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Exploring Bodrum: The Castle of St. Peter

26 May 2013

Thousands of holidaymakers flock to Turkey year after a year to grab their own morsel of sunshine. With plenty of cheap holidays in Bodrum, it’s no wonder that this port city is a popular haven for visitors from all over the world. While there are plenty of excellent accommodation options available from Thomas Cook, try and peel yourself away from the poolside and the fabulous beaches and enjoy your surroundings during your stay. With so many attractions, it’s not just about the sun, sea and sand in Bodrum.  

Built by the Knights Hospitaller in the 15th century, Bodrum Caste (or the Castle of St. Peter as it is also known) is a prime attraction in the resort of Bodrum and an excellent way to spend a couple of hours if you want a break from the beach. Overlooking the harbour, this majestic castle is open to the public and its grounds also include the Museum of Underwater Archaeology for your perusal.
An excellent example of late Crusader architecture, the castle has stood strong throughout the years. Originally a stronghold to help protect the Knights Hospitaller from the Selcuk Turks, the castle now stands as a monument of historic architecture that can be seen for miles around.

The castle itself is open to the public today and while this alone is enough to satisfy its visitors, the museum provides even more gratification. The Bodrum Museum, or the Museum of Underwater Archaeology, isn’t just a bunch of relics but provides an enriching experience for all who make the effort to visit.

Exhibits take you through the lives of ancient mariners and include the oldest ever excavated shipwreck exhibition as well as antiquities and a coin and jewellery hall.


It’s easy to head for the beach every day and relax for the duration of your holiday but when there’s so much to see, it’d be rude not to sample anything but the Mediterranean. Take a look at the excellent value summer holidays from Thomas Cook and look forward to exploring more of what Bodrum has to offer.

Munich, Germany Part 1

I have taken this post from my other blog, It's My Party and moved it here since this post is relevant to my travel blog's niche.

We visited Munich, Germany in late August of 2008 before my daughter's school started. We had fun seeing the beautiful attractions of Munich and enjoyed our visit to the Nymphenburg Palace. The weather was great, not too cold and not too hot. The old buildings around the square in Marienplatz and Karlplatz were a marriage of old and new architecture. Just amazing! I don't mind going back to Munich and explore more of it's beauty.

Here are snaps from Munich and do hope that I did justice to the beautiful scenic spots there. Enjoy!


Above is the Rathaus, the new town hall located at Marienplatz. In the same building is the Glockenspiel, a very large chime and clock. It gives off a nice chime on certain times during the day
and we were waiting for the "cuckoo" to do its thing and for the puppets in the tower to dance.

Posing while waiting...
Posing again...

Finally, the chime went off at 11 a.m. lasting for more than 3 minutes.

My Travel-Light Tips

25 May 2013

The season for long trips is fast approaching. Everybody is gearing up for the hot summer days. We are no exception to that. Right now, I am already picturing in my head the clothes I will take, the shoes I will pack and so on. I just have this habit of making sure everything is in place before the big travel day.


I have always been a "light" traveller because I loathe being inconvenienced by the hassle of unpacking what I have just packed. My daughter has this habit of taking everything her hands can grab while I fix the stuff. She would squeeze in few teddy bears (and when I say few, it's more than 5!), her arts and craft paraphernalia, her thick novel books (and that is plural), her sketch pads, pens, and few clothes. 

We're like those traders peddling our goods on the side streets! Yup, she's a messy packer and we always end up bickering over what to put and remove from the stuff she wants to take with her. Of course, being the mom (usurpation of power I must say!), I always end up re-packing and removing unnecessary items. This happens though after a lot of justifications and a little bribery on the side ("Princess, leave that and mama will buy you new stuff there. OK?"). So in our family, we each have our own luggage. There's no way I am lugging several heavy bags during my vacation this summer!



I have my own system of putting all I can carry in a single trolley bag, just enough to fit the over-head locker. And this is how I pack:

1. Depending on the weather of the place we will go to, I only pack a max of 5 shirts (but I make sure the colors can be mixed and matched to my trouser or shorts). Normally, I just buy the essentials on the destination.

I pack 1 dark-colored jeans to compliment most of my shirts/blouses and 1 trouser. Well, the color actually depends on how you will mix and match but I stick with the basics, like white, black and navy blue. I also take only 3-4 sets of undergarments. If it's cold, I only bring 1 sweater or pull-over and a parka/wind-blazer to keep out the cold. Shoes must match the weather though.

2. I roll my clothes. Yup, roll and not fold. Rolling clothes take up few spaces but of course I do not roll my heavy jacket. I don't bring towels anymore after checking and confirming that the place we will stay in has this amenity. We don't worry much about creasing our clothes because I bring my compact pressing iron.

3. I don't take the normal bottles of shampoo, lotion, conditioner, face moisturizer. I have this small toiletry pouch with tiny refillable bottles for the above bath assortment so I just transfer enough amount of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and moisturizer for the duration of our whole stay. I also buy a very small tube of toothpaste which we all share so only one of us carry these stuff. Most of the time, the hotel provides these amenities but I still carry my personal preference.

4. As per travelling shoes and slippers, I depend my choices on the place and weather situation and the activity we will engage in while we are abroad. If it's the beach area, I just carry a pair of very light sandal which I also use to go around and a nice loafer for malling or if in case we need to check out museums. I never bring rubber shoes because of the tight security in the airports these days. I try my best to wear something which I can just kick off my feet. Same goes with my hubby and daughter. They too carry light slippers and nice loafers.

5. We use "canvas" luggage. The hard case is durable but it already takes in extra weight so we prefer the cloth. Canvas bags are more flexible and you can squeeze those extra stuff you have bought after the retail therapy sessions.

6. This is just a handy tip, I also carry a big tote bag which serves as my hand carry. Not too big that the entire house will fit and that will call the attention of the check-in agents but big enough to accommodate our travel documents, my purse, mobile phone, keys, small gadgets, and 1 fave book to read. Approximate dimension is 1 ft (H) x 4 in (W) x 1 ft 6 in (L).

There are plenty of sturdy bags in the market so choose a very durable one which has many functional compartments like these:

 
(Both bags are mine)

7. Keep the electrical cords of your gadgets in a single pouch bag.


8. Instead of using those heavy bag tags, I make my own personalized bag tags the size of a calling card which I laminate. I use a thick laminating card to make it very sturdy and use a thick ribbon to tie it around our luggage's' handle. I also write our names inside the bag, just in case.


All in all, the art of packing and travelling light depends on your travel's agenda. Just always ask yourself while packing if you actually will use a certain item often while on trip. And if you answered "yes" then put it in. You need to evaluate the need to carry the item and if it will serve it's purpose for the trip. If not, skip it and leave an extra space for future items to occupy. Remember the reason for the trip! It's not a "relocation."

What To Pack When Going To The Beach This Summer (For The Ladies)

23 May 2013

Photo credit: livinggreenmag.com

It's that time of the year again and every beach lover out there must be raring to drive to the nearest beach resort or even fly to a great seaside retreat for a nice soak and tan. If you're one of them, you're probably starting to fill your luggage with the necessities.

Here are the essential carry-ons for your beach outing:

For those who are going to take a flight:
Your travel documents, eg. passport, visa (if required), list of important numbers, hotel vouchers and other travel documents you deem required to take along
Enough cash, debit card, credit card (try to limit the use of this only for emergency)
Your medications in a pillbox, if required

For those who are going via land:
Hotel voucher for your booking
Enough cash, debit card, credit card (try to limit the use of this only for emergency)
List of important numbers
Your medications in a pillbox, if required
Some refreshments/snacks like cookies and water

And the essentials:

  • 1 or 2 swimsuits (depending on how long you plan to be in that resort)
  • 1 light weight cover-up like a caftan or a sari that can dry easily
  • a lightweight mat that you can fold and this is optional. You can borrow the ones in the hotel or resort.
  • 1 sunglasses
  • 1 hat or cap
  • 1 foldable umbrella that you can bring when beach umbrellas are not available or when you're going to the market for sight seeing
  • a stylish beach tote bag (go for canvas or the straw kind so it's breathable and sands can be easily shaken off)
  • 1 pair of sandal or a 1 flip-flop. My rule here is, you can only choose one. If you're choosing the sandal, it better be water proof or at least, one that dries easily and can be worn fast. It has to be flexible that you can take it to other places and step it on the beach.
  • 1 or 2 shorts (depending how long you are staying in the resort.  I will stick to just 1 if you'll be there only for 2-3 nights)
  • 2-3 light cotton tees
  • 1 pair of lightweight jeans
  • 1 lightweight cardigan for that night time relaxation in the cabana
  • 1 maxi dress for city touring if you need to
  • undergarments - a must!
  • 1 small sunblock lotion or if you want to tan, a tanning lotion
  • 1 lip balm with SPF
  • Toiletries like shampoo, cologne, body lotion and body gel in travel sizes that can fit a small pouch
  • A couple of sanitary napkins or liners for the ladies
  • A good book
  • A nice camera to document those precious summer moments
  • An mp3 like your iPod or other small gadget you can play music with


The list may seem long but when you're actually packing them in the bag, they're all compact and will easily fit a cabin bag. If it goes beyond that then that means you're overpacking!

People who are planning for a trip to the beach must remember to pack appropriately for the occasion. Keep it light! Have fun, rest and relax and be safe!

Four Things To Do Before You Become an Expat

20 May 2013


With the internet now littered with information, it is becoming much easier for people to move abroad. You can find all the information you need to become an expat within a matter of minutes.

Some people choose to become an expat for the experience, whereas others are following their life long dream and potential career break. Whatever the reason for moving, you need to ensure that you don’t rush the process. Moving to another country can be exciting, but only for those people that have made the necessary preparations.

Property Management

If you own a property it is likely that you will be relying on rental income from that property when you move to your new country. Don’t risk leaving the property under the management of family and friends. Although they will do everything in their power to ensure that the rental runs smoothly, their best is probably not going to be good enough.

What you really need is a professional property broker. They will be able to ensure that you achieve the maximum rental value possible for your property. At the same time, they will be able to ensure that there are rarely any months when the property is free.

Selling Unwanted Items

eBay is a great tool to get rid of all your unwanted items. Use eBay to clearout items that you have not been using over the last 12 months. This will help to generate some much needed funds when it comes to the big move. It is likely that many of the things in the home are not going to be used and are going to lose value. This includes things such as your TV and CD player. It is better to sell them now and if you ever do come back, you can easily replace them.


Putting Items Into Storage

If your long term plan is to come back to your native land, then it is likely that you are going to need some kind of storage facility. Although friends and family might have a garage that they are not using, this is not likely to be big enough. You want to find a local cheap storage facility that can house all your items. That way, if you do come back in a hurry, you know that you are not going to have any hassle when it comes to accessing all of your items.


Check Out Visa Requirements

You will need to check the visa requirements for the country that you are visiting. Some countries are much stricter than others. For instance, an EU citizen moving to another country in the EU can easily get hold of both a residency and a working visa for their stay. Travelling to countries that are outside the EU is generally where the problems occur, as the process and requirements are a lot stricter.

Make sure that you don’t just check basic visa requirements. If you plan to work in the country, you need to ensure that you have a valid work permit. For instance, if you are travelling to South Africa, then you will need to research work permitrequirements South Africa before you leave.


Bio
Alex has been writing for lots of top blogs on the internet for a number of years. Since 2007, he has been writing for blogs, including his own. During this time he has had over 100 pieces published online. Although he writes in niches such as construction and finance, his favourite subjects are relocation and travel.

Breakfast at c.taste in Centro Yas Island Hotel in Abu Dhabi

18 May 2013

We spent my husband's pre-birthday celebration in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi last 4-5 May. It was the right time to go there since my mom-in-law was still here at that time. We took advantage of the that weekend and drove to Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.

We stayed at Centro Yas Island Hotel which is a part of the Rotana chain of hotels. We took the continental buffet breakfast so we didn't have to worry about driving out of the island for a quick breakfast.

We paid 45 dhs. per head from the 60 dhs. We used our company's discount card in the hotel so had a good savings. The 45 dhs. was really worth it!

The breakfast buffet opened at 06:00 to 10:30 daily. We had a wide selection to choose from. There were cold cuts, fruits, cereals, yoghurts, coffee, hot chocolate, juices and the hot meals, danish pastries and other baked goods. You could also request for an omelette done according to your liking from the chef.



We were stuffed and the food was great! For the price we paid for, the meal was more than enough since it was a buffet and we could help ourselves with more servings.

If you are planning to visit Abu Dhabi, UAE and don't know where to stay, book yourself at Centro Yas Island and enjoy the great ambiance, food, affordable price and hospitality.

Visiting London: Top Tips for a Stress-Free Stay

16 May 2013


Photo credit: trivago.co.uk

It’s amazing how many people think that a trip to London would involve stress, overcrowded streets and smog in the air, when in actual fact, what London provides is simply incredible. A few days in London can be an extremely enjoyable experience if you know how to work the city without getting overly worked up. The density of the city can be a little overwhelming for rural dwellers but the contents of the streets should be appreciated, at least once, in your lifetime. Here are some top tips to ensure your stay in the Big Smoke is as satisfying as possible.

Accommodation

The temptation of choosing an upmarket boutique hotel may be too much, but before you consider shelling out hundreds of pounds, have a look at the more affordable alternatives. You can book cheap hotels from Travelodge online which will place you in the heart of the city. Ideally located, you can enjoy everything on your itinerary without worrying about how to get back to your hotel and you can check out knowing that you haven’t spent half your savings for the trouble.

Travel

Remember that the cost of private transport, such as the trusty Black Cab, in London isn’t the cheapest way of getting around the city. While it may be your choice elsewhere, consider your options and weigh up the costs. The volume of traffic on the roads can seriously impede your chances of getting anywhere on time and, while overground buses are a cheaper alternative, you’re still faced with hectic congestion.

Instead, consider purchasing an Oyster Card which you can top up as you go - or buy Travelcards if you prefer, so that you can use the excellent Underground network. While it may be busy during the peak times, it’s reliable and fast and will get you to where you want to go in no time. Pay attention to any engineering works so that you can plan your route and keep a pocket-size tube map with you so that you don’t get lost!

Remember to stand on the right hand side of the escalators so that those in a rush can zoom by on the left, and keep your tickets because you’ll need them to get back out again!

If all else fails, you can resort to Shank’s Pony. Often, you will only have to walk a short distance to get between places. Have a look at a proper map rather than judging distances by tube, because it’s very different!

Excursions

Anyone visiting the city will undoubtedly have a plan of action, to ensure they can keep to a schedule and see all the things they are planning to see. Many of the major sights are within walking distance of each other, meaning you can see many in one go.

Whether you want to enjoy a ride on the London Eye or you’re heading for the London Dungeons, make sure you look online for discount tickets before you travel – you can save heaps of money if you book in advance. Plus, the London Pass offers incredible value for money if the sights included make up part of your itinerary.

Most of all, try and stay relaxed. There’s nothing worse than getting worked up because of the hustle and bustle. Try and think like a Londoner and take everything in your stride and you’ll be fine! 

Tips For Women Who Are Traveling Alone

15 May 2013

Traveling is a fun activity whether you're married, a couple, in a group, or a solo flight. However, being a solo traveler does not mean you can not have fun as much as others who are traveling in a group or with a company.

Being a solo traveler and a woman at that poses higher risks than other people who are in a group. For starters, the world is not a very safe place anymore. There are plenty of places to visit though that are still safe considering the news we hear but being a tourist in those places still make you an easy target of petty crimes.

It can't be helped that you will sometimes have to travel on your own for whatever reason it is. Just read on for tips on how to stay safe while abroad and alone.

1. Don't be too obvious by carrying maps, camera and looking lost. People might be observing you and you don't want to be the attention of something not good.

2. Don't wear flashy jewelries or don't wear any at all.  Unless you are going to a gala, ball or a formal event then do so but try to subdue your jewelry so it won't get too much attention. And if you have to,  rent a car so you don't have to commute going to your destination.

3. Do not accept any assistance or a ride from a stranger. If there is an emergency, you can always dial help or call the police. In this case, you have to familiarize yourself with the important numbers of the country you are visiting.

4. Do not accept any invitation to go out from someone you hardly know. That's a no brainer!

5. If you're being adventurous, try to stick to the usual touristy area where there are plenty of people. Do not wander off from your hotel or go to secluded areas whether it is day or  night.

6. Never disclose that you are traveling alone. If people ask, tell them your husband is waiting at the bar or you are to meet in a certain place or you're in a group of travelers.

7. Obtain a seat in your flight or train coach where there are plenty of families around you.

8. Try to avoid shady budget accommodations. A few splurges when it comes to safety is better that being sorry.

9. Avoid getting a room in high floors or in ground floors. Avoid rooms with plenty of windows especially in the lower floors where it can be accessed. Avoid rooms at the far end of the hotel or somewhere in the darkened corner. Get a room near the elevator.

10. Inform the hotel to never give out your information to anyone.

11. Do not call for room service very late at night.

12. Do not open your hotel room door for any maintenance if someone comes at your door and claims they are from maintenance. Tell them to wait and call the concierge or the hotel manager and ask for the identity of the person sent to your room.

13.  Always take photocopies of your travel documents and cards and keep them safe in your locked luggage.

14. Do use a cross-body kind of bag so you don't have to keep worrying if the bag will fall off your shoulder. This kind of bag frees both of your hands and arms and can easily give a blow to someone who is aiming to harm you.

15. Do not open door when you hear noises in the hallway or near your room to check. Call the security when you hear suspicious sounds.

16. Check the lift before you go in if you suspect you're being followed. Or better yet, go straight to the concierge and ask for any staff or security personnel to escort you. I would certainly suggest that a lady staff and a security personnel escort you.

17. Always check the doors and windows of your hotel room are locked before you sleep.

18. Try not to switch all the lights off. Leave a lamp on to illuminate the whole room.

19. If you need to get a rental car, do not park far from the entrance of the building or somewhere dense and dark. Always park where there are plenty of cars and traffic and well-lit.

20. Do not take a hitch-hiker to ride with you at any cost.

21. Keep your car doors and windows closed and locked at all times.

22. Avoid driving at night.

23. If your car breaks down. Do not get out or accept help from others. Dial assistance or the police. Although I discourage the use of rental car if it can be helped simply because there is so much potential risk when a lone lady driver ventures out to unfamiliar places. It does not make it very safe.

24. Always keep a spare mobile battery should you have an emergency.

Remember to be alert at all times and always join group tours if you have too. Try to not stay long in a foreign place when you are alone. There's really nothing wrong when traveling solo but it is best to practice common sense and caution at all times.

Tour Cebu - For My Second Trip!

11 May 2013


I have long dreamt of taking a Cebu tour or two so that I can see all of the hidden beauties within the area. I had been to Cebu three years ago and I loved the time that I got to spend there, but I did not get to see all of the things that I knew were scattered around the island. I have begun planning my second trip and will be going on the options to tour Cebu that I have read about.

The one tour that I know that I have to go on is the bike tour. I really enjoy getting out into the open air on a bike and I think that getting to explore the off grid areas of the island will be awesome as an itinerary in a Cebu tour. I have to try to decide how long of a tour I want to take. They are offered in short trips that will only take a day, but they also offer multiple day trips lasting as long as thirteen days. I know that I will not go as long as thirteen days, but more than one might be nice.

I would also like to go on a city tour. I did not get to see much of the city when I was there last. I had a hotel that was right on the beach and I spent much of my time soaking up the sun and enjoying the sandy beach that was just footsteps from my room. I have read about some of the attractions that are to be enjoyed within the city and would love to explore many of them. The place that I would like to see most in the city is Taoist Temple and other must have and must experience Cebu tour. I look forward to shopping the different stores and collecting many souvenirs from the shops.

Once I have had my taste of the city, a countryside tour sounds perfect. Spending a day viewing stone churches, town plazas and bell towers as well as the other architecture built during the Spanish era would be quite memorable. I can already picture myself wondering though the area with my camera capturing images that many people only dream of seeing in person.

Lastly, I must go on the waterfall adventure. I look forward to making my way through the mountains, climbing my way up big hills to catch a glimpse of the Kawasan Falls so that I can feel the water spritzing my face as I stand in awe at one of Mother Natures most beautiful creations. I would love to enjoy a nice picnic lunch just before taking a swim in the cool, crystal blue waters below the falls.

Very few things in this world are as beautiful to me as the wonders that this world has to offer me. I have read that many of the beautiful things that I want to see are within the different Cebu tour that I am considering. I will make memories that will be held dear to me for as long as I live and breathe.

.