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Travel tip: Why we will never use a taxi in Istanbul again

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Yes a taxi will be extremely tempting when you FINALLY step out of customs at the airport! Being hot, overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle, along with multiple sales men hungry for you to use their transport makes anyone want to give in and take the EASY route. But how much are you willing to SPEND?!

The first time we arrived in Istanbul we were THOSE people. So, after pushing away a shuttle sales man that literally grabbed my arm, we ignored all advice and jumped in a taxi. Fortunately, our first experience with a taxi travelling from Ataturk airport to our accommodation near Galata Tower went smoothly. However, this is not NORMAL!

Massive queue for customs at SAW airport, Istanbul

Massive queue for customs at SAW airport, Istanbul

Why we will never use a taxi in Istanbul again

The only other (and last ever!!) time that we caught a taxi was from our accommodation near Taksim Square to SAW airport at 3.30am.

The taxi driver spoke little English, got up to speeds of 170kms per hour, and of course there were no seat belts available. Upon arrival to the airport he then ignored the metre and asked for a much higher amount of money, saying something about toll road fees (in very simple English). We refused, and agreed to pay 110 Lira (a little more than what the metre read which was already extremely pricey!).

So, I handed over a 100 Lira note along with a 10 Lira note. Being 4am, I thought I was paying attention but of course also felt almost drunk due to tiredness. So when the driver said I had underpaid and held up a 20 and a 10 Lira note – I WAS CONFUSED! Problem is, Moss trusted the taxi drivers word and assumed I had handed over the wrong amount. But, having only withdrawn cash the night before, I knew that 100 Lira was now missing from my wallet.

What was the result? Well we were fooled by the taxi driver’s magic trick of turning a 100 Lira note into a 20 Lira and had to dig money out of Moss’s wallet. Plus to make matters worse, we caught up with a friend a few weeks later, only to learn that he had the EXTACT same trick done to him.

Tip: If you do HAVE to catch a taxi, then pay the driver by counting the money out loud into their open hands

Cheapest way to travel from Ataturk Airport to Istanbul Central

If you are travelling on a budget and would rather spend 8 Lira per person in order to get to or from Ataturk airport, then we recommend catching the metro/tramway from Ataturk Airport to Istanbul central.

Once you have made your way out from customs, keep an eye out for the METRO/TRAMWAY signs. The signs will instruct you to go down a few floors within the airport. In order to enter the tram platforms you will need to purchase a token. The token is an orange plastic coin, and can be purchased for 4 Lira from a machine as shown in the image below.

Tip: Depending on how far your journey is you will probably need two tokens (orange coins) per person. Therefore to save hunting down a machine later, buy two tokens at the airport.

Istanbul ticket machine

Tips for using the trams in Istanbul:

– Each tram costs a flat fee of 4 lira per person, no matter how far you are riding it.
– Some stations are located in the middle of the road.
– There are token machines at each station. However you may need to look around for them as the pay stations are sometimes only located on one side of the road.
– Once you have inserted your 4 lira you will be issued an orange plastic coin which will give you entry to the stations platform.
– In order to get from Ataturk Airport to old Istanbul (The Grand Bazaar and Blue Mosque etc) you will need to get three trams costing a total of 8 lira per person.

Istanbul Network Map

Tips for using buses in Istanbul:

– Buy your ticket before boarding the bus
– Apparently there is a bus that runs from Taksim to SAW airport, and it would be a lot cheaper than our taxi experience!

Other forms of transport are also available:

– Shuttles are supposedly cheaper than taxis.
– Car service’s such as Blacklane Limos are also another option. For a traveller on a budget, they are fairly pricey, however due to everything being prebooked and prepaid online, they were hassle free and our driver was waiting for us at the arrivals gate.

Blacklane Limos

Blacklane Limos

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the Blacklane Limos car service, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

Since May 2014, Rebecca has been wearing out her jandals. She loves anything that involves the ocean whether it be scuba diving, wakeboarding, jet skiing or more recently - sailing! Consider following her via RSS Feed, Twitter and Facebook.

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Adventure Travel

Medieval Towns with German Castles Near Munich & Frankfurt

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Heidelberg Castle

Our favorite castles in Germany near Frankfurt and Munich:

Neuschwanstein Castle is there somewhere amongst all the fog!

Neuschwanstein Castle is there somewhere amongst all the fog!

We were crazy enough to visit Neuschwanstein Castle on a public holiday. This meant that along with all the Asian tourists, there were an awful lot of Germans. Plus, even though we arrived by 11 am, the soonest tickets we could buy were for the German tour at 2.30 pm, as the terms in English were sold out until 4 pm. So, if you don’t have German friends at hand to translate the tour for you, we recommend booking in advance online. The castle was impressive, and the time was undoubtedly fascinating! Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans, but the manmade Grotto room made my jaw drop!

Mespelbrunn Castle

Mespelbrunn Castle

Mespelbrunn Castle is located on a pond between Frankfurt and Wurzburg. Unfortunately, we arrived 30 minutes after its closing time of 5 pm, but it looked cool from behind the fence!

Lichtenstein Castle

Lichtenstein Castle

Lichtenstein Castle is located on a clifftop near Stuttgart and costs 6 euros per person for a tour in German; however, they did give us a very informative written guide in English. This castle is small compared to Hohenzollern castle, but its story is fascinating. Tanks shelled it in World War II, and today you can still see the cracked mirror from where a small fragment of a tank grenade ricocheted!

Hohenzollern Castle

Hohenzollern Castle

Hohenzollern Castle is not too far from Lichtenstein Castle. It is located on a hilltop near Hechingen, and we enjoyed the guided tour. Along with getting to wear GIANT slippers, make sure you explore the casemates and secret passages. One sign made me want to learn more. It read, “Exactly where these steps lead to is unknown. More casemates and secret passageways are likely waiting to be discovered in the heart of the mountain”!

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle was a lot larger than we expected! Unfortunately, we had spent far too much time at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, so we did not have time to explore this castle. But if we get the chance, we will explore the town and its castle next time in Germany.

On our drive from Munich to Frankfurt, we also loved:

Andechs Monastery

Andechs Monastery

The beer garden at Andechs Monastery was just like Oktoberfest but amongst trees and more family-friendly. The beer was cheaper, and the food was great, including the giant pork knuckle, which Moss could not finish. It was also fun walking up multiple flights of stairs to the tower’s very top.

River surfing in Munich

River surfing in Munich

Rothenburg

Rothenburg

Three hours in Rothenburg was not enough to explore this wonderful medieval town! We recommend getting your hands on a city map from the tourist information office. We enjoyed Roder Gate, walking along the wall and exploring the 17th-century spital bastion, plus Moss lost me in the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop for over half an hour, and I didn’t even buy anything!

Bamberg

Bamberg was a neat town with old buildings in the center of the river and had a famous smoked beer which Moss just had to try!

Auto Technik Museum in Sinsheim

I’m not the hugest car or plane fanatic, but even I enjoyed the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim. A highlight for me was sliding out of an airplane (from the museum’s roof)!

The worlds narrowest street

Don’t go out of your way to see it, but the world’s narrowest street in Reutlingen is worth a photo if you are passing through.

Frau Rauscher spitting statue Frankfurt

In Frankfurt, go to the old part of town for an apfelwein and see the Frau Rauscher statue – watch out, she spits about every 12 seconds!

The average person would Google Munich to Frankfurt and see that it only takes about 3 ½ hours depending on how fast you wish to drive on the autobahn! However, we are NOT typical. We took one look at train prices and decided that hiring a car wouldn’t cost too much more.

Suppose you’re interested in traveling to Germany for a damn good deal. In that case, plenty of tour companies have some pretty unique and affordable vacation packages to Berlin, Munich, and Bavaria.

It may be small but this building on Trappensee Lake is classed as a castle!

It may be small, but this building on Trappensee Lake is classed as a water castle!

We aren’t going to tell you our exact route. Still, after surviving Oktoberfest in Munich, we did a giant zigzag to see as many castles and medieval towns as possible. So to save you doing so much driving, we have picked our favorite cities and castles. First of all, ‘Ausfahrt’ is not a destination accessible from every off-ramp! It means ‘Exit’! Another word of wisdom to keep in mind is that the autobahns with speed limits do have speed cameras… and the flash is blinding!

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Adventure Travel

Running with the Bulls Video

Our shaky Running with the Bulls Video footage from the Festival de San Fermin in 2012. Experience it first hand in Pamplona. Enjoy.

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San Fermin Running with the Bulls still

We recently wrote about our life or death experience of Running with the Bulls this year at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona. On that run, I carried along with our GoPro video camera and tried to shoot some footage for our running with the video of the bull.

Running with the Bulls Video, Pamplona

Running with the Bulls

All our travel video shooting techniques went out the window when the bulls’ hooves started to shake the ground beneath our feet.

Once we had lined up for the running with the bulls, there was no escape from it as we were walled in by apartment blocks, shopfront windows, and 3-meter high wooden barriers packed with photographers along the entire length. At one end lay the relative safety of the bull ring pulsating with the cheers of the crowd who were still partying from the night before. Behind me, a dozen wild bulls pawed the stony ground looking for freedom.

Unfortunately, I was standing in their path. 

What we ended up with is below. However, I think what we filmed for our running with the bull video captures the chaos, craziness, and complete madness a lot better than if I had stood my ground.

Enjoy it and watch for the guy that nearly gets trampled to death near the beginning!

Running with the Bulls Video

Would you ever consider running with the bulls?

While we are very aware that not all people agree that the San Fermin Festival should be allowed to go ahead mainly due to animal cruelty, we think there are two sides to every story. We wrote a post about the controversy surrounding Bullfighting in Spain and the Festival de San Fermin.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the Festival de San Fermin and whether you would ever consider running with the bulls.

If you want to join the next Festival of San Fermin or any other wild festivals in Europe, such as Sail Turkey, book with our partners Busabout.

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Adventure Travel

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Adventure City Guide

Find out how you can explore the streets, canals and local markets within minutes of Bangkok with our Outdoor Activities in Bangkok Adventure City Guide.

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Outdoor Activities in Bangkok - The Klongs

Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Bangkok?

As part of our Adventure City Guide series, Ian from Where Sidewalks End shares his expert insider tips on the top adventure and outdoor activities to do in Bangkok.

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok - Adventure City Guide

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Adventure City Guide – Photo by Evoflash

Why visit Bangkok for adventure?

Bangkok is one of the world’s largest metropolises and a gateway for most of the world to access the rest of South East Asia. With numbers surpassing 14 million people in the Greater Bangkok Region, this is no small player in the world’s super-cities. Of course, having such a long history with foreign visitors, the city has become incredibly established in the world’s tourist sector.

This has allowed it to grow many facets of adventurous activities – making access to something for everyone!

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok

Exploring the Klongs

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok - The Klongs

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – The Klongs

Klongs are canals that used to feed the entire city with life-giving water, branched off from the city’s main artery – the Chao Phraya River. Today, the locals wouldn’t drink the water if you paid them, but there is still a fascinating life along the Klongs’ banks. There is so much to explore, from floating markets to old houses on stilts, and it gives insight into this ancient way of life!

What’s it cost, and how to get to the Klongs?

You can usually arrange the Klongs from the pier “Saphan Taksin” along the Chao Phraya River. This is conveniently a stop on the Skytrain, making it very easy to access. Usually, you will be renting the entire boat for the day (about 1000 THB, or USD 35) and not paying a per-person rate. So if you can find a few people to go with, the price will drop significantly per person.

Rickshaw City Tours

If you’ve never been to Asia before, Rickshaws are one of the most fun ways to get around. Although they can often be a little more expensive than metered taxis, you get an experience (and a view) that is unparalleled, especially in the busy streets of Bangkok.

What’s it cost?

Occasionally, you can even haggle a deal for a city tour for next to nothing (50-100 THB or $1.50-3 USD), as long as you visit a couple of affiliated ‘custom suit tailors’ throughout the day, as they’ll get a kickback from the shops just for bringing you there… No purchase is necessary.

You can often find Tuk Tuk drivers willing to do this standing along the perimeter of the Kings’ Palace. It may take a few attempts of asking for a ‘special city tour,’ but you will be bound to find someone ready for a cut of this business.

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok - Rickshaw Tours

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Rickshaw Tours

Local Secret Spot

Chatuchak Market

Though most people wouldn’t consider going to a market an adventure, they probably have never experienced the likes of Chatuchak (also known as JJs). This is one of SE Asia’s LARGEST outdoor markets. It’s so prominent that you can find maps of the market to help navigate. It’s roughly the size of 4 city blocks and is divided into various sections.

You’ll find everything under the sun here, from clothing to handicrafts, food, mobile phones, and even puppies and other cute critters for sale!! It’s bonkers. If it gets too much for you, you can take a break in one of Bangkok’s most famous parks (Chatuchak park), located next to the market.

How to get there?

You can get here via Skytrain (BTS), subway (MRT), taxi, bus, you name it – it’s very accessible! But it’s only open on weekends, from about dawn until 5 or 6 pm at its peak. Some shops stay open longer, but most will be closed by dusk. It’s free entry and a perfect place to buy ANY souvenirs at the end of your time in Thailand.

Suppose you can coordinate to be here on the weekend. I generally hate shopping for ‘stuff,’ but I love this market and its energy!

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok - Chatuchak Markets

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Chatuchak Markets

Best time of the year to visit Bangkok for adventure?

Bangkok is in the tropics and quite close to the Equator. Of course, this means it’s hot on a year-round basis.

It’s considered the rainy season from May to October, though showers can happen at any time of the year. This is generally a less busy time for tourists, though the rains are not quite as bad as expected and often only last 30 mins-1 hour, cooling the city’s heart. Peak season is in December-January when temperatures are at their most astounding ad driest… though it’s still pretty hot!

And if Bangkok isn’t to your taste, the luxury Koh Samui will be. Endless sandy beach, beautiful clear waters, and nightlife that could be lived in forever. The luxury rental properties are stunning, and we recommend Tempston Luxury villa rentals.

Finally, the reason I love Bangkok for adventure is that…

It’s never-ending. This city is SO BIG that you could get lost in a new neighborhood almost every day. Single. Day. And still find new, exciting things to explore. On my list for the upcoming weeks, I’ve got the Scala Cinema, the Thai Air Force Museum, Papaya Vintage Shop, and the Erawan Museum – to name a few. Every time I explore one place, I learn of 3 more!!

BIO:

From a young age, Ian was always a wanderer. He’s since travelled to all 7 continents, and has spent the majority of his life pursuing this passion. You can follow him in his off-the-beaten-path adventures and discoveries on TwitterFacebook, Google+ and his travel blog Where Sidewalks End.

Have you been to Bangkok? What were your favorite outdoor activities in Bangkok?

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe 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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