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How to experience Cappadocia, Turkey as Do-It-Yourself & in Limited Time

8 Feb

A trip to Turkey is incomplete without a visit to Cappadocia! Mention of this place immediately conjures an image of multiple hot air balloons floating over the unique landscape. However, as we were to realize during our trip, there is so much more to see and do here than just these hot air balloon rides and the typical Instagram shots.  Cappadocia boasts of multi shaped and colored natural rock formations (fairy chimneys), cave villages, underground cities and multiple archeological sites. These rocks were formed millions of years ago when ancient volcanic eruptions blanketed the region in thick ash, which solidified to form a soft rock called ‘tuff’. Over the years, erosion due to wind and water shaped these rocks to form the famous fairy chimneys we see today. Then during the Roman times, persecuted Christians fled to Cappadocia and realized that this tuff was a soft and malleable and could be dug to make dwellings. And it is these surviving structures that make Cappadocia so worth a visit.

Hiking through the Red & Rose Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

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Photo Essay: The Unique Ottoman Gravestones of Istanbul, Turkey

19 Jan

Walking around any old cemetery has always turned out to be a lesson for me – in terms of local customs, tombstones, designs, local history, culture, genealogy and design. With shortage of space and paucity of time, most modern cemeteries are built to to be completely utilitarian, but in many older cities you still stumble upon ancient cemeteries that were definitely more than just graveyards to bury the death. And on our recent trip to Istanbul, Turkey we came across the Ottoman culture of cemetery and tombstone design.

Ottoman tombstones at the Sulemaniye Mosue, Istanbul, Turkey

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Photo Essay – Day 5 – Driving from Stavanger to Bergen, Norway

5 Feb

With somewhat sore and slightly painful feet (after our hike to Pulpit Rock the previous day) we left Stavanger early in the morning for our long drive to Bergen.

Driving from Stavanger to Bergen, Norway

Driving from Stavanger to Bergen, Norway

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Photo Essay – Day 3 – Driving from Kristiansand to Stavanger, Norway

26 Dec

Bidding goodbye to our host at Villa Baneheia, we left Kristiansand early in the morning and joined E39 again to drive towards Stavanger. Our plan was to reach Stavanger in the evening with one brief stop in between. We had quite a few options for this stopover but ultimately decided to visit the southernmost point in Norway at Lindesnes to see the lighthouse here i.e. the Lindesnes Fyr.

The Norwegian countryside, Norway

The Norwegian countryside, Norway

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Photo Essay – Day 2 – Driving from Oslo to Kristiansand, Norway

24 Dec

Morning of our second day in Oslo was cold and cloudy and the streets empty when, armed with our backpacks, we left our hotel to pick up our rental car. On this trip we wanted to spend a lot more time in the countryside and were to drive south from Oslo along the coastline to Stavanger and eventually Bergen. We were super excited as this was our first driving holiday in Europe and we couldn’t wait to be on the way.

Early morning at Oslo Central Station, Oslo, Norway

Early morning at Oslo Central Station, Oslo, Norway

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Photo Essay: walking around Oslo

4 Dec

When the pilot announced we had started our descent I kept the book I was reading aside and looked out of the window to get my first glimpse of Oslo, the starting point of our two-week vacation in Norway and Sweden. I was expecting to see the suburbs of a big city but my first sight of Oslo was a complete surprise and something that grew to be so familiar with every place we visited in Norway – hilly landscapes, meandering water bodies, lush green fields and colorful houses.

Aerial view on descent into Oslo Airport, Oslo, Norway

Aerial view on descent into Oslo Airport, Oslo, Norway

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A different side of Venice – Staying in the Venetian countryside

5 Sep

Venice – about 3 years ago I found myself in this city at a really short notice of 2 days. While looking for a place to stay online,  I realized that last minute trips to Venice is not a good idea as all places that I liked and within my budget were full. After a lot of research I  ultimately stayed at the Faronhof B&B, a small bed and breakfast in Oriago di Mira (about 15 kms from Venice). Though I would have loved to stay in Venice; it all worked out much better in the end as this B&B gave me an opportunity to get a glimpse of the Venetian countryside.

The Venetian countryside, near Venice, Italy

The Venetian countryside, near Venice, Italy

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