2018 finished out in a blur and all of a sudden it’s February 2019. While we have not been overly present here on social media in the last few months, it does not mean that we’ve been lazy! We have so many good things to share (especially one monumental one, that we CAN’T share fully yet).
One of our favorite traditions is to grab sushi and go through my list of year-end questions. There’s always WAtooto many questions, but it’s good for conversation.
You can grab a more simplified worksheet for your next year-end review by emailing me here! I’ll send it your way ASAP!
Several words come to mind as we think back to our year: re-direction, adoption, preparation, joyfulness, and hardship. Sometimes I get to the end of the year and can think about how we have missed documenting our journey here in Izmir, but every year, this recap shows me HOW MUCH WE HAVE!!!!
Here is our recap of 2018:
🔅Jason and his brother rewrote and relaunch bltn in January.
Glamping is a new term to Turkey and one I hope that catches on! Glamping is the slang word for ‘glamorous camping’ and it’s a great alternative to being in nature without the nature being on you! This fall we used Glamping Hub and booked a weekend at Saklı Göl Evleri. (Listen in to our podcast episode041 to hear about this experience as well!)
I had considered some glamping locations forour travels through SouthEast Asia but camping in another country can mean different rules and would have to figure out where to even camp. Sometimes the culture of camping can definitely be foreign. Choosing to stay with a glamping hub location meant someone else knows the rules and takes care of the details.
Don’t misunderstand, I am a camping girl! I love the campfire, morning smells of tree and dew, and the sounds of nature. However, when we left the states to move to Turkey, we left all our camping equipment behind. Maybe one day we will bring it over, but even then it would be hard to transport it since we do not own a car. So what do you do when you want to go camping but don’t have the convenience of it?
Our new solution is glamping of course!
Here are a few reasons we loved Glamping over camping:
We don’t have to buy all the equipment!
We don’t have to bring all the equipment!
Never worry about getting cold. Glamping locations usually come with comfy, warm linens and a heater!
Rain? Stay inside your nice warm cabin and enjoy the view… or TV.
Food is provided or available for purchase. Well… at least ours was!
Glamping Hub is the perfect blend of comfort in the middle of nature.
Staying with Glamping Hub was not just a place to sleep, but an experience. Jason and I wanted to experience the Glamping sites that Turkey had to offer! The booking process is easy and the website is user-friendly. Sign up, search a location or country for a glamping host, and message the guide to check for availability if needed. Or if you prefer, just book right away. You can save properties you find interesting at a later date.
Just an hour drive north of the popular summer destination of Antalya lies several man-made lakes created by a few electrical dams. For years,the place we stayed at was only used as a daytime getaway for those wanting to spend a day outside of the city in the mountains, enjoy a breakfast or lunch with family, or relax the whole day with friends. Within the last 5 years, the owner has slowly created a weekend retreat by building tents and cabins into the side of the mountain above the restaurant. It has such a modern feel to it that you forget you are staying in a tent!
The tents and cabins are equipped with private bathroom with a waterfall shower (some even have a personal jacuzzi!), a LED TV, a minibar, self-regulated air-conditioning/heating, a hairdryer, a sofa, and 2 armchairs, and a closet to store your belongings. Daily cleaning services are available as well. The best part about the tents and cabins is the balcony because each comes with a panoramic view of the lake where you can watch the colors of sunrise and sunset!
Activities are easy to come by here. Bicycles and canoes are available to rent at an hourly or day rate. Ask for a map of the area from the manager and pick one of the walking/hiking paths and go by foot or bike. If you have a larger group, the owner can organize a boat tour for fishing or one that takes you through the small river connecting 2 of the lakes. For history lovers, Sagalassos, Kremna, and the Ancient city of Milyos are some of the historical places you can visit nearby.
Enjoy ordering Turkish food from the barbecue restaurant. On a hot summer day, the natural spring water infinity pool is the perfect place to sunbathe. The facilities are family-friendly, providing a playground and shallow pool area for children. Multiple sitting areas mean you can enjoy different views of the lake or find solitude away from other guests.
Our time at the Saklı Gol Evleri was amazing. From the friendly greetings and tea offered upon our arrival to the beautifully designed rooms with a view, we loved everything about our stay here. Our room had a panoramic view of the lake where we enjoyed the mornings while our drinking coffee. The self-regulated heater and down comforters on the beds allowed us to always be at a comfortable temperature.
Breakfast was provided for us (although it may not be included with all rooms) but it looks as if it could feed more than just the 2 of us! The gozleme, or Turkish quesadilla, filled with cheese and parsley came to us hot and fresh. We definitely started craving it by the time we left! Lunch and dinner are on your own but there is always a cook on hand to take orders. We found that the delicious Turkish breakfast filled us up until dinner time.
Nature walks and relaxing filled our time here. One day we drove to Sagalassos, the ancient ruins of a city dating back to the Hellenistic period and Roman Empire situated at an altitude of 1450–1700 meters. Another time, we joined the boat tours that weaved through the small river connecting the lakes. The last morning we woke up early and watched the sunrise on the top of the Karacaören mountain!
Our weekend glamping was such a wonderful experience for us. With a unique resource of hand-picked destinations around the world, I’ll definitely be booking with Glamping Hub again! Not only did we find a new place to visit, we found a new way to travel. We suggest that if you want to see the true beauty of Turkey and enjoy the quiet, serene nature, stay at Saklı Göl Evleri!
If you want to see more pictures from different Glamping trips others went on, then go check out the Glamping Hub Instagram. This is where I first went to get some inspiration and became curious about locations near us.
[DISCLAIMER: *This post was in collaboration with a brand.* I was not paid for this post. However, I did receive a complimentary voucher from Glamping Hub and a stay from Saklı Göl Evleri a travel writer and expat blogger. One of the purposes of our website is to highlight tours and services for travelers like ourselves. At the same time, we will not recommend businesses/activities we do not think our readers will enjoy regardless of the friendship we create along the way.]
The new Istanbul-based start-up, Local Guddy, “connects travelers and locals through unique local tour and experiences.” Now, most major cities have a few local guides ready to give you a customized experience for half the cost!
The booking process is easy and the website user-friendly. Sign up, search your city for a tour, and message the guide to check for availability. Much like other ‘shared economy ‘ websites, the guide and the traveler are both able to write a review about their experience and the person. You can choose your tour and guide, just as much as the guide can choose you! We did have a couple of issues with 1 or 2 guddies not writing us back, but I am thankful for that since our guide was so amazing.
Our tour started in downtown Bangkok at a local metro stop where our group of four met our Local Guddy guide named Imp. We promptly hailed a taxi and chatted throughout the half hour drive out to the “Khlong Lat Mayom” floating market. Imp is a university student in Event Management using Local Guddy to do some work and gain experience on the side. The hours allow her to work at her available time and practice one of the many languages she knows with foreigners from all over the world.
After arriving at the market, Imp led up through the narrow single walkways of booths and vendors telling us about all the different types of food. Some of the vendors offered us samples, and other times we just make notes about what we wanted to try more of later. After buying a few Thai teas and finding a table, Imp took inventory of what we wanted to try for ‘lunch’ and went off to gather the smorgus-board of food for us*. She took care of all the money, communication, buying, and questions for us!
Here are all the foods we tried at the Floating Market: (I’m not sure if I can even remember what all of them are now!)
Satae grilled chicken
Deep-fried pork belly
Fried chicken wings
Mung Bean Thai custard
Orange dessert in the leaf- Khanom tan (toddy palm cake)
Krua apsorn Bangkok
After thoroughly enjoying our meal, we took a 2-hour boat tour around the neighboring villages via the intricate canals and waterways for only 100 Baht (appx $3). If I did have my google maps, I would have never remembered where we went! The boat tour took us to a stop where we saw an old traditional Thai home preserved against the tide of modernization. From there, we walked through the villages by foot (definitely no access for cars and very limited access for bikes and motorcycles) to meet the boat at another destination.
Imp was with us all the way and enthusiastically answered all our questions about the Thai culture, the villages, food, and whatever else came to mind. I know for sure that a self-guided experience would never have yielded such an enjoyable time at the Floating Markets!
If you are interested in being a guddy or guide, for Local Guddy, for your local area, the process seems quite simple to sign up. The team even provides training for those unsure about being a guide, the special Guddy Academy to teach you how to be a better guide.
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[DISCLAIMER: *This post was in collaboration with a brand.* I was not paid for this post. However, I did receive complimentary tours a travel writer and expat blogger. One of the purposes of our website is to highlight tours and services for travelers like ourselves. At the same time, we will not recommend businesses/activities we do not think our readers will enjoy regardless of the friendship we create along the way.]
From September 20 to December 29, 2017, Arkas Art Center (Arkas Sanat Merkezi) is hosting Landscapes of Water (Su Manzaraları) collection. As a member of the IWAI, I attended with a group of ladies on a special guided tour to hear about the collection. You may remember this groups from last year’s Christmas Bazaar or our outing to the Costumn Museum in Doğanbey and Priene.
Located in a beautiful sea view side the French Honorary Consulate Building, the Arkas Art Center was created with the art-lovers in mind sharing collections and art interest with others as the wish of Mr. Lucien Arkas, the President of the Board of Directors of Arkas Holding. The building itself has a long history. Construction of the building started in 1825 and took about 10 years to complete. Throughout the next 100 years, the structure has survived several earthquakes and an even a couple of fires.
The French Government assigned the building to be used for a 20 year period for cultural and artistic purposes, and after renovations, opened in 2011. Now it is one of the first centers in Izmir that has hosted international painters.
Spanning throughout the 10 exhibition rooms over 2 floors, Landscapes of Water contain landscape paintings dating from the first half of the 19th century to the second half of the 20th century. The paintings represented several artistic movements such as such as the Barbizon School, Impressionism, Symbolism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, and Expressionism. Artist represented include works of Eugéne Boudin, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Maurice de Vlaminck, Francis Picabia, Henry Lebasque, and Hippolyte Camille Delpy, among others.
The Arkas Art Center says:
“Landscapes of Water “reflects” the historical evolution of the pictorial medium over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. Here you will find the remarkable They invite the viewer on a fabulous odyssey through diverse geographic areas, from the banks of the Seine and the Scottish lakes to the summits of the Alps, by way of the warm light of the Mediterranean, the North Sea and the rivers of Europe.”
Being my first art gallery viewing in Izmir, I found the gallery to be well-maintain and beautifully displayed. I found the impressionist pieces to be some of my favorite, similar to a Monet type of painting. Both upstairs and downstairs are projector screen which brings the paintings and movement of the sea to life. I found an area for children to color their own painting to match the ones on display. A favorite of everyone was a luminous sunset painting that looked as if it was glowing, but instead just showed the power of colors and the impressive creations of an artist with oil paints, a canvas, and a brush.
How to get there:
The center does not have any private parking. From the Alsancak Ferry, the center is about a 12-minute walk West along the coast. From the Pasaport Ferry, it is a 7-minute walk East along the coast.
Entrance is free. Lockers are available for large bags, belongings, jackets, umbrellas, etc. on the ground floor.
Free guided tours are provided in Turkish or English for a minimum of 5 people upon request on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Tours for children are also available in similar form. See information below for contact details and operating hours.
In September, we attended 1 of the 3-part annual “İzmir Efes Opera and Ballet Days” (Devlet Opera ve Balesi Genal Müdürlüğü) sponsored by the T.C. Culture and Tourism Ministry (T.C. Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı). The festival is part of a country-wide initiative to preserve and promote opera and ballet arts in Turkey. They are not only held in Ephesus but also other major cities throughout the country.
The first of the 3 part series began with the “Gala Concert”, on Saturday, September 16. At the concert, the İzmir State Opera Orchestra performed pieces as well as accompanied an Italian soloist, Soprano Daniela Cappiello, and tenor, Gianluca Terranova. The second part on September 19, the Istanbul State Opera performed compositions from the 18th century, influenced by Ottoman culture and life in Europe. The closing performance, a ballet of “Romeo and Juliet,” was held on September 22 accompanied by a live orchestra.
At 30 Turkish Lira (approximately $8) a ticket, an event in the ancient theater of Ephesus is actually affordable to the general public. We definitely took advantage of attending at least one event! While we purchased our tickets quite easily online, our seats were not specified to any location in the theater. I heard some of our friends purchased their tickets for 15 TL from another source. Even others were about to purchase tickets with reserved seating.
Tips and tricks: The performance is (literally) in a 2,000-year-old theater made of stones and marble, and I suggest for your comfort to bring pillows for your seats! Also, blankets will keep you warm if the evening becomes a little chilly and windy. Since there is only 1 way in and out and limited parking in the lower arena of Ephesus, get there early and be patient when leaving! We had a rental car, but there are plenty of taxies available for transport.