Articles Turkey

Visiting a Hammam in Turkey

For many people, much of the joy of traveling can be found in discovering new things – new foods, new cultural customs, and new experiences that just can’t be had at home. Most times, those experiences turn out just as you’d hoped: your eyes are opened to something new, and you walk away with a lovely memory or having gained a great understanding of a local culture.

But sometimes, in order to get to that place, you have to be a little nervous, a little uncomfortable, maybe even a little embarrassed. You might need to need to step out of your comfort zone and allow yourself to feel a little awkward, you may need to eat something you normally wouldn’t….or you may need to get naked in front of strangers.

Wait what? Well, imagine the scenario. You’ve found cheap flights to Turkey and have looked at some cheap Istanbul hotels. You’ve researched the many things you want to do, sites you want to see, and delicious local delicacies you want to eat. Then you arrive and find out that one thing you shouldn’t miss out on is a visit to a hammam. So you find one recommended by other travelers and arrive to find out that engaging in this local practice means showing off some of your private parts in a not so private setting….

In countries like Turkey and Morocco, visiting a hammam, or Turkish bath, is a part of everyday life. Hammams are bathhouses that contain three chambers: a hot room to steam, a warm room to scrub, and a cooler room to relax. Not all hammams have the same layout, but they all involve a hot marble steam room where patrons can soak in the sweltering heat, and an area where you can get scrubbed down by a professional (or do it yourself). Most larger hammams are divided by gender, with separate sides for men and women, but within each side, partial nakedness (you’ll wear underpants, but going topless) is the norm.

A little skeeved out? Don’t be. Just check out our guide to Turkish baths to learn how to blend in and minimize your own embarrassment – and really that’s the key. While you may feel completely exposed and as though you’re living your worst nightmare (you know..the one where you’re in a crowded room with no clothes on), no one else cares. They’re there to relax, and (if their an uncomfortable foreigner too) chances are they are more worried about their own comfort level than they are checking out the bodies of other people. It may seem awkward at first, but rest assured the experience is worth a few moments of blushing. So trip down, lather up, and enjoy.

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Los Angeles Things to Do

Weekend getaway in Palm Springs

Known for the year-round nice weather and beautiful scenery, Palm Springs is an excellent destination for a weekend getaway. Remember when you day dreamed of relaxing in one of those travel hammocks , listening to chill out music and enjoying the scenery?

Then why don’t you look for travel deals to Palm Springs and make your dream come true? If you are already in Los Angeles, then all you need to do is rent a car and head out of the city. Oh yeah, and book a hotel room before you leave. Just in case. Otherwise, look for flights into either Palm Springs or LA. Chances are you’ll find better deals if you fly into LA.

Now that you’ve got a way to get here and a hotel to stay at, it’s time to plan your weekend in the city. Palm Springs can be easily tackled on foot so enjoy the town at your own pace. Other things to do in Palm Springs include visiting the museums or exploring the outdoors. The area is known for some excellent hiking trails, regardless of your fitness level.

If your idea of relaxing is playing a game of golf, then choose one of two resorts. Of course, make sure to make a reservation ahead of time. Or you can book a room in a posh resort and surprised your loved one with a spa treatment.

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Articles Los Angeles

Plan a Winter Ski Weekend in Lake Tahoe

Californians have long been flocking to the Lake Tahoe area for summer fun along the lake, but the area shouldn’t be forgotten about during winter ski season. And if living in the relatively flat city of sunny Los Angeles has made you a little wary of steep mountains covered with snow, well then Tahoe’s an even more attractive choice for your ski vacation destination.

Northstar-at-Tahoe, California, is an excellent choice for skiers of all levels, but especially for those just starting out or who haven’t been on skies for a while.  There’s a good ski school for beginners, (but still plenty of trails for more experienced skiers) and most of the runs aren’t as steeep as what you’d find at nearby area resorts. Northstar is also known for its tree skiing and fall lines which make for better sheltered runs during storms at at times when the powder is particularly deep.

The mountain offers 92 runs on 3,000 acres and features the largest snowmaking system of any resort in North Lake Tahoe.  Plus, at only about 40 miles from the Reno-Tahoe airport (with cheap flights to Reno departing from LA daily), it’s very easy to get to from Los Angeles.

And if skiing isn’t your winter sport of choice, you also snowboard, snowshow (just be sure you know how to choose the right snowshoes to make the sport more comfortable) or simply enjoy the apres-ski scene.

Photo by dannebrog

Los Angeles

Spend the Halloween weekend at Disneyland

I love Halloween! It’s that time of the year when the adults can play dress-up without feeling like fools and the kids can have a lot of fun and use their imagination to carve pumpkins and ask their parents for costumes.

Wouldn’t it be fun to spend Halloween at Disneyland this year? The kids will surely be pleased and the fun is definitely in the air. There’s still time to look for cheap flights to LA and don’t forget to rent a car, as well. It’s the easiest way to get from LAX to Anaheim.

Now it’s time to look for accommodation. It’s a good idea to look for hotels at Disneyland before you consider anything off-site.

Or you can start your search with the package deals to LA , which comprise both flight and hotel deals, but also flight-only or hotel-only deals. Special offers are available online for the Halloween weekend, so make sure to keep your eyes on multiple sites.

The price tag for such a vacation? Assuming you fly from New York, depart on Friday and return on Monday, flights start at $313 RT per person (on Frontier Airlines). If you choose to stay off-site, then you can book rooms for just $60 per night. Aside from the travel and accommodation cost, you also need to consider the passes for the rides and the meals.

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travel guide Turkey

A culinary incursion in Turkey

I’m not exactly what you’d call a foodie… don’t get me wrong, I do eat. But being a vegetarian is sometimes quite challenging when you visit some countries. You won’t catch me looking for exotic street food either…

However, just like JoAnna Haugen (WhyGo Las Vegas writer) point out in How I Travel, food edition , “I like to eat local when I travel”. And that is both healthy and rather adventurous when you visit Turkey.

At first glance, Turkey conjures images of coffee, lokum and kebab. But there’s so much more to it. The day starts with breakfast, which typically comprises fresh tomatoes, white cheese, black olives, bread with honey and jam, and sometimes an egg. Lunch comprises some sort of protein – fish, lamb or chicken – baked with peppers and eggplant, and served with rice. Dinners start with the appetizers (similar with the Greek mezedes) which include eggplant dip, salads sardines rolled in grape leaves, and “kofte”, or spiced lamb meatballs. Dessert is typically fresh fruit but the baklava is to die for.

What shouldn’t you miss trying while visiting the country? By all means try the Doner Kebab, the “kofte” – finely minced meat mixed with spices, onions and other ingredients, shaped by hand, and grilled, fried, boiled or baked – , dolma (similar to the Greek dolmades) and the baklava. Also, try the tea and the Turkish coffee. Wines are also good here and if you want something stronger, raki is a good choice.

Has your mouth watered enough to start looking for cheap Istanbul flights ?

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Articles England

Confessions of an Anglophile

O, England: How I long for thee.

In my everyday life at home in Los Angeles, California, 5456 miles (8781 km) from the UK, I rely on the huge expat community here for immersion in English accents, the solid thwack of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange and a gentle spot of afternoon tea. I keep my eye on the BBC, bookmark cheap flights to London and make great big British plans.

But in my fantasy life, I have a wonderful flat on a quiet mews in Chelsea, hemmed in by a wrought-iron gate and overgrown with ivy. I work my steady way through all the neighborhood pubs in London, the West End’s theatre scene, all 5,000 acres of the Royal Parks. I even agree to settle on a football team.

I spend my weekends in Landmark Trust cottages, tramping across the Yorkshire Dales and tasting new wines on the Cornish Coast. Perched on chalky white cliffs, I point my smiling face into winds brought ‘cross the Strait of Dover. I wander the cobbled Tudor streets of the Cotswolds, roam the manicured grounds of fine Essex estates and swan around the gentle idylls of the Lake District like a heroine from a Jane Austen novel (who just happens to be wearing pants).

It’s a merry old English existence, that. Even from an entire continent away.

So until my dream can someday be real, I’ll just keep thinking up reasons to visit London, and I’ll share my knowledge and passion for the perfect UK journey here with you, posted on WhyGo England.