Traditional Turkish food. It makes me salivate just thinking about it. Turkish delight, Kebabs (not the greasy fat dripping kebabs at 3am that are half squished into your pillow the next morning after a heavy drinking session kebab) and Gözleme.
Oh Gözleme how I miss you.
Crunching through your thin pastry outer shell to discover the savoury inner goodness. Who would have thought something so simple would equate to such a taste explosion.
What are Gözleme
The name, Gözleme, derives from the Turkish word göz meaning eye. And when you cook the pastry tiny brown spots dot the outer layer apparently resembling eyes. Or so we were led to believe.
To cook them traditionally takes quite a lot of skill, and while my cooking abilities with a rolling pin are half decent, I don’t think I could master this pastry rolling out process.
While at the local markets in Fethiye we sat down for an afternoon snack at the Gözleme stall. There is something hypnotic about watching the older Turkish women work away like mad over the large circular cooking stone. They had it down to a fine art.
When the fresh ball of pastry is rolled out to resemble a crepe or pancake, it is thrown over the baking hot girdle. Handfuls of spinach and feta, or mince and potatoes or even sweet nutella are then spread across half the Gözleme.
Folding the sides up to cover the delicious fillings the pastry is flipped over to cook evenly.
By the end you have a super cheap mouth-watering snack that oozes the sweet and savoury mix inside. Absolutely divine.
Plus you can just pick it up with your hands and devour it.
Since Gözleme has become so popular with tourists they are no longer just a local market delicacy. We even saw them in most of the restaurants in Istanbul. Although for about five times the price.
No matter where you are in Turkey, Gözleme are a must try for anyone wanting to experience traditional Turkish food. And bring one back me!
Have you been to Turkey? What’s your favourite traditional Turkish food?
Philippines Couples Vacation
The Philippines is one of the least explored countries in Southeast Asia. While tourism has picked up over the last few years, it is still mostly a backpacker’s destination. That said, one recent trend has been the increase of couples, especially honeymooners, who come to the country in search of romantic, unspoiled beaches.
While standard honeymoon vacation packages offer a visit to the country’s main tourist spots, Palawan and Boracay, there are so much more you can see if you dare go off the grid for a short while. This is especially true now, with Boracay island being closed for at least 6 months for rehabilitation.
Boracay’s closure shows exactly why responsible tourism is so important, to preserve nature and keep the place clean and safe. Over-development is a huge risk in 3rd world countries which are rapidly becoming tourist magnets, and it’s clear this is already starting to happen in the Philippines. Luckily, there are so many other beautiful islands to which the mainstream tourists didn’t come to yet. This might be your last chance to enjoy those places before they are lost forever in the hands of modernization and commercialization.
Palawan’s hidden secrets
No one in his right mind would tell you to not visit Palawan, one of the most beautiful islands in the world. There is, however, ways to make your trip more special and help you avoid the crowds. The 2 most popular locations in Palawan are El Nido and Coron, both offering some of the most spectacular small islands and hidden lagoons you will ever see. The problem is there are literally hordes of tourists taking the island-hopping tours each day, so you never get to really enjoy those places to yourself.
One solution, if you can afford it, would be to hire a private speedboat. You can leave at your own time, and since the boat is faster than the sailboats used for regular tours you can easily reach all the nice places before the organized tours gets there. This option is more relevant for families and larger groups, since you can split the cost of the speedboat between all of you. Couples might find renting a boat each day to be too costly though.
The alternative to that would be to go to the islands and beaches which are still off the tourist radar instead. In El Nido, a perfect solution would be to stay at the Qi Palawan resort and take their tours when you feel like it. This romantic boutique resort is owned by foreigners and standards are very high, it’s a perfect place for couples who want a romantic and private setting for their vacation. The resort is located about an hour’s drive from El Nido town and facing the other side of the bay, so it’s ideal for going on alternative tours.
For Coron, the same trick applies. The northern part of the island is much less developed but the beaches and scenery there is just as breathtaking. Near the area called San Jose there is a small pier called decalachao, from which you can go diving with sea cows, one of the most unique diving experiences the Philippines has to offer. Alternatively, you can also stay at the eastern side of the island, where more traditional island hopping tours are offered.
Siargao island – the next Boracay
If you ask any Filipino where the next big tourist spot will be, the answer is always Siargao. And it seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy and the island is now fully booked for months in advance due to Boracay’s imminent closure. This has caught Siargao’s hotel industry by surprise, as this place is still relatively undeveloped and is now full of tourists looking for a place to sleep at.
What used to be one of the best hidden secrets and an ultimate backpacker destination is now quickly turning into a crowded tourist mecca. Now might be your last chance of going there and enjoying some peace and quiet before this happens. If you do go there, make sure you check for availability and book your stay in advance. luckily, there are plenty of places offering homestays, dormitory and Airbnb style accommodation, so finding room on a budget is still relatively quite easy.
The main area in Siargao is called General Luna, and it stretches out all the way into Cloud Nine beach. That beach also has quite a few hotels right next to it, since it is considered one of the best surfing spots in the world and is the original reason why Siargao picked up traction among tourists.
The best way to enjoy Siargao is by renting a motorbike and going on adventures yourself. The organized tours are cheap and quite fun, but you can easily get to all the cool places even without them. When you explore by yourself you get a chance to be on your own itinerary and stop anytime you see something interesting. And believe us, there is plenty to see in Siargao – hidden white sand beaches, thick jungles and stunning landscape all around.
If you feel brave, take the boat trip to Bucas Grande. It’s a grueling 3 hours sail in each direction, but once you get there you’ll understand it was worth the trouble. Sohoton cove is considered one of the most beautiful and unique lagoons in the country, rivaled only by the majestic scenes of Palawan. Right next to the lagoon there’s also the jellyfish sanctuary, where you can swim with stunning stingless jellyfish. Overall the area makes for a great location for a full day tour, filled with fun and unique attractions.
Malapascua – more than just diving
For people who really want to go off the beaten path, there aren’t many better places to visit than Malapascua – a small island right off the northern shores of Cebu island. The fact it takes 5-6 hours to get to the island (van/bus then a ferry) is actually a plus, as it keeps it remote enough that you can enjoy the ultimate island getaway adventure.
Malapascua is mostly famous for its amazing dive sites and a very well-developed diving scene in general. It’s one of the few places in the world where you are almost 100% guaranteed to see thresher sharks in the wild every day. What few people realize though, is that the island also has quite a few really nice boutique resorts. Developed by the island’s fledgling European community, these resorts offer a fantastic solution for couples who want to stay at a nice, small resort but still enjoy excellent amenities.
Overall, Malapascua is one of the best places to go to if you want that unspoiled island vacation, but also care about a comfortable stay. Thanks to the fact this island is so close to Cebu, it can easily be combined with other, equally beautiful locations nearby. Moalboal is a very popular diving town in its own right, and also home to the famous Kawasan Falls. Bohol is a popular tourist island nearby, closely resembling the beach party mentality of Boracay. Lastly, if you truly want to go off the grid, then take a trip to the exotic Camotes islands, a stunning location where even electricity and running water are considered luxury.
Don’t be afraid of exploring on your own
While the advice above is certainly enough to help you create an exciting trip, a big part of the fun is exploring the unknown by yourself. A big part of a vacation in the Philippines is its free spirited and adventurous nature. To fully enjoy what this country has to offer, you have to let go and learn how to go with the flow.
Luckily, the locals are extremely friendly and helpful and they all speak English. Start talking to people around you and soon you will be able to find a ton of exciting new things to do everywhere you go. Make friends with other travelers and book tours together – you’ll get to learn from their insights and it will also help you cut back on the costs.
The Philippines, with the exception of Mindanao island and some parts of Manila, is a very safe place. Don’t be too afraid to mingle or explore just because you feel you might get hurt. The worst you might encounter is petty crimes such as pickpocketing or small tourist scams, especially since couples are rarely targeted. These can be easily avoided by staying alert and using basic common sense. There’s no reason you won’t be able to discover everything this country has to offer and have the perfect holiday with your loved one.
Gambling Around The World
Gambling in 2017 has many different facets, some of them new, some of them going back literally thousands of years.
Some of us like to just stay home and play online, look for the best casino bonuses and have a great time from the comfort of our home sweet homes. And there is certainly nothing wrong with that.
But maybe you are travelling and you would like to check out the local casinos. We are going to include a quick list of the world’s hot spots for gambling in case you come near one of these places, or just get the brick and mortar casino bug and want to check them out.
This is perfect for people who want to combine the classic gaming experience with spectacular views of the Mediterranean. Definitely you have a history and a tradition here not to be felt anywhere else. This place is not cheap, but it’s worth every penny.
This one may surprise you, as people don’t think of it as a gambling destination, but it’s one of the world’s best, with 24 world-class facilities, and of course, everything else to cater to tourists to a T.
It’s also worth mentioning that most of these destinations are also beach destinations, but out of all of them, Aruba’s beaches are hands-down the best.
Once owned by the Portuguese, in today’s world, Macau is part of China, but considered a special administrative district, in the same fashion as Hong Kong. Since a long time ago, it has been a famous destination for gamblers, and gambling and tourism make up a whopping 50% of its economy.
Las Vegas is all about big! It has the biggest concentration of casinos (over 75 next to each other on the strip), some of the world’s biggest casinos, and biggest hotels. There is no doubt that this still remains the premier destination for people who are serious gamblers, no matter where in the world they may come from. No self-respecting high roller lives his or her life without at least one stop in Vegas.
This is the smallest of the destinations in this list, but not to be easily discounted. Many people prefer the relaxed vibe of Atlantic City compared to other destinations, and if you live anywhere between New York and DC, the proximity is a huge draw. And of course, the famous boardwalk is still there, and still as nice as ever in season.
Is It Time to Find a New You at a Thailand Retreat?
If you feel like you a lacking a little direction, or that you have become lost in the hustle and bustle of your faced paced life, do not despair. There is hope. Spend too much time buried by work and inevitably the world will grind you down, but it needn’t. You can do something about it. The answer is a lot simpler than you may think (and more affordable, too).
You have to act though. Indifference or accepting that nothing will change will result in exactly that, nothing changing. What you need to do is interrupt your life and take a step back. Now this doesn’t mean falling off the radar, or a sudden change in your career. You just need to invest a little of your own time in yourself and book yourself into a personal development course at a Thailand retreat.
Isn’t That Strange?
No, it isn’t. Again, you are not changing the world in which you live, rather you are looking to change how you live in the world. A getaway at a retreat can help you do this. So, lose the negativity and cynicism and think about the possibilities for a moment. If you feel strange about going alone, why not round up your best buddies and go together? (Click here for more guy adventure tips)
A Little Self-Therapy
If you work hard, and feel constantly exhausted, at some point things are going to get even worse – be that your physical or mental health. By looking after both your body and mind and learning healthy practices at a retreat, you’ll fortify both your mind and body ready for the rigours of daily life once you return to it. The techniques, practices and understandings that you will gain by attending a Thailand retreat will help you to not only cope, but to thrive. It is like learning a shortcut to happiness that many simply do not know about. Brilliant right?!
Burnout is a real problem in society, and prevention is a much better solution than trying to find a cure. It is likely that you will have to keep working in your employment and that life will throw all manner of things at you as you battle onward, but learning to cope whilst smiling, with a stronger fortitude and greater will to succeed is a more certain way of becoming a success before you become a casualty.
Through mindfulness practice, physical activity such as yoga and stretching, and incorporating meditation, you are adapting a holistic approach to your own health, happiness and self-development. This can help you become mentally stronger, physical fitter, more at ease with yourself and life, and aware of the world in which you live. You can actually learn to live rather than exist. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
Life begins at the very edge of your comfort zone, on the outskirts of familiarity and away from your normal habits and routine. Rather than shun it, or even fear it, you can learn to embrace, experience and even enjoy it too. This isn’t changing what you do, but how you do it. It isn’t changing who you are, it is letting you become the true you, unleashing your full potential.
A Thailand retreat based around health and self-development puts your wellbeing at the very heart of the programme. This isn’t self-indulgent but rather self-fulfilment; letting your life exist beyond the limits of your expectations. It is time for you to look after yourself that little bit better.
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
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