Category Archives: Turkey

8 New UNESCO World Heritage Sites

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8 New UNESCO World Heritage Sites

We have a bunch of New UNESCO Heritage Sites on the list, to add to our ever-growing bucket list!

All of these cultural and natural landmarks are recognized for their outstanding value to humanity. Discover which wonders made the list this year. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just a handful of our favorites. Learn more about other sites on the UNESCO official webpage

What are some of YOUR favorite UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

Let us know in the comments!

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1. Naumburg Cathedral, Germany

Built in the 11th century, this gorgeous cathedral is remarkable from a distance for its stain glass windows and soaring Gothic arches. Its real claim to fame, however, is the medieval art inside—including 12 life-sized statues of the cathedral’s founders. The Naumburg Masters was a workshop of sculptors and stonemasons in the 13th century who dedicated their work of realistic sculptures to the cathedral and all over France, Middle Rhine area and boundaries of the German Empire. This is a destination for history buffs — the cathedral and the region around it has a high density of authentic monuments and structures dating back to the High Middle Ages.

2. Chiribiquete National Park, Colombia

Ever-surprising Colombia takes next place with this national park, sometimes called the Maloca (“Amazonian long house”) of the Jaguar. As Colombia’s largest protected site, it protects 10,810 square miles and over 3,000 species of animals and plants. High on the sandstone plateaux, over 75,000 rock paintings have been found. Nature lovers will surely love this one.

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3. Ivrea, Italy

This small Piedmont town near Turin is famous for its 20th century industrial boom in typewriters and computers. Stunning Ivrea is also a remarkably beautiful village, resting on the Dora Baltea river, and, at the time of writing, still off the usual tourists’ map.

4. Caliphate City of Medina Azahara, Spain

The Islamic civilization of Al-Andalus is highlighted all across southern Spain, especially Alhambra. Added to the list of must-sees this year is the Medina Azahara. These ruins, 1.5 hours from Seville, were built between 940 and 975 c.e. and once held the seat of the Caliphate of Cordoba.

5. Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains, South Africa

The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains are so ancient, with volcanic and sedimentary rocks dating back over 3 billion years. More adventurous travelers will have quite the holiday hiking and biking around the town of Barberton and the nature reserve.

6. The Border of Hedeby and the Danevirke, Germany

Once a Viking trading post, this cultural landscape now consists of the ruins of a 33-km-long fortification–the Danevirke–as well as the archaeological site of the trading town Hedeby. Hedeby rose in power on the major trade routes between the Frankish Empire and Scandinavia, as well as between the Baltic and North Seas.

7. Göbekli Tepe, Turkey

This mysterious archaeological site in southeastern Turkey is the oldest known example of hunter-gatherer settlers in the world. It houses the world’s oldest known megaliths, with around 200 pillars in about 20 circles, and may have the world’s oldest temple as well. Göbekli Tepe dates back to around 9600 and 8200 b.c.e., and is a fascinating glimpse into ancient Mesopotamian culture.

8. Hidden Christian Sites, Japan

Kyushu Island keeps many historical secrets, but its historic Christian community that draws the eye of UNESCO—with 10 villages, Hara castle and cathedral that were built between 16th-19th centuries, despite a ban of all outsiders during the Tokugawa Shogunate. Along with these Christian remnants, visitors can explore active volcanoes, bubbling hot springs and marvelous waterfalls.

What UNESCO World Heritage Sites are you looking forward to seeing in 2018?

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Filed under Asia, Colombia, Europe, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Turkey

Travel News: Turkey Resumes Visa Application Services for US Travelers

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Turkey Resumes Visa Application Services For US Travelers

Washington Post reports that after suspending visa services for Americans, which prevented travelers from visiting Istanbul and taking the Bosphorus ferry, In early October, Turkey had suspended visa application services for Americans. Turkish Airlines was offering refunds on Turkey-bound flights through Christmas, and US citizens with plans but no visa were stuck in limbo. Early last month, the country partially lifted the directive. US travelers can apply for visas at Turkish embassies and consulates, or third party visa companies. However, Americans cannot obtain the document through two previously available channels: the online system called e-Visa and visa booths at Turkish airports. To apply for a visa, start by filling out the online form and select a date for an in-person appointment with consular services. The next available time could be two weeks out, so plan accordingly. For the interview, bring a bank statement, proof of travel insurance, one passport photo, a passport valid at least six months after time of entry, your travel itinerary and $160 in cash. The process should take about five business days, and travelers can pick up their visa-adorned passport at the consulate. Companies that help tourists obtain travel documents have also resumed their visa services to Turkey. Justin Chapman, director of sales at VisaHQ, said the firm’s average processing time is 20 to 25 business days. He added that travelers typically do not have to step foot inside the consulate, but never say never. “The embassy may request an appointment,” he said.

Airline Food Quality: Delta Healthiest And Hawaiian Airlines Worst In The US

Travelwire reports American and Delta Airlines have once again started offering complimentary meals in economy class on U.S. domestic flights, something passengers haven’t seen in more than 15 years. Delta is the clear leader among the major carriers and is tied with Virgin America this year as the healthiest airline. The worst airline food when it comes to health is on Hawaiian Airlines and United Airlines. United, the 4th largest airline in the US, needs to change the way it thinks about its food offerings. They have very little food transparency on the website, meaning that nutritional information is not available. In addition to its complimentary snacks, American began providing complimentary main cabin, but nothing very healthy. To read more on this issue: http://www.dietdetective.com/annual-airline-food-investigation-2017-18/

Hurtigruten To Expand In Arctic in 2019

Hurtigruten has announced an expanded Arctic deployment for 2019, not only sailing from Tromso to Russia, but offering expedition cruises in Svalbard with five ships, and a Northwest Passage transit on the new Roald Amundsen. It will be the first time a hybrid ship has sailed the Northwest Passage. In addition, the company announced that both the Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen will offer expedition sailings along Norway’s coast in 2019. Among new expedition offerings are departures from Tromso calling at Murmansk and Frans Josef Land. A 15-day expedition departure on the Spitsbergen will cross into Russian waters and Murmansk before sailing the Barents Sea to Franz Josef Land for five days of expedition landings.

United Airlines Will Be First US Carrier Since Continental To Fly Mainland-Tahiti

Besides Hawaiian, the only US carriers to serve Tahiti have been Continental, South Pacific Air Lines, which flew Papeete to Honolulu and Pago Pago, American Samoa, in the 1960s and Pan American World Airways, which flew from Los Angeles and Pago Pago in the mid-1960s. Continental flew Los Angeles-Papeete in the late 1980s, according to the Tahiti-Polynesia Handbook published in 1989, and may have continued into the 1990s. In an era of growth enabled by strong economies, high demand and deliveries of new widebodies led by the Boeing 787, United has now announced 13 new international routes, some primarily business and some primarily leisure, in 2017.
They include San Francisco to Munich, Zurich and Tahiti; Newark to Buenos Aires; Porto, Portugal and Reykjavik, Iceland; Los Angeles to Singapore; Chicago to Mazatlán, Mexico; Denver to London Heathrow and Cozumel; and Houston to Mazatlán, Mexico and Sydney and Dulles to Edinburgh, Scotland.

US Customs & Border Protection Is Piloting Facial Recognition

Business Travel News reports US Customs and Border Protection is investigating whether forthcoming biometric facial scans for departing foreign travelers could speed up other airport processes, like Transportation Security Administration checks, baggage tagging, lounge entry and even duty-free purchases. The agency will introduce facial scanning in 2018 to reduce the need for fingerprinting on arrival.

Etihad Sells The Good Life To Economy Passengers

Airline Ratings reports Gulf carrier Etihad is to start charging for some items in economy class, but there’s no need for clanging alarm bells. Instead of the usual charging for goods or services that were once free, Etihad is giving economy passengers the opportunity to buy a few extra comforts. All the free stuff in Etihad economy, including complimentary meals and drinks will remain but passengers will now be able to sample some of the good things usually reserved for people at the pointy end. This includes male or female Christian Lacroix amenity kits with exclusive Omorovicza skin care, products, Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut NV champagne or Christian Lacroix cotton sleepwear. Those wanting to chug down a Planet Coffee cold brew coffee will also be able to do so and in 2018 the airline will be selling what were once known as selection boxes containing sweet or healthy treats. The move comes as the Gulf carrier has been selling other “enhanced services” to passengers, including pay-for-lounge access and chauffeur transfers at some airports as well as neighbor-free and extra-legroom seats.

Delta To Charge Basic-Economy Passengers $60 To Check A Bag To Europe Next Year

CNBC reports US airlines collected nearly $4.2 billion in checked baggage fees last year. That sum could rise even more as airlines bring such fees international. Starting in April, Delta Air Lines will charge passengers who book highly restrictive basic economy fares $60 each way to check a bag for travel between the US or Canada and Europe or North Africa. The airline, among others, is taking basic economy abroad, in hopes that it will drum up more revenue as record numbers of passengers are traveling by air. Airline executives, including those at Delta, estimate that about half of passengers opt to pay for a higher coach-class fare than selecting the cheaper basic economy. The fee to check the bag, $60 each way, is the same sum that Delta is offering travelers to “upgrade” to regular economy, which offers a free checked bag.

The Futuristic New Cruise Ship Which Lets Guests ‘Walk On Water’

MSC Seaside has been designed to “bring guests closer to the sea than ever before. Among MSC Seaside’s unique design features are a wrap-around seafront promenade (dubbed to be the widest on any ship ever built) tracing the perimeter of the 323 metre-long ship, dotted by a series of bars and restaurants, while its two 40 metre-long glass-floored catwalks have been designed to simulate the feeling of “walking on water”. Guests can enjoy 360-degree views from two panoramic lifts that transport passengers between decks. MSC Seaside will offer modular cabins that can accommodate up to 10 guests. Other vertigo-inducing highlights include a glass-bottomed pathway (known as the Bridge of Sighs) at Deck 16 where guests can capture never-before-seen views from 40 metres above the ocean, as well as two panoramic glass lifts offering 360-degree vistas while transporting guests between the ship’s main pool areas and other decks. Designed to “bring guests closer to the sea than ever before”, more than 75% of the 5,119-capacity passenger ship’s cabins offer ocean views, including a selection of adaptable modular cabins that can accommodate up to 10 guests. The new ship also houses the most interactive water park at sea, built with five attractions including the first-ever “slideboarding” facility, featuring 160 meter-long dueling waterslides. Other entertainment options on offer include the two longest zip lines at sea, each stretching 105 meters, a full-size bowling alley, an interactive 5D cinema and an F1 racing simulator.

Russia To Implement Tax-Free System To Boost Tourism

Travel & Tourism Industry News reports Russia is ready to implement a tax-free system on some retail goods starting from January 2018 for tourists. According to the authors of the initiative, this should become a driver of the inbound tourism in Russia as well as a boost for trade and retail in the country. However, they also warn that next year the system will only work in a pilot form in an attempt to understand the benefits of the project. The tax-free system will be launched in six Russian cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Vladivostok, Sochi and Veliky Novgorod. It is expected to apply mainly on luxury goods, clothes, souvenirs, but not cigarettes or alcohol.

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Filed under Airlines, Europe, Turkey, USA

Holiday Recipes from the Middle East: Baba Ganuj

Happy Holidays from Caravan-Serai Tours and Willamette Intl Travel!

Each holiday season our friends over at Caravan-Serai offer an assortment of our favorite recipes from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!

Today’s recipe: Baba Ganuj or Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ganuj

 

2lbs (1kg) eggplants

1 large tomato

1 green pepper

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves

1 Tbs salt

1 Tbs mint

2 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs lemon juice

2 Tbs pomegranate molasses

 

  • Roast the eggplant s on a baking dish in medium oven approximately one hour, or until the skin darkens and begins to split, remove from oven to cool
  • When eggplants are cool enough handle, break open and scoop out the insides
  • Mash the pulp with a fork until a smooth puree
  • Add olive oil and lemon juice and set aside
  • Finely chop tomato, pepper and onion, add them to eggplant puree and stir
  • Crush garlic in a pestle with salt and stir into juice and olive oil
  • Add liquid to vegetable mixture and mix well
  • Stir in the mint
  • Serve in a shallow bowl with garnish of tomatoes or parsley sprigs and pita bread

A variation on this recipe is to cook the eggplant on a BBQ, it will enhance the smokey flavor! Enjoy!

Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 to discuss options for travel in and around the Middle East.

To read what a Sample 5 Day Emirates Desert Adventure with Caravan-Serai would look like, click here.

Caravan Serai is a Seattle-based company that specializes in small-group escorted tours to destinations in the Middle East and North Africa such as Jordan, Turkey and Morocco. Expert guides escort guests through fun-filled and tasty itineraries, valuing comfort and safety all the while trekking across ancient paths and historical ruins.

To read more about Caravan-Serai, click here.

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Filed under Africa, Egypt, Middle East, Morocco, Travel by Taste, Turkey, UAE, VOTM

Vendor of the Month: Melitour

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Melitour is a family business run by Meli and her daughter Asli, offering private and group tours that combine sightseeing and trekking with cultural education. Most of her tours feature her homeland of Turkey, but she also coordinates travel opportunities throughout Central Asia, Mongolia, China and the Arab World.

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Ephesus

Meli has spent 39 years working in guided cultural tours, her experience and efforts have culminated in some incredible, authentic and exciting tours. Her genuine, gracious, and erudite guides are selected for their years of experience and all possess deep appreciation for their country. And there’s a bonus: tips, excursions and bathroom entrance fees are all-inclusive!

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Pamukkale

Meli goes an extra mile making sure her guests are welcome and well-educated. She helps you understand modern Turkey, its unique blend of old world tradition and up-to-date values, and is well-versed in Anatolian history, Islam, Sufism and Turkish cuisine. If nothing else, her clients’ feedback are praise enough: “If you want to be a traveler, and not just a tourist. If you want to broaden your knowledge and understanding of an ancient people and their fantastic history” (Janice B., CA). She has also worked with Rick Steves on videos in Turkey, and comes annually to the USA and Canada to conduct presentations on her tours.

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Cappadocia

She also offers special interest tours: past themes have included pottery and tiles, cruises, viewing 2006’s solar eclipse in Turkey, riding the Black Train, and yachting on the Turkish Riviera and the Greek islands.

For some firsthand accounts of a Melitour, check out: http://ltburgess.tripod.com/

Willamette International Travel is proud to have been working with Meli for years now. Call us for info or to book a tour, at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Istanbul

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TURKISH SPLIT BELLY EGGPLANT

Meli also holds cooking classes and dinners on her farm not far from Ephesus and Kusadasi. Check out one of the farm’s Turkish delights, Karniyarik—split belly eggplant:

 

Ingredients

1 lb small eggplant, peeled in stripes lengthwise

½ ground meat

2 onions, cubed

½ bunch parsley, finely chopped

1 tomato, petite diced

1 tomato, sliced in half moons

Green banana peppers, as many as eggplants

Ground pepper, salt, 2 tbs olive oil, frying oil

1 cup hot water

 

Preparation

  1. Put the eggplants in salty water for 10 minutes. Heat vegetable oil in a deep pot, dry the eggplants and fry them.
  2. Drain excessive oil by resting them on a paper towel, then place in an oven dish.
  3. In a deep frying pan, heat olive oil. Add onions and stir for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add ground meat, cook until the meat soaks all the juice it releases.
  5. Add diced tomato, stir until cooked.
  6. Turn off heat, add chopped parsley, salt and pepper.
  7. With the help of two spoons, slit eggplants into two, leaving tops and bottoms attached.
  8. Stuff eggplants with ground meat mixture.
  9. Place a slice of half-moon-shaped tomato and a green pepper on top of each split belly eggplant. Pour 1 cup of hot water on top and bake in a preheated oven at 400F until green peppers are nicely baked.
  10. Serve with rice and yoghurt.

 

 

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Filed under Turkey, Vendors, VOTM