Grape Expectations: Why You Should Visit Wine Country USA

If someone said to you the two words “wine country”, be honest: would you think they meant somewhere like France or Italy? Absolutely no-one would blame you if that were the case.

In reality, though, more and more those words are being used to describe a slice of the West Coast of America that forms part of the New World range of wine-making locations. As well as being home to some excellent vineyards, the New World is also full of attractions and locations for a holiday you’ll remember for years to come. You don’t need to be an oenophile to enjoy these vacation spots; though it definitely helps!


Paso Robles

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Paso Robles vines.

Paso Robles is a bustling Californian city, surrounded by a seemingly endless array of excellent vineyards. Indeed, it is where the Californian wine trail began in many ways, with settlers finding that the vines carried more fruit than they could reasonably eat. What do you do with too many grapes? Make wine, of course.

Today Paso Robles is famed for its excellent Zinfandel wines, which go particularly well with fish (good job you’re on the coast, then!), as well as the hot springs which will make your stay all the more relaxing.


San Francisco

In many people’s minds, San Francisco is the jewel in the crown of California, and it’s certainly the hub for any wine tour. The city itself is home to some of the most chic wine bars anywhere in the world, and there are several excellent wineries dotted around the outskirts of the city.

It’s also the perfect place to base yourself for the duration of your stay. A short trip from your base in the Comfort Inn & Suites at San Francisco Airport West, you’ve got an eternity’s worth of sightseeing to do. The Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Haight-Ashbury and, if you travel between September and January, the legendary San Francisco 49ers play in nearby Santa Clara.


Napa Valley

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Vineyards as far as the eye can see in Napa Valley.

Wine buffs will be used to seeing the words “Napa Valley” on the side of bottles. The valley — and its famous cool winds — provide the perfect environment for Cabernet grapes, which make some of the best red wines available today. The Old World of France or Italy can only dream of the grapes that the Napa Valley is able to provide– so this area is a must visit if you’re a fan of red wine.

Taking the wine train through the valley, you’ll delight at the stunning verdant scenery, rolling hills filled with vines, and the pools and lakes of the Bothe-Napa State Park. You’ll see more wineries than you could possibly stop at, including the famous Inglenook with its award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon. You’ll also get to see Old Faithful— the legendary geyser that erupts, as if programmed to do so, every hour or so.

Stunning locations and some of the best wine the New World has to offer– who could possibly resist?

Istanbul: The Best Off the Beaten Track Attractions.

Istanbul is located in the perfect place to enjoy a diverse mix of cultures and all the attractions that these cultures provide. Situated right in the middle of Europe and Asia, the country is a melting pot of huge civilisations. Imagine being on one continent, and then in an instant, you are transported to another one via a short boat or taxi ride. Its location makes Istanbul a very unique place to visit that very few other destinations can rival.

Istanbul’s major tourist attractions are the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, and perhaps the Bosphorus River. It is possible to set sail on one of the Bosphorus cruise tours and discover this beautiful 30 km stretch of water which connects the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

While these are the attractions everybody knows. What other things could you do in Istanbul other than seeing the Istanbul’s historic centre? Well, I am glad you asked, let me give you some tips on how to explore the lesser known areas of this great city.


Fener & Balat Neighborhoods

Fener Balat Neighborhood

Istanbul used to be the capital of Ottoman Empire, a multi-national empire that lasted from the 1300s to the 1900s. Istanbul was at the heart of  this huge empire and had a large Jewish and Greek community

Fener (Phanar) was the major district for the Greek settlers who were living in Istanbul from the time of Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. Balat (Palation) was the place where the Jewish community of the city lived. There are still many synagogues around every corner of the neighbourhood. Both these districts offer architecture and food that has its roots in their respective native countries.

While cruising around the old and complicated streets of Fener & Balat neighbourhoods, it’s recommended to hire a tour guide in Istanbul.


Kadıköy At Istanbul’s Asia Side

Kadıkoy Local Markets Dessert

Kadıköy is a lovely spot for the locals to shop around. There are old dessert shops, fish markets, pubs and bars of the city. It’s a great area to walk around, observe the local life, and people watch. Modern and traditional lifestyle is blended in this nice district. If you are staying in a hotel at Istanbul’s old city, Kadıköy is accessible by a simple ferry ride only taking half an hour.


Sirkeci & Eminönü Neighborhoods

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Sirkeci Train Station used to be where Orient Express train arrived. It’s a special district where you can find some of the oldest Turkish Dessert shops (Especially Turkish Delight). A lot of shops in the area are very good for milky sweets: Hasan Usta, Hafız Mustafa, and Ali Muhittin Hacıbekir are all great sweet and chocolate shops that will surprise you with their fancy creations. Many historic sweet shops that are more than a century old Can be found in Sirkeci area.

Eminönü is known as the transport hub of Old Istanbul: People who want to visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and other famous landmarks, first arrive at this sea-side district via ferry, bus, or car. Eminönü is famous for its vibrant Spice Bazaar (also known as Egyptian Market) and is one of the 10 must-see sights of Istanbul city.


Golden Horn District: Eyüp

Mosques of Istanbul

Eyüp is a holy place for Muslims due to the famous mosque (among Muslim World) located there which is called Eyyub Sultan Mosque. But Eyyub is not just for religious visits. There is a lovely hill near the mosque that is called Pierre Loti Hill. From here, you can enjoy the great views of Istanbul that are on offer at the top of the hill. A French Poet named Pierre Loti, spend the half of his life around this area and wrote his famous poems whilst looking at this view. Therefore local authorities named this beautiful area after him.

As well as the places listed above there is another very entertaining museum called Miniaturk. Miniaturk plays host to replica versions of many famous landmarks from Turkey. Small miniature models of Mosques, Early Christian Monasteries, Palaces, Temples and Ancient Cities can be found in the museum. Since Turkey’s land had been a cradle of civilizations, you may see what Turkey can offer by taking a tour through this modern museum. While seeing these beautiful places consider joining one of Istanbul guided tours to gain full knowledge and information about these sites.

 

The Dream Fitness Holiday.

Many of you will know that travelling is a major passion in my life – this blog may have given that away! 😉

What you may not know is that being healthy and general fitness is another huge passion in my life.

It probably stems from my past as a competitive swimmer. Since I ‘retired’ 3 years ago, I try to hit the gym as much as I can to stay in shape and I try to eat healthily along the way.

Compelling Reasons Why You Should Drop Everything & Visit Turkey.

If you are aware of current world events right now, the chances are that Turkey isn’t likely to be on your current ‘must-see’ list. Because of its closeness to the Middle East – in geographical and political terms – a lot of people are thinking twice about visiting.

But while there is an element of risk, the reality is that it is in the same security state as virtually everywhere else in Europe and the western world. And missing out on such a beautiful and welcoming country would be such a shame. With this in mind, here are a few awesome reasons why you should rip up your current travel plans and book a visit to Turkey instead.

Say Hola To Spain: How To Make The Most Of An Extended Trip!

There is something about Spain that makes it a country that it’s easy to spend long amounts of time exploring. Home to some incredibly diverse landscapes, the Spanish Pyrenees are a beautiful mountain range, while Sierra Nevada, a gorgeous snow capped mountain range, rises up above the sunshine of Andalucia. Then there are the country’s incredible cliffs in the Northwest, swaddled by Mediterranean coves and white sand beaches. Throughout the country, there are historic villages featuring traditional Spanish architecture, as well as vibrant towns and cities. There is no doubt about it, Spain is somewhere that has a lot to offer every traveller.

Adventure Begins At The Edge Of Your Comfort Zone

Travelling, in all forms, is a journey of discovery. No matter where you go or how you travel, you’ll be discovering new ways of living, even if you’re not fully conscious at the time. When you’re trying to mumble through your broken French, or seeing whole cities pull down the blinds during siesta hours, you’re adding another layer to your education. If you thrive on this type of learning, then the world is your oyster. If you throw yourself into the deep end, at the end of your comfort zone no less, then you’ll be rewarded by awesome experience after awesome experience. Below, we take a look at five ways you can find the adventure you seek.