March 21, 2013

"It's Not About the Destination, It's About the Journey" Part II

Towards the end of 2012 we took you to Seattle, Costa de la Luz and Edinburgh. With Spring on its way this week, we thought we'd inspire you with some more of our travels!

1. Capri, Italy

While it may be a bit of a trip to get to Capri, it's totally worth it! From a flight out of Naples to a cab to the Beverello port to a ferry to the island followed by a 5 minute ride on the Funicular, you'll find yourself right in the center of the city at the famous "Piazzetta," where you can enjoy a view of the beautiful landscape of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Since the fall of the Roman Empire, Capri has been a destination of relaxation, good eats, and a place to admire the greatness of nature. It's also a source of amazing activities like fishing and swimming in the clear, turquoise waters, exploring hidden coves, deep gorges and enchanting bays, or maybe even for falling in love.

The majestic Hotel Scalinatella, was established in the 1950s and is run by the Morgano family, whom are credited for running the best hotels on the island. Located along the Via Tragara and its fragrant gardens, this boutique hotel is like living in a dream with its amazing Moorish facade and terrace, perfect for a sunny breakfast overlooking the sea.

No trip to Capri is complete without visiting the Grotta Azzurra, the Faraglioni rocks and the Monacone stump, which are accessible via several boat tours or if you are feeling like a brave sailor, rent a boat on your own and navigate through the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Don't forget to take your scarf and big sunglasses, just like Jackie Onassis did back in the late 60's!

While near the Sorrentine peninsula, you might as well visit Pompeii which is a ferry ride to Sorrento and a train ride called the circumvesuviana away, and runs around the base of Mount Vesuvius. Pompeii, which was once an ancient Roman city until 76AD when mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the city under the 13 feet of ash and pumice, was known for its high economical level as well as a major source of entertainment. The city was lost for nearly 1700 years until it was rediscovered in 1748 and now remains a common place of excavation projects and historic landmarks like the Foro, Apollo's Temple and Anfiteatro. Despite, Pompeii is an attraction worth visiting with its well conserved ruins, historic significance and hot weather that gets you craving a sorrentine lemon flavored granita every time!

2. Istanbul, Turkey

Having the best of both worlds is such a Turkish thing and who wouldn't want that? Spanning both Asia and Europe and divided by the Bosphorus, Istanbul is becoming a great destination for travelers who want to see a very interesting mix of culture, history and people.

Considered the modern Constantinople, Istanbul is home to the most extraordinary treasures from ancient civilizations in the Topkapi Palace which is full of such relics as the Topkai dagger, the Spoonmaker's Diamond, Moses' rod, Abraham's saucepan, John the Baptist's hand and Mohammed's footprint, one of his teeth and a selection of his beard hairs. However, this palace is more than just a place of treasure and features a fabulous Turkish lunch spot just in front of the Marmara Sea.

One of the most unique things to do in Istanbul is to take a cruise into the Bosphorus and stand in the middle of the two continents while smoking nargile (a water pipe) with an exotic flavored tobacco. Near the Bosphorus are a plethora of restaurants serving fresh fish caught in the morning and as the sunset calls people to prayer, turn your focus to the river at night to watch one of the most picturesque views of the river, moon and mosque towers.

Did we mention Istanbul is a great shopping destination as well? Turkey, being a world leader in textile manufacturing, is the perfect place to find great home accessories and quality clothing. Not to mention, the Grand Bazaar is a 500 year old covered market filled with over 5,000 vendors who are bargaining prices and goods.

So say your prayers three times during the day and make sure to climb to the top of Galata Tower as the Muslim ritual rings throughout the city. Visit the Blue Mosque, the New Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, which used to be the basilica during the Roman Empire and later became a mosque in the Ottoman Empire. Here's a quick tip...pack socks and a scarf because you may be asked to take your shoes off and cover your head!

Despite all the history, Istanbul has many 21st century aspects as well located in Beyoglu which is full of chic boutiques and the best "mayhanes," or traditional eating houses. If you are looking to stay in style, The House Hotel in Nisantasi is located right above Prada and is the homiest of accommodations with soft lights, coffee tables and bookshelves. While the days are fun here, so are the nights and if you are looking for a fun night out, 360 is the place to be. Located over the Misir Apartments, this rooftop bar and restaurant has amazing dinner cuisines and cocktails all complimented by the city illuminated by night.

3. Medellín, Colombia

Nicknamed "Land of Eternal Spring" because of its warm days and cool nights, Medellín is the perfect city for all you outdoor lovers. From the breathless Botanical Gardens tucked in the center of the city to Parque de los Pes Descalzos, a great spot to kick off your shoes and walk around barefoot, take some time to enjoy the fresh air and natural surroundings. One of the newest and most popular additions, Parque Arvi, is assessable via a metro cable that takes you to the top of the city and into the park for a combination of spectacular views and adventure.

While you're in Medellín you have to go to one of the most visited areas in the entire city, El Parque Lleras. The beautiful park is lined with high-end clothing stores and small eateries that portray a very modern Colombia. Grab lunch at one of the vegetarian and vegan restaurants like Verdeo or Ceres Organic Market. For typical Colombian cuisine, visit Oscar de la Renta's favorite, Ajiacos y Mondongos, where the wait may be long but it's totally worth it! By night, get your rock'n'roll on at the popular club Blue and stay at the very chic and up and coming hotel, The Charlee, which was featured on Condé Nast Traveler's Hot List for best new hotels in 2012.

If you're looking to get your fill on some traditional Colombian culture, El Pueblito Paisa is a small replica of colonial times and takes you back in history without ever leaving the modern city. Not to mention, there are plenty of museums from the Museo de Arte Moderno Medellín to the Museo de Antioquia, which contains original sculptures and paintings from the famous Medellín artist, Fernando Botero. While in the Botero mood, make sure to check out the Plaza Botero which is filled with more sculptures and located right along the Museo de Antioquia.

Take a stroll through the trendy Parque El Poblado and watch it come alive after dark with everyone from tourists to the city's youth. There are plenty of bars that even allow you to grab a drink to go so you can relax in the park and hang with friends. Looking for a midnight snack? Grab some late night fast food Colombian style with salchipapas, hamburgers, hotdogs or arepas. End the night at the nearby Donde Chepe, a local spot where they serve unique shots and cocktails and plenty of interesting company.

What are some of your favorite places you've traveled? There will be more to come soon so stayed tuned...

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