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!

 

Travel Capsule Wardrobe by @Sin60Style

Cinderella never asked for a prince. She asked for a night off and a dress. ~ Kiera Cass

Eden For Your World is thrilled to announce it’s newest collaboration with stylist Cynthia Pastor, of the popular Instagram @sin60style. Cynthia is a longtime client turned friend, who specializes in capsule collection wardrobe styling. A capsule collection is a curated assortment of clothing that can be mixed and matched in multiple different ways, creating many looks out of a limited number of items.

When the opportunity arose to partner with Cynthia to bring ease and convenience to our beloved clientele, we knew we could not pass it up. While Eden For Your World takes all of the stress and planning off your hands in creating your perfect getaway, the packing burden falls on your shoulders. Enter Cynthia, a professional stylist and master mixer. She will curate the perfect “travel capsule wardrobe” for you, your family, partner, children, etc. so that you can fully enjoy every aspect of travel. After a brief consultation and discussion of wardrobe needs, Cynthia will create your travel wardrobe for you, complete with detailed photos. How can it get any easier?

To learn more about Cynthia, please visit her website at www.cynthiapastor.com. For bookings, please email us at info@edenforyourworld.com or just tell Cynthia that #EdenFYW sent you to receive added benefits.

The Galapagos

[The traveler] may feel assured, he will meet with no difficulties or dangers, excepting in rare cases, nearly so bad as he beforehand anticipates. In a moral point of view, the effect ought to be, to teach him good-humored patience, freedom from selfishness, the habit of acting for himself, and of making the best of every occurrence. . . Traveling ought also to teach him distrust; but at the same time he will discover, how many truly kind-hearted people there are, with whom he never before had, or ever again will have any further communication, who yet are ready to offer him the most disinterested assistance. ~ Charles Darwin

Eden For Your World does the Galapagos – but, not the blog. Please enjoy the following guest blog post from our dear guest Mrs. Josephine M., who accompanied us, along with her family, to experience the magic of the islands!

I have been fortunate to travel to many places in the world with trips planned by Eden for Your World. They have arranged travels to Asia, Europe, South America, and the South Pacific. I can assure you that as outstanding and memorable each of those trips have been, I have truly never experienced anything like the trip we took to the Galapagos.

It all started about two years ago… John and Kasra, at Eden For Your World, thought, wouldn’t it be fun to gather a small group of people and not just book them on a trip but lead the excursion…to the Galapagos! Along with their partners in Ecuador, they designed a trip of a lifetime! They sent out a feeler email to see if anyone was interested. I saw the email and before a minute had passed my entire family was on board. We responded immediately. Our quick reaction paid off – John and Kasra were inundated with responses. Seems everyone was anxious to explore the world with the two of them. From then on it was in their hands and it was a breeze. We were given details, updates, and payment timelines. They communicated with us via email, phone and social media. They sent pictures and relevant articles to spark our imagination. They sent guidelines on what to pack, how to tip, and local customs to ease our minds. They even arranged a wonderful reception at their home so that we could meet all of our travel companions and had representatives to answer all of our specific questions. You know the pressing questions like: What is the exchange rate? (None – the Ecuadorians use the US dollar), is their WIFI? (only some places). And the ever important question; do you have ice-cream on board? (asked by my daughter and yes, they do).

We started our trip in Quito, the capital and largest city in Ecuador. We stayed at Plaza Grande Hotel in the colonial section of Quito. The hotel is full of old world charm with the benefits of all the modern day conveniences you want. The central, historic, part of the city is quite spectacular. It is a UNESCO World Heritage city, because of it’s well preserved Spanish Colonial architecture.

We enjoyed a personally guided day tour of this enchanting city and the surrounding areas. This is a city of cobblestone streets and breath-taking churches. We started our tour at La Basilica, a Gothic church renowned for its soaring buttresses and rose windows. Unique to Ecuadorian architecture the stained glass windows feature orchids in the designs and instead of gargoyles native animals serve to protect the edifice.

We were then off to the Intinan Museum at the middle of the world. Yes, the EXACT middle of the Earth. This outdoor museum showed how native Ecuadorians lived, which was enough to make it worthwhile but the real excitement came when we stood on the Equator. We were always taught that this is an imaginary line that separates the Northern from the Southern Hemisphere. It is so much more than that. It is the place where the magnetic forces of the poles cancel each other out. Did you know that it is really hard to walk directly on the Equator? The best part of this museum was that it gave everyone in the group a chance to learn and laugh together. It was a great bonding experience that made the rest of our trip even more memorable.

Then it was back into the city with a visit to Capilla de los Milagros, a small 16th century chapel. While this chapel had all of the charm that one would hope for and expect it was what followed that truly took our breath away. We exited the church into a dazzling enclosed courtyard. Whitewashed walls -hand laid stone terraces and a bell tower that reached to an impossibly blue sky. In the shade of a small group of trees a table for 18 was set as traditional music played in the background and women dressed in authentic costumes handed us traditional refreshments. It was like walking onto a movie set. We feasted on four courses of authentic Ecuadorian cuisine while enjoying traditional dances from brightly clothed dancers. And of course Eden For Your World had worked their usual magic and surprised one of our young travelers who is a budding chef with the privilege of cooking along side the chef.

Not to be outdone we were off to another grand church, the Iglesia de la Compania. This one’s interior was entirely covered in gold leaf and is home to a most spectacular altar. We then rounded out the afternoon with a stroll through the quaint plazas that dot the old part of the city to window shop (and souvenir shop) authentic handcrafts for which Ecuador is famous.

That evening EdenFYW gave all of us a spectacular treat. They hosted a dinner at Casa Gangotena for all of us. Casa Gangotena is a spectacular hotel two plazas over from our hotel. So that evening under old-fashioned lamplight we strolled through town to Casa Gangotena. This grand hotel was once home to an old aristocratic family. We walked into the marble hall and made our way to the solarium where we enjoyed a pre-dinner cocktail. Then off to a gilded dining room for dinner. Ecuadorians enjoy colorful, playful food and enjoy a varied palate. This was evidence from the very start. We were served bread. Then out came a platter with eight tiny bowls lined up; eight varied and intriguing dipping sauces for the bread. My favorite was a beet and horseradish combination. The food was glorious, the atmosphere joyous and the conversation, marvelous. It was if the 18 of us had known each other all of our lives and had always traveled together. Then another leisurely stroll back to our hotel and a welcomed night sleep in a very comfortable bed.

The following day we set off for the Galapagos Islands. The organized transfer, flights and VIP arrival at the Baltra airport could not have been easier…

Then we saw her. The M/Y Grace (I refer to her as the Grace. M/Y is her official title as she is a motor yacht. At the time she was commissioned motor yachts were not as common as they are today. )

She had all of the style, glamour and old world grace we had hoped for (pun intended). The furnishings are classic yet comfortable. This was a yacht that was designed for the comfort of her guests without a lot of the trappings and space conserving mis-steps you see in more modern vessels. The outdoor space is designed to allow cooling breezes and warm sun when you want them and shade and respite from the wind when you need it.

There were 18 of us on board and a staff of 15. I could go on for pages on the virtues of the staff, individually and as a group, but suffice to say that they take their jobs very seriously and our comfort and safety were of paramount importance to them. They were warm and kind and very knowledgeable.

What many people do not know about the Galapagos is that tourism is very well controlled and restricted. The Ecuadorians want tourists to enjoy this natural wonder but respect it enough to keep numbers of people in check so that we do not disturb the natural order of the islands. Because of this the schedule that we had was dictated by the National Park. We were given windows of times to be at certain islands then we were required to pull up anchor and move on. Here lies the biggest benefit for traveling with Eden For Your World and the Quasar Group (which owns the Grace). Because there were only 18 of us we had the flexibility to make changes within our set time frames to take full advantage of opportunities as they arose. I will get to that in a bit.

We spent 8 days on the boat. The days started with a wake-up call and either a hike on an island or a snorkel. Then back to the boat for breakfast. After breakfast we would head out for another hike or snorkel followed by lunch and an afternoon hike or snorkel and or cruise to a new island. Follow that by wrap of the day’s events and with slide show of the highlights of the day (another of John’s many talents) and finally dinner under the stars.

Let me take a minute to tell you that the food on board was ridiculously good. They joked that the chef was going to try to put weight on us while the guides would try to work it off of us. I think the chef won. Every meal featured fresh fruits and vegetables, soups and salads main dishes and dessert. Yes, we had dessert twice a day every day. Correction, we had fabulous, decadent, handmade desserts, twice a day, every day.

Now, onto the good stuff. What you’ve been waiting to hear. Is the Galapagos as good as you hear? No, it is so much better. It is truly better than you can imagine. On our first day, our first excursion we landed on a beach with 30+ sea lions that were basking in the sand. Was it roped off? NO! We were there within feet (sometimes inches) of these animals. Now, they do have rules. You may not touch the wild life – and they are serious about that. But if the wildlife touches you, that is okay. One sea lion walked up to a member of our party and brushed its whiskers against her leg (that is how they explore).

The two naturalists we had with us knew absolutely EVERYTHING about everything that had to do with the islands. They knew each animal, plant, rock, bird, and all of the history of these wonderful islands and they were funny and interesting to boot. They made sure that all of us no matter our age or ability truly enjoyed our experience. They were able to custom tailor each experience because there were two of them.

I will now list for you all of the animals we saw – up close.

  • Sea lions (they love to swim with people)
  • White tipped sharks (yes, we did swim with them too)
  • Penguins
  • Land iguanas
  • Sea iguanas (little known fact that they are the only ones that swim in the world. They are black prehistoric looking and a little disconcerting when they slither through the water using only their tails
  • Sea turtles (we swam with them too)
  • Sea stars, sea anemones, huge schools of fish
  • Hammer head sharks
  • Jelly fish
  • Sea horses
  • Rays
  • Dozens of species of birds, including of course the famous blue footed boobies
  • Crabs – lots and lots of crabs
  • Giant tortoise

Wow! That is amazing. Is that all you saw? Why no, it’s not. Remember I told you about the ability of this group to take advantage of opportunities when they arose. One day before the morning snorkel, someone spotted a killer whale off the bow. Yes that is right, a killer whale. Down went to pangas (little boats that shuttle you from ship to shore), and off everyone went. Now, it would be dangerous to swim with them but the pangas got within 20 feet of the whale that breached several times. The next day, a pod of dolphins was sited – down went the pangas filled with passengers/snorkelers (kids still in the PJs). It was thrilling and wonderful.

The days were filled with so many wonderful, astonishing, memorable moments. It was truly a life changing experience. What a great “family” we had become over our week on board together.

Upon our return some of us headed back to the States, while others headed out to Mashpi Lodge, and eco-resort in the Ecuadorian cloud forest. [Please see next blog post]

If this trip sounds like a trip of a lifetime and I assure it was. The thing is every trip that EdenFYW has planned for us is a trip of a lifetime. The thought that they put into every detail is unsurpassed in the industry. They leave nothing to chance. They are always just a phone call away if you ever need them. But to have John and Kasra actually with us made the trip all the more special.

Here is our Galapagos travel video, so you can see a why you must go: The Galapagos

Enjoy more photos on our Facebook, Galapagos, album: Galapagos 2015

Contact your Eden For Your World advisor to begin planning your visit to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands: 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

Incredible India

India – the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the globe combined. ~ Mark Twain.

Well, Mark Twain nailed it! India is a land that is on practically every “bucket list” and it’s there for many good reasons. It is there because it’s a pilgrimage site for all travelers! Whether it be religions, foods, unique cultures, architecture styles, textiles & jewelry, the arts, exotic flora and fauna, geographical beauty, finding your inner yogi, escaping the ordinary, exploring the extraordinary, humanitarian travel or indulgence in luxury travel – you will find it in this massive country.

India is a “khwab ghad”, a dream land.

You will be mesmerized from the moment you set foot on it’s soil. You will be blown away by the  chaos, and by the peace you will find within yourself while amidst it. Yes, that is contradictory, but, so is India. A long blog about everything you can do and see, or even everything we did and saw is redundant. Just go! Do not be afraid of getting Delhi belly (we did and it was worth it), don’t be dissuaded by concerns of seeing things that are too third world (we did and it was worth it), don’t be concerned about having to see it all at once (you will be back!). India is rose petals being thrown upon your head, cardamom, kindness, gold and glitter – mixed with indoor cows, zippy three wheeled Autos and some heat. It works… it’s INCREDIBLE!

Here is a breakdown of Eden For Your World’s visit to India in April of 2015:

  • Delhi. The capital city and a sprawling city (the third largest in the country).
  • Udaipur. The romantic city and the “Venice of the East”. Built around lakes, dotted with palaces and home of the Rajputs.
  • Varanasi. The spiritual capital of India. One of the oldest continually inhabited cities on the planet. Built on the banks of Ganga, the sacred Ganges River.
  • Agra. You know…home of the Taj Mahal!
  • Jaipur. The “pink city”. Alive and vibrant, and our favorite spot for shopping.

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

Let us assist you in designing your visit to India.  With first hand knowledge and our personal connections with the best service providers and hotel operators, we’ll create the perfect experience tailored to your interests and comfort level.  Speaking of comfort level… we’d like to thank our friends at Peirce & Leslie, The Taj Group of Hotels, The Leela Hotels, Oberoi Hotels and ITC Mughal for making sure we always were.

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. Thank you! #edenfyw

 

It’s Time For Myanmar

You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself ~ Buddha

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard all the buzz surrounding travel to Myanmar in the past couple of years.  Well, let us tell you, Myanmar is worthy of the buzz!  But, if you like to be the one whose “discovered” a place, or you want to be ahead of the game… you best go soon.  It’s time for Myanmar – NOW!

Once you’ve discovered a place it’s likely that others have as well (and usually with an eye for development).  And, Myanmar is no exception.  It is poised for some big changes in the next few years, both good and bad.  The country is modernizing at a fast pace.  Domestic and foreign investment will inevitably bring more first world comforts to the nation; consistency in electricity and water, better roads… the usual.  With that will come growth and globalization.  In fact while we were in Yangon we heard of six new large luxury hotel projects in works, not to mention several new large scale residential/commercial developments.  Needless to say, it’ll be less likely to see an ox and cart coasting along the side of you on your way to town, and you’ll be sitting in a lot of traffic to get anywhere.  The change is happening beyond Yangon too, we saw the changes creeping into Bagan, Mandalay and beyond.  It’s all going to be good, it’s just going to get busier and be a bit more of the same same.  So, it’s time for Myanmar!

Yangon is big, busy, dusty and okay for a night or two.  It’s your port of entry, so you might as well enjoy a couple nights at Belmond’s Govorner’s Residence (if you want to be in a quieter residential neighborhood) or The Strand Yangon (if you want to be in the center of town).  They’re both great luxury options and both beautiful.  But, beyond the incredible Shwedagon Pagoda, a typical covered market selling chachkies and the crazy night market with it’s human run ferris wheel, there’s not much to hang around for.

Our suggestion is to get on board a fabulous river boat and cruise along the Ayeyarwady River to marvel at the unspoiled countryside of Myanmar!  They’re you will find life as it’s been for millennia.  Witness farming, fishing, weaving, praying and playing as you slowly make your way to ports to uncover the history and cultural wonders the Myanmar people have given all of us.  Highlights will undoubtedly be Bagan, Mandalay (and surrounds) and Mingun.  There are few wonderful options for river cruising and more are coming soon.  But, we would definitely suggest experiencing it with Belmond.  They’ve been there and doing it longer than anyone, and have been doing it really well!  We loved our time aboard the Road to Mandalay.  The ship, the staff, the service, the guests, the excursions… golden, like the pagodas that dot the riverbanks.

This blog is not going to give you political/historical facts, spout off data about the country, or give you an art historians review of the incredible marvels in architecture that you’ll see in Myanmar. The purpose of this blog is to entice you to go now and encounter Myanmar’s lovely people and to experience their beautiful culture, before it changes.  Discover the above mentioned  yourself when you visit.  But, we’d like to offer you a glimpse below through our photos and in our video.  Note:  It’s safe, you are welcome to visit and don’t call it Burma anymore.

Eden For Your World’s Myanmar Video:  Myanmar

Two of our favorite things: 

Water bowls or jugs with cups everywhere… you’ll find them in the city on street corners or in front of homes, and you’ll find them in the country along the road or at the market.  They’re thoughtfully placed around by whomever to offer a quench of thirst for anybody passing by.

Tea Leaf Salad. YUM! Here is a link to our recipe: Laphet Thoke

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. Thank you! #edenfyw

 

 

Virtuoso Travel Week 2014

Once a year the Best of the Best gather at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Once a year Virtuoso Travel Week brings the who’s who of luxury travel together for the greatest travel show.  Once a year the whole world gathers under one roof!

Enriching lives through human connections!

We won’t exhaust you with details about our hectic schedules, about the madness of running to meetings and events, about our tired bodies and horse voices… we’ll just tell you that every second of the week is spent connecting, networking and enjoying the company of the world’s best hoteliers, tour operators, cruise lines, travel advisors, media personnel in order to learn more and to secure closer relationships that will in turn help us better serve our clients.

During the week each of the three of us at Eden For Your World partook in 352 one on one meetings with suppliers. Together we had 1056 meetings!  This doesn’t include the numerous meetings we each had during breakfasts, lunches, in hallways, or even in elevators.  It’s these connections that award us knowledge and award  you with a better travel experience.

Virtuoso Travel Week Stats:

  • 5 Days
  • 92 Countries
  • 1,860 Suppliers
  • 2,122 Agents (3 of them are yours from Eden For Your World)
  • 371,724 Meetings
  • Infinite Number of Human Connections

Watch our video for a glimpse:  Virtuoso Week 2014

Virtuoso Week is also the time that the Best of the Best is rolled out for the world to see.  This years winners included:

  • Best Achievement in Design – Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace, St Petersburg, Russia.
  • Best Bar – King Cole Bar, The St Regis New York, New York, USA.
  • Best Culinary Experience – L’Abeille, Shangri-La Hotel, Paris, France.
  • Best Family Program – “The Pinocchio Experience,” Rocco Forte Hotel Savoy, Florence, Italy.
  • Best Spa – The Bulgari Spa, Bulgari Hotel & Residences, London, England.
  • Sustainable Tourism Leadership – Cuixmala, Costalegre, Mexico.
  • One To Watch – Park Hyatt New York, New York, U.S..
  • Hotelier of the Year – Rainy Chan, Peninsula Hong Kong.
  • Hotel of the Year – Rosewood London, England.

Last, but certainly not least, we’d like to congratulate our very own John Oberacker… again!  He is a two time nominee by Virtuoso as a Rising Star in a industry that is full of stars!  His nominations in 2012 and in 2014 are a true testament to his hard work, dedication, professionalism and of course love of all things travel.  We salute him for being a STAR!

Until next year Virtuosos – #virtuosowk

 

 

 

 

Jason deCaires Taylor

“The culmination of art and conservation” ~ Jason deCaires Taylor

Last night we had the pleasure of meeting Jason deCaires Taylor at an event held in his honor at the Aquarium of the Pacific.  He was recognized for his ingenious fusion of art and ocean conservation.  A well deserved honor!

The aesthetic beauty of his pieces is clear.  They are thought provoking, mysterious, and just plain cool.  However, their thoughtful purpose is what is absolutely amazing.  Mr. Taylor is sculpting new reefs and large scale housing for ocean wildlife.  His pieces are constructed with materials that are conducive to new life, and their locations are carefully chosen to attract such.  The sculptures naturally attract coral, fish, sponges, crustacean and other marine life to move in, and set up home.

These modern sculpture galleries also attract human visitors.  His works are drawing people by the tens of thousands.  SCUBA divers, snorkelers and glass bottom boaters are flocking to these sites in wonder.  In doing so, they are leaving the ailing natural reefs alone and giving them an opportunity to recover from damage caused by too many careless tourists.

His sculptures adorn ocean floors around the world.  They can be admired in Greece, Grenada, Mexico (his  most acclaimed installation near Cancun), The Islands of Copperfield Bay (Musha Cay), the U.K. and beyond.  He’s currently working on a monumental piece in Lanzarote, Canary Island.

His sculpture installations are underwater destinations you’ll definitely want to add to your bucket list.  Just don’t touch the art please!

Contact us to start planning your visit(s) to these incredible sites:  info@edenforyourworld.com

Learn more:  http://www.underwatersculpture.com/

MUSA – Cancun:  http://musacancun.org/

Musha Cay:  http://www.mushacay.com/#/home

Aquarium of the Pacific:  http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/

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PEACE, LOVE & TRAVEL

As the Holiday Season is upon us, we find ourselves reflecting on the past year and all of you who have helped us shape Eden For Your World. We value our relationship with you and look forward to working with you in the years to come. We wish you a Happy Holiday Season and a
New Year filled with peace and prosperity.

Cheers to a happy (and well traveled) 2014 for all!

Eden For Your World

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