Turkey – An EdenFYW Traveler’s View

A man who doesn’t think differently from his time and environment can’t grow beyond his time and environment. ~ Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

Please enjoy the following guest blog post from our dear client Mrs. Felicia G., who traveled to Turkey in April of 2018 with her husband.

Please put away any preconceived ideas you have about the country of Turkey! My husband and I recently visited Istanbul, Cappodocia and Izmir. In a nutshell, it is very safe and indredibly clean. The people of Turkey are warm, well educated, hospitable and excepting of all cultures. They also very much like Americans and the US, and almost everyone we spoke to had either been to the states or had a family member living in California.

The historical sites such as Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, and the Galata Tower in Istanbul will transport you to a time of ancient civilizations and their citizenry. The sites are easy to tackle and the transportation system in Turkey is very user friendly. Istanbul is a very modern city not unlike Paris for its museums and cultural offerings. The food is delicious and a visitor would have to make an effort to have a bad meal here!  I recommend a guide, and EdenFYW hooked us up with the best in every city we visited. I particularly like the shopping in the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market. If you can recall from world history class, ancient Turkey was an integral part of the Silk Road which stretched from China through India, Turkey, Egypt parts of the African continent through Greece, Rome and Britain. The artisans and merchants of Turkey are well known for their rugs and textiles and we purchased several from the Turkish cooperatives we visited and we had fun bargaining with all of the various merchants who were very respectful if you decided against a particular item.

In Cappodocia, our hotel was luxurious as were all of them throughout the country.  We were scheduled for a balloon ride to see the geography of the area for which this region is know…the fairy chimneys. This is a must do. We were able to see how people lived in the caves in the local area, and in one such cave it was the owners grandparent’s home and he has made it his studio and souvenir shop. We missed the Argos castle unfortunately due to time but I always like to leave something for another visit. Again the people of the town were so hospitable and did everything they could to make your visit memorable.

Izmir, on the Agean Sea, is the gateway to the largest set of ruins of Ancient Rome and is a World Heritage Site. Our hotel was super high tech and we had a fantastic view of the water. Our guide was top-notch and even recommended some great places to dine after the sites of the day.  Once again EdenFYW did their magic. We definitely did not spend enough time here and am hoping to return!

All I can say to you is GO!  By the way, the dollar is very strong these days which made our trip even more enjoyable!

 

Peru

A prophet once said ‘Don’t tell me what a man says, don’t tell me what a man knows. Tell me where he’s traveled?’ I wonder about that, do we get smarter, more enlightenment as we travel? Does travel bring wisdom? I think there is probably no better place to find out than Peru. ~ Anthony Bourdain

Eden For Your World travel advisor Kim Diaz had been dreaming of the perfect way to celebrate her husband’s birthday. A trip to experience a bucket list destination for her whole family was the winning idea… so the whole family set off to see Machu Pichu and beyond! Their quick Spring Break ’18 getaway will be one they’ll never forget. Read about it below, in excerpts from her travel diary.

Day 1:  Lima – After an all night flight and a brief nap we ventured off to the Museo Larco which is a beautiful, must see, museum with 5000 years of Peruvian history housed in a magnificent 18th century vice-royalty mansion. The gardens alone are worth a visit and we highly recommend making reservations at the restaurant on site.  Not only is the atmosphere perfect, the food was equally matched. A walk around the Miraflores coastline was the end to a perfect first day.

Day 2:  Our tour guide picked us up for a full day tour of Lima Highlights. We walked through the Barranca neighborhood enjoying the wall murals and hipster bohemian vibe, then we headed to the Matte Museum, we ended the day with a delicious dinner (we tried Cuy…a Peruvian favorite!) overlooking ruins at Huaca Pullana.

Day 3: After a short flight we landed in Cusco where we were greeted by locals offering cacao leaves to aid in adjusting to the altitude. Once outside the airport it’s hard to tell what is taking your breath away-the altitude or the back drop of beautiful kelly green mountains as far as you can see with the locals adorned in vibrant colored clothing. We wound through the mountains to the Sacred Valley, stopping at a picturesque spot which allowed us to feed the llamas and alpacas alfalfa while we enjoyed a delicious boxed lunch. Meandering through a local marketplace in Pisac and a short hike to the ruins was the end to a perfect day. We arrived at our hotel the Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba at dusk which left all of us oohing and aahing. Tucked in the Sacred Valley it is a little piece of heaven. Fires going throughout the hotel including our individual rooms, a refreshing Pisco Sour on a silver tray waiting upon arrival, and the entire staff there to fulfill any request, made this entire experience EdenFYW!

Day 4:  A hike at Ollantaytamba, Incan ruins, found us viewing breathtaking scenery for another day. You can never get enough. Our guide warned us (as we were huffing and puffing) this was good practice for Macchu Picchu. Uh oh! A short drive away were the salt ponds of Maras. Hungry for lunch we arrived at non-descript door on small cobble stoned street in a little town called Mooray.  Once the door opened, we were greeted by the owner of the home and his wife and welcomed into a beautiful oasis. Gardens of fruits, vegetables and herbs surrounded the home that looked out to another perfect view. Inside, they served us a 3 course organic lunch with true Peruvian hospitality. A unique one-of-a-kind experience.

Day 5 and 6: Belmond’s Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu….enough said! Definitely EdenFYW!

Day 7 and 8: Cusco

A city filled with history and charm.  Churches, ruins, restaurants and a wonderful mix of new and old. We stayed at the Palacio del Inka a Luxury Collection Hotel. Service was again, top notch and the breakfast buffet was one of the best we’ve ever had. A unique historic property that we highly recommend! Saqsaywaman Ruins were the highlight of the day and we stopped to purchase handmade Peruvian dolls to bring home to our nieces.

Day 9: Upon waiting for our flight to head back to Los Angeles my whole family agreed that this was one of our favorite vacations. The sights-spectacular, the people-friendly, the food-delicious, the activities -unique! A must  on everyone’s bucket list.

Peru…A magical destination, for one and all! ~ Kim Diaz

 

Epic Egypt

Epic Egypt

Can you see anything? It was all I could do to get out the words, ‘Yes, wonderful things.’ ~ Howard Carter, Tomb of Tuntankhamen.

We thought we’d have checked Egypt off our bucket list after our recent visit. It turns out we are going to keep it on, because it’s a destination worthy of a return. There is so much to see, so much to take in!

Here’s a glimpse into our adventure in January/February of 2017.

Day 1 – We arrived to Cairo late at night and our local partner’s handler and driver greeted us. It was an instant connection, one that grew into a friendship by the end of our ten-day adventure. Besides taking care of everything for us, they immediately made us feel as though we’d come home. While glued to the windows of our car the whole drive to the hotel, hoping for a glimpse of the Great Pyramids of Giza, we were briefed on the long and rich history of the city – the largest and most populated in the Arab world. We never did see the pyramids, before passing out on our comfy bed at the Four Seasons First Residence. But, we were tired from the long trip over and we couldn’t wait for our full day tour of ancient Cairo the next day.

Day 2 – We finally got our glimpse of the Great Pyramids (jaw dropping) as we drove past them to visit some even more ancient pyramids first; the Bent and Red Pyramids, and the complex and Pyramid of Saqqara. It may sound like a tease to work the tour this way, but trust us that this is the best way! Visiting these quieter and older sites first helped to put things into chronological and architectural order, it also allowed for the drama to build. After a delicious lunch, under the shadows of the Great Pyramids, at the historic Mena House Hotel (soon to be a JW Marriott), we finally descended on the grounds of the pyramids. Our knowledgeable guide walked us around the site and explained the usual details we’ve all learned about in world history class, but also enlightened us with facts that we’d not been privy to – until now. These monuments were the tallest man made buildings on earth until the erection of the Eiffel Tower, and contrary to popular history they were built by Egyptians who were honored to work on the projects, not slaves. We carried on with a visit to the pristinely preserved wooden Solar Boat, housed in a building at the foot of the Great Pyramid. Next, we met some friendly camels that gave us a ride around the complex and posed with us for a most memorable Instagram moment. Finally, we made our way to see the true beauty of the complex… The Sphinx! It’s hard not to be mesmerized by it’s thoughtful stature and gaze.

Day 3 – We departed Cairo and flew to Abu Simbel to see the impressive Temple of Ramses II and The Temple of Nefertari (his beloved wife). Do not miss this! These gorgeous temples were saved from drowning in 1968 when the Aswan Dam was built. Erected to impress the Nubian’s of Ramses’ might, they were relocated to their current site, nearly 100ft above where they once stood. We spent about an hour and a half marveling at them before we headed back to the airport for our flight to Aswan. Upon arrival and after a quick transfer from the airport, we checked into the grand dame of the city, the beautiful Old Cataract Hotel. What a great building, what great suites (with awesome views of the Nile), and what a great gym and spa! The perfect way to rest up before our big adventure started the next morning.

Day 4 – Thrilled to board the newly renovated and re-imagined Oberoi Philae, for our four night cruise down the Nile River. The ship is spectacular! Spacious, contemporary, well designed and thoughtfully planned to make the on-board experience elegant and relaxing. Our dreamy suite, the service and food for the next few days were the only things that could have possibly pulled us away from the amazing sights we were going to be visiting. Really, this is the best way to experience the Nile! First day was spent exploring the sites of and around Aswan itself; the old and new dams, a traditional Nubian village (alligators, camels, spices and all), and the gorgeously curate Nubian Museum. Next thing you know, we’re back on the Philae for cocktails, dinner and a great night sleep.

Day 5 – The day began early, so we could be among the first to explore the Philae Temple, located on Agilkia Island. The Philae is another of the many temples saved from drowning by the dams. This one, a beautiful Greco Roman influenced Egyptian temple, was dedicated to Isis. We loved that our cruise provided guide was amicable in starting tours as early as possible. We’re always up early and ready to head out anyway and we find it’s the best way to avoid crowds, which means we have more time to savor the sights and to get the best photos! After the visit we head back to the boat for a the most delicious lunch… Hawawshi. OMG, this sandwich became a favorite of ours and we had plenty more during the trip. After lunch, the captain set sail for Kom Ombo. Upon arrival there we explored the twin temples which are unique in Egypt as they were built to honor both the crocodile god Sobek and the falcon god Horus. After a quick visit we head back to ship and get ready to set sail again, for a couple of hours, before docking for the night at Edfu.

Day 6 – Good morning Edfu! We were whisked off to the Temple of Edfu by horse drawn carriage. Upon arrival we were blown away by the near perfect condition of this temple honoring Horus. It was a surreal experience to walk through doorways and into perfectly preserved sanctuaries decorated in relief sculptures that seemed though they could have been carved only years ago, not millennia. Again, our guide was always along to beautifully connect stories with everything we were seeing and photographing. After a couple of hours exploring the site, we headed back to the boat to set sail for Luxor.

Luxor was going to be epic! The city known as Thebes and once capital of ancient Egypt was home to some of its most significant archeological sites in Egypt. We could hardly wait to set our eyes on them. Upon arrival and docking, we hurried over to the Luxor Temple and explored it at night. What a vision to see is so wonderfully lit by spotlights and stars! Dedicated to the god Amun, the temple is awesome in scale. Its dramatic Sphinx lined causeway is one of the coolest vantage points for a photo. But, inside the ancient sanctuaries and along the massive colonnades that draw you into them, is where you’ll feel the true greatness of the complex. After finishing our tour at the Luxor Temple we headed back for dinner and bedtime on the Philae. We had a pre-dawn hot air balloon to catch the next morning.

Day 7 – We jumped out of bed, layered on the clothes, grabbed our boxed breakfasts and were taken to our launching pad… Hot air ballooning over the Valley of the Queens and along the villages and fields of Luxor was beautiful. There’s nothing quite like the quiet glide of a balloon, and really no better way to get a good sense for the layout of a destination. Needless to say, we loved every bit of the ride. After landing, we were driven to a meeting spot to connect back with our guide to start our full day of touring. Today’s sights included the Valley of the Kings, the artisans village, Habu Temple and the Karnak Temple. A big day to say the least!

We started off at Habu Temple, where we found ourselves practically alone, except for a couple of guards, a couple of local tourists and a friendly dog that followed us throughout the complex. What was most striking about Habu Temple was the depth of reliefs and hieroglyphics. We learned that it was an attempt to save the mark of the pharaoh from being destroyed by a future one, making chiseling it away nearly impossible. Next, we headed across the West side of the Nile to the artisans village. The discovery of this village shares some insight to the lives of the ordinary citizens of ancient Egypt. Their homes, often two stories and comfortable in size, were part of a village that housed a temple, and their tombs. It was a cool and unique glimpse into the more ordinary citizens of the ancient civilization. Next we headed to see the pharaoh’s tombs at the Valley of the Kings. Of course we freaked out, because it’s… ah-mazing! We visited several tombs in the area, each unique in size, depth, number of rooms, and quality of wall relief and/or painting. We even saw a couple of sarcophagi en-situ (in their original place), which really brings home that fact that these impressive and beautifully decorated man made caves are royal tombs – designed to last for eternity. But, the highlight was definitely visiting the tomb of the boy king, King Tutankhamen! Next, we filled up on some delicious lunch and followed that by a visit to Karnak. The largest of all temple complexes, Karnak is an impressive sight. Monumental obelisks, statues, columns and spaces dwarf us humans. Exhausted by the end of this awesome day of exploring, we headed back to the boat for our final night on board.

Day 8 – Sadly, we had to leave the Oberoi Philae this morning. But, we were happy to be met by one of our local partner’s guides again to continue the exploration of the area before heading back to Cairo. We had arranged a very special tour today, one that included Nefertari’s tomb, King Seti I’s tomb, and The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. Just recently the Egyptian government had allowed more affordable and abundant access to these two tombs, and we were not going to miss the opportunity to see these two gems, known as some of the finest in the land. And, they did not disappoint! Nefertari’s tomb literally brought tears to our eyes. They majesty and love expressed in the fine wall art was unlike any other tomb or temple we had seen to this point. It was delicate, it was colorful, it was detailed, and it was one of the most moving expressions of art we’d ever seen. What made it even more amazing was that we were the only one’s in there, and the tomb guard who escorted us in was expecting our experience to be as moving as it was. He’d seen it’s affect on visitors before. Seti I’s tomb was gorgeous too. It was especially interesting because archeologists inside were in the process of exploring a new chamber, and allowed us to stick our heads in to take a peak at the giant room they were slowly excavating. Our final stop was Hatshepsut’s Temple. It too blew us away. Though ancient, it’s design looks modern. An impressive funerary temple built by the Queen to show how great she truly was, even in the afterlife.

After seeing the three sites, we headed to the airport and flew to Cairo. Upon arrival to Cairo, we made a quick check-in to the Ritz-Carlton Cairo, took an even quicker shower and we were off to our local partner’s private home for a lovely night and delectable dinner made by his wife. Stuffed and happy to be surrounded by such welcoming friends we shared stories of our epic week and exchanged big hugs before heading back to the hotel. Heads on the pillows and dreaming of our next day…

Day 9 – Alexandria was a 3 hour drive from Cairo, but we had to do it. We had to see what this place was all about, so we headed out with our driver, guide and escort. It was a busy city on the Mediterranean Sea, it was founded by Alexander the Great, it was home to what was known as the greatest library in history, it was the sight of the lighthouse that was a wonder of the world, it was also home of the legendary tales of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. The ancient sites are mainly of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. Not much of the ancient’s ancient archeological sites are visible. Today, it is a popular destination for Egyptians to hit the beach, to live it up in the Summer and to get there seafood fix. For visitors, it’s most interesting attractions are underwhelming compared to the rest of the sites. We were glad to have seen it, and what we saw was nice, but honestly not after comparing it to what we’d already seen in Egypt and what we’ve seen in Greece, Italy, Southern France or Spain. We did have a some great food along the way though, before heading back to Cairo.

Day 10 – Our last full day in Egypt… and we saved the city of Cairo and it’s best for last! After a fantastic breakfast at the hotel with lots of Egyptian deliciousness, including Foul (recipe below), we were off on our guided tour of the city’s highlights. First we hit the Egyptian Museum where we were overwhelmed by the number of objects and riches displayed. There is no shortage of ancient Egyptian artifacts. The place if full to the brim! So, it’s a great thing that they’re building the new GEM (Grand Egyptian Museum) at the foot of the pyramids to better house these gems. The highlight of the museum is of course the Treasures of King Tut. How lucky are we all that these treasures were discovered nearly in tact and available for all to marvel at today. They are simply stunning!

Next, we headed to see some of the Islamic monuments and sites of the city. We were transported through traffic and time to the spectacular Al Rifa’i Mosque and Mosque and Madrassa of Sultan Hassan. Both massive, both so elegantly covered in colored stone and carved stones with Koranic inscriptions and vegetal motifs. Yet, through this decoration and with carpets and lanterns, the spaces felt intimate and peaceful. We also visited the Royal tombs there, including that of the late Shah of Iran. Afterwards, we headed to the Islamic Quarter of Cairo. Behind it’s gorgeous gated walls we were amazed to find ourselves immersed in a city still looking and working as it had been for centuries. Spectacular Islamic architecture everywhere, bustling crowds, shopping, eating and vendors of all things… a feast for the senses. This was definitely a highlight of our time in Cairo! There we settled in for our last dinner in Egypt and savored every bite and memory of the trip.

Day 11 – This day came too soon, it was time to leave Egypt and head back home. We were not quite ready to leave our friends and felt like there was much more to discover in this beautiful country. They people made us feel at home and comfortable. Everyone was so welcoming and grateful that we had come to visit, despite the media’s narrow insights. We were glad we did and we’ll go back… there’s more ‘eden’ in Egypt to see!

Here is our travel video, so you can see a little bit of why it’s so epic:  EGYPT

Foul Beans – a most delicious staple in Egyptian cuisine. Great on it’s own or along side many other Mediterranean or Latin/Mexican dishes. It’s less carbs and calories than black or pinto beans to boot!

  • 16oz can of small Fava beans (ful medames)
  • 1 small red onion
  • garlic
  • salt, pepper, chili pepper flakes
  • parsley
  • green pepper
  • tomato
  • lemon
  • olive oil

Chop the onion and add it to a pot with some olive oil (save a bit for garnish later). Saute until translucent, then add the garlic and toss for another minute or two (do not brown). Add the whole can of beans, liquid and all to the pot. As it begins to heat, mash it with a potato masher until nearly all of the beans are macerated. Add salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste. Add in some lemon juice to taste. Transfer the beans to a serving bowl and top with a bit of olive oil and garnish with chopped green peppers, tomatoes, and parsley as you like. Enjoy!

Let’s begin planning your journey to Egypt. We’ll make sure you choose the best time of year to visit, design a custom itinerary that will fit your interests, choose the perfect guides and hotels and organize all the details so that all it’s epic! Contact your Eden For Your World advisor to begin planning your visit: info@edenforyourworld.com

Photos and media are all by Eden For Your World, and are only for us to use, unless otherwise permitted. Thank you! #EdenFYW

 

Rosewood London Calling

Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford. ~ Samuel Johnson

Welcome to London, welcome to the world… We came, we walked, we shopped, we ate, we museum-ed, we pub-ed, we stayed in luxury, but, we’ll never be royals.

Samueul Johnson’s quote says it best.  London is full of life. There is so much to see and do in the city, that you’ll feel like you can never do it all. Like any big European city it has museums, cultural sites and arts, shopping, dining and local attractions that can keep you going nonstop. But, the core of the city is quite manageable in size and you can realistically walk by everything on your list quite easily.  May we just say that the we love the Victoria and Albert and British Museums. They are both so beautifully curated! They each have just enough of the empire’s amazing booty to keep you interested in visiting every one of their galleries. In London there’s a vibe and a pace that is so similar to what we find in the big cities of the U.S., but it is definitely unlike anything at home. It’s very cosmopolitan and very English at the same time. That’s what we love about it! Friendly faces and a familiar language make it easy to strike up conversations with locals and visitors alike (usually over a pint). However, getting around is not so easy.  We found the traffic to be as frustrating as it is in L.A.. So after a few private car transfers and taxi rides we opted for the Underground. It’s everywhere, it’s easy and it’s clean. Mind the gap!

You’ll enjoy the sites of course, but, you’ll also love exploring all of London’s unique neighborhoods.  Each with it’s it own vibe and energy. Visit Knightsbridge for a glimpse at some of the most gorgeous town houses and some of the haute-est cuisine in town. Check out SOHO at any time of day (or night) for non-stop action and energy.  Bloomsbury is a good respite from the fast pace, and it’s picturesque tree lined streets are just steps away from theaters and retail therapy. You know you have to see Kensington and Chelsea, it’s so London! Needless to say, there is a neighborhood for your every mood.  Just don’t forget to wave to the Queen when you pass her pad in Westminster.

Speaking of pads, London has no shortage of excellent luxury accommodations to choose from.  On this occasion we choose to stay at the beautiful Rosewood London.

Rosewood London

Hotel of the Year 2014 – Virtuoso Best of the Best Awards

Housed in a 1914 Edwardian Belle Époque building, Rosewood London is steeped in history. Its 262 guestrooms and 44 generously appointed suites, created by renowned New York-based Tony Chi and Associates, are inspired by a traditional British manor house and evoke that of a true London residence. Rooms are designed to provide a series of discoveries to surprise, please and amuse guests by doormen in tweed caps enter through wrought iron gates, into the peaceful courtyard giving a sense of arrival more akin to a private manor house than a hotel. Rosewood London embraces guests within one of London’s most historic locales. The central location, moments from Covent Garden, near an eclectic arcade of ultra-luxury boutiques on Lamb’s Conduit Street, the British Museum, Theaterland and the Royal Opera House.

EFYW guests receive the following exclusive benefits:
-Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability.
-Daily Full English Breakfast.
-$100 USD Food & Beverage credit, to be utilized during stay.
-Early check-in/late check-out,subject to availability.

See London and the hotel in our video: Rosewood London

Dining (here’s where we ate or drank and loved it):

  • Gymkhana
  • Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill
  • Berners Tavern at The London Edition
  • China Tang at the Dorchester
  • Scarfe’s Bar at the Rosewood London

Contact your EdenFYW advisor to begin planning your visit to London: info@edenforyourworld.com

Photos and media are all by #edenfyw, therefore, are only for us to use. Thank you!