9 June 2020 / 7 minutes to read
Annapurna Circuit: all about Nepal's most popular track
The Annapurna Circuit is Nepal's most popular trekking route. And there are many reasons for this, from the picturesque and diverse landscapes on the track to its relative simplicity. But you should not think that you can conquer the Thorong La pass in one fell swoop, in slippers and shorts. As for any other mountain hike, in order to pass the track around Annapurna with comfort, you need to know a number of important things. Mountains and beyond: things to do in Nepal Preparation for the track - equipment and documents Although the Annapurna Circuit is much simpler than the track to Everest Base Camp, it will be very difficult to overcome this route without some things. So you will need: - Comfortable shoes. Ideally, this should be mountain boots with a secure fit of the foot and non-slip soles. A large part of the track passes along trampled mountain roads and paths, but on the Thorong La pass, you may need to walk along the glacier. If you have a place in a backpack or you are going with a sherpa porter, then you can take two pairs of shoes - light sneakers and boots. - Warm clothes. Up to the mark of 2500-3000 meters, you can go light - in pants and a T-shirt, but closer to the pass, you will need thermal underwear, a warm sweater and a non-blown jacket, a hat and gloves. - Sunglasses and sunblock. The higher the mountains, the more ultraviolet radiation burns the skin. At high altitude, you can easily get sunburned even if there is snow around, and because of the cold wind, you will not feel the sun's rays at all. - Trekking poles. These things are not necessary, but desirable. Sticks significantly facilitate long pedestrian crossings, serve as additional support on complex terrain and icy ground. - First aid kit. It must have anti-colds, antipyretic and painkillers, as well as a bandage and means for disinfecting abrasions and cuts. It is also recommended to take pills for a mountain sickness, for example, Diamox, although you might not need it. - Chargers for equipment and a portable battery. There are enough settlements and, accordingly, sockets on the route, so if you have a charger, you definitely won’t be left with a discharged smartphone or camera. - Thermos. The first half of the way, you can carry cold water in it, the second - hot tea. Also, a reusable bottle for water will not hurt. - Raincoat. Even in the midst of the dry season in the mountains, there are widespread showers, and getting wet during a mountain trekking is not really a fun. - Sleeping bag. Optionally, if you do not want to pay extra for warm blankets, when stopping for the night. In addition, a good clean sleeping bag can be not only warmer, but also more hygienic than blankets in the loggias. - Headlamp. It will be useful on the last day before the pass, when you need to go out before dawn, and in general, it will not hurt. A huge plus of the track around Annapurna is that you do not need to carry a tent, a burner and other camping equipment with you, if you are not an avid supporter of overnight stays. Of course, a convenient backpack for equipment is still needed. Everything you need for passing through the Annapurna Circuit can be bought or rented in Kathmandu or Pokhara or even on the way, for example, a hat, a scarf and warm gloves. But keep in mind that these things may not be of high quality, so experienced travelers prefer to take their proven equipment. You are allowed to go into the mountains without trekking poles and hats, but not without a special permit. The permit for the route and the climber’s book TIMS are issued in Kathmandu or Pokhara. For registration, you need 3 passport-size photographs and a copy of the first page of the passport and the visa page, both documents cost 37 euros. If you issue permits at a travel agency or hotel, you will have to pay extra for their services. Documents are checked very often. Dust and flags: what to see in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal Annapurna Circuit Trekking - options, prices and conditions You can walk on the track in two ways - on your own (or with a company) or with a porter. A sherpa porter can be hired before the start or on the way, and his services cost around 200 euros, depending on for how long you hire a sherpa. Of course, the price also depends on your ability to bargain. If you go to the Thorong La pass with a sherpa, then the track becomes much easier and more fun. The porter not only drags your belongings on himself, but also makes arrangemets for an overnight stay in advance, which is especially important in the high season, helps in difficult places and even photographs you in a pose of a mountain conqueror. On the other hand, if you want to go the route alone with your thoughts, and you are not afraid to solve all the problems yourself (which is easy), then you can do without a porter. There are several options for independent passage. You can start walking from the very first settlement - the town of Besisahar, to which a bus takes you from Kathmandu or Pokhara. Then you will need to walk about 140 kilometers to the city next to the Thorong La pass, and it will last 8-12 days, depending on your pace. You can go a full circuit, it's 300 kilometers and about 3 weeks on the road, in this case the track is divided into two parts - two weeks for the rise to the top point (almost 5500 meters above sea level) and a week for the descent. However, after the pass, you can catch a bus to Pokhara in any village. You can also rent a jeep in Besisahar and travel in just one day the distance covered on foot in 4-5 days. This is a good option to save time and start the journey from the most picturesque sites, but it is bad for health, because the ascent is too fast. If you drive a jeep to settlements located at an altitude of 2500 meters above sea level, then upon arrival you should stay in place a couple of days, so that the body gets used to the height. Otherwise, you run the risk of mountain sickness. The conditions on the track can hardly be called Spartan. In addition to the last 3-4 settlements in front of the upper point, these are comfortable warm houses with hot water and Wi-Fi. Villages are found every 2-3 kilometers with cafes, where you can eat hearty for 5-6 euros per person. A night in a hotel-loggia costs 2-3 euros, or even completely free, but on the condition that you eat in the same place where you spend the night. The higher you go, the higher the price of food is, and such benefits of civilization as Wi-Fi, hot water and warm blankets are often provided for an additional fee - 1 euro for each service. Also on the route, there are many points with drinking water, which you can bottle into your container for symbolic 10-15 cents per liter. On average, a person spends about 20 euros per day. Other important things to know The best time to go through the Annapurna Circuit is from mid-March to mid-May and in October-November. In the summer, it often rains in the Himalayas, that is why you will have to walk in the mud rather (not through dry trampled trails), and it is cold in the winter, avalanches and snow drifts occur. In order to reduce the risk of mountain sickness, it is recommended not to eat meat or drink alcohol and coffee during the passage of the track - all this increases the load on the cardiovascular system, which is not so small at altitude. Strong black tea should also be replaced with a herbal or ginger lemon honey, a traditional Nepalese drink. A gradual climb reduces the risk of health problems - no more than 500 meters per day. Together with the permit to go through the Annapurna Circuit, a map is issued showing the height of each of the settlements, so you can plan in advance, where exactly to spend the night. And from the town of Manang, you should make a one-day acclimatization trip to Ice Lake, so your body will get used to an altitude of more than 4000 meters above sea level. In cafes and loggias on the track, not only Nepalese rupees are willingly accepted, but also US dollars and euros, and you don't need to rely on non-cash payment. Make sure to take cash with you, after Besisahar, there is only one ATM on the track, which is located after the pass in the town of Jomsom (and it doesn’t always work). In large settlements, there are bank branches where you can receive Western Union transfers. The last bank branches before the pass are in the town of Chame, after it and until Jomsom, you can only rely on cash. In order to keep your strength on the road without stopping at some cafes several times a day, bring along you something nutritious, which takes little space - nuts, dried fruits, protein bars or banal Snickers. If you do not want to take a cold shower in those places where there is simply no hot water, then you can do with wet wipes for several days. In an emergency, you can be evacuated from the track by helicopter, but it will cost you very far from cheap. The price of evacuation depends on the height, from which you are evacuated, and it can reach up to 1000 euros. The Annapurna Circuit trekking route does not require special physical training or special equipment. It is famous for its picturesque landscapes and gives a huge amount of unforgettable impressions. So choose the format that is most convenient for you, load a backpack, buy tickets to Nepal and go on an adventure!
25 May 2020 / 6 minutes to read
Fiery mountains and mud springs: what to see in Azerbaijan
Hot and windswept Azerbaijan may surprise even an experienced traveler. Here, the sparkling skyscrapers of Baku organically coexist with the old houses of Sheki, the burning cliffs of Yanar Dag with the cool waves of the Caspian, bother the Persian culture and Soviet power left their traces here. If you want exotic, but you don't feel like going for it to the other end of the world, then Azerbaijan is perfect option for you, so Travellizy recommends you. City of Winds: Baku At a glance, the capital of Azerbaijan gives an understanding of how the country lives now. From the narrow streets of the historical district of Icherisheher, where it seems that you have been traveled back for several centuries, you can clearly see Flame Towers, the symbol of the future. Baku is able to please both fans of antiquities and those who prefer the achievements of modern civilization. Climb the Maiden Tower (Gyz Galasy) and look at the Palace of The Shirvanshahs, and after that make your way to Fountain Square to refresh yourself, where a cafe for every taste and budget can be found. In the afternoon, hide from the heat in the Carpet Museum or the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center, and get acquainted with the modern art of Azerbaijan at the same time. And in the evening, when the heat decreases, take a walk along Primorsky Boulevard. Almost all the sights of Baku can be seen in one day. But, if you are going to stay in the city longer, then you should definitely go to the beaches of the Caspian Sea. You can get to them in an hour and a half by bus or a rented car, and the refreshing water will be especially pleasant after the hot city streets. Traces of ancient civilizations in Gobustan In the Gobustan State Reserve, it seems that because of the nearest rock, a hairy mammoth hunter, who has just finished painting stones with scenes from primitive life, is about to jump out at you. There are over 6,000 ancient petroglyphs in the reserve, and their age is thousands of years old. There are fewer mud volcanoes in Gobustan, only 350. But this amount is enough to make an unforgettable show. Gurgling mud and underground gases periodically flashing with bright fire are ready-made sets for filming a movie about another planet. The traces of human settlements in numerous caves remind us that this is still our native land. Halfway between Baku and Gobustan is the original Bibi-Heybat Mosque, built in the neo-Ottoman style. Fire Temple: Ateshgah 30 kilometers from Baku, there is an ancient temple of fire worshipers. Once, the Zoroastrians performed their services here, then the Muslims drove them out of the territory of Azerbaijan, but the temple remained standing, not subject to the passage of time. It is interesting that already in the XIX century the church was visited by Alexandre Dumas, the father, which was mentioned in his works later. The fire in the Ateshgah Temple is the result of burning natural gas, no mysticism, but it still makes a fascinating impression. In the cells, you can see scenes depicting the life of the servants of the fire. Land of Fire: Yanar Dag If the fire in Ateshgahwasn't enough for you, then go to the foot of Mount Yanardag. Here, not a lonely torch burns, but as many as five meters of land. The flames of natural gas made this area black and sooty, and the occasionally rising wind gives the flames the appearance of dancing dragons. Yanar Dag looks especially impressive after sunset or before dawn, then the illusion of an eternal fire is most complete. Oil treatment: Naftalan Oil in Azerbaijan is not only one of the country's main sources of income, but also a therapeutic agent. You can verify this yourself in the sanatorium city of Naftalan, the only place in the world where medicinal naphthalene oil is extracted. In Naftalan, with the help of oil baths, ill people literally get back on their feet; at the sanatorium, there is even a museum of crutches left by those who received miraculous treatment here. In between health treatments, you can take a walk in one of the city’s many parks. Craft center: Lahic The village of Lahic stands on the Great Silk Road, and the unique atmosphere of a medieval trading city is still preserved in it. Almost every house in Lahic is also a craftsman’s shop where you can buy jewelry, dishes, cold steel or a carpet. It is noteworthy that the village is divided into areas precisely by crafts. Walking along the stone-paved streets, you can come to the market for copper utensils, where dishes and plates are struck by fine engraving. In another area, sharp knives in painted sheath sparkle in the sun, in the next area, a potter creates a vase or a pot right in front of you. If you need the most authentic Azerbaijani souvenirs, not shop production, then you definitely need to Lahic. Mountain views: Khinalig Only a few years ago, only the most stubborn tourists reached the mountain village of Khinalig on SUVs. Now, a well-covered road has been brought up to it, and the village has turned into one of the main attractions of Azerbaijan. The houses in Khinalig are built with terraces - the roof of one house is simultaneously the yard or floor of the other. And the upper part of the village offers a stunning view of the surrounding mountains with snow-white peaks. Laza, another Azerbaijani village, awaits those who want more than just stunning views, but also hiking in the mountains. It is surrounded on all sides by steep cliffs from which thin cascading waterfalls fall with trampled trails between them. Please note that a special permit will be required to go trekking through the territory of the Shahdag National Park. And the last on the top list of three most picturesque villages of Azerbaijan is Ilisu. Now, it’s hard to believe that this tiny settlement used to be the capital of the whole sultanate. From here, tourists go on simple hiking in the mountains, in the village itself, there are very nice stone houses with tiled roofs and arched doors. Pristine nature: Göygöl Göygöl National Park, spread on the slopes of Mount Kapaz, is the center of ecotourism in Azerbaijan. People come here for a relaxing holiday, leisurely walks in nature and clean air. The main attraction of Göygöl is a crystal blue lake, which was formed as a result of a large-scale earthquake almost a thousand years ago. And the main entertainment in the park is the mountain tracks, which even a beginner can master without special equipment and training. Caravanserai: Sheki Most of the inns and caravanserais, where traders traveling along the Great Silk Road stayed, have become the most ordinary hotels now. But this didn't happen to the caravanserai in Sheki, because a museum has been organized here, where you can see curious details of the life and leisure of the caravan. Outside, the Sheki caravanserai looks more like a fortress - with massive stone walls, small windows, impressive wooden gates that are closed by a special mechanism. Inside, this is a dream of fans of oriental flavor. Carpets with authentic ornaments, hammered dishes, chests in which goods were stored. It is easy to feel here like a merchant from Persia, fleeing from the midday sun in the shade of stone walls. And also, you can arrange a very interesting photoshoot. The second remarkable building of Sheki is the Palace of Shaki Khans, built in the Persian style. Its painted walls and multi-colored stained-glass windows will become not only a delight for the eyes, but also the main decoration for your Instagram. You can watch the creation of the famous stained-glass windows in the workshop, which is called shabake here. By the way, Sheki is also famous for the most delicious food in all of Azerbaijan. You will never forget homemade Sheki halva, walnut jam, lamb dishes with apples. And, most likely, you will want to take away from here a bag of oriental sweets. Azerbaijan welcomes each guest with genuine oriental hospitality, and it has a heap of impressions for everyone. It doesn’t matter whether you go up to the top floor of a skyscraper or walk around the old city, bask in the natural fire or cool off in the sea, anyway, you will not remain indifferent to this beautiful country.
24 April 2020 / 7 minutes to read
The City of Uncle Ho: what to see in Vietnamese Ho Chi Minh City
The city of Saigon used to be the capital of South Vietnam, nowadays, Ho Chi Minh City can be called the cultural and youth center of the country. It doesn't have such old districts and buildings as in Hanoi, but life is in full swing. Ho Chi Minh City will be of interest to fans of trendy clubs and hipster cafes, fans of skyscrapers and sky-bars. However, in terms of attractions, there is also something to see here, Travellizy Team can assure you. Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral is an excellent example of French colonial architecture in the center of Ho Chi Minh City. It is no less beautiful inside than outside, and tourists and locals love taking pictures against it. Entrance to the cathedral is free, but you must be decently dressed. Notre Dame is also a very convenient starting point for exploring the city center. To the right of the cathedral, you can see is the central post office, designed by the project of Eiffel himself. Wedding photoshoots are often arranged nearby or students are photographed for their graduation album, and inside, you will find not only a huge portrait of Uncle Ho, as Ho Chi Minh is called here, but also a huge number of magnets, postcards, painted plates and other souvenirs for tourists. Near the post office, there is a small pedestrian street, which is also a book fair. If you want to see what Vietnam reads, look through the local editions of Harry Potter or Japanese manga, sit in a book cafe, then you should definitely come here. Live music is often played at the fair and various festivals are held here. Take a walk from the cathedral and the post office a couple of blocks away to the southeast, and you will find yourself in another favorite place for guests and residents of the city, on Ho Chi Minh Square. Heart of Ho Chi Minh City - Ho Chi Minh Square The square begins with the city council building built in the colonial style and continues to the embankment of the Saigon River, after which the city was named. It’s nice just to walk here, you can sit on a bench and watch the entertaining youth, you can take a selfie against the backdrop of the Ho Chi Minh monument, or you can eat as much as you want. The buildings around the square are cafes and restaurants for every taste and budget, and one of them is even one of the main attractions for gastro-tourists. This is a house, all floors of which are reserved for coffee houses, cafes, pizzerias and sushi bars. You can easily recognize it; it stands out from the rest of the buildings in the square. On weekends and holidays, Ho Chi Minh Square turns into a venue for festivals and concerts, where local and foreign groups play as well as cosplay shows and competitions are held. Cultural program in Saigon Opera If you prefer opera arias to street concerts and festival madness, then you should definitely visit the city opera. It is located on a neighboring street with Ho Chi Minh Square and is built in the same European style as many buildings in the center of Saigon. Performances, ballets and concerts are given at the opera every evening, often foreign stars and groups perform. Aerial view from Bitexco Tower The observation deck of the Bitexco Financial Tower offers a gorgeous view of the center of Ho Chi Minh City. Of course, there is a restaurant with a bar, so you can’t just admire the city, but also have a drink or dinner. A ticket can be bought on the ground floor of the tower or via the Internet, it costs 8.5 euros. Until 2018, the Bitexco Tower was the tallest building in the city, but then the construction of the Landmark 81 skyscraper was completed, and the sparks fell on it, as well as the title of the 10th tallest building in Asia. A sparkling skyscraper stands in the middle of a brand new elite area, where you can easily imagine yourself somewhere in the business center of New York or Dubai. Of course, it also has a restaurant on one of the upper floors and a viewing platform. Vietnamese Shopping in Ben Thanh Market If you want to buy souvenirs at low prices, purchase a T-shirt with the inscription "Good morning, Vietnam" or a traditional hat, then you should go to Ben Thanh Market. There are no designer clothes here, but it offers a unique atmosphere of the Vietnamese bazaar, and with skillful bargaining, you can make shopping very economically. There are several popular cafes in the vicinity of the market, including the famous Bep Me In. There is a street food market near Ben Thanh Market, but this is more like an attraction for tourists, than real Vietnamese street food. Everything is several times overpriced here, so if you want to really get involved in the richest culture of street food, it is better to take a ban from a lady in a street cart, and not at the market. Fans of luxury shopping centers will also find something to do in the Ben Thanh area, several fashionable malls rise near the market. And a 5-minute walk is Backpackers Street, full of backpackers with a bunch of cheap hostels, bars and cafes for young people and a very active nightlife. Partisan Past in Cu Chi Tunnels After a protracted guerrilla war in Vietnam, there were many places that recall the difficult and heroic past of the people. One of them is located several tens of kilometers north of Ho Chi Minh City. Cu Chi Tunnels is a large and very interesting open-air museum. You can watch here a film about the partisans, guides will explain, how partisans dug their tunnels, and demonstrate the work of terrible homemade traps. If you wish, you can shoot from real weapons at the shooting range and even crawl a hundred meters along the same underground passages, and you will be fed modest food, which the rebels ate, at the end of the tour. You can get to the Cu Chi Tunnels with an organized tour, on a suburban bus or rented transport. Museums and theaters Ho Chi Minh City will be very interesting to those who are interested in the recent history of Vietnam, in particular the history of the Vietnam War. True, a number of such places are not for the faint of heart. The War Remnants Museum was formerly called the Exhibition House for Crimes of War and Aggression, but then the name was changed to the neutral one. Inside, you can see not only weapons, shells and military equipment, but also photos of Vietnamese victims of chemicals used in the war, including the infamous Agent Orange. The Palace of Independence is a less gloomy, but very interesting museum. It was here that a document was signed on the unification of the northern and southern parts of the country, before that the government was sitting here, and nowadays, all the rooms of the Palace are open for tourists. You can see not only the halls for receiving ambassadors or the First Lady’s office, but also go down to the basement, see military maps, radio equipment used to transfer commands to the troops, and much more. Entrance to the Palace costs only 1 euro. Golden Dragon, a theater on the water, invites guests to get acquainted with the traditional Vietnamese puppet show. Scenes cannot boast of a complex plot, and dolls look the same as centuries ago, but this gives the performance a special charm and helps to understand the culture of the country better. Temples and pagodas There are not so many religious attractions in Ho Chi Minh City, the former government of South Vietnam did not really like the ministers of religion, but you can find a couple of interesting places. Vin Ngyem, the largest pagoda of the city, was built in the Japanese style. Connoisseurs of Chinese traditional temple architecture should visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda. Adherents of Buddhism will like the Tien Hau Temple, and the Tang Dinh Church will surprise even experienced travelers with its bright pink color. City features Ho Chi Minh City is a large but very convenient city for life and tourism with a well-designed infrastructure. You can navigate it on city buses, the routes and timetables of which can be viewed in the Moovit application. If you do not want to get attached to the bus schedule, you can rent a moped, the most popular mode of transport in Vietnam. But keep in mind that traffic in Saigon-Ho Chi Minh City is not for beginners. There are a lot of coffee houses in Ho Chi Minh City, but you will not find food in them. Coffee houses are for coffee, cafes are for food. And do not miss the chance to try local street food such as rich pho soup, crispy baguettes stuffed with ban mi and Vietnamese famous spring rolls from rice paper. Many cafes in Saigon are located in the entrances of residential buildings. Sometimes you need to climb a couple of floors, walk past ordinary apartments, nod to the locals, who often leave the doors open. Do not be embarrassed, these are just the features of local establishments. If you want to stretch your legs and not dodge the flow of mopeds, then go to the embankment of the Saigon River. You can walk along it for hours, and along the way, you can admire the numerous small shrines or take away coffee from local coffee shops. Ho Chi Minh City is a city where you do not want to run from a sight to a sight, but just live. Drink the strongest local coffee, open a new cafe for yourself every day and nod warmly to the bronze Ho Chi Minh passing through the square of the same name.
16 April 2020 / 7 minutes to read
What to see in Turkey outside hotels
The former center of the Ottoman Empire is associated today mainly with resort towns such as Antalya and Alanya, five-star hotels with an all-inclusive system and a relaxing vacation at sea. But once you go beyond the hotel complex, you will see miracles worthy of tales of "One Thousand and One Night". There are cave towns and mountain tracks, modern metropolitan areas and ancient ruins in Turkey. Travellizy Team is confident: this country is clearly worth getting to know it better, even if for the sake of this you have to abandon the buffet. Capital rhythm of Ankara Ankara is not as popular as Istanbul, and some do not even know that it is the capital of modern Turkey. But still, there are a couple of interesting places in Ankara. If you are interested in the history of Turkey, then you should definitely visit Anitkabir, or the mausoleum of Atatürk. The first president of the country is buried in the majestic building, and the change of guards in front of the mausoleum is a very interesting and original show. Are you interested in a more ancient history? Then you need to get to the Hisar Fortress. On the way to it, you can buy various souvenirs and take a walk along the streets of the old center, and from the walls of the fortress itself, you can see the best view of the Turkish capital. Are you more interested in mosques, not fortresses? You will find Kocatepe, the largest mosque in Ankara, whose gilded domes rise above the city. There are also many parks, good shopping centers and interesting museums. 2-3 days will be enough to get acquainted with the Turkish capital, and after that you can go inland. The Contrasts Of Istanbul: What To See In The City On The Bosphorus Hot-air balloons over the caves in Cappadocia You will not find the town or village called Cappadocia on the map, because this is not the name of the settlement, but the area in central Turkey to the north-east of the city of Nevsehir. Cappadocia is the country's second most popular tourist destination after Istanbul, and the landscapes of these lands will be remembered forever. The landscapes of Cappadocia are small white cliffs and narrow gorges between them, countless caves and mountain temples. In order to properly see the unusual landscape, you should go flying in a hot-air balloon. However, if you see dozens of balloons flying over the Martian-like landscapes, this will be very impressive from the ground. Get up early for the best views and shots, as the cliffs of Cappadocia are stunningly beautiful at dawn. While balloons soar above the cliffs, there are a lot of interesting things beneath them. In Cappadocia, there are as many as 6 underground towns, and about 20 thousand people lived in Derinkuyu, the largest of them. You can wander through the cave labyrinths all day, or you can even spend the night there. Many hotels in Cappadocia are also located in caves. Knocking On Heaven's Door: A Journey Around Cappadocia Volcanic soup along the Lycian Way The Lycian Way is considered to be one of the best hiking trails in the world among the hikers. In order to walk along it, special training and equipment are not necessary; comfortable shoes, a tourist backpack and tents with a sleeping bag will be enough in the warm season. And you can even do without a tent, small villages are scattered along the path, in which there are cozy hotels for travelers. The full route through the Lycian Way is about 500 kilometers and about a month on the road (depending on your rhythm and physical fitness). But if you don’t have a month at your disposal, then it’s okay, as there are routes for a week or two. Walking through the territory of the ancient kingdom of Lycia, you can admire the mountain peaks and a 20-km beach, go through the canyon and see the ruins of the castle. Those who walk along the trail with a tent and a bowler will have a truly unique opportunity - to cook camp porridge over a fire that flows out directly of the ground. Turkey from the Aegean Sea: how to plan a trip on a yacht Having tea while overlooking the fjords of Karadeniz The landscapes that will open in front of you in the Karadeniz region, in the north-east of Turkey, are not associated with this country. Walking around tea plantations and looking at the fjords in the Chorokh valley, you can imagine yourself somewhere in Norway. In Karadeniz, there is the highest dam of Turkey called Deriner, and there are picturesque monasteries on the banks of the Chorokh River. What is noteworthy, they are Georgian, because Chorokh carries its waters from Turkey to Batumi, where it flows into the Black Sea. Another attraction of the region is Kackar Mountains National Park. This is a real paradise for lovers of mountain hikes, you will see here waterfalls as well as lakes and glaciers. Old stone bridges over mountain rivers await lovers of spectacular insta-photos, while numerous family cafes await fans of hearty Turkish cuisine. In the Aladaglar National Park, which is also on the territory of Karadeniz, you can get to know Kapuzbasi waterfalls closer. This is a group of seven waterfalls, which effectively flow from sheer cliffs. And, if you come to the national park in winter, then you will find an unforgettable sight - waterfalls made of ice. Noah's Ark parking place: Ararat The biblical Mount Ararat belongs to two countries simultaneously - Armenia and Turkey. From the Armenian side, you can admire it only from afar, but from the Turkish side, you can make a full-fledged ascent. The main attractions of the national park on the slope of Ararat are glacial caves, in one of which, according to legend, the icy remains of Noah’s Ark still remain. Even at the foot of Ararat, there are interesting stone monasteries, and melting glaciers nourish the numerous green valleys that bloom very beautifully in spring. Snow-white terraces of Pamukkale Pamukkale is a real miracle of nature. From afar, it may seem that these are glaciers, but in fact, the white steps, reminiscent of the rice terraces of Asia, are limestone, salt and calcium. Each terrace is also a small natural pool, the water from which flows to the platforms below, forming a stunningly beautiful cascade. The waters of Pamukkale are mineral, which means healing. Near the terraces, there are many pools, baths and hospitals, where you can perfectly improve your health, relax your body and soul. And the most popular pool is called the Cleopatra Basin, and the water in it is warm all year round. The most convenient way to get to Pamukkale is from the city of Marmaris, on the coast of the Aegean Sea. The way will take about 2 hours. City of myths: Ephesus Once upon a time, the majestic Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, stood in Ephesus. Nowadays, there is only one column left from the temple, and even it was collected from the fragments excavated by archaeologists, but even without it there is something to see in ancient Ephesus. The Celsus Library (not to be confused with Celsius) was the second largest library of the ancient world, after Alexandria. In the III century AD, it burned down, but the impressive facade with columns and sculptures has perfectly preserved. Not far from the library, there is the Great Amphitheater, and here, without any second places, it is the largest open-air theater in the world. At one time, it accommodated up to 25 thousand spectators, and gladiators fought in the arena and actors performed. On the outskirts of Ephesus, there is Mount Bulyubyul with a modest stone house at the top. It is in this house, according to legend, the Virgin Mary spent her last years. Near the house, there is a spring, whose water is considered healing, and a wall of desires, where you can attach a patch with a request. In the vicinity of Ephesus, you can take a walk in the coniferous forest or even swim in the Aegean. Good comfortable beaches are in Kusadasi, the nearest major city. If you need not only ancient ruins, but also developed tourist infrastructure, then you can stay there or in the city of Selchuk. Ephesus itself is located 50 kilometers south of Izmir. The birthplace of water cats: Van Lake Van is located near the border of Turkey with Iran. This is the largest salt lake in the world, whose water is saturated not only with mineral salts, but also with soda. It is surrounded by beautiful mountains, and in the city of Van, there are many salt, mineral and mud baths. The shore of Van has few beaches, but there are many excellent and almost deserted beaches on numerous islands, which can be reached by ferry or a rented boat. But the main attraction of the lake is the Van cats. Where else will you see cats, happily jumping into the water, swimming in it and catching fresh fish for lunch? By the way, you can also try fish from Van in one of the cafes in the city of the same name. Turkey is not only Istanbul and hotel rest. It is also rich in history, diverse nature, hospitable people and delicious cuisine. The country is clearly worth a visit not only as part of a last-minute offer, and only then will it be revealed to you in all its diversity.
31 March 2020 / 8 minutes to read
Massages and temples: things to do in Bangkok
If you judge the capital of Thailand by the film “The Hangover. Part II,” you can decide, that it is far from being the most pleasant city, where elephants walk in the streets, and locals start revolutions every night. In fact, Bangkok is nothing like that. So, what is it like? Noisy and at the same time calm, ancient and modern, bright and peaceful. In the city, there are no less forms and faces than Buddha statues in its temples, which are definitely worth seeing, Travellizy Team is sure in it. Worship the Buddha This can be done in any of the hundreds of temples in Bangkok, but there are several among them that every tourist should visit. Most of the iconic temples are located within the Golden Triangle, the capital's tourist center. An excellent view of the city opens from Wat Saket, the Temple of the Golden Mount. Although it is located in the center, crowds of tourists are almost never here, mainly locals come to pray in the temple. A long staircase leads to the top of the temple hill, and at the end of the path, you will find Buddha statues, bells that you need to ring for good luck and many other attributes of the Thai religion. Entrance to the territory costs only € 1.4. Another good view of the center of Bangkok is from the stairs of Wat Arun temple, whose snow-white stupas rise across the river from the royal palace. The temple looks especially picturesque at sunset, when its buildings are painted with the setting sun in all shades of pink and red. For entrance, you also have to pay € 1.4. The famous statue of the Emerald Buddha can be seen in the temple of Wat Phra Kaew, and you can take a picture against the heels of a huge reclining Buddha in the temple of Wat Pho. You can wander through the courtyard of the latter for more than an hour, examining a colorful mosaic on dozens of different-sized stupas. Entrance to Wat Pho is more expensive than to other temples, it is € 5.5. Ride along the channels City transport in Bangkok is represented not only by buses and subways, but also by boats. The entire Thai capital is pierced by Khlong channels, through which motorboats scurry around. A ride on such a boat is a real adventure, you will learn to quickly jump into it from the pier, will help other passengers to lower the curtain on board to protect themselves from splashes from the oncoming boat, and all this fun costs around 0.3 euros. Boats run from morning until late in the evening; each berth must have a route map and a schedule. Another option to see Bangkok from the water is to board a boat that runs not along the channel, but along the Chao Phraya River. This can be either urban transport or a cruise ship, on board of which you can be served lunch. From Pattaya to Phuket: Thailand's Top Beach Resorts Go to the market Even the most ordinary Bangkok market will give you a lot of unforgettable experiences. Noise, din, exotic fruits and songbirds, antiques and household appliances, pedestrians and mopeds. And, of course, street food, that no Thai market can exist without. Bangkok's largest market is Chatuchak, located near the eponymous park and metro station. It is so huge that maps are provided at the entrance, and you can literally buy everything there. The amulet market, which is located near Thammasat University, is much smaller and calmer. It is here where monks and ordinary Thais choose their personal talisman or Ganesha statue for home. Bangkok's Chinatown is one continuous exotic market, and if this exotic is not enough for you, then you should visit a floating bazaar or shopping arcades on the railroad tracks. There are several floating markets in the capital and its surroundings; each of them operates according to a complex schedule tied to the lunar calendar. The easiest way is to get to the Talingchan market, which works only on weekends, but in the suburban Damnoen Saduake, brisk trade on boats takes place every day. By the way, the last episode of “Bondiana” was filmed here. On the rails near Ma Klong station, they sell all sorts of things, and literally a dozen seconds before the arrival of the train, the merchants quickly curl up to lay out their goods again as soon as the last carriage rumbles. You do not like markets, but you can’t live without shopping? Then your choice is the shopping centers of Bangkok. The largest of them are Siam Paragon, Central World, MBK Center and Gaysorn. The choice here is no worse than in European shopping centers, and the prices are much lower. Walk around the Palace Initially, the Grand Palace was built for the royal family, but the current king of Thailand does not live in it. Today, on the rather large territory of the palace, there are many thematic museums, about a hundred different pagodas, a temple, a royal library with sacred palm-leaf manuscripts and much more. The entry price to the complex is €14, and you can buy an audio guide for another €5.5. Visit the hottest street Khaosan Road is the noisiest, most touristic, most stereotypical place in Bangkok. It has the overwhelming concentration of bars and clubs for every taste, cocktails on Khaosan are poured not into glasses, but into plastic buckets, street vendors sell fried scorpions and locusts (by the way, Thais themselves do not really eat these things), and everything is saturated with an atmosphere of fun and revelry. It is better to go to Khaosan in the evening, then it is the most fun here. If you want to make new acquaintances, then here you can settle in one of the hostels. Do not expect luxury conditions, but anyway, it will definitely be fun and noisy. Rambutri, the next street, is a little quieter. Soi Cowboy, the local red light district, competes with Khaosan for the title of Bangkok’s most brightest street. In its clubs, such things happen, which can drive even an experienced courtesan into the paint. Going to this street in the evening, remember about safety, as there are a lot of scammers in such places. By the way, the Bangkok authorities plan to clean up Khaosan in the near future, removing most of the establishments from the street and bringing them to a decent appearance. So hurry up to visit the famous Khaosan Road. Samui Island: What to do in the paradise corner of Thailand Give yourself into the hands of a masseur Massage is a feature of Thailand, and you can find places where it is done in any area of the city. In the tourist salons, you will be served aromatic tea after the procedure and will be treated very carefully. The institution for local people resembles rather a medical center than a luxury spa from the pictures. By and large, the true Thai massage is just therapeutic, with a hard eversion of the limbs. But do not be afraid of injuries, even in the non-tourist salon you will be asked, which parts of your body can be limbered harder and which are better not touched at all. A full body massage costs around € 8. Wat Pho temple is considered to be the cradle of Thai massage, but the place is already so hyped and touristic, that there is always a crowd and a queue in front of the entry, and the price tag is higher than the Bangkok average. All by yourself: where to go for a retreat Overeat street food Thailand in general and Bangkok in particular is a paradise for gastro-tourists. And it’s not only about cafes and restaurants, but also about street food, which has been elevated to cult here. Do not be afraid to buy flavored dishes on a mobile counter (hawker stalls), behind which there is an elderly Thai. They prepare for themselves and other locals, so the ingredients are always fresh, and all the hawker stalls are regularly inspected by the sanitary service. If you want to feel like a local, then go to any street eatery where they serve a hot pot. The essence of this dish is that they bring you a clay pot with broth, standing on hot coals, and you add ingredients to your taste there. These are mainly fish, seafood and greens. On the run, you can enjoy meat or fish balls on a wooden skewer or pancakes-rotti. The most popular dishes in Thailand are pad thai noodles, tom yum soup, papaya catfish salad called som tam (or simply “papaya salad”), as well as dozens of curry species - yellow, red, green, massaman. A good portion of tom kha kai soup can be easily divided into two, and vegetarians will like spring rolls, rice paper pancakes with glass noodles and vegetables inside. You can drink coconut water, smoothies or fruit juices, when eating spicy Thai food. And, if you don’t want to put out a fire in your stomach, just tell the seller or waiter “no spicy”, these two words can be understood everywhere in Asia. See Bangkok aerial view The best view of Bangkok opens from the observation deck, located on the 83rd floor of the Bayok Sky Hotel. The ticket price includes a drink in the bar, and the observation deck itself rotates, so that, standing in one place, you can admire the whole city. Climbing Bayok is best half an hour or even an hour before sunset. Then you can see the city in the sunshine, enjoy the sunset and enjoy the night-time views of the Thai capital. The price of the lifting up is € 7. There are other great places to see the metropolis from above, such as the Moon Bar on the top floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel and the Sky Bar at Lebua Hotel. In the latter, by the way, the famous "The Hangover. Part II" was filmed. Sit in the park Bangkok is a very green city with a lot of parks. The main city park is called Lumphini, and it is very popular among both locals and tourists. In Lumphini, you can just sit on a bench by the lake, or you can go in for sports by joining the joggers (there are thousands of them in the evenings) or the Thais in colorful tights doing aerobics. Also in Lumphini Park, you can feed the lizards or carps, and if you spend there for about 18 hours, do not be surprised with the music playing from the loudspeakers and all the locals suddenly stopping or standing up. This will be the national anthem, and the Thais are great patriots. Temples and palaces, markets and shopping malls, parks and bars in Bangkok will definitely not leave anyone indifferent, and you will most likely want to return to this city again and again. And each time, it will reveal to you one more of its faces.
25 March 2020 / 6 minutes to read
Oman: an oriental tale with European comfort
What do you know about Oman? An economist will associate it with cheap oil, a historian will think of with a medieval pirate state, and what about a tourist? The era of tourism is just beginning in the history of Oman, not all corners of the country are photographed and posted on Instagram, there are not many Europeans on the streets in its cities. On the other hand, Oman has a well-developed infrastructure, a high level of security and a lot of very interesting places and activities. The fort city of Muscat Muscat is the capital of Oman, a fortified city, which was a former separate sultanate not so long ago. Over the past couple of decades, it has grown in breadth, and there are no skyscrapers in Muscat because of the personal instructions of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who did not want to spoil the historical appearance of the city with glass concrete skyscrapers. Thanks to this, you can see traditional stone houses in any district. Muscat is insanely colorful. Oriental men in traditional gelabias play backgammon on the squares in the evenings, women in burqas or jeans walk with their children, and all this can be enjoyed against the background of the bright blue water of the Gulf of Oman on the one hand and rocky low mountains on the other. You can feel its color better in the Muttrah region. It has the central market called souq, the gold market, the fish market, and its promenade is great for long walks. Are you tired of walking? Go wash off your fatigue to the nearest beach, they are very clean and beautiful here. From Muttrah, you can walk to Riyam Park, which is the favorite resting place of the capital's inhabitants, and photograph along the way a couple of forts on the rocks and a giant incense bowl, the Giant Incense Burner, the symbol of Muscat. And if you go along the promenade even further, then you can get to the area of Al Alam Palace through the old Muscat Gate. In addition to the palace itself, there are many museums in the area, the most interesting of which is the Bait Al Zubair Museum of Omani Culture. It is equipped in a traditional house with interior items preserved from the middle of the last century. The majestic Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque looks equally impressive in the rays of daylight and in the evening illumination, and inside, you can see a handmade carpet, that weighs 21 tons and a huge chandelier strewn with Swarovski crystals. If the decoration of the prayer rooms and a muezzin's voice under the arches of the mosque did not impress you, then go to the Royal Opera. The acoustics are simply stunning there, and the interior is magnificent and rich in the Sultan's style. From Muscat, you can go for half a day to the oasis of Wadi Shaab. An hour and a half drive, and you will find yourself in a picturesque gorge with a crystal-clear lake, where you can swim. And in the cave near the waterfall, you can take a lot of impressive insta photos or imagine yourself a medieval pirate in search of treasure. The Land of Luxury and Wealth: What to See in the UAE The revived oriental tale of Nizwa If you drive a hundred kilometers southwest of Muscat, you can get into the scenery of One Thousand and One Nights. The town of Nizwa used to be the capital of Oman, and it is a real historical open-air museum now. Every Friday in the Nizwa market, as well as hundreds of years before, men in snow-white gowns bargain for livestock, an impressive collection of antiquities is exhibited in the historical museum, and each street is a ready-made background for the filming of a new episode about Aladdin and the King of Thieves or Sinbad the Sailor. And, of course, there are a lot of fortresses. What would Oman be without them? You can walk around the central fortress of Nizwa for a couple of hours, its walls offer a great view of the mountains surrounding the city. Another fortification worth visiting is Bahla Fort. Sur: the capital of shipbuilders Sur used to be the center of shipbuilding in ancient times. It is here, where the famous dhows were built. These were ships, on which Omani sailors conquered most of the east coast of Africa. Nowadays, ships are still being built in Sur, however, it is for other purposes, and you can watch this process at one of the shipyards. And if you are interested in fortresses, you can take a walk to Jalan Bani Bu Ali Fort, the oldest fort in the country. There are a lot of interesting things in the surroundings of Sur. Firstly, the best beaches in Oman are here. Secondly, near the city, there is a reserve Ras Al Hadd, which was chosen by giant turtles. If you predict the season, you can see for yourself, how small baby turtles crawl out of the sand and set off on their first trip. Salalah: South of Oman If you can get to Sur from Muscat within 3-4 hours, then the way to Salalah will take much longer, because this city is located in the very south of the country, near the border with Yemen. Why go so far? For the unique artifacts of antiquity. This green oasis in the middle of endless sands is homeland of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the most famous ruler of Oman, during whose reign the country flourished. Anyway, tourists come here not only for nature, but also for the ruins of ancient settlements. The remains of the Queen of Sheba's Palace in the Sumharam district, the grave of the prophet Jacob, the village of Taka with watchtowers, whose age is hundreds and hundreds of years. And the incense extraction area around Salalah is included in the UNESCO list. Budget Dubai: maximum experience at the lowest cost Omani cuisine A separate point of the tourism program in Oman is food. Lamb is at the heart of the cuisine, it can be fried, boiled, and served with vegetables. The most famous dish is shuwaa, a whole carcass of a young lamb fried on charcoals, and mishkaki is a spit lamb. Fish dishes are also popular, sun-dried laham or charcoal-fried mashuai. Omani coffee is not just a drink, it is a whole ritual. It is served in a minted high coffee pot with traditional oriental sweets such as halva and baklava. Country features Oman is one of the most liberal and safe countries on the Arabian Peninsula. During the reign of Sultan Qaboos, it gradually turned from a state with harsh customs and high religiosity into a very pleasant place for a European. Although Oman is a Muslim country, women do not have to wear a burqa or cover their heads. In Muscat, you can see not only Europeans in shorts and skirts, but also locals in familiar Western-style clothes, although there are also enough traditionally dressed. Women are not recommended to bare their shoulders and knees, wear clothes with a deep neckline and sunbathe topless on beaches. The country has a very negative attitude to alcohol. Of course, you can find a wine list in the restaurant, but drinking alcohol in public places or walking drunk on the street is punishable by law. In Oman, such type of accommodation as apartment hotels is very common. For 30-40 euros per night, you can rent a full apartment with one or two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. Products in local supermarkets, for example, in the Spar chain, are very cheap, and the choice is no worse than the European one. Many tourists prefer to explore Oman with a rented car, this is the most convenient way to enjoy the stunning nature of the country, find the most picturesque beaches or admire the desert and mountains all alone. In order to rent a car, you must be at least 21 years old and have a year of driving experience as well as an international driving license. Can't you drive? It's okay, there is a bus service between the major cities of Oman, the buses are very comfortable, with air conditioning and free Wi-Fi (which, however, can sometimes be connected only with a local SIM card). Oman is an enchanting oriental tale that can win your heart at a glance. Ancient history and picturesque nature, a high level of safety and comfort, delicious food - all this makes Oman very attractive for tourists.
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