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Travel Guide: Istanbul, City of Two Continents

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Istanbul is a city that belongs to a group of selected cities which have the elements of both traditional and modern life. It bridges Asia and Europe, both physically and culturally. Situated at the junction of two continents, the city is home to ancient structures like the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque in the Old City, as well as modern businesses, hotels, restaurants and nightlife in the New City. Presenting Europe and Asia (more of Middle East style Asian culture) at a single place, Istanbul has one of the most diversed cultures bonded with the thread of Islam. This astonishing combination of culture had helped Istanbul to become one of the three European Capitals of Culture. View of mosques and dashing markets and the fragrance of pure incense and spices is casual in this city, whereas the Asian side has much to offer the glimpses of every day residential life.

Being Turkey’s most populous city, its cultural and financial center, the city’s population is estimated between 12 and 19 million people, making it also one of the largest in Europe and the world.

The city was established on the trade route between Europe and Asia. While Europe is considered expensive, Asia is imagined to be comparatively cheaper. If you are a well planned and aware tourist to be travelling to this place, you can spend your cheap Turkey holidays really joyful and economical.

Just like the culture, Istanbul’s climate is also diverse, you may experience from hot and humid summers, to rainy conditions and snowy winters.

With Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires leaving their footprints over this city, Istanbul offers plenty of historical and religious places, giving you the flavor of different times.

Starting from the North of the city’s peninsula, across the Golden Horn is Galata district of Istanbul, crowned by Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi in Turkish) — called Christea Turris (the Tower of Christ in Latin). The stone tower was built in 1348, during an expansion of the Genoese colony in Constantinople. It was the apex of the fortifications surrounding the Genoese citadel of Galata.

galata tower
Galata Tower, Photo taken by David J. Lull
galata tower view
View from Galata Tower, Photo taken by Halilgokdal

If you are in Istanbul, you must pay a visit to famous Hagia Sophia, which used to be earlier a church which was converted into a Mosque and finally into a museum. The museum is famous in particular for its massive dome, considered to be the epitome of Byzantine architecture, being said to have “changed the history of architecture.” It used to be the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.

hagia sophia
Hagia Sophia, Photo taken by Valentin Likyov

Just 500 feet (150m) to the southwest of the Hagia Sophia is the famous Basilica Cistern. Built in the 6th century, during the period of Byzantine empire, it is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul.

Basilica Cistern
Basilica Cistern, Photo taken by Luca Zappa

Another must see place in the city is Topkapı Palace, earlier a royal residence, the palace also having been a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments. The magnificent building of the palace now serves as a museum. It is a major tourist attraction and contains important holy relics of the Muslim world including the Prophet Muhammed’s cloak and sword. The Topkapı Palace was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.

Topkapı Palace
Topkapı Palace,  Photo taken by CyberMacs
Inside view of Topkapı Palace
Inside view of Topkapı Palace, Photo taken by Michael Goodine

Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as Blue Mosque because of its blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior, is another major tourist attraction in the city. It was built from 1609 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder and still continues to be a mosque, unlike few others which have been turned into museums. With the capacity of 10,000, the mosque is amazingly grande with 6 minarets.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque
Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Photo taken by Alessandra Kocman

Tulip gardens and Turkish Bath, Hamams are another must see things in Istanbul. Hamam is an essential part of a trip to Turkey and I am sure you will repeat it atleast once before leaving the country. There are many Hamams around Istanbul, you must take care while visiting this place, as not all all Hamams are clean and good experience. I am not concluding here as there is a lot to write. Watch out for this space or subscribe via RSS to this travel section so you get all latest articles and updates about my journey around the world. Keep an eye on this article as I write about what to do, eat and shop in this city of Two Continents.

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Europe

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Spain?

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malaga andalusia spain

There are plenty of reasons why you may be thinking about living in Spain: its population is friendly and kind; its climate, especially in the coastal areas, is enviable; its gastronomy is incredible… but, what about its prices? What is the most affordable way to live in Spain?

Perhaps the most important question if you decided to go: would it be better to buy instead of renting a property in Spain. Or yet living in a Spanish residence?

Spanish cities where to live cheap and well

In the geographical variety that Spain presents, we can find many differences in average salaries and the standard of living that reside there would require. The areas of Galicia, Extremadura, Castilla y León, together with Almería and the south of Alicante usually have a lower price of euros/square meter in their homes. The quality of life is really appreciable, but you should know that there are fewer possibilities for business and transports.

The autonomous community of the Basque Country, Catalonia, and Madrid, which have higher than average incomes (normally more than 24,000 euros per year), also have higher prices. However, Madrid has such a wide range of rents that it sometimes makes them cheaper than other countries. 

In addition, and taking into account the tourist seasons, the areas of Valencia and Andalusia are normally a preference when it comes to living in Spain for a while or even spending your retirement. Although day-to-day life can be more expensive than in other areas of Spain, the mild climate and variety of leisure options are often worth it in the long run. 

Whatever your option is when moving to another country, especially if you don’t know its legal system, can be very tiresome. That’s why our advice is to try to contact local agencies (that speak English) to give you fair and fruitful advice. For example, to move to Andalusia, we usually recommend Tejada solicitors

I have already decided on the place. Now what?

Well, if you have already fully immersed yourself in the streets of a beautiful city that we have talked about, what should be your first step?

Decide what kind of stay you want to be in (since your future economic situation will also depend on this: taxes, permits…). You may have already chosen, for example, property conveyancing in Marbella, but it is recommended that you also think about renting a property, because it can be very profitable while you are in your other place of residence.

To sum up, before moving to a Spanish city, decide if you want to spend a little more money per month in exchange for the exceptional conditions that their precious land can give you; secondly, contact a reliable agency that will help you make the best investment and even more, apply for a Spanish residency if you are decided to stay for a long time.

And remember: a move is always a new beginning.

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Have everything ready for your next trip

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aircraft flight travel packing

If there is one thing everyone loves is to travel. Whether we do it for business reasons or simply for pleasure, traveling brings us the opportunity of experiencing new alternatives and discover new places we would not be able to enjoy on a daily basis. But a lot of planning needs to be put into any travel in order for it to run out smoothly. Down bellow, you will be able to find some tips that could come out handy during your next journey. 

Moving around in a rented car

Renting a car is always an amazing option when it comes to moving around  a new and unfamiliar area. It gives us the option to move around freely, without the constraints or the language barriers that could be associated with public transportation.

A good example of this could be seen if you plan to visit the touristic island of Maui. This beautiful island has a lot of hidden gems that can not be reached using public transport. Rent a car Maui is an amazing affordable option to make sure you do not miss out anything on this marvelous island. They offer a big variety of rental cars, all with one of the best customer services in the island. 

Because we do not have why to miss out anything when we travel. 

Starting a new life in a new country

Sometimes, when we travel to a different country, it is not something temporal, but a permanent change. Starting a new life in a different country can seem like a scary experience at first, but with the right preparations, it should be a smooth transition.

A popular destination that people are choosing to move to permanently over the last decades has been Spain. But you may be wondering, how to move to Spain

Moving to Spain is a relatively easy process, but there is a series of steps you need to take in order to do so

  1. Check out the different types of resident permits and Visas and choose the one that better suits you.
  2. Check the requirements for said permit.
  3. Find out if you can submit the paperwork before moving to Spain or you need to do so once you arrive to Spain as a tourist.
  4. Prepare all the documentation needed for the paperwork.
  5. Get your Visa and start enjoying your new life in Spain.

Choose an option for your stay according to your needs

One of the key aspects of every travel is to decide where we are going to be spending our stay in our destination. Nowadays, there is a wide variety of resorts available on the main tourist destinations, so spending time to decide on which one would be a better fit for us is always a good idea.

Take for example the beautiful city of Cancun. Cancun is one of the most visited cities in the world. There are a lot of luxury resorts in this city, but if you are looking for an original and exciting experience, we can not stop recommending Temptation Cancun Resort

Temptation Cancun Resort is an exclusive resort that only admits adults +21 on their installations. They have recently reopened their doors with a timetable full of fun and sexy events you can not miss out. Because life is too short to spend it on traditional family destinations, try something original like Temptation Cancun Resort and live an once in a lifetime experience. 

Save money by using public transport

Public transportation is an affordable option available wherever we decide to travel. A fast and safe way to travel around any country has traditionally been the train. Thanks to websites like Trenes.com you can check the schedules of all the trains available, buy your ticket online and get amazing discounts on the final price. This makes moving around a different country easier than ever.

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6 Things you can do in Tijuana

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tijuana mexico

Tijuana is one of the largest cities in Mexico. Located in the northern part of the country, its proximity to the US border has make it a popular tourist destination among American citizens looking to experience all the recreational activities this beautiful city have to offer. If you are planning to visit Tijuana, we have a list of our six favorite spots in the city, so make sure you do not miss them.

1- The Caliente Xoloitzcuintles Stadium

Soccer, simply known as football in Mexico, is the country’s favorite sport. And there is no football team with more devoted fans than Los Xolos. It does not matter if you like football or not, visiting the Caliente Xoloitzcuintles Stadium while you are in Tijuana is a must . On the days there is a football match scheduled, you definitely need to go to the stadium a few hours early, since there is a big party going on on the parking lots of this stadium. People park on the parking lots and eat roasted meat while drinking beer with their friends. Then you can head to watch the football match. Los Xolos enthusiasts are known to be among the most friendly football fans out there, and will make sure you feel welcome and have an experience you will never forget.

If you want to stay close to  the Caliente Xoloitzcuintles Stadium, we recommend you check out in a nearby hotel like Tijuana Marriott Hotel since its proximity make it pretty convenient.

2- Morelos Park

Morelos Park is one of the best destinations in Tijuana if you are traveling with kids. This park is the biggest in the city and features a lot of green areas, a huge artificial lake where you will be able to see ducks and fish, and even a small zoo featuring native animals like iguanas or jaguars. 

There is a small train that will take you for a ride around the lake. On this lake you can also find a small dock with small boats for rent. 

On weekends, you will also be able to enjoy public performances especially created for children, like clowns shows or puppet theatres.

3- Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Cathedral

The cathedral Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is also known as Tijuana’s Cathedral due to it being the most important one in the city. Although this cathedral dates back only to 1909, its beautiness immediately made it one of the most visited tourist spots in the city. This building design used as inspiration Mexico’s traditional temples, which made the local authorities give it the accreditation of historical monument.  

This monument is located just a few minutes away from the city centre, so if you are looking for accommodation in the heart of Tijuana, we recommend you check out Hotels like Fairfield Inn & Suites Tijuana due to its convenient location.

4- Wax Museum

Tijuana’s Wax Museum is one of its most original buildings. Across 10 different halls, you will be able to enjoy many wax figures, all divided according to different themes like Mexico’s historical figures or Mexico’s legends. One of the most curious things about this museum is that it has a Horror hall, where you will be able to enjoy the scary figures of Dracula or Frankenstein, although we do not recommend this if you are weak of heart. 

5- Tijuana’s Cultural Centre

Its modern sphere design has make this building one of the most visited locations in Tijuana. This Cultural Centre was created to try and promote art and culture in the area. On the different rooms of the building we will be able to find an art exhibition, an aquarium, an event room and a film library. 

6- El Trompo Museum

This amazing museum is the perfect mixture of science and fun, helping us to introduce our kids to new knowledge by using games and interactive activities. The museum also includes a 3D cinema and a concert room.

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