D-Mad Travel Adventures!

The world through our lens and our fun(ny) experience!


March 2013

Chasing Aurora Borealis – A night of Dancing lights and colorful skies!

We heard about the solar flares which would result in Aurora Borealis in the sky close to where we currently live. We were very interested to watch this phenomenon but had no idea what to expect and was in store for us.

Along with a bunch of friends, we set off on a wild goose chase determined to see the northern lights at the same time keeping our hopes as low as possible. We left Minneapolis, Minnesota at 6 pm and started driving up north. The probability of viewing the aurora was higher the more north we went. We stopped for a quick dinner break after 3 hours at Duluth for some delicious Sushi at Hanabi restaurant which definitely requires a mention as it raised our spirits high.

We were 5 of us and we had our roles well defined – Driver, Informer, Facilitator, Story teller, Photographer.

The Informer was an avid follower of astronomical wonders and he was constantly checking for tweets about the Aurora and read blogs from people from the area to make sure we were heading the right way. The facilitator made sure the driver did not fall asleep and constantly checked on the informer if we were heading the right way. The story teller made sure that the entertainment factor was prevalent and the long drive was enjoyable. The photographer’s and driver’s role is pretty obvious: P

It was a windy night and the cold was harsh. The temperature dipped to -15 degrees C; the feels like temperature was around -20 degrees C and the winds made it worse! It was 2 days after the full moon day and the sky was bright making the chances of viewing it clearly bleak.

Against all these odds we still drove ahead since we were already there. After a couple of hours we stopped and observed to see if our eyes could actually see it. And it could not.

At 12 am we decided to just capture a long exposure shot and check for a green sky because as optimists we just kept thinking the sky looked slightly green than usual. And to our surprise the photograph did show greenish tinges at the horizon. We drove a little ahead where there was a clearing and hopped out of the cars and waited. After a few minutes the show began!

Continue reading “Chasing Aurora Borealis – A night of Dancing lights and colorful skies!”

The great stories of Ephesus and Hierapolis (Pamukkale)!

If you are planning on a vacation to Turkey make sure you have Ephesus on your list. It had the Temple of Artemis, which was one of the seven wonders of ancient world. Long after being ruined by an earthquake, archaeologists have done great work in research and restructuring some parts to give us a slice of how the architecture and lifestyle was during that era! Ephesus lies within Izmir province and is almost an hours drive from the airport.

Flying within Turkey is not very expensive and there are many flights from IST to Izmir. Some low fare local carriers are – Onur Air, Pegasus, SunExpress & Atlasjet. Turkish Airlines have frequent flights and are very convenient. We flew Pegasus and had a great experience. Few ailines like Atlasjet & Onur have free roundtrip shuttles to and from Ephesus to promote tourism.

We rented a car at the Airport and drove on the beautiful Izmir-Aydin otoyolu/autobahn taking the beautiful sights of hazy mountains around us. Only flipside of renting a car is that the fuel/gas prices are super expensive.

Ephesus takes only half a day to explore. So that leaves you time to explore the beautiful beaches of Kusadesi and the coast.

Travertines of Pamukkale

Pamukkale also known as the cotton castle is another 3 hr drive from Ephesus. The ancient ruins of Hieropolis sits atop the beautiful white travertines. Rumor has it that the Greco Roman kingdom which lived in Heiropolis used to bathe in these travertine hot springs. You can either hike up from the bottom to the top of the travertines or ride the shuttle up and hike down. I can see the charm this town used to have before being ruined by the local hotels and businesses. Thank heavens for being taken over by UNESCO world heritage.

I was very disappointed with the maintenance and the city itself. If your intetion is just to see the travertines, skip the hassle of driving so far.  Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, USA also have travertines and hot springs which are as beautiful and beautifully kept.

Other Sites – The beautiful city of Denizli.

Photography Tips – Hike up very early in the morning and get the shot of beautiful colors reflecting off of the pools. (We missed this as we slept through the alarm 😦 )

Email us @ if you need more info :)  For pictures – D Mad Photography (Album : Turkey)

_ D of D Mad

HOW TO: Obtain Tourist Visa to Turkey with Indian Passport and US/UK visa?

Do you have –

  1. Indian Passport
  2. Valid US/UK visa stamp

No? Apply at a turkish consulate in the country you are residing. If you in the United States. Mail the money order of $60 along with the application form, your passport and other travel documents to the nearest consulate and you will get your passport back with a stamp within 10 days. Do not try calling them as they never pick up. (If you said “No” to the passport question this post is not for you)

Yes? Then visa to turkey can be obtained on entry. Just head to police counter at Passport Control 2 at Istanbul airport. Show the documents which they ask for. Do not talk to much or try to socialize. Pay $20 at another counter directed by the policeman. Return back, get your stamp and get out!! As simple as that. You can do the same at Izmir airport too.


_D of D-Mad

Florida – Beaches, Gators, Dinsey & Dives

Florida never ceases to entertain us, we haven’t been blessed with the best weather there all the time but despite that it is definitely one of our favorite vacation destinations. I have made 4 trips to Florida and each time I have been as enthralled about the place as the first time.

The good thing about going to Florida is that you have an option to fly to one of the many fairly big airports (Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Panama City beach) there, so you can choose the one with the cheapest airfare.  And every other popular city is just a ~3 hour drive away. More often than not, you may find Fort Lauderdale to be the one with the cheapest airfare.

Here are probably the best places to visit in Florida. Continue reading “Florida – Beaches, Gators, Dinsey & Dives”

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