Enjoy guest posts from IGE readers describing their best vacations ever while I’m away on mine! Check out my Italy travel page which I’ll be updating with links to videos, pictures & posts throughout my trip!
Name, Blog: Leigh Profit, Baltimore Row House
Who, what, where, when and why: My husband (then boyfriend) and I took a two week trip to Turkey in 2009. We split our time between Istanbul (gorgeous cosmopolitan city), Cappadochia (mountainous region that looks like something from another planet), Ephesus (ancient ruins), and Kas (relaxing beachy town on the Turquoise Coast). We chose Turkey after receiving our March 2009 issue of Budget Travel and seeing a “Dream Trips” article on the cover.
Me overlooking the main town in Cappadochia – Goreme. You can see some of the rock houses and chimneys.
My favorite part of the vacation was: The best part of the vacation (and one of the most memorable things I have ever done) was sea kayaking in Kas. We were in a 2 person sea kayak, led by a guide and accompanied by one other tourist couple. We started out over the sunken city of Kekova. Unfortunately, the water was too choppy for us to see much of the underwater ruins. The winds were really strong when we kayaked across the bay to Kaleköy – we were really struggling to get there! We later found out that the other couple in our group was a retired kayak guide, and they were impressed that we were able to keep up. At Kaleköy we had lunch and then set out to trek among the ancient Lycian necropolis – the tombs and ruins were extraordinary, and you could see the evidence of them being ransacked by pirates years ago. The best part was there were hardly any other people on the island, and we could climb and roam about the ancient ruins as we pleased. On the way back across the bay, we hooked up our 3 kayaks into a raft and opened our sails to breeze back across the bay. It was unforgettable!
The famous Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. It is a former Orthodox basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum. Inside there are beautiful mosaics on the massive domed ceiling.
My best travel tip for this location: Lonely Planet’s guide to Turkey! The Lonely Planet books are the best, and we carried it with us everywhere. The Tripadvisor forums for Turkey were very useful to us as well.
One of the spice stalls at Istanbul’s Grand Bazarre
The thing you MUST do at this location: Cappadochia is an area in central Turkey best known for its unique moon-like landscape, underground cities, cave churches, and houses carved in the rocks. It is a very popular area for hot air ballooning (you would love it, Kristin!), so we went for it. It’s such an unbelievable landscape, and there are lots of other balloons up at the same time as you. The coolest thing was when we dipped down into the canyon – good thing these pilots know what they are doing!
Hot air ballooning over Cappadochia
Also – since this is a food blog after all – eat loads of the Turkish bread! Everywhere we went, they had the most delicious fresh-baked lavash / pita type bread. It was very light and airy, and sometimes came with herbed butter. TDF!
Hubz and I relaxing at the rooftop lounge area of our hotel in Cappadochia. We ended up staying at the cave hotel featured in Budget Travel – our room was a cave!
The thing I want to do next time I return: The Turquoise Coast is very popular for sailing. I would love to get a group of friends together to charter a boat and sail up and down the coast.
Hubz at Kaleköy standing among some of the Lycian ruins.
Name, Blog: Angharad, Eating for England
Who, what, where, when and why: My husband and I traveled to Thailand for three weeks for my brother’s destination wedding at the very end of 2008.
My favorite part of the vacation was: Taking a cookery class in Pai, northern Thailand in this guy’s house! He called the course “Let’s Wok with Tee!”. It was just me and my friend there for the day and the atmosphere was completely laidback, casual and social. I learned to cook so many amazing Thai dishes and got to take a bound cookbook home with me along with all the memories. Such an incredible experience!
My best travel tip for this location: Try to spread your time in Thailand between the gorgeous beaches (which are obviously a must) and some of the cities in the central and northern parts of the country. There’s such a variety of landscapes and cultures so don’t think of it as a beach-only destination!
The thing you MUST do at this location: I would say taking a cookery class like I did! It was the experience of a lifetime and I’ll never forget being welcomed into someone’s home with such warmth. Oh and if you’re into it – Thai boxing is super fun to watch!
The thing I want to do next time I return: Hiking in the northern highlands. We just didn’t have time to add this onto our trip but I’d love to hike and visit some of the Hmong border villages.