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D-Mad Travel Adventures!

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

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Europe

Scotland – Where everything is in green-scale!

I have to start this post with the wordings of R.L.Stevenson to describe this poetic land of beauty – Scotland and the Isle of Skye –

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
      Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
      Over the sea to Skye.

I had always fantasized about this magical place and when we got the chance to travel the UK, I wanted Scotland to be in the itinerary even if it meant that we would have only 4 days to take in most of what this place had to offer.

Since we had very few days to explore we flew into Edinburgh and flew out of Inverness. We spent a day in Edinburgh and the youth hostel we stayed at was right behind the castle. While in Edinburgh, walk the city! I cannot describe in words how beautiful this city is. Hence, I will refrain from writing about this city and you will understand. Oh except if you are frantically searching for the statue of the terrier in Greyfriars cemetery, (spoiler alert) it is outside the cemetery not inside 😛

Raod trip begins –

This is the route we took during our road trip in Scotland. We drove during the day everywhere and stopped at small towns and scenic overlooks. We saw large fields of yellow (canola fields), castles, small towns and beautiful scenery. We took the longer scenic route to Mallaig and entered Skye via the Mallaig – Armsdale ferry. The scenic beauty which unfolds as you drive from Fort William to Mallaig is worth the decision you made to take the longer route; do this!

Quiraing, Isle of Skye

Things not to miss in Isle of Skye- Continue reading “Scotland – Where everything is in green-scale!”

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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 @ d.mad.photography@gmail.com if you need more info :)  For pictures – D Mad Photography (Album : Turkey)

_ D of D Mad

Cappadocia – Where miracles of nature meets history!

Kappadokya wins the “Best place to visit in Turkey” hands down! Sights you have never seen will soar up in front of your face. The city of Goreme, Urgup and surrounding areas are filled with mammoth hoodoos with tiny windows and multi-storey  underground cities which have so many tales to tell.

Goreme has so many hoodoos converted into hotels so you can stay inside the cave like structures to see how people lived there before. These were used by Romans and Byzantines to hide from the Turk invasion. You can see so many churches built inside of this hoodoos which have beautiful paintings which are centuries old! We were here only for 2 days but I wish I had stayed for atleast a day or two more.

What are hoodoos did you ask? Hoodoos are rock formations which shoot up to the sky from ground which have soft sand like rock inside and harder rock layer outside. This makes carving into a hollow on the inside easier.

Things not to miss –

  1. Goreme Open Air Museum – For its cave churches
  2. Zelve Open Air Museum – For the variety of formations.
  3. Pasabag – For those beautiful fairy chimneys.
  4. Love valley, Pigeon Valley and Rose valley – You can drive through these places and stop everywhere to take in the views
  5. Uchisar Castle – a CASTLE built inside these formations!! How awesome is that? Is you are pressed for time, I would drive up to it just to be amazed by the structure and see what they did with it!
  6. Underground cities of Kaymakli & Derinkuyu – MUST visit at least one of them. The entire city including cattle would hide inside this 9 storey’s of winding underground city to escape from invasions. Do not forget to get a guide as you will definitely get lost inside. I loved Kaymakli and my guide who happened to be the first govt appointed guide for that area and he knew 10 different languages!!
  7. Sunrise and hot air balloon  mass ascension from Panorama point – Panaroma point is in Goreme right on top of the hill behind the cave hotel – Caravenserai Cave Hotel we stayed at. There are no directions to this place so walk the road, where this hotel is at, uphill till you hit a dead end and all you can see is an entrance to sunset hotel (or some other hotel). I went directly into this sunset hotel which led me to a small scary lane which suddenly put me on to a paved road and then it was easy to hike up. If you don’t find it just scout around till you find that paved road! It is only a 500m walk but it gives a 360 deg view of the entire city of Goreme. It is magical to see sunrise on one side and hoodoos on the other and hundreds of balloons rising up in the air. My recommendation is to take a walk and see the place the previous evening by asking the locals so that you can easily find it the next morning.

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Continue reading “Cappadocia – Where miracles of nature meets history!”

Byzantium? Constantinople? Istanbul!

This has to be the most intriguing cities we have been to so far! The idea of a trip to Turkey was planted in my mind by a good friend of mine and I had wanted to visit ever since. Turkish Airlines had some great deals on flights from Chicago to Delhi with a stop over in Turkey for a week. Hence, we planned a Turkey vacation around Turkey day (Thanksgiving) 😛 !! Since it is off-season  for travel everything was cheap and luckily weather was great to us. This trip is more memorable as we got to share our adventure with my parents who absolutely loved Turkey too! Since there is so much to talk about this beautiful country one post will not be enough. Hence, I will break it down and start with Istanbul. 773626_586127721402964_519331272_o Istanbul is a unique city where two continents meet, two cultures amalgamate and two architectures concoct! Being the largest metro in Europe in terms of population, is like any other big city bustling with a lot of people  and activities. But the highlight is, it is clean, safe and people are amazing. Also, they love people from Hindisthan 🙂 (Yes that is what they call us Indians). 4 days in Istanbul was enough to weave memories for life. Places not to miss –

  1. Hagia Sofia – Originally a church and then a mosque; just beautiful inside and out!
  2. Blue Mosque – Loved the low and gigantic chandeliers!
  3. Grand Bazaar – Largest and busiest indoor market in the world!
  4. Spice Bazaar – You can go in early and finish your breakfast here. The vendors are very generous with the sample sizes and there are lots of heaps of different dry fruits and spices. Largest exporter of figs!
  5. Galata Tower – Beautiful 360 deg views of old and new Istanbul, those beautiful mosques and the sea.
  6. Topkapi palace – Huge!!
  7. Basilica Cistern – Go inside for a great surprise!
  8. Bosphorous bridge – Connecting the continents of Europe and Asia!

Accommodation & Transportation – Anywhere in Sultanahmet is the most convenient. There are tons of cheap and expensive hotels in the area which is walking distance from the metro stop and all hotels in the area have airport transfers for just 5 Euros from as early as 2.30 am. Getting to and from airport is very convenient as the metros run till 12 am. Unless you have too many bags, you can easily travel around in the metro. Only flip side to using the metro is you have to pay 3Liras every time you exit and re-enter. To avoid this purchase, buy a refill card at the airport itself as most vending machines in other stations seem to have problems vending one. Here is the link to the latest metro map. Most places the new routes are not updated, so take a print of this.

 

Continue reading “Byzantium? Constantinople? Istanbul!”

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