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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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Ibiza: not only a destination for young people but also a natural paradise with dream beaches, exclusive locations, and luxury villas

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Ibiza is one of the most beautiful islands in the world. This stunning island is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its paradisiac beaches and historical monuments. Traditionally, Ibiza has been associated with party tourism, which means that young people would visit the island due to its famous nightclubs or electronic music scene. However, since 2015 the government has stepped in to try and make Ibiza a more family friendly place to visit. With so many beautiful landscapes to discover and luxurious family friendly villas to stay in, Ibiza is without a doubt, one of the best options for your next summer vacations.

The best places to stay in Ibiza

The first and most important you need to decide when planning any trip is where you are going to spend your stay during the travel. Traditionally,when we travel to a foreign country we tend to look for our lodging at hotels. However, in places as touristic as Ibiza, you will often find hotels overcrowded during the summer season. Thankfully, there is a more private alternative for your stay: luxury villas. You can find numerous luxury villas available for rental spreaded across the island, but the ones which users recommend the most are the ones offered by IKH – Ibiza Luxury Villa Rentals. IKH villas offer everything you may need for a luxurious vacation. They are located near some of the most beautiful beaches and villages in the island, such as Es Cubells, Sant Josep, Talamanca, Cala Jondal, Rocallisa, as well as in Ibiza Town, the main city in the island. These villas are family friendly, and most of them either include sea views or are located at a very short distance from it. IKH villas are often equipped with everything you may need for your holidays, such as a fully functioning kitchen, internet and TV service, air conditioner to survive the Spanish heat, etc. 

The luxury features of these stunning villas and the amazing reviews from its customers make IKH villas an option you should definitely consider for your next Ibiza holidays.

The most stunningly beautiful beaches

The main attractive of Ibiza is, without any doubt, its gorgeous beaches. Blessed with pristine waters and white sand, these beaches make out for an otherworldly seaview. The whole island is surrounded in beauty, but if you are looking for some stunning views, we can not stop recommending you check the following beaches during your travel:

  • Es Cubells: this beautiful beach is surrounded by nature. Located near the mountains, it offers the perfect mixture between civilization and untouched nature. This beach is located beyond a cliff, which makes it harder to access. However, this can work as an advantage for us, since with a little more of effort we will have access to a stunning beach away from the main crows, which makes up for the recipe for a perfect beach day.
  • Sant Josep: this place groups some of the most stunning beaches in Ibiza, such as Ses Salines, D’Hort Cove, Compte Cove or Vedella Cove. It is near the international Ibiza airport and the natural reserves of Ses Salines, which means that this zone has an easy access. The beaches in this zone have turquoise waters and fine sand, which makes them some of the favorites among tourists
  • Talamanca: thanks to its easy access and calm waters, this beach is one of the favorites for families with kids. If you do not have access to a rental car, this beach is one of the easier to reach by bus. 
  • Cala Jondal:  a stunning beach of turquoise waters which shore has pebbles instead of sand. This makes up for a stunning beach view. This beach is located near some luxurious clubs, where you will be able to relax and have fun while watching the sea. 
  • Llonga Cove: this cove is located near the luxurious urbanization of Roca LLisa. Its calm waters make it a favorite among families and young people looking to practice water sports
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Dolphin Discovery is the only park with the AZA accreditation in Punta Cana

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The Dominican Republic is a country that has one of the richest biodiversities in the world. This biodiversity manifest itself in Punta Cana, the main tourist area in the country. Most tourists visiting this country do so in order to enjoy its otherworldly beaches with crystalline waters and white sand. But if you want to discover the country’s biodiversity, we invite you to swim with dolphins in Dolphin Discovery, the only dolphin park with the AZA accreditation for the ethical treatment of the animals in Punta Cana.

The importance of the AZA accreditation

The acronym AZA stands for Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This association stands up for animals welfare and demands the higher standards of quality in institutions that work with them. Institutions all around the globe try every year to get their AZA accreditation, but the requirements are so high that only a low percent of the applicants pass the cut. 

In order to get this accreditation, Dolphin Discovery first had to fill an application that would place them on the list of institutions with a pending visit from the AZA expert team. 

During the AZA team visitation, every aspect of Dolphin Discovery Punta Cana was carefully examined in order to determine if they were keeping their quality standards high enough to ensure that the dolphin’s were treated ethically and in the best possible conditions. The AZA experts checked, among others, the following aspects:

  • The safety of the guests that visit these installations
  • The wellbeing of the dolphins, ensuring that they were being taken proper care of
  • The conservation efforts in order to prevent any damage to the biosphere
  • The educational programs to raise awareness about the living conditions of the animals to the visitors
  • The veterinary medicine programs in order to make sure that the animals are healthy and can receive the proper medical care as soon as they may feel ill
  • The organization financial stability, since a lack of resources would affect the dolphins welfare directly.

It is worth to mention that even if Dolphin Discovery earned this accreditation, its validity lasts only for 5 years, so in the future they would have to prove again to be among the best on their field. 

If you are planning to visit any recreational park that works with dolphins during your travel to the Dominican Republic, Dolphin Discovery is definitely the best option since it is the only company in the whole country that received an AZA accreditation. After all, when we visit a foreign country, it is important to be responsible and look out for the local fauna and flora. 

Swimming with dolphins

Dolphins are really fascinating animals. Their high intelligence and natural elegance make them some of the most loved animals in the world. If you want to make memories that will last forever during your visit to The Dominican Republic, we recommend that you try and  Swim with dolphins Punta Cana. On Dolphin Discovery you will be able to find different programs that involve swimming with these majestic creatures. These programs are designed always keeping the needs of the visitors in mind, so you can find the program that will fit you perfectly. Among the most popular visitor programs you will be able to find the following ones:

  • Dolphin Encounter Program: this program is perfect for families with kids, since it was especially designed for all ages. This program includes a small platform for people who can not swim properly, and during the session you will be able to hug and handshake the dolphins.
  • Dolphin Royal Swim Program: during your session you will be able to enjoy the dolphins acrobatic maneuvers, but what really makes this program so special is that the dolphins are trained to do you a foot push, lifting you out of the water. This will make up for a really fun experience you will not be able to forget.
  • Dolphin Swim Adventure Program: on this program you will be able to hug the dolphins, give them a handshake and then swim with them. You will be allowed to hold to the dolphin as he carries you around the beautiful Punta Cana waters.
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Azul Talavera Hotel: the perfect place for your next holidays in Puebla

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Puebla mexico hotel

Puebla is a beautiful and charming city you should check out for your next holidays. 

Located in the heart of Mexico, Puebla is the most visited coastless city in the country, and there is no wonder why. This city has a very rich history and a lot of monuments for visitors to discover. People wanting to visit this city can count themselves lucky, for there is an hotel with professional staff and an idyllic location: Azul Talavera Hotel. 

An hotel with a lot of history

Azul Talavera Hotel originally opened its doors as Rosewood Puebla Hotel back in 2017, and since then, it has earned its rightful spot as one of the best hotels in Puebla Mexico. The hotel went under this name transition back at 2019, but it was ran smoothly and without causing any inconvenience to the customers. On Azul Talavera Hotel, customers are always the staff priority. Because of that, during the transition the hotel kept its doors open, without affecting in any way at all the previously scheduled bookings or events. The hotel also kept the same staff team, which means that this transition did not affect the quality of the services provided.

But what really makes this hotel a historical place is its building. Azul Talavera Hotel was built  on 3 historical buildings placed in the charming neighborhood of San Francisco. This neighborhood is located right at the city’s historical center and it has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage site since 1987. 

History is key in Azul Talavera Hotel. The hotel is proud of its history and the country’s traditions. Because of that, you can find decorations with traditional mexican themes all across the hotel, and the suites include items of local craftsmanship to reflect Puebla’s traditional market. 

Enjoying the best Mexican cuisine

One of the perks of choosing Azul Talavera Hotel as your place to stay during your holidays, is that you will be able to enjoy one of the best gourmet restaurants in Mexico. The hotel’s restaurant is named Pasquinel Bistrot and it is the perfect place for you to enjoy the best Mexican food. This luxurious restaurant serves original dishes you will not be able to find anywhere else, since the food here mixes local ingredients with European cooking inspirations. 

Let your wedding be handled only by the best professionals 

Puebla has become a popular wedding destination over the last decade. Getting married on a beautiful city abroad is something that each day becomes more and more appealing for many future brides and grooms. In Azul Talavera Hotel they are aware of that, and they have made their best effort to become a referent on Puebla weddings

Azul Talavera Hotel has four different wedding venues to fit the wedding of your dreams: Trinitarias Garden, Patio Azul, Patio Rosa and Patio Verde. All these venues mix traditional mexican elements with modern architecture, all hand in hand with nature. The hotel includes everything you may need to exchange your bows, from a glamorous ballroom to an antique courtyard that features a 300 year old private chapel.

But Azul Talavera Hotel is more than beautiful wedding venues. What makes this place really stand out is its team of professional wedding planners. The hotel’s staff will manage every detail needed in order for your wedding to be perfect. Their catering team will make sure you and your guests enjoy the most delicious food, while their wedding planners will guide you on every step of the process. Azul Talavera Hotel has also a partnership with professionals all across Puebla, from photographers to decorators or entertainers.

This will take a lot of stress away from the future bride and groom, which means that they will have more time to relax at the hotel Spa. It is named Cobalto Spa and it includes beauty and wellness treatments for the bride, groom and the whole bridal party.

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