, year after year. The early joggers in Central park and the smell of hot dogs in the air, makes me feel alive!

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If you’ve never been before, there is so much to do and see. It can be daunting when planning your trip. Well, knowing New York as well as I do, I’m here to help you!

This is the first instalment of a visual guide to New York.

I’ll guide you through the most historic sights and help you plan your stay, hour by hour and day by day.

My first tip when visiting New York is, stop…and take it all in. It’s big, brash and very busy, and if you don’t stop for a minute, you’ll miss it. Most people will visit for 3-4 nights, so it’s imperative wherever you are or whatever you are doing, now and again just stop. Look. and soak it up!

With so many skyscrapers in New York, sometimes it’s best seen from the air. You can get helicopter rides from down by South Street Seaport. Although expensive, they are definitely worth it.

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If you’re more budget conscious, then take the high-speed elevator up the Rockefeller centre. I’d choose this over the Empire State building, as when you’re at the top, you can see the Empire State building. The opposite side, you can see the famous Central Park. If it’s looks massive from up here, it’s even bigger when your walking through it!

With so much to do in New York, there are many places you can visit for free. Times Square, Grand Central Station and the many parks.

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The last time I was in New York, they had snow in October and sections of Central Park was closed off.

If you’re keen on visiting the main attractions, like the Statue of Liberty etc, then it’s worth investing in a New York City pass. The cost will cover entry to all the museums and attractions. You can save between $50-$100 per person by purchasing the pass.

times-square-277118_640Times Square at night is awesome. The bright lights and buzz of people will excite you. From here you can always catch a Broadway show.

New York is just as famous for food as it’s wonderful sights. Food on the go in a busy city is the norm for many New Yorkers. From bagels, to pizza slices and hot dogs. Manhattan, whilst touristy and offers good food, great food can be found in Brooklyn or off the beaten track. New York deli sandwiches, cheesecake and an eggs benedict for breakfast, can’t be recommended highly enough.

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I hope I’ve given you a brief visual taste of New York and got you excited by this wonderful city. Look out for my second post on New York soon.

If you have any questions, or want to know more about New York, then get in touch

 

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China On A Budget

Posted by on Apr 20, 2016 in Traveling

great wallChina is a fabulous place to come whether you are an experienced or inexperienced traveller. There are some incredible cultural monuments and amazing scenery to explore in China and each year that goes by, it becomes a more popular place to visit.

In comparison to European cities, China is still a cheap place to travel too but the prices are increasing as it becomes more and more popular.

As the Chinese economy intensifies so does the demand for English teachers and you can get a job teaching almost anywhere. Most schools will then support you financially with transport, food and accommodation as well as earning a decent wage on top of that. This will allow you to save up and keep moving on with your travels.

warriorsYou will find that learning to speak Chinese will have huge advantages. Firstly, you will immediately notice that the locals will treat you differently as they appreciate a foreigner speaking their language. Not only that, you might even find that they welcome you with open arms and offer you a place to stay overnight, treat you to lunch or dinner!

China is not a place where you tend to get to ripped off with trips, you will more than likely find that people offer something for free than to charge you with the exception of the bigger touristy cities. It is a great honour for Chinese to present a gift to a foreigner and you will find this happened off the path provinces such as Hunan.

templeYou find that getting around in China is easier and cheaper by train and there are plenty of different tickets on offer including, standing, hard seat, soft seat and hard sleeper tickets. The standing tickets cost hardly anything but obviously they are the least comfortable. However, if you buy a standing ticket, you will find that most of the time you will never actually stand as Chinese will offer you their seat instead! The trains are nearly always overcrowded, dirty and loud. It is quite normal to see people washing, brushing their teeth and getting changed whilst being on the train.

Eating out in Chinese restaurants is cheap but not as much as the street food where you can grab fried noodles as well as other dishes.

In summary, China can be as expensive or as cheap as you wish it to be, it is a fabulous place to travel on a low budget and see some fantastic sites, eat amazing food and get in touch with the locals as well as save up for further travelling explorations.

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48 Hours in Rio de Janeiro

Posted by on Mar 29, 2016 in Traveling

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most exciting cities around the world. It is famous for their vibrant carnivals and parties with their high spirited samba dancers shimmering their hips against the golden sunshine.

Where else will you find towering mountains, sandy beaches and tropical rainforests all within one City? You will understand why Rio is nicknamed the “marvelous city” as it has everything.

Rio de Janeiro

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Day 1

rio-1142548_1920The climate in Rio can be somewhat unpredictable, although mostly hot and humid, the difference between sunshine and rain can be a little more trickier to forecast. If you manage to catch a clear day, don’t hesitate and head straight up to the Sugar Loaf or Corcovado where the spectacular Christ the Redeemer proudly stands overlooking the city. You will also find some of the most splendid views of the city from this point.

Most people travelling to Rio will often stay in Copacabana or Ipanema both locations are perfect for sightseeing. If you head towards Praia Vermelha you can then take the cable-car, firstly to the top of the Sugar Loaf, where you can also walk up through the rainforest to the top of the first hill where you can then take a nature trail back to the bottom.

christ the redeemerYou will then have reached the small, illusory village of Urca, it is perfectly safe to visit and it is a great way to see the typical Brazilian culture and an excellent place to stop and have a spot of lunch. If this doesn’t take your fancy then you can head back to Copacabana or Ipanema where you can sample the “weigh and pay” which is the Brazilian culture whereby you don’t order your food from a menu but instead you choose from a buffet. You can then sample the local cuisines and you will simply get charged by the weight of your plate. Like we have our Sunday roast dinners back at home, Brazil have a national dish called Feijoada which is eaten on a Saturday.

After lunch, take a stroll down to the beach and unwind with a siesta but if you still have plenty of energy to continue sightseeing, then a trip to Santa Teresa is highly recommended. Take the tram to to Largo dos Guimarães where you can walk the cobbled streets and soak up the laid back atmosphere in one of the many cafes.

In the evening, head to one of the trendy restaurants in either Ipanema or Leblon which is renowned to be a little bit more upmarket. Lively bars are within walking distance but if you want to party all night long then the Lapa district will give you the opportunity to dance samba and forró until the early hours.

Day 2

ipanema beachIpanema has a Sunday market which has an array of stalls selling everything from musical instruments, food and jewellery. For the designer clothes and shoes, head towards Visconde de Pirajá (the road that runs parallel to Ipanema beach)where you will be totally spoilt for choice.

If you fancy things a little cooler then you can escape the heat and the city and visit the cool and gentle botanical gardens where you can admire the soaring palm trees and enjoy the wonderful wildlife.

As evening draws in you should try a churrascaria for dinner which is basically a restaurant that serves a display of different meats. It is ideal as you pay a set price and then you get waited on by sample after sample of mouthwatering cuts of meat. Brazil’s national drink is caipirinha which is a mix of rum, sugar and lime over ice.

WHERE TO EAT IN RIO DE JANEIRO

Please note that you will find that one portion in a Brazilian restaurant is usually enough for two people unless you have an extremely large appetite.

O Grill – on Nossa Señhora de Copacabana (in between Sá Ferreira and Souza Lima roads). This is a comida por kilo (weigh and pay) restaurant which represents excellent value for money.
Garota de Copacabana – on Avenida Atlantica, Copacabana. Try the picanha na chapa – grilled rump steak served on a searing griddle plate. Reasonable prices.
O Porcão – a smart churrascaría restaurant located in Ipanema. Expensive but a great place to go for your last night in Rio.
Agua na Boca – on Rua Duvivier just off Copacabana Beach close to the Porto Bay International hotel. An economical restaurant with a family – run feel. A shared feijoada here costs just £3.50 for two!
Zuka – a smart eaterie on Rua Dias Ferreira, the trendiest and liveliest street for restaurants bars and nightlife in Leblon
Guimes – a long standing favourite among the literatii of Gavea, a pleasant district close to the lagoon and Jockey Club.

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Hagia Sophia- true miracle of architecture 

Posted by on Feb 27, 2016 in Hagia Sophia, Traveling, Turkey

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Hagia Sophia is one of the oldest and greatest temple in the world. It is a true represent of the old and unique architecture of Byzantine orthodox empire, the great Cristian Orthodox basilica.

T73264c717ad203fcc3b53de39c78e2cdhis great miracle of architecture was originally built in the 6th century, and for many centuries was the true monument by which Byzantine Empire was known for. A former town of Constantinople had fell under Ottoman Empire in the mid of the 15th century. Constantinople become Istanbul and the Hagia Sophia was converted into a great imperial mosque. That was the end of the many orthodox mosaics, which were usually plastered over and completely ruined forever. For a long period of time, former Hagia Sophia stayed and served as mosque. But, in the 1934 it was finally turned into a museum and then became one of the greatest attractions for the tourist from all over the world. In that period of time, the restoration process started in order to recover some of the original mosaics and give the Hagia Sophia something from the period of Byzantine heritage. The restoration is happening in this time, and will last for more and more years ahead.

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But, the other side of the Hagia Sophia is bright. As we said, it is definitely one of the most appreciated tourist’s attraction in Turkey. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey announced  that is was the most visited tourist’s attraction for two consecutive years at 2015 and 2014  – and if we are familiar with all the beautiful parts and tourist attractions that Turkey can offer, then we can come to conclusion how this old basilica and former imperial mosque is important to Turkish tourism.

e4aa189b5ee9dcb261b5f02272768f21For me, the time when I visited this architecture miracle was really a mystic experience, one of the best touristic moments that I ever had. When you come in front of Hagia Sophia you cannot act cool at all. That is the moment when you understand what history is and how we are just a small piece of the puzzle of the creator’s plan. The very moment when you step inside of this great art of human creation is so strange and sacral, and it gives you the feel of the permanent peace. Many days after this experience I have had the sense of something extraordinary. Like I had when I have read the great roman poets. I felt the essence of the human creation and felt the great bond with every corner of Hagia Sophia that I have visited.


As the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey announced, just last year, over the 3.47 million people visited Hagia Sophia. I really can imagine how those people felt at that moment when they have stepped inside. In the year of 2014, Hagia Sophia was also the most visited touristic attraction. After Hagia, the second most visited was Topkapı Museum with 3.25 visitors, and at the third place was the Konya’s Mevlana Museum with proximately 2.34 million visitors.

Istanbul, Turkey: Hagia Sophia

If you want to find out more about this topic visit Lykia World Turkey.

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