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Day 5:

On reaching Antalya early morning from Cappadocia, we decided we had enough of organized tours and we wanted to do some exploring after all we belong to the clan of back packers. Plus we wanted to relax a bit, it’s a vacation after all. So we decided to go to the nearby town of Kemer. On reaching there we realized this is where all the ‘real vacationing tourists’ are. We booked a slot the next day for some scuba diving off the beach of Antalya. Then we took a local bus to the spot of Cable cars in Kemer, where we boarded the Cable cars to the Mt. Tahitli. This was one of the rides which leaves one breathless and amazed at the visual magnificence of what one sees. After all the best things in life can only be experienced, nothing else really does justice. The car took us 2465 metres high and to our surprise we realized this is also the highest Parasailing point on the Earth. Naturally we did that too and that more or less sums up the best day of the trip so far. The ultimate experience of flying as a human being was the one experience I will recommend to everyone. After the fun at Kemer, we decided to have a quite dinner with wine savouring the experience in our minds.

Anatalya, Turkey

The next day, we had our appointment to Scuba Dive in the Antalya beach. We had an hour long crash course on scuba diving and then we were fitted with the diving equipment which though a bit heavy on land was not felt at all in water. The instructor took us on a basic diving trip for an hour showing us the sea bed, activity of sea creatures and what not. It was the best experience for me on the whole trip and I cannot wait to scuba dive again.

Anatalya, Turkey

We were so motivated by the experience that we ended up travelling by the evening bus to Pammukale and checking into our hotel “Dort Mevzim” at night.

In the morning, our hotel manager dropped us off at the Pammukale tourist spot which is known for its geological heritage in the form of its hot bed springs, geological formations and also the historical remains to be found there. The town is famous for its pagan connections through the hot bed springs which are supposed to have healing powers.

Pammukale, Turkey

It is a very peaceful place and after half a day’s sightseeing, we took our next bus to Bodrum.

This time it was a planned move as Bodrum, a modern port town is known to be the most happening place in Turkey known for its night life and we reached the place at 9 P.M. which would fit in the JIT (Just in Time) category in Operations Management. We showed our instinctive side finally in Bodrum when we went berserk shopping. Even the food in Bodrum was amazing with the town being famous for its Waffles and Baked Potatoes.

Turkish cuisine

Bodrum, Turkey

All in all it was one of those places you just do not want to leave.

Finally we were back in Istanbul, this time we had had enough of the old quaint idea and stayed in the Taksim area in a hotel called Santa Hill. This area is the exact opposite of Sultanahmet but we still managed to get an ancient hotel room in keeping with the trend on our trip. After resting for half a day, we got out to go to the Taksim square expecting a noisy place with a lot of orthodox Turks, but we found the place to be a cut down version of the Times Square in New York, with all kinds of people who were all in flashy attire. So much for thinking Turkey is a quaint old place where the East meets the West…Almost…!!!

Taksim, Istanbul, Turkey

Then we went back to the instincts Mother Nature bestowed up on our gender when travelling and went on a shopping spree that lasted till the end of our trip the next evening. We shopped for just about everything possible, souvenirs, fashion accessories, sweets and what not. Do not miss out on the Turkish Bath as it completely relaxes you.  Finally it was time to return and our 10 day vacation was finally at an end.

On the whole it was a very refreshing experience to tour Turkey with its cultural values and its amazingly beautiful locations. Jokes apart, the food was much better than what it was made out to be above. I would definitely return to Turkey and the next time I come, I know where I want to go. Definitely carry a friend along… After all, you would rather fight a friend than a passionate Turkish football fan who might just bring half of Turkey crashing on you 🙂

This post is contributed by one of our readers Harsh

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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Reuters, India

PANAJI (Reuters Life!) – A small state on India’s Western coast, Goa boasts of quaint Portuguese colonial charm, sun-kissed beaches and great seafood.

Goa is also favourite haunt for domestic and international travellers, and Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a visit to this beach town.

FRIDAY

7 p.m. – Start off your holiday in Goa the way you are meant to — sipping a beer or cocktail, and watching the sun go down at Baga beach, one of the many beaches that dot the coastline. If you are the more adventurous sort, indulge in some water sports or para-gliding, popular activities on this particular stretch.

9 p.m. – Dine at Britto’s, one of the many shacks located right on Baga beach. Don’t be fooled, however, by the modest surrounds: Britto’s is not just a shack, it is more of a local institution. Try the pepper prawns and their trademark baked crabs and finish with their fabulous home-made desserts, especially bebinca, a traditional Goan sweet made of jaggery and coconut milk.

11 p.m. – Burn off those calories with a walk up to Tito’s, one of Goa’s most well-known — and packed — night clubs. Frequented by tourists and locals alike, the energy and buzz around this place more than make up for the claustrophobia you might experience amid the hordes that turn up every night. If you prefer something slightly more crowded, head over to the Butter Lounge, in nearby Candolim. It may not have as many people, but the music is equally good for dancing the night away.

SATURDAY

9 a.m. – The best, and cheapest, way to get around in Goa is to hire a motorbike. You can get them in most places, even in the smaller towns. Make sure you have a valid licence, put on lots of sunscreen and head out towards Old Goa, or Goa Velha as it is locally known. Visit St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Basilica of Bon Jesus on the other side of the road. The 16th century basilica, built by the Portuguese, who ruled Goa until as recently as 1961, houses the body of Goa’s patron saint St Francis Xavier. The body has been preserved for more than four centuries and devotees from all over the world flock there to pay their respects. This is one of the best places to get a sense of the Portuguese influence that pervades most aspects of Goan life.

12 p.m. – Take the opportunity and explore the countryside a little more. Goa’s beaches are its most well-known feature, but there is more to the place. Green fields dotted with coconut palms, quaint houses with red-tiled roofs, and winding roads make for a great ride. Stop at a local bakery and sample some “pao”, traditional Goan bread, and buy some locally made pottery.

2 p.m. – Head back towards Panaji, but not before you make a detour at Star Bar and Restaurant. Yes, it isn’t the most imaginatively named place, and nor does it have any ambience to speak of, but this place can boast of the best fresh shrimp in all of Goa. Order a full Goan meal and wash it down with the feni local liquor as you watch boats sail along the river.

4 p.m. – Panaji, Goa’s capital, is a charming town set on the banks of the river Mandovi and well worth exploring. Visit the Panjim Church, an imposing structure that looks down on the city, and old quarter of Fointanhas for some traditional Portuguese architecture.

7 p.m. – Goa is also home to off-shore casinos, so if you fancy your luck, try your hand at the slots.

9 p.m. – Have dinner at Fiesta, another North Goa institution, which serves up Mediterranean and continental fare. If that’s not your style, try The Republic of Noodles at Candolim. Located near the Taj Palace hotel, this restaurant boasts of great interiors and delicious South East Asian cuisine.

11 p.m. – If you still have any energy, rev up the motorbike and make your way to the Saturday Night Bazaar at Arpora. A huge, chaotic, throbbing market, this place comes to life past midnight. Expect to find everything from trinkets to clothes to watches and even luggage. There are also food and beer stalls. Don’t forget to bargain hard.

SUNDAY

9 a.m. – Start off your Sunday with a traditional Goan breakfast of pao-bhaji, bread and vegetables in gravy, at one of the many eateries that dot the Baga-Candolim stretch (or you can visit Infanteria which serves great breakfast on the calangute baga rd). Get on the motorbike and head towards South Goa, which has some of the best beaches on India’s Western Coast.

11 a.m. – Palolem beach is one of Goa’s most pristine beaches and is located at the southern tip of the state. Soak in the sun, do some swimming, read a book and just relax – that’s what most people come to Goa to do.

2 p.m. – If you can rouse yourself from your slumber, treat yourself with a Sunday buffet lunch at the Taj Exotica or the Park Hyatt, both in South Goa. If you prefer to do some celebrity spotting instead, ask for directions to Martin’s Corner, a small shack located in the village of Betalbatim. Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and actor Shah Rukh Khan are regulars to this family-run restaurant.

4 p.m. – If Goan food has intrigued your palate, perhaps a visit to a spice farm (www.sahakarifarms.com) might be appropriate. Spices play a vital role in Goan and Indian cuisine and an insight into what it takes to cultivate these spices is a good start towards understanding the local food.

8 p.m. – End your holiday with some drinks and people watching at the Taj Aguada Resort, one of Goa’s best luxury hotels. Watch the sunset, breathe in the ocean air and start planning your trip back.

Source: http://in.reuters.com/article/topNews/idINIndia-44827520091218?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

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