Tag Archives: travel discoveries

Three Must See Hidden Gems in Turkey

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Turkey is a country I am so not done with! Although (through my experience) Turkish airlines will most likely have you experience delays of 3-5 hours, but oddly enough, still get you to Istanbul Ataturk Airport at said time (which is 10 hours from New York) I kid you not – lol!

Next time you decide to visit this stunningly beautiful and culturally rich country, you definitely should take the path less travelled and check out these 3 hidden gems within the country:

BUTTERFLY VALLEY

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The coastline of Turkey is usually bustling with tourists and luxury resorts. On the contrary, the Butterfly Valley (or Kelebekler Vadisi in Turkish) is serene, untouched and completely secluded.

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Located in the south of Turkey on the west coast, the valley is only accessible via water taxi or boat. So picturesque, you will find majestic waterfalls, a wide beautiful beach with turquoise water so clear and calm it looks like a painting, treehouses, magical sunsets and forests that appear straight out of a fairytale all tucked away in the valley, waiting to be discovered by its explorers.

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It’s no surprise that the valley, rich in flora and fauna, takes its name from the large number of butterfly species found here.

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Butterflies of many varieties in a wide range of colors can be observed in the valley between June and September.

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ISHAK PASHA PALACE

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Located in the isolated region of Dogubeyazit, this palace is a striking example of rare historical Turkish palaces. It is one of the most distinguished and magnificent examples of the 18th century Ottoman architecture and is very valuable in terms of art history. According to the top of the door inscription at the Harem Section, it was constructed in 1784, according to the Islamic calendar.

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The palace, set on a hill, is grandeur in many ways than one; it has several rooms and courtyards just waiting for a glance. İshak Pasha Palace stands at a desolate valley today and the fact that it was the subject of various legends and stories add to its magnificent atmosphere some colour and mystery. It’s haunting beauty will definately allure you, and the view from the palace is a striking bonus!

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Entrance from the outer to inner courtyard

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Inner courtyard

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DERINKUYU UNDERGROUND CITY

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The deepest underground city in Cappadocia, this ancient city was built during the Byzantine era between 780-1180 AD, when it was heavily used as protection from Muslim Arabs during the Arab–Byzantine wars. The city was connected with other underground cities through miles of tunnels. At a depth of more than 250 feet with a capacity of up to 20,000 people, this multi-leveled city, with over 600 entrances, contained everything an entire population would need to survive a history riddled with invasions. The tunnels were rediscovered in 1963, after a resident of the area found a mysterious room behind a wall in his home.

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~Karen Bahri

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Valparaíso – Chilé’s city of artists!

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A short two hours, but worlds away, from Santiago lies a secret Chilé would like to keep to itself. No frills here – it’s dirty, dusty and there’s not much to do; which might be why many are so drawn to this little port town.

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Valparaíso, which means ‘Paradise Valley’ in Spanish, is a vibrant port city on Chilé’s coast.

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The city is known for its steep funiculars and colorful clifftop homes. It’s gritty but authentic, and can be described as a city with an edgy air of ‘anything goes.’

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Although Santiago is more widely known,Valparaíso is more popular to some visitors due to its historic faded beauty of its chaotic cerros (hills), some of the best street art in Latin America, a maze of steep, sinuous streets, alleys and its escaleras (stairways) which are piled high with crumbling mansions.

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Poets, painters and philosophers have long been drawn to Chilé’s most unusual city.

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An artist named Pablo Neruda, who became completely inspired by this hard-working port town, said it best when he said: ‘Valparaíso, how absurd you are…you haven’t combed your hair, you’ve never had time to get dressed, life has always surprised you.’

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Poetry and art decorate the walls, from large scale murals to little hidden-away pieces. Graffiti plays a large part in making sections of the city very colorful and enticing – it’s as if there is a free art gallery that adds a new exhibit to its collection every day!

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You can spend a few sunny days and many lost hours wondering and exploring the small cobbled streets and winding roads.

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The best time to visit would be the start of spring, which, since they are in the southern hemisphere starts in October. In Valparaiso, the first few days of October are celebrated with the Mil Tambores festival, and traditional dancers, markets, free concert and street parties take over the city!

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Take note though – on the last day of the festivities, it all goes a little bit crazy (picture Carnival-style) Nakedness, painted bodies, debauchery by the beach, lots of booze and crowds! Its basically Carnival Latino style!

Lastly, if you are like me, and always looking for a beach – a day-trip to Viña del Mar is definitely something you can do!

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Popular with the wealthier Santiaguinos, Viña del Mar has a bit of a resort feel as well as some of the best nightlife in town. Coming here will make you feel like you are actually on a relaxing holiday away from the chaos!

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-Karen Bahri

Boulder Beach

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Boulders Beach near Simon’s Town, which is right outside Cape Town, is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world! Ancient granite boulders protect from the wind (it gets a tad blowy in the middle of the day!) large waves, and soft sand make for the ideal swimming spot for adults and children alike.

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Because it falls under the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area, the beach is always clean and safe. It’s rarely crowded, which comes at the cost of a small conservation fee. This small fee is definitely worth it for the luxury of a clean, stunning beach! You don’t want to be disappointed on a beach day in this South African paradise!

Looks alone will definitely draw crowds to this beach, and yes, Cape Town definitely has no shortage of stunning beaches, but Boulders Beach in False Bay has an extra special treat for beach bums – PENGUINS!

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Yes! There is a colony of African Penguins in all their smartly dressed tuxedos, waddling gloriously on the white sand. In fact, they are the only penguins found on the ENTIRE continent and currently, there are only 26,000 breeding pairs left in the whole world!

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Unfortunately the African Penguin has been classified as an endangered species – due to over-fishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and irresponsible tourism activities. The Boulders Beach colony has also felt the effect, as numbers have been dwindling over the last couple of years.

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Unfortunately as well, they are also widely known as the “jackass” penguin for its donkey-like bray. I don’t know how you could have the nerve to call these cute little tuxedoed out creatures such a name! They only grow up to 4.9-7.7 lbs!!

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Another fun feature is they have pink (!) glands above their eyes, which are used for thermoregulation. The hotter the penguin gets, the more blood is sent to these glands so it may be cooled by the surrounding air, thus making the glands more pink!

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Something to keep in mind if you decide to go for a visit – do not try to feed or get too close to the penguins. Boulders Beach is one of the few sites where this vulnerable bird can be observed at close range, but they are wandering freely in a protected natural environment.

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While they may look cute, they’re still wild animals with razor sharp beaks. If you decide to approach them , they will think you are trying to harm them, so they will attack! Don’t risk it!

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Personally, I am not a huge animal fan at all lol (you are probably like “I do not understand why this girl is writing about animals, she hates them!” – haha) that being said, yes, to your surprise, I do think some animals are cute – FROM AFAR, but please don’t touch or come anywhere close to me!!! So these rules I appreciate 🙂 HA!

-Karen Bahri

 

When plans of a joyful Fun Park turns Eerie…

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I wish I discovered this around Halloween time – Although, any time of the year is a great time for a ghost story 🙂

Picture this : An empty castle, unfinished rides and an eerie fountain that still runs…

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There is an amusement park” nestled in a remote region of the Philippines. Initially created to bring over some Disneyland magic into the Philippines when it was built in 2001. But – it was never finished…

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Named Fantasy World and located on a hill overlooking the countryside of a town called Batangas, which is a four-hour drive from Manilla.

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It was once owned by a Japanese businessman who was forced to abandon construction when he ran into financial troubles. Its grounds are now maintained by a homeowner’s association.

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The park contains what would have been a beautiful medieval style castle; now empty with the walls somewhat peeling off. There is also a large central fountain and rides, currently of various faded colors, standing still surrounding the park.

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One of the highlights of the park is actually creaky, creepy treehouse with a spiral staircase wrapped with vines.

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There were big dreams for this park! Maybe one day it will come alive again – until then, it’s great for the spook-lovers; and interesting enough, the park IS open to visitors for a small fee. The lawns are kept perfectly manicured and lush in a somewhat ghostly fashion.

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-Karen Bahri