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Photo of the week #4 Istanbul

One of our favourite places in the world – Istanbul!

It’s one of the most magical places on earth, the meeting point of  East and West, the only city in the world located between two continents: Asia and Europe!

Istanbul

 

First Byzantium, then Constantinople, Istanbul has been the capital of three great empires.

In this picture, you can see the Süleymaniye Mosque, the largest mosque of the city, the Galata tower, one of the most striking landmarks of the city, the charming Bosphorous strait and the omnipresent seagull 🙂

Photo of the week #3 Hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia

Cappadocia (Turkish: Kapadokya) offers one of the most spectacular and surreal landscapes in the world. And it is one of the best places for hot air balloon rides.

The Cappadocian Region is located in the center of the Anatolian Region of Turkey. Wind and water eroding through the volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago has resulted in a fairy tale landscape of cones, pillars, pinnacles, mushrooms, and chimneys!

Iran-Turkey-DSLR 451

 

And imagine soaring over this dramatic landscape, over the fairy chimneys, peeking into the pigeon holes with snowy mountains in the distance. All around you are almost a hundred colourful balloons painting the sky!

Though a little heavy on the pocket it’s a magical experience! We recommend it.

15 things we learnt from our one month of travel

So it’s been one month into our backpacking trip. We are loving it so far!

We think traveling is great. It has expanded our minds with new experiences. We have learnt a few lessons on the road and would love to share them with you.

  1. Strangers are nice and helpful. If anyone tells you otherwise, ignore them.

  2. Feeling comfortable about  meeting and speaking to new people is an essential skill.

    A group of cheerful teachers we bumped into in Mardin, Turkey.
    A group of cheerful teachers we bumped into in Mardin, Turkey.
  3. Saying bye to your newly made awesome friends is not easy. We never thought it can be that difficult to part ways with someone you have only met for a couple of hours!

  4. You will slowly learn to deal with the fear of unfamiliar – new place, people, food and language. None of these will bother you after some time.

    Sign board in Bulgaria :)
    Sign board in Bulgaria. Decoding Cyrillic alphabet can be fun! 🙂
  5. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and for help.  Ask the locals, it is their turf. This can save you a lot of time and effort.

  6. Learn to say ‘no’. That $50 meal in an expensive restaurant is not going to enrich your experience any better than a delicious local snack in the same area. (of course, there are exceptions)

  7. Learning some words/phrases in the local language always helps. Showing that you have taken that extra effort to learn their language will let the other person go that extra mile for you.

  8. Swiss knife is amazing. Just buy it! Has helped us in a variety of situations from cutting fruits to removing glass splinters stuck in our hand.

  9. Google translate offline version can really save your day! Imagine booking last minute tickets in a remote place in Iran and having to deal with somebody who knows only Farsi! Google can handle it for you, offline.

    There you go!
    There you go!
  10. It is really not that difficult to live out of a 11 kg  bag.

  11. You don’t have to be rich to travel. We have spent ZERO money on our accommodation until now!

  12. You can be a vegetarian and still have a nice time 🙂 You need to know where to eat and what to eat. Refer to #5.

    Our favourite snack in Turkey - Çiğ Köfte
    Our favourite snack in Turkey – Çiğ Köfte
  13. Indians are expected to know how to dance! 

  14. Walking for 5-6 kms everyday  with a big bag on you is not so tough.

  15. Hitch-hiking can be fun and is good for your wallet. Deciding to do it is a door to amazing experiences.

    We hitch-hiked to Persepolis with this friendly Iranian family :)
    We hitch-hiked to Persepolis with this friendly Iranian family 🙂

Photo of the week #2 Kandovan

On the last day of our trip in Iran we happened to visit a unique village called Kandovan near Tabriz in the East Azerbaijan Province.

It is a remarkable example of man-made cliff dwellings which are still inhabited. These are carved out of volcanic rocks and cliffs. It is a small village with a population of around 600 people.

kandovan

We spent half a day there, wandering through the steep, narrow paths between the houses, talking to the locals. We were lucky to get into one of the homes – it was that of a local business man who offered to walk us through the village and he could also speak a bit of English!

Kandovan is very similar to the Turkish region of Cappadocia. If you are in Iran and are not planning to travel to Turkey next, Kandovan can be a good alternative to Cappadocia.

Naqsh-e Jahan Square

Photo of the week : #1 Naqsh-e Jahan Square

It’s been two weeks into our backpacking trip and we are just loving it! Iran has been just great, more so, because of the lovely, lovely people here.

Starting from today, we’ve decided to add at least one photo which inspired us during the week to our blog along with a short story. So, here we start our photo series with our most favorite place in Iran – Isfahan.

Naqsh-e Jahan Square
Naqsh-e Jahan Square

The Persian proverb “Esfahān nesf-e jahān ast” which means Isfahan is half of the world is true in every sense with its beautiful palaces, majestic mosques, amazing boulevards and pretty bridges. We went to Naqsh-e Jahan (image of the world) square (it is one of the biggest squares in the world) early in the morning at around 7:30 AM and is the best time to enjoy all the beauty it offers before it gets too busy with the crowd. We had a meditative experience being in the middle of the huge square listening to the prayers.

This is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and was a important stop along the silk road. This square houses important buildings from the Safavid era on all sides. The Shah Mosque, Ali Qapu Palace, Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque and Qaseiraiyah along with the historical bazaar of the silk road times showcase Islamic architecture at its best.