Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Derbyshire Cottages: Travel Blog

Derbyshire Cottages: Travel Blog

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Derbyshire Cottages

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 07:06 PM PST

Derbyshire Cottages

Derbyshire Cottages has a wide selection of self catering properties throughout the region, situated in some of the most popular holiday locations within Derbyshire and the Peak District National Park.
Derbyshire Cottages

Travel Directory: Derbyshire Holiday Homes

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Round the World Adventure

My Round the World Adventure

6 Offbeat Things to do in Istanbul

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 04:59 AM PST

This is a guest post by Emily Starbuck-Crone from Maiden Voyage Travel.

When I went to Istanbul, the big historical sites – Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar, and the Spice Market – blew me away. But I also wanted to find fun things to do that were less touristy.

Locals ended up giving us some great tips. One advised my partner and I to go to the Basilica Cistern, and that was the first we'd heard of it. This bizarre underground cavern turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip, and I didn't even know it existed prior to going there. I'm also glad that we heeded the advice to go to a real hammam rather than taking the easy route and going to a Westernized version in a fancy hotel.

Don't miss Istanbul's major sites. But once you're done them, here are some lesser-known gems and activities to explore:

Descend into the Basilica Cistern
basilica cistern in istanbul
I walked on top of this ancient cavern for days without realizing it. After entering an unassuming doorway and climbing down a gloomy set of stairs, we ended up in an underground former water reservoir. This massive chamber was built in the sixth century under the Byzantine Empire. It is filled with centuries-old columns and is dim, only eerily lit in shades of orange. Water still sits on the ground and there are koi fish swimming in it; you have to walk on wooden planks to get around. You can hear drips echoing, and there are two mysterious statues with the head of Medusa. It feels like you're in a scary movie.

Explore the Asian Side

Istanbul is the only city in the world to straddle two continents; it spans from Europe to Asia. The Asian side, also called the Anatolian side, is separated from the European side by the Bosphorus Strait. You can take a bus over the famous Bosphorus Bridge, or you can ride over in a ferry. The city's main tourist sites are on the European side, but if you've never been to Asia, it's fun to cross over so you can say you have been there. If you are interested in shopping, check out the popular markets in Kadiköy. Other worthy activities include touring the Beylerbeyi Palace, riding up to the top of Çamlica Hill for incredible views of the city, and strolling along Ba?dat Caddesi to explore the many restaurants, cafes, and shops.

Visit a real hammam
(Picture not available – everyone was naked inside!)
Many of the swanky hotels in Istanbul have hammams, otherwise known as Turkish baths, but they aren't the real deal. They are made for Westerners looking for a cushy and modest experience. Real hammams have been a Turkish tradition for thousands of years, and they have served as both a place to cleanse and to socialize. Most hammams are separated by gender, and women generally go topless. You transition through several different rooms of different temperatures, one being the hot steam room much like a sauna. You can opt to pay an attendant to give you a thorough scrub-down. It's rough but invigorating! We went to the Çemberlitai Hamami and really enjoyed it; another popular one is Cagaloglu. Both are in the Old Town.

Go to Princes' Islands
princes' island istanbul
This chain of nine islands off the coast of Istanbul provides a unique getaway from the crowds. It's an easy day trip during the warm months — the islands are just a quick ferry ride from the city. Most travelers visit the four larger islands, as the other five are very small and mostly residential. You can explore historic buildings, eat at tasty cafes, and see beautiful homes. Motorized transportation isn't allowed on the islands, making them peaceful and quiet. You can get around by walking, bicycle, or horse and carriage.

Take a ferry
taking the ferry
A great way to explore this massive city is by boat. You will see many boats that offer paid tours of the Bosporus. However, if you want to save money and have more flexibility, take a regular ferry ride instead. The fare will be cheaper, and you won't be competing for space with other tourists trying to take photos. You will pass by Topkapi Palace, the Bosphorous Bridge, gorgeous mansions, mosques with massive minarets, other castles and palaces, and more. You can hop off, eat some fresh seafood, and then head back.

Explore the Jewish history

While Turkey is predominantly a Muslim country, it holds a surprisingly large amount of Jewish history. There are Jewish heritage tours you can take, or you can explore the stops on your own. Jews have lived in Turkey for thousands of years, but the population really grew during the Ottoman Empire (which includes some of Turkey) in the 1400s. Growth increased in 1492 when Spain expelled its Jews and the Ottoman Empire welcomed them (They had good business skills and came with money). Istanbul's Galata quarter and Balat quarters are steeped in Jewish history, and you can find historic synagogues there and in other areas throughout town. Istanbul also has a Jewish museum that is very good.

Watch the fisherman on Galata Bridge
fisherman on galata bridge
Every day, dozens, if not hundreds, of local men form a row along the top level of the Galata Bridge and fish over the edge. It's an incredible sight. They spend hours hoping to catch fresh seafood, and some of them will sell it to you while they're still out there fishing. Many of the men haven't even made a catch; they seem to enjoy just standing there hanging their pole over the water. There is also a fish market at the base of the bridge, and the many booths of fresh-caught fish are fun to look at (though it can also be a bit gross).

Istanbul is a very large and crowded city, and it can be intimidating. But it's also home to some of the world's most lengthy and powerful history. Regardless of how many of these attractions you are able to fit in your first time in Istanbul, you will undoubtedly still be in awe of the city's majestic architecture and complicated past.

Emily Starbuck Crone is a professional writer and editor based in Austin, Texas. She runs the travel blog Maiden Voyage, which is geared toward 20-somethings. Find her on Twitter at @TheMaidenVoyage or on Facebook.

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Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Ten Best Railway Journeys of the World

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 11:52 AM PST

guest post by Paul of Look Trains Trains are one of the most romantic ways to travel, because they offer not only comfort and, some of them, even luxury, but also the opportunity to enjoy amazing landscapes as no other means of transportation. Thus, the beauty of the sights, the charm of the restless, diverse train stations and comfort combined make these railways the best in the world. 1....

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Monday, November 28, 2011

On The Beach: Travel Blog

On The Beach: Travel Blog

Link to Travel Blog

On The Beach

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 09:00 PM PST

On The Beach

On the beach holidays offers a huge selection of flights and over 30,000 hotels from which to choose and build the perfect beach holiday.

Popular destinations include Tenerife, Costa del Sol, Costa Brava, Menorca, Majorca, The Canaries, Algarve, Sharm el Sheikh. All inclusive packages include flights and 3,4 and 5 star hotels ranging from 1 night to 21 nights, self catered, B&B, all Inclusive or half board.

On the beach holidays offer great savings and great last minute deals from airports all over the UK including London Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, East Midlands, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow.
On The Beach Holidays

Travel Directory: On The Beach

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Trash to Fashion: 13 Chic & Crazy Upcycled Collections

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 10:00 AM PST

[ By Steph in Art & Design. ]

Rescuing discarded materials like parachutes, military blankets, shower curtains, wood chips and festival tents from the dumpster, eco-minded designers create couture that ranges from the cute and totally wearable to the artistic and avant-garde. Whether it’s ready for the rack or meant for the runway only, these 13 collections of upcycled fashion definitely make surprising and innovative use of items others see only as trash.

Recycled Packaging by Karishma Shahani

(images via:

Designer Karishma Shahani distills the colorful essence of her home country of India into a stunning collection of upcycled fashion. “Yatra” includes recycled plastic packaging mixed with natural fabrics like cotton, silk, linen and muslin that were dip-dyed using plants from a local market.

Dresses from Paraglider Sails by Valerie Pache

(images via:

New life is breathed into old, retired paraglider sails by Valerie Pache, a French designer who creates colorful and quirky upcycled garments. Pache takes this material – which she gets for free – and crafts it into dresses, jackets, accessories and even wedding gowns. “People are very surprised to see dresses in this material, especially paragliders who have no idea what can be done to give a second life to their sails. And that seems to make them really happy.”

Festival Tents into Costumes and Rain Coats

(images via:

Long after they have sheltered thousands of music lovers at Denmark’s Roskilde Festival, event tents can shelter fashionistas from the rain in the form of highly unusual upcycled clothing. Designer Lisa Våglund was inspired to use the material after seeing how much trash is left behind each year.

Discarded Wood Chips into Scaled Couture

(images via: ecouterre)

In the hands of designer Stefanie Nieuwenhuys, wood chips rescued from the floor of a university workshop transform into reptilian scales in soft shades of beige. Nieuwenhuys used this inspiration to create a collection of fascinating ‘biomimetic’ corsets, evening dresses, pants and accessories, working with a bio-waste firm to obtain discarded pieces of plywood which she laser-cuts into shape. The designer told eco fashion website Ecouterre that the scales created a “simulacra of nature, without discarding nature’s inherent harmonies.”

Reclaimed Underwear into ‘Knickers Dress’

(images via:

Would you wear a dress made of old panties? Designer Antoine Peters gathered up dozens of undergarments and sewed them all up into this kooky experiment in upcycled fashion. The panties are interwoven, and some of the tags are still showing; the designer tried to use every component so that it would be a zero-waste project.

Amour Sans Anguish Salvaged & Recycled Fashion

(images via:

Designer Tawny Holt of Amour Sans Anguish crafts salvaged and recycled materials into cute, feminine, highly wearable garments. Each piece is entirely one-of-a-kind. Check out all of the lovely designs – including custom-made bridesmaid dresses! – at the Amour Sans Anguish Etsy shop.

Parachute Netting into Camouflage Garments

(images via: ecouterre)

Who would have thought that parachute netting could be so pretty? British designer Debbi Little teamed up with AO Textiles to create a line of lovely dresses and accessories made from discarded Ministry of Defense parachute netting.

Recycled Trash Shoe – by Christian Louboutin

(images via: nmdaily)

Would you pay over $1,000 for trash? How about if that trash were recycled into signature red-soled pumps by Christian Louboutin? The famed shoe designer created the “Ecotrash” slingback heel that incorporates trash from the designer’s dumpster including sequins, fabric swatches, thread and postage stamps. Unfortunately the heels also include python skin (a huge eco no-no) and toxic PVC.

Intricate Gowns Made of Recycled Paper

(images via: papier couture)

Decked out in Lia Griffith’s incredibly intricate paper couture, you might feel like you’re in a fairy tale, an experience that would only be amplified if you were to be caught in the rain. But Paper Couture’s creations, made of recycled paper, are more wearable art for runways and photo shoots than a viable option for weddings and proms.

Totally Wearable Upcycled Fashion by Goodone

(images via: goodone)

Now this is upcycled fashion that the average woman would love to wear, for prices she can afford.  British retailer Goodone released a “Basics” line made from reclaimed, deadstock and end-of-roll fabrics that would otherwise have been discarded. The collection includes casual garments with figure-flattering shapes made of jersey and lightweight knits.

Military Materials to Warm Winter Fashion

(images via: lost at e minor)

Looking at this collection by designer Christopher Raeburn, you’d never guess that it was crafted from unusual reclaimed military materials like wool blankets and parachutes. For his Fall/Winter 2011 collection, Raeburn rescued these materials and transformed them into outerwear that doesn’t scream ‘trash’.

Wacky Raincoats Made of Recycled Plastic

(images via: ecouterre)

Why yes, that is an old shower curtain on my head, thank you for noticing. Designer Jane Bowler created these rather unusual high-fashion raincoats out of recycled and reclaimed plastics using stitch-free processes like heat-forming.

“Plastic Fantastic” by Tomaas

(images via: the coolist)

Okay, so these ones aren’t exactly wearable, but they’re gorgeous all the same. Fashion photographer Tomaas has captured a series of images in which models are decked out in common plastic items like water bottles and forks. Because of the styling, the plastic somehow looks much more high-fashion than it really is.

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[ By Steph in Art & Design. ]

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