Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The 5th season - carnival in Germany

Today, on November 11th at exactly 11.11 am is the magical date for the beginning of the 5th season in Germany: carnival. In German it’s called Karneval and Fasching, depending on the region. Until Aschermittwoch (Ash Wednesday) celebrations, Sitzungen (sessions), floats, street events, parties, balls and many other festivities take place all over the country.
Today is also the moment when the ‘Tollitäten’, Prince and Princess carnival take over the reign of their ‘närrische’ subjects. Most famous are the Karnival in Köln and Mainz as well as the Münchner Fasching. Popular is the Weiberfastnacht in Cologne which is celebrated on March 7th 2011.
It’s a free for all for women, who storm the Town Hall and are allowed to cut off the tie of any man they choose. And to kiss them too. It's a fun occasion for a sinlge woman traveler. Just don a costume, mingle with the crowd and do as you please.
Karnevalsgesellschaften work all year on the elaborate floats which parade the streets of Köln, Mainz and other German cities. Sweets are thrown into the crowds who line the streets and cheer the floats. Everybody participates, wearing costumes and disguises or just a red nose.
Go and enjoy the 5th season in Germany.

Friday, November 5, 2010

How to get around as a single woman traveler

My recent arrival in Beirut, a city I don’t know at all, is a good opportunity to practise the best way of getting around when you are a woman travelling on your own. After four days of trying out this, that and the other, I think I have discovered the basics which, of course, can be applied to any other location in the world.


Obviously, the first thing you do is to get yourself a decent map to see where you are and where the different districts of any city are located in relation to the location of your hotel or apartment. Draw a circle in red around your hotel so you can always see at a glance were you need to end up.

Fold the map to show only the section of where you want to go. Nothing makes you look more like a –sometimes vulnerable- tourist than holding up a big flapping map in the middle of the road and staring at it in confusion.

Be aware, that maps do not altogether coincide with reality. They are simplifications. You think, something is a clear run and it turns out that you have to take twists and turns which don’t show on the map.

Districts often go by different names. Familiarize yourself with them and find them on your map before you set out.


The best way of getting orientated is on foot. Taking a taxi is easy, but you lose direction quickly, because taxi drivers take short cuts. Dispense with heels and wear flats and always watch out for holes and other obstacles on the pavement. Learn how streets are crossed. Are pedestrian crossing to be trusted or not? Are one way roads respected or not?

When taking a turn into another street, always look back and memorize landmarks, shops or billboards so you can easily retrace your steps.

Don’t hesitate to ask locals. Rarely will they send you in the wrong direction (it has happened to me, but not in Beirut). Pointing at your map helps when there are language problems, but be aware that, like here, locals seldom know street names. They refer to destinations by landmarks or buildings.


They are a blessing and a cruse in any country. A blessing because it’s the easiest way to get from A to B, a curse because there are different sorts of taxis and different fares. Many Middle Eastern countries have communal taxis which go vaguely in your direction and are shared by strangers. Leant what the fare is. Flag down a cab, shout your destination and add ‘service’ and if the driver stops you know you are on your way.

Individual taxis either have a meter, but always make sure it’s running. Or you need to agree the fare in advance. Make sure you know what it normally is or you end up paying twice as much or more because you have identified yourself as an ignorant tourist.


Riding local buses is great fun but rarely will you find itineraries or even stops (at least in the Middle East). Make sure you know how the ticket system works, do you need tokens, do you pay the driver, do you need the exact fare? Then, simply hop on and see where the bus takes you. Don’t forget your map and you’ll end up somewhere you will recognize although it may not be where you wanted to go in the first place.

After all, discovering places and doing as the locals do is part of the fun and excitement of travel.


Every city has areas where it is not a good idea to go, much less on your own and as a woman. Make sure what they are called and where they are. Pay attention to your surroundings, don’t flaunt 7 gold bracelets on your arm and a 2carat diamond on your finger. Dress to blend in and avoid tourist gear like hats with batches on it or the famous socks/ sandals combo. Leave plunging necklines for clubbing. But, don’t be too anxious. Don’t clutch your purse to your bosom and constantly look around for possible muggers.

I attended a self defense course a few years back and the first thing our instructor taught us was this: don’t look like a victim or you will become a victim. Be alert but also be confident. A self assured attitude is your best protection. I have found that to be sound advice.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hallo Beirut!!!

This is my second day of three months in Beirut. Follow my adventures, travels and experiences on my other blog:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Often overlooked - the Ephesus museum

One of Turkey’s most famous landmarks and on top of every visitor’s must see list are the vast and impressive ruins of Ephesus. Located not far from the lovely coastal town of Kusadasi on Turkey’s Aegean Sea, people often come off the cruise ships which dock there and then go on a day trip to Ephesus. The site is immense and certainly well worth a visit, but what is often overlooked and, in fact, rarely included in organized tours, is a visit to the Ephesus museum. The museum is to be found in Selcuk . All visitors to the ruins of Ephesus pass through Selcuk anyway. So, if at all possible, go either by dolmus (minibus) from Kusadasi or else take a taxi and stop at the museum. It’s clearly indicated by a sign reading ‘Müze’. And here comes the secret: the best finds, statues and treasures excavated to Ephesus are not at the site but in the museum. The visitor is greeted by a reconstructed room of an ancient Roman mansion. Original tiles and mosaics cover the floor and walls and, to make matters a bit livelier, cut outs of Romans in their traditional dress populate the room. The museum only has a few rooms which are easy to negotiate and then you turn a corner and there she is: the famous Goddess Cybele, reproduced everywhere is actually standing in a niche in the museum. In duplicate, because a smaller statue was also found. A lovely courtyard with trees and a coffee shop allows for a rest and, equally interesting, a few rooms on the ground floor exhibit paintings by modern day Turkish artists. Don’t miss it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dress like a local--or rather not?

One nice aspect of travel is of course to admire the colorful local garments worn by women and men. Vibrant hues, shimmering fabrics, lace, flowers, elaborate gold ornaments, at the sight of all this abundance, the temptation is there to slip into the role of local. However, there is a fine line between blending in and making a fool of oneself. Of course, many of the most elaborate costumes are only worn on special occasions and celebrations anyway, so they are definitely out. But what about everyday wear like kimonos, saris, dirndls and, yes, Lederhosen?? Would or should you as a clearly Western woman don a kimono and cloggs and go shopping in broad daylight in Tokyo's Ginza? Should you squeeze yourself into the thight bodice of a dirndl and stroll across the Viktualienmarkt in Munich if you happen to hail from Ghana? Or are Lederhosen ok for a gentleman from Japan who enjoys a Mass or five at the Oktoberfest? I think not. The exception are, for woman, Arabic countries where they have to cover up. Saris and kimonos could be ok for evening wear if you are not a local. Headscarves, long sleeved blouses and baggy pants are often worn (and expected) by women who are engaged or married to a Turkish man. And the Lederhosen best fit the muscular bodies of the local lads. For fun I tried on the antique caftan you see in the picture. I couldn't have left the shop with it anyway, the price was skyhigh. Any opinons about the subject would be much appreciated.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Coming soon

I'm happy to announce that I'm currently creating a new blog, or rather a decent website with professional help. I already got the domani name: Glamourgranny Travels. The content will be similar to the current one but with more sections and directed at older women who like to roam the world but prefer to do so in some comfort. I'll feature hotels, spas, luggage, keep fit tips and look into some organised tours as well. It'll have more sections, a picture gallery and tons of links to other website also directed at older women but not necessarily dealing exclusively with travel. It's an exciting new enterprise and I only hope that many will find it interesting.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Getting into the spirit of Cappadoccia

Capadoccia, the otherworldy landscape more or less in the middle of Turkey is all about bizarre rock formations called chimneys or mushrooms, caves, hikes or going up in a balloon and looking at it all from above, accompanied only by the sound of the wind and the hot air keeping you afloat. On my way to Van in the very east of Turkey I stopped in Ürgüp which can be considered as one of the gateways to the wonder-world of Cappadoccia and what better place to get into the spirit of things than spending the night in a cave hotel. I found the ideal place in the Ürgüp Cave Inn. I couldn't have made a better choice. The hotel has only seven rooms and-as the name suggests-in partially built into the rock. Arriving you get already a stunning view of some rock formations and caves which rise up behind the hotel. The rooms are spacious and beautifully furnished with a lot of attention to detail. It's noticable that this is a family run place. Outside is a terrace with wines growing over it for use in summer. The hotel offers only breakfast which is served in the 'family kitchen' which is tiny, but if all guests are hungry at once, an ample tray is carried to your room. Imagine this, room service, a shower which works, particularly nice soap, free WiFi and central heating to take off the chill for EUROS 25 for a single room. Even more, Ömer, the owner, will bend over backwards to arrange trips for you and give you tips where to eat and what else to do in Ürgüp. Rarely have I found a more friendly atmosphere and better value for money, so the scene for my Cappadoccia adventure was set.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Participating in Blog Action Day

This year's theme is water and I just posted a blog on my nileguide/Lebanon page.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Finding the Van cats

For once one of the principal reasons for my recent trip to Van in the far east of Turkey near the border with Iran and Armenia was not to look at museums, archaeologial sites and breath taking nature (I did that too) but to find animals. Two in fact: one being the famous monster of Lake Van and the other, more realistic, the Van cat. These cats are very special and only bred and raised in Van. They are all white, have different colored eyes and their most intersting idiosycrasy is that they absolutely love water. That part of Turkey is not a prime destination for tourism which means that if you want to see something you very much have to find your own way there. I love that because it makes travel an adventure and so much more interesting. How did I find the Van cat? Well, my first port of call was the hotel manager. He brust into laughter when I mentioned the monster and said that he would call it at midnight so I could see it. When he was finished laughing he got serious and told me about the 'Cathouse' located within the campus of Van university. A map of the city revelaed the location. So, I took the dolums (minibus) into Van and then went about finding the next one which runs to the university. Not an easy enterprise but everybody I asked for direction were trying to be helpful, but...there was the little matter of communication. Nobody speaks English or any other language I know, so I got a crash course in Turkish and my limited konwledge of the language increased out of necessity. I got on the right bus and when we came to the entrance of the university, an armed guard (!!)got on the bus and asked me where I was going. 'Kedi evi', I beamed, proud to know the words. He beamed right back, motioned me off the bus and then accompanied me all the way to the cathouse...and stayed. There they were, hundreds of little, white, wooly balls, running around in their enclosure and looking at the foreign visitor with one brown and one green or blue eye. It is as if they know how special (and expensive) they are, because they didn't feel like posing for me. Just gave me a big, pink jawn. Nevertheless, I found my Van cats and managed to get a few pictures of these extraordinary and so,so cute creatures.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Striking a balance

The travel writer's life is a very busy one. First there is the travel itself, going off to all the fascinating places you wanted to see and visit all your life. But, being a travel writer means that you do not want to keep it all to yourself, you have the urge to share with others and, hopefully, to inspire them to go too and enjoy as much as you did. So, next you put finger to keyboard and write your stories, add your pictures and submit your finished product to either the sites which already publish you or to pitch to new venues. But, the best story does no good if nobody reads it or knows about it. Hence, you have to get it out there by making use of social networks like FB, twitter, TBE, tripatini, name but a few. Which leads me to the subject of this post. The choice is endless and adding your work isn't all. You need not only to promote yourself but others too who in turn might or might not return the favor. Then you start reading other travel writer's stories, get carried away and before you know it, your fingers cramp, your eyes close and its midnight! This whole situation, rewarding and interesting as it is, can be confusing at times, so your life needs streamlining and you need to strike a balance between your own productivity and the promotion and enjoyment of other people's work. I have decided to dedicate two days a week which I call 'mutual promotion and admiration days' where I do nothing else but socialise in cyberspace. Any thoughts of my own writing are put out of my mind and I can fully concentrate on that task alone. The days of the week vary, depending on looming dead lines or a trip I just HAVE to take, but on the whole it's a system that works for me and brings results.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Let the travel Gods guide you!

After a few exciting days in Van in the east of Turkey near the border with Iran I wanted to go back home which is right across the country in Didim on the Aegean Sea. As, on the one hand, I love to travel by coach, but, on the other, that entailed a 27 hour ride, I suddenly had the idea to interrupt the trip half way and have a look at Cappadoccia. The travel Gods spoke to me and suggested I stop over in Kayseri. I did and what a find it was. From there I took a minibus to the town of Ürgüp, the true gateway to Cappadoccia. On my way the first bizarre formations of volcanic stone, eroded by time, wind and rain and shaped into incredible forms, hove into view. The further I travelled, the better it got. A landscape like from another planet and to be found nowhere else in the world. Instead of a stop over I stayed 2 days and would even have gone on one of the famous baloon rides if it hadn't started pouring with rain and all flights were cancelled. Sitting snugly in a little tour bus and dashing out from time to time to take a closer look was nice enough.To top it all, the travel Gods spoke again and guided me to a romantic cave hotel with only 7 rooms and family run. Now I feel ready to continue my journey home, happy to have had another unforgettable travel experience to share with you. The picture was taken by my travel companion Bev Sanders from Brusseles.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

When stone seems to talk

I love to visit museums and historical sites and, not surprisingly, one of my first outings in Van on the shores of Lake Van in the very east of Turkey was to the historical museum. I have often found the monuments, statues and stone carvings are impressive because of their sheer size but, on closer inspection, the faces often lack expression. They are, in fact, 'stony'. Therefore an involuntary 'oh' escaped my lips when I came face to face with these 12 stelae which were mounted in the museum's courtyard. They were found near the town of Hakkari and date from the 11th century BC! A find which is unique to Anatolia. Tell me if it is just my imagination or do they seem to 'talk' to you too?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Merit Sahmaran Hotel-a true find in Van

I decided to take a trip acorss the entire country of Turkey, from Bodrum in the West to the fabulous Lake Van in the east, close to the border with Iran. That took 27 hours and the tired single woman traveler needed to place to saty and rest. And, by chance, happened upon the Merit Sahmaran Hotel in Edremit, located just between the city of Van and Gevas where the boats to Akdmar Island depart. The hotel sits right on the shore of Lake Van and affords beautiful views. The rooms are comfortbale and offer strong box, slippers, hairdryer and, most importnant, free WiFi. Best of all is the spa with about 20 different kinds of massages and a gym as well as an outdoor pool. The stuff are pleasant and helpful and their English is quite good. Of course, the single woman traveler enjoyed the luxury of the spa and recharged batteries with a meal in the Turkish restaurant. Shuttle service is provided if you arrive at the airport and also to Van if you ask nicely.My single room incl. breakfast was very good value for money at EUROS 55.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A few things to know about Mykonos

The Greek island of Mykonos is one of the most popular holiday destinations of the region. Images of windmills, narrow street with quait white-washed houses, beautiful beaches, a thriving nightlife and more spring to mind when thinking about Mykonos. It#s all there but there are a few practical things to know too to avoid disappointment. For starters, Mykonos has two ports where ferries dock: the old port which is close to Mykonos town and the new port which, unfortunately, is far, far away in the midlel of nowhere. I arrived on the big ferry from Athens, saw the town of Mykonos approach and then the ferry went right past and docked at the new port. What greeted me when I walked off was....nothing. A vast concrete parking lot, a bus stop with no buses in sight, a taxi rank with no taxis, a tiny shack which I misstook for some kind of tourist information but wasn't, in short, I was stranded with no means to get away. Mykonos town lurked far in the distance and I couldn't even make out a road to walk there! Nobody awaited me to take me to my destination and I wouldn't have known what to do if I hadn't remembered a fried who ran a restaurant at the other end of the island. I phoned him and he came to the rescue. Facit: make sure you know where you arrive and arrange for transport in advance. My friend told me that taxis are a rarity on the island and during my stay I found that out to be true. Another thing: there are, in my view, far too many cars and scooters on the island. The roads are narrow, steep and winding and in the summer season are clogged with cars which have nowhere to park and tourists on scooters who have little regard for the safety of pedestrians. I found it quite uncomfortable to have to jump out of the way all the time to maintain life and limbs in tact. So, be aware of these things and enjoy your stay and a marvellous very rare silver sunset.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A boutique hotel in Salzburg

When during my travels around the globe, I find a boutique hotle which is particulalry suitable to the single woma traveler I write bout it on this blog. I happened upon a lovely specimen on my recent trip to Salzburg/Austria. The hotle is called Hotel am Dom, which 0erfectly indicates its location: in the heart of the historical center of Salzburg, near the Dom and the Goldgasse it couldn't be more conveniently located for explring the wonders of the Mozart city. The hotel is very welcoming, modern with a hint of minimalist but not cold and uncomfortabel as such hotels often are. The rooms have every amenitiy including WiFi and are reasonably priced from EUROS 90 for a single and EUROS 130 for a double depending on season. See the website for further information.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Victoria Hislop and Spinalonga

My recent trip to Crete and the island of Spinalonga inspired me to write my latest article for Literary Traveler. Of course, following Victoris Hislop's book 'The Island' and its intricate story was a brilliant guide.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Romantic Prien am Chiemsee

I'm just touring the south of Bavaria/Germany and used Prien am Chiemsee as the starting point for trips to the two islands in the Chiemsee, Herreninsel and Fraueninsel. What makes Prien so romantic is that it still uses the world's oldest and still operaitng steam tramway which runs from the Hauptbahnhof to Prein/Stock which is the dock from which the small ferries depart.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hotel Samos - a woman traveler's dream

It's not often that the single woman traveler happens upon a hotel which not only is excellent value for money but also provides all the necessities and features a female traveler of a certain age requires. The Hotel Samos on the Greek island of the same name is a point in case. First to mention is the location which could not be more convenient. You walk off the ferry, cross the road and walk into the cool and welcoming lobby of the Samos to be greeted by manager Maria, multi-lingual, friendly and eager to help you with any information you need. The rooms are spacious, very clean and comfortable and have a balcony with French doors which overlook either the sea or a quiet side road. In full season, a double room costs €65, which is very reasonable and includes all taxes and an ample breakfast buffet which is served from 6.30 am on to accommodate travelers who have to catch an early ferry. Every woman will appreciate the presence of a dresser with a wide well lit mirror above it to spread out and apply her make up. Hangers abound in the closet and the bathroom leaves nothing to be desired including a working hair dryer. TV, phone and AC do not even have to be mentioned. But there is more: a very nice pool and bar is to be found on the roof top and coin operated internet in the business center downstairs. Meals are to be had in the restaurant or the open air bar and I have had one of the best Greek salads I have ever tasted. The Samos has 'only' 3 stars, but it would deserve one more for excellency. A comfortable, peaceful, safe and utterly enjoyable place to stay.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Glamour-chick goes camping

Glamour-chick goes camping! You wouldn’t believe the things that can happen to a single woman traveler. I met a dear friend of mine on the Greek island of Naxos to spend a few days. I knew she was a camping enthusiast and would pitch her tent, but I also knew that there were studios available for those, like me, who are not such ‘close to nature’ fans. However, when we arrived at the camp site, no rooms, apartments, studios or any decent beds of any kind were available. The lady at reception smiled and said: “But you can rent a tent! We’ll also give you a sleeping bag and a mat. It’s only for 2 nights”. I don’t know what possessed me, but I AGREED!!! A tiny tent was pitched for me next to my friend’s, a sleeping bag and a paper thin mat were handed to me and instead of a 5 star hotel, glamour-chick found herself in the wilderness, facing the very alien experience of camping. First obstacle: you can only crawl, no standing up and even on your knees your head hits the tent roof. You discover a whole new world of standing up and sitting down, not to mention trying to get in and out of your clothes without making a spectacle of yourself for all the world to see. Never ever have I tried to sleep on a harder ground which of course meant next to no sleep at all. As if that wasn’t bad enough, tiny ants found their way inside and crawled all over me all night long. At sunrise I couldn’t take any more and thought a shower would help. Of course, there are only communal showers and a bunch of very young French took that literally: at 6am boys and girls were having themselves a party, showering together in the ladies shower room. When I, who could have been their grandmother, entered, they, at first gave me the evil eye, waiting to see if I would kick up a fuss. But, I thought better of it and asked with a wide grin if I could join the party. I was offered a slug from a litre bottle of appalling red wine and a spoonful of melting chocolate ice cream. Taken in good grace, I even got a shower stall to myself and was able to kill the ants which were still crawling up my legs. That dawn party was actually the funniest part of the whole experience but at least, now I’m an expert on what NOT to do when you are past the age of 20.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Living it up for a day at La Mamounia/Marrakesh

Even the world class hotels seem to feel the economic pinch which is a good thing really, because us mere mortals get a chance to enjoy all the luxury for a day by getting a day pass. I availed myself of that opportunity at the Mamounia Hotel in Marrakesh, one of the leading hotels of the world. For approx. $50, I got a day pass and enjoyed a wonderful day. I headed straight for the enormous pool and settled myself in one of the loungers, never lifting a finger to get towels, the headrest adjusted or a cool drink. Then I wanderd around the beautiful gardens which the hotel is famous for, admiring the tropical plants and even taking a peek at their kitchen garden. The hotel features 5 differently themed restaurants and amazing art work. Buffet lunch is to be had at the pool side bar (not included in the day pass) and although it's quite expensive, it's worth it because you can get any hot or cold Moroccan delicacy imaginable and as much of it as your stomach will allow. I met seriously nice hotel guests who had interesting travel stories to tell and, in the afternoon, an icecream man came around. The super big scones were even free. I topped up the day by enjoying a fruit drink in the piano bar and headed happily home to my own more modest lodgings.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Flight romantic in Greece

I just love it when I get a chance to fly the old-fashioned way which is to say: propellers instead of jets, walking across the tarmac, boarding by way of a narrow pull-up gangway, sitting where you please and not being jostled by tons of so-called 'carry-on' luggag by reason of the fact, that there are no overhead bins to store it in. Not to mention a pilot who actually seems to fly the thing himself instead of computers doing the heavy lifting. As you fly low, you can actually see something when you look out the window. All this romantic I experienced on my recent fkight from the Greek island of Kos to Crete with the Crete airline Sky Express. As it was the height of the summer season, they had laid on their 'big' plane: a 30 seater whereas in off season a 12 seater will do. And you know what? People enjoyed themselves no end. Nobody was in a hruuy, many stopped by the engines and took pictures of each other. A sinle flight attendant puled p the stairs, locked the door and proceeded to do safety instructions also the old fashioned way. She did it so nicely that people actually paid attention. Give me Sky Express any time.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Muhlisbey Hotel Istanbul

Here is another one in my series about charming and affordable boutique hotels in many parts of the world, which are particularly suitable for single woman travelers. The Muhlisbey Hotel is located in the heart of Istanbul's historical Sultanahmed district. It's a converted wooden house with only a few rooms, but what rooms!! Given the nature of the building, they are small but what they may lack in size they sure make up in comfort. The rooms have recently been remodelled and combine cozy with stark-chic! You even find slippers and a robe, the bathroom features a rain shower and - important for us women travelers - a hairdryer which actually works. Breakfast is on the roof terrace where you have an unobstructed view of the Blue Mosque on one side and the Hagia Sofia on the other. Both are so close you seem to be able to touch them. Across the road is the Four Seasons Hotel and the groundfloor houses a beautiful small shop which sells antique Ottoman clothes, bedspreads, pillow covers and other precious handcrafted trinkets which you will be hard pressed to find anywhere in Istanbul in such quality.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Medusahouse Hotel/Didim

Here is another gem in my collection of extraordinary hotels. Medusahouse Hotel is located in Didim on the Turkish Aegean coast right next to the important ancient site of the Apollo Oracle and temple. It's a restored wonderful stone house with only a few rooms but a garden and terraces full of flowers, trees and plants and when you wake up in the morning and look out of your bedroom window you can watch the sun come up over the majestic columns of the temple which are still standing. Mustafa, the charming owner not only runs the hotel but is also an accomplished photographer who has had exhibitions in Germany and the United States and an avid supporter of Greek/Turkish friendship of which the hotel is a center. There is hardly a more peaceful place to be found, only a few miles from the twin tourist towns of Didim and Altinkum and the dolmus to Söke with connections to Selcuk/Ephesus or Kusadasi stop right at the entrance.

Nileguide - new additon to Istanbul

I'm currently applying to Nileguide with a view of becoming their guide to Beirut. I have jsu added a new item the the Istanbul destination about the wonderful Pierre Loti Cafe up on Eyüp Hill overlooking the Golden Horn. Take a look.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sweet dreams in Marrakesh

If ever there was a pleasant travel surprise, I got it when I entered my little hotel in Marrakesh, the Riad Altair. I had arrived in the middle of the night at Marrakesh airport and got somewhat concerned when my taxi driver, after entering through one of the gates in the wall surrounding the Medina, came to an upruptt stop and explained that we would have to walk the rest of the way to the hotel bececause the car couldn't enter. Small, dark alleys opened up but I had no choice than to trust him and follow. He stopped in front of a wooden door and banged the brass knocker. The door opened and I thought I had walked right into a movie set. The Altair, one of several converted riads scattered throughout Marrakesh's medina has only 6 rooms, but what rooms they are. They are arranged around an inner courtyard on two floors, spacious, airy and equipped with anything one could possibly wish for, starting with fresh roses, beautiful furniture, silver bottles filled with creams and gel and a silver hammered sink in the bathroom. Service is also impeccable, it was no problem to get a freshly squeezed orange juice and a (silver) pot of coffee at nearly 4 am. Breakfast is either served in the patio or on the roof terrace and it is copious, with a different egg dish every day. Pillow covered divans are placed in niches around the patio,and there is even a tiny pool where you can dip into or just cool your feet. An ideal place for honeymooners or travelers who want to experience Moroccan atmosphere and hospitality at its best and at a very reasonable price too.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Creative with history

Ok, so planet eye traveler is about giving people information about places etc, but that doesn't mean one can give history a bit of imagination and a personal twist, don't you think? Read my very personal thoughts on how I think Istanbul's Blue Mosque came into being on planet eye traveler.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

On the roll again...

Is there anything better in the world than making travel plans? Yes, actually going on the trips, I guess. So, in about 9 days it's Beirut and on the 1st of July it's Marrakesh. That leaves the question where to gin in June. I'm hard pressed to choose between Jordan and the Black Sea coast, Turkish or Russian. Meanwhile, the writing pen (or rather keyboard) is not idle. Here is my latest post for europe a la carte.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ciragan Palace Hotel Istanbul

One of the most fsacinating hotels I have ever visited. Read about the compelling history of Turkey's only Imperial palace which became a 5 star luxury hotel.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Another interview

Now that is nice. The English language local paper called 'Voices' in the town of Didim where I live on the Turkish Aegean coast, has done an interview about me, my novels and my travel writing. Much appreciated.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Interview in the local paper

Got interviewed in the local Turkish paper today, about my novel "Sweet Revenge" which is set in Turkey and about the many articles I write about Turkey. Lately four per week for planet eye traveler.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Modern Art in Istanbul

With all the wonder of Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire at every twist and turn it's easy to forget that Turkey has extremely talented modern painters and sculptors too. It's the merit of Istanbul's museum of Modern Art, commonly known as Istanbul Modrn, to have gien thse artists a home in a stark but beautiful building which one was a dock warehouse right on the Bosporus. Read more about my visit to the museum in my recent post on planet eye traveler.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Planet Eye Traveler

This is my latest venture. I'm proud to say, that I have been contracted by planet eye traveler to be their Istanbul/Turkey writer and here is my first contribution about Earth hour and wine tastings.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Romar Traveler and my Galicia article

I'm proud to say, that a very long and colorful article of mine has been published in romar traveler. I'm paying triute to Galicia, one of my favorite destinations in Europe.

A day trip to Kos

Never one to let the grass grow under my feet I went on a wonderful boat trip from the Tukish town of Didim to the Greek island of Kos. Read about what I liked most in my article on europe a la carte.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Gonomad and my latest article

I just love to write or Gonomad. The site has so many interesting departments and a dedicated writer will always find a 'niche' for her or his stories. And you couldn't as for a nicer editor than Max who listens to your pitch, replies quickly and never fails to give you advice and support even if it has nothing to do with Gonomad. Here is an excerpt of my guide book to Galicia.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The 'Hood- Downtown Miami

The ‘Hood – Downtown Miami This post has been entered into the GranTourismo-Home Away Writing competition. and The word “Miami” conjures up images of Art Deco buildings, pink flamingos, white beaches with bikini clad beauties, suntanned people on roller blades ‘walking’ their pet dogs along Ocean Drive and jumping night clubs. All true, but a different side where you really meet and mingle with Miamians lies in my own ‘hood which is downtown Miami. For starters, that’s where the Miami River flows and enters into Biscayne Bay. Ask any tourist and most of them don’t even know that Miami has a river. It’s an important and very busy waterway and nothing better than to go on a boat trip with Dr. George. These trips can only be booked through the Historical Museum of Southern Florida ( and Dr. George is a true Miamian and historian who, like nobody else, explains the marvelous sites along the river. From the sacred Tequesta burial site, the Miami Circle close to Biscayne Bay to old inns and mansions, the river is steeped in history. Miami’s founding fathers and mothers, like William Brickell and Julia Tuttle all owned properties along the river and Dr. George doesn’t miss out on stories like the one about Gertie Walsh’s famous brothel and, on a more serious note, about Tent City where in 1980 many Cuban refugees camped out after they came across. Big yachts and small sailboats are docked everywhere and you can get a glimpse of the E.G. Sewell Park and its royal palms. The tour starts and ends in the Marina of Bayside Market Place. Head back along Flagler street, walk over the drawbridge of 1st Avenue and point your feet towards Mary Brickell Village. This picturesque mixture of shops, restaurants, art galleries, green zones, fountains and cafes nestles comfortably in the shadow of the towering high rises of the Financial District. And that’s where the Miami business men, office workers and residents hang out. Mingle with them at lunchtime or celebrate and relax in the evening. Best of all is however Tobacco Road, Miami’s oldest pub located nearby. Once upon a time, tobacco ships from Cuba used to dock and unload there and the sailors and stevedores needed hearty sustenance. That tradition is kept on at the pub/restaurant which offers specials of steak or seafood on alternating days. At night, it gets even better. Live music makes the place hop. Bikers show off their incredible rides, Miamians come to eat, drink, dance and simply have a good time until 2am. On weekends, the parking lot is converted into an outdoor market with stalls selling clothes, jewelry and paintings. A clairvoyant will tell you your future and you will go home having made a few new friends and heard some outrageous tales.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ephesus Museum Selcuk

A wonderful place often left out in guided tours to Ephesus is the Ephesus Museum in Selcuk. Read my recent article published in Europe a la Carte.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Smithsonian Journey Travel blog

I'm proud to say that smithsonian enjoyed my picture of Turkish Delight and just published it here.

Europe a la carte

The single woman traveler has found a new outlet for her travel writing. Europe a la carte is a UK based travel blog which features amazing destinations and great photographs. What's even better: a great sense of humor shines through. Read my latest entry about Galicia.

Friday, February 12, 2010


The single woman traveler is of course interested in fashion, particularly clothes which are chic and comfortable and will withstand long distance flights and other means of transport. I was therefore delighted to have been invited to visit the Carlisle/PerSe collection fashion show which was hosted in Greenwich. Designer Susan Klope presented her latest collection and, a highlight, used as models a mother-daughter combo who pulled off the task with panache. It also showed that the same item, jazzed up with individual style and accessories, can be worn by women of all ages. A tiny trick for tighter skirts: a hidden zip in the hem in back which can be opened or closed to allow even longer strides. Great idea, as were the stretchy fabrics for smart dresses.

A child again....

Last week I visited New York for the first time in my life and have instantly fallen in love with the city. There was so much to do and so much to see, five days could only scratch the surface. However, one of the highlights was a visit to the newly refurbished Plaza Hotel on 5th Avenue. Who isn't familar with the Plaza's most famous -albeit fictitious- resident--6 year old Eloise? The creation of Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight and her adventures in the luxury hotel have delighted children and adults since 1955. Of course, the 'new' Plaza could not by pass Eloise and hence a big part of the basement is dedicated to Eloise. I felt like a child again, seeing the all pink little chairs and tables, the party room, the shop and much much more, where today's New York Eloises can come and browse, try on clothes, apply make up, play, watch videos and host their birthday parties.I wanted to join right in the fun.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

More pictures

The single woman traveler loves to share her pictures with her friends. So, please visit me on flickr.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Award for The Househusbands Club!!

My second novel The Househusbands Club has won Readers Favorite Award in the category fiction/chick-lit. Buy it from lulu!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Househusbands Club - Readers Favorite Award Winner

My second novel, the Househusbands Club has just won the Readers Favorite Award 2009 in the category chick-lit. Preview and buy it here.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Matador and Tripatini

Two new travel writing communities which I have joined. Follow me on matador. and on the exciting tripatini.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Popular Hispanics online magazine

This is a new online travel and lifestyle magazine which I like very much. My first article for that magazine about Mary Brickell Village in downtown Miami has just been published. Please read it here.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Beach chic for the woman traveler

The latest discovery I made finding very smart beach wear and bikinis was in Miami. Heading for downtown and the Mary Brickell Village, I found Greengrass boutique. Their selection of sundresses, kaftans, sarongs and bikinis with matching bags is fantastic. You will be very tempted and you can definitely make a pretty addition to your wardrobe and make a splash on which ever beach you are headed for in your travel.