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We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

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Sydney – Tops Down Under

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The city of Sydney and its suburbs are spread around of the world’s largest natural harbours.  Its near perfect characteristic curve is located on the south-east coast of Australia on the Tasman Sea.  It is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cities in the world.  It is also one of the most beautiful.

It is a city that has it all – a boisterously interesting history; great natural features and a vibrant art, fashion and cultural scene.  It is the site of two of the world’s most famous and outstanding man-made structures in the world – the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.  To crown it all, it sits alongside miles and miles of fantastic golden sandy beaches, which are visited by some of the best surfing waves in the world.

SydneyBridge

For a visitor, Sydney has a bewildering choice of things to see and do.  Just touring the harbour area will take days.  There are other things to do as well though such as climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge  or taking a guided tour of the Opera House. This is a fascinating way to spend the day as you explore the unique design and engineering of the building, the Concert Hall and its acoustics.

Harbour cruises are a terrific way to experience the city because you get to visit Fort Denison, Taronga Zoo, Luna Park, Shark Island (so called for its shape), Darling Harbour and the Maritime Museum.  Night cruises across the harbour with a gourmet dinner are an exquisite experience too.

Once you have done the harbour you could make your way to the glorious shimmering sands of Bondi Beach.  A dip in Bondi’s clear blue waters alongside the beautiful people should be top of your list of things to do.  The other major attraction is the Royal National Park, known by Sydneysiders as the ‘Nasho’

 Sydney’s nightlife is enviable and must be sampled.  It is effervescent yet laid back in true Oz style.  Its bars, clubs, performing arts and other entertainment options are as diverse as its people and very often on the cutting edge.  But it’s the traditional beer and ‘tucker’ along with the warming friendliness and great charm of its people that sets this magnificent city apart from all others.  Whatever your style, sparkling Sydney is always entertaining.

SydneyNightlife

 Best Time To Visit

From a weather perspective the best time to visit Sydney is September to early December.  Other times to visit are February to April.  During both these periods, the weather is pleasant and the temperatures moderate.  December to February is the peak tourist months.

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Popular Australian Wine Tours

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Australian wines are now well-established around the world.  They compete for space with the best of European wines on the racks of bars, restaurants, and household tables.  It has taken a little while but the vintners and vineyards from Sydney to Perth and places in between have a large world-wide base of loyal tipplers.  Some of these wine producers have a history going back 150 years and more.

 Now that it’s spring down under hop on to one our comfortable air-conditioned coaches and come along with isango!  Get a tour of some of Australia’s most popular wine-making regions.  While on them you can pleasure your palette with a variety of heavenly wines.

Hunter Valley

The wonderfully lush green and picturesque countryside of Hunter Valley is just a two hour drive north from Sydney.  This is the oldest wine making region in Australia and home to more than 80 wineries including such renowned names as Lindemans, McWilliams, Rothbury, Hardy’s, Wyndham Estate and McGuigan. There are also several independent family-owned boutique wine makers like Tyrells and Draytons.

This tour not only takes you through picturesque Hunter Valley but also gets you a-behind-the-scenes view of wine making.  Since it is spring you will get the added visual pleasure of seeing the ‘budburst’ on the vines.

 Your expedition will involve 3 to 5 wine tastings when you sample up to 30 delicious premium wines.  You will also sit down to a gourmet lunch at one of Hunter Valley’s best restaurants.  The meal will feature fresh local grown produce.  Post lunch you will have a chance to indulge in postprandial snooze under a shady tree.

HunterValleyWine

 Swan Valley

Swan Valley is the oldest wine producing area of Western Australia.  It is just a 25 minute drive from the centre of Perth city but the best way to get there is to take a cruise up the Swan River on a wine tasting tour.  The tour incorporates the best of all worlds – a gentle cruise on a beautiful river, stunning scenery, plenty of fine wine and delicious food.

 Many of the wineries are award winners, producing a wide range of speciality whites, full-bodied reds and some of the world’s finest fortified wines.  This tour focuses on one of the best known and finest wine makers in Australia, Sandalford Wine Estate.  The house is one of the oldest and largest family owned winemakers.

 You get to see how they conjure up their liquid magic in a behind-the-scenes tour.  This is followed by a tasting of 6 varieties of their finest premium wines.  While sipping, choose your favourite wine to accompany your sumptuous two course lunch.  Fresh bread rolls, roasted free range chicken and Mediterranean salsa are just some of the treats on your lunch menu.

 The Swan Valley Cruise and Wine Tasting is such a memorable experience you may want to repeat it.

Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley lies 60km Northeast of Adelaide.  It is a premier wine producing region of Australia.  This picturesque valley is distinguished by the vast acreage of vineyards.  It is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions and started by German settlers.

 It is famous for excellent red Shiraz and other varieties such as Reisling, Semillon, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon and several fortified wines.  It is also renowned for its over 80 Cellar doors and 160 wineries.  Some are still owned and run by the original families.  It is also famed for its food, cultural experience and the biennial Barossa Valley Vintage Festival.

 A Barossa Valley wine tasting tour is a must and the isango! tour covers five of the best world renowned names including the Wolf Blass, TeAro Estate, Kellermeister,  Pindarie and Saltram Wine Estate.  The tour also includes a delicious gourmet lunch at the Wolf Blass Visitor Centre with wonderful views of the spectacular Barossa Ranges.

This is a perfect tour for wine enthusiasts.

BarossaValleyWines

Yarra Valley

Just an hour from Melbourne is the wine-producing region of the Yarra Valley.  The entire area is pristine, dominated by gorgeous views and stunning mountains.  It has a richly deserved reputation as one of the world’s great wine and food regions.  The Yarra Valley has a relatively cool climate allowing for the production of excellent Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sparkling wines.

 Our tour is a special, guided one with an expert accompanying you to three top wineries – Yering Station, Yering Farm and Balgownie Estate.  You will learn how to swirl, sniff, slurp and then taste a wine.  You will also find out how they put the ‘bubbly’ into sparkling wines along with being able to sample them.

 In the Yarra Valley many of the wineries have world-class restaurants attached and Balgownie Estate is no different.  At the tasting you can make your wine selection and have it with an à la carte lunch at the restaurant.

 Your tour ends on a brilliant note with a visit to Domaine Chandon, who are the Australian producers for Moet & Chandon, the French Champagne company.  They also produce fine quality sparkling and cool-climate wines.

YarraValleyLandScape

Margaret Valley

It has been only 45 years since viticulture began in the Margaret Valley.  Yet its superb weather and other growing conditions have seen it become one of the great wine regions of the world.  The wines from here sit right next to the finest in the world.

Margaret Valley is conducive to producing Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Cabernet blends from here are valued because of their fruity and multi-layered flavours.  Many other varieties including Shiraz, Semillon blancs, Sangioves, Merlot, Verdelho and Viogniers are produced too.

Our Margaret Valley Wine Tours leave from Perth and visit four of the world’s best wineries.  Also part of this pleasurable experience is a two-course gourmet lunch at the Voyager Estate plus a barrel room wine-tasting session at Moss wood.

The superb wine tasting tour ends with a thoroughly sinful flourish. You stop off at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory where you can indulge yourself in rich chocolate.  This tour is a wonderful experience for the connoisseur and the novice.

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Morocco – Exotic and Unusual

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Morocco is every tourist’s dream. There are various exotic, exciting and unpredictable things to do in Morocco.  It is a land of outstanding beauty – both the rugged and picture postcard kind – attracting adventure enthusiasts, seekers of the unusual, foodies and the regular ‘been there, seen it’ types.  Vast stretches of desert sands compete with the fabulous beaches on the Atlantic and Mediterranean, deep wooded valleys and orchards.  The tall craggy Atlas Mountains contrast beautifully with the green and flower bedecked Rif Mountains. Morocco is also blessed with weather that is wide and varied.

Atlas mountains morocco tours

Many of the sights, sounds and activities on offer are in or fairly close to Morocco’s cities.

Marrakech

To the Berbers Marrakech is the “Land of God” and it is easy to see why. The nearby Atlas Mountains dominate the skyline and the true Sahara is not far away.  To Europeans, Persians and Asians, it is still Morocco. Marrakech’s magic is its seamless blending and fusing of myriad influences and cultures.  For instance the elegant and towering Koutoubia Minaret, so symbolic of Marrakesh, it is a mix of Moorish and Andalusian architectural styles.  So are the 16th century Saadian Tombs, the Private Museum and Bahia Palace.

The raucous calls of food stall owners vie with the castanets of the water-sellers.  The attention-grabbing snake charmers, acrobats, dancers and other entertainers battle potion-sellers at the world famous Djemaa el Fna Square.  The aroma of spices wafts through the air along with scent of the mouth-watering street food that stays with you long after you have left the country.

traditional market morocco

The labyrinth souk alleyways are crammed with shops and stalls selling everything from hand-crafted Moroccan goods such as babouche slippers, woodworks, brass works, ironworks, bronze works, jewellery, kaftans, carpets, spices, and pottery. You will find the best leather, antiques and hand crafted gold jewellery.  Amidst all this, there are beautiful landscaped gardens filled with fruit trees and flowering shrubs.

Agadir

Agadir is considered the gateway to the tall rugged Atlas Mountains, which are only a short distance away.  Tucked into their rocky folds is the breathtaking and untouched beauty of Paradise Valley.  The word Agadir in Berber means “wall enclosing a fortress or town”.  Part of the original fortress still remains at the top of the hill just outside the current city.

Agadir has gained a reputation of being a resort town with visitors from all over Europe descending upon it.  One of its major attractions is a fabulous 10km long beach/bay and a carefully planned waterfront promenade.  The weather is magnificent all year round and so is the surfing.  This in turn has spawned a large surfing community of schools and camps.  Agadir offers plenty of cafés, bars and live music and the evenings are great for unwinding after a hard days touring.

Fez

If ever a place really deserved the adjective ‘legendary’ it is Fez!  More than 1200 years old it was the ancient capital of Morocco and is home to the world’s oldest university – Qarawiyyin.  Its ancient roots still exist in the walled city and the twisting, complex maze-like lanes of the medina Fez el-Bali.  Here goods are still transported by donkeys and handcarts adding to its timeless atmosphere.Fez has the best examples of ancient Islamic arts and architecture preserved in the 14th century Bou Inania Madersa (a college), two forts (Borj Nord and Borj Sud), the Merenid Tombs and the Moulay Idriss II tomb.

Tangier

Tangier is where the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea meet.  This beautiful city, also known as White City, has been the playground of millionaires and the retreat of writers for over a century.  It exudes charm and sophistication aided by beautiful beaches and a vibrant beach café culture.

Tangier’s various cultural influences abound in its architecture and nightlife.  There are many excellent restaurants serving a wide range of cuisines, street cafés, attractive bars and interesting cabarets. The Grand Socco is a great market where you can get nearly everything you could think of and the surrounding Mendoubia Gardens are an inviting place to spend an afternoon.

Not far out of town are the Caves of Hercules.  It is supposed to be the place that the mythical hero rests while on his labours.

Casablanca

Casablanca is a European city transplanted to North Africa.  The architecture is a mix between French Colonial and Moorish.  It is a very cosmopolitan and liberal place with French still widely spoken.  Originally built by Berber fishermen in the 10th century it has been visited and ruled by the Phoenicians, Romans, Portuguese and the French.

Hassan II Mosque Casablanca tours

Casablanca is Morocco’s largest city and economic capital.  One of its most notable features is the Hassan II Mosque and its 210-metre minaret is the world’s tallest.  Another man-made marvel is the port, which is the largest artificial port in the world. With all of this and the mild Mediterranean climate Casablanca attracts visitors all year.

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Oktoberfest 2014, Munich

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It began, bang on time, at 12:00 noon.  Munich’s mayor Herr Dieter Reiter used a wooden hammer to pound a tap into the first Oktoberfest beer barrel at Schottenhamel Beer Tent.  It was the opening act of the Oktoberfest 2014 at Theresienwiese on September 20, 2014 in Munich, Germany.  It was the 181st such occasion of one of the world’s most famous and largest fairs.

The show then kicked off in earnest with a large and colourful parade put on by the tent operators and breweries. Their horse-drawn wagons loaded with huge beer barrels decked with flowers rolled sedately by.  The parade was led by the traditional Münchner Kindl (Munich child) mascot.

Oktoberfest1
Six days into the festivities and about 6 million visitors are expected to attend by the time it ends on Sunday 5th October.  It is also estimated that 6 million litres of beer will go down their thirsty throats.  Somehow that doesn’t seem excessive when you consider the numbers and the drink or bust attitude of attendees.  Folks ‘sleeping it off’ in parks and gardens is one of the more common sights, in the mornings, during Oktoberfest.

Not wanting to give a false picture that Oktoberfest is all about drinking and falling over, there is plenty of other interesting stuff going on all the time.  There is a parade of some kind nearly every day, dancing (traditional and a la carte), music and lots of costumes.  On the fourth day there was the usual special lunch for senior citizens.  The next day there was the solemn yet moving religious Oktoberfest mass.

The men donned their Bavarian best, with hats, braces, Wadlstruempfe stockings and lederhosen and participated in the Parade of Costumes and Riflemen on the second day of the fest.  The ladies on the other hand showed up in traditional Dirndi garb at the funfair tent “Festzeit Tradition.”  They hitched up their pretty bright red skirts and vigorously twirled and kicked their heels on the stage to lively music.

Beer oktoberfest
Comes the evening and night you would be forgiven for thinking that Munich was one overgrown fun fair and theme park.  As dusk gathers, the whole place is lit up by thousands of coloured lights from the beer tents also the blinking and flickering ones from various rides and roller coasters.  It is almost fairytale and Disneyland-ish and looks very pretty.

All this festivity and gathering of people from across the globe was actually sparked off in 1810.  What happens every October began as a wedding celebration for Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese from Saxony-Hildburghausen (hence the name of the Theresienwiese).  The commemoration soon morphed into the Munich Beerfest lasting for 16 days up to the first Sunday in October.

If you are fortunate enough to have got hold of accommodation during the fest and looking to plunge into the action here is what to expect in the coming days.

Sunday      28/9/2014    Traditional concert of brass bands
Tuesday    30/9/2014    Family Day:  All rides and performances are cheaper
Sunday      05/9/2014    12 noon: Traditional gun salute at the Bavaria monument

Timings:
Beer Serving Hours
Opening day 12.00 noon – 10.30 pm
Weekdays 10.00 am – 10.30 pm
Saturday, Sunday & holiday 09.00 am – 10.30 pm

Stall Opening Hours
Opening day 10.00 noon – midnight
Monday – Thursday 10 am – 11.30 pm
Friday 10.00 am – 12.00 midnight
Saturday 9 am – midnight
Sunday 9 am – 11.30 pm

More activities to check out while you are in Munich for the Oktoberfest-

Neuschwanstein Castle

A trip to the Neuschwanstein Castle
A visit to the Oktoberfest Museum
Road trip to Harburg and Rothenburg

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5 Things You Can Do In Sydney Under AUD50

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Sydney is one of the world’s most exciting, multi-cultural and best looking cities in the world.  There is always something happening no matter what your interests and objectives are.  You could see a show at the Sydney Opera House, take a harbour cruise, visit Madame Tussauds, take a walking tour or head off up to the mountains to enjoy the views there.

You don’t need a large wallet to do these things.  isango! brings you 5 activities that you can do in Sydney under AUD50.

Sydney Opera House Tour

Opers house sydney

This tour of one of the most iconic buildings in the world is an eye-opener.  Your perspective will be from the inside out.  Did you know that the Sydney Opera House became a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 28 June 2007?  Your guide will take you through the interior of the Sydney Opera House giving the facts, figures and drama that make up the story behind it.  You will see the 10,000 pipe Grand Organ, the Concert Hall and the massive glass windows of the Opera Wing that give you unbeatable views of Sydney Harbour.  Sydney Opera House comprises of multiple performance venues that hold about 2,500 performances every year.

Sydney Harbour Cruise
Get on board your ship at the famous Circular Quay and set out for an hour and a half of sheer night-time Sydney magic.  After a hard day of sightseeing it will be great to sit down and relax with a refreshing drink in hand.  Start your Sydney evening with a sunset cruise across the city’s world famous harbour.  Your cruise ship will drift smoothly past some of Sydney’s iconic sights such as the Sydney Opera House and under the unmistakable Sydney Harbour Bridge.  All of them enchantingly lit up.

Madame Tussauds

madame tussauds sydney

Where else could you get up close and cuddly with the likes of Nicole Kidman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Albert Einstien, Ned Kelly, Captain Cook or Marilyn Monroe?  Maybe even sit next to Queen Elizabeth II?  Only at the newly opened Madame Tussauds Darling Harbour branch, Sydney of course!

Once again Madame Tussauds’ unbelievably real wax models provides an eclectic mix of stars from history, sport, film, music, culture and science.  With 75 iconic personalities from the past and present you won’t get a better opportunity to interact, mingle and pose with your favourite celeb.

Kings Cross Razorhurst Walking Tour
What a time!  What an era!  Sydney in the 1920s and 30s was a heck of a town.  Explore that seamy, violent underworld driven period when Tilly Devine, Kate Leigh and Nellie Cameron ruled most of Sydney through their razor-wielding henchmen.

Your Razorhurst tour will take you to the places where these ‘ladies’ operated.  Kate Leigh ran more than 20 sly groggeries.  Tilly famed as the ‘Queen of the Bordellos’ ran the biggest and most profitable brothel network in Sydney while Nellie Cameron refined the art of ‘gingering.’  For two hours you will learn about a Sydney that very few Sydneysiders know.

Hop-on-Hop-off Blue Mountain Explorer Bus Tour

Blue mountains sydney

After the frenetic pace of Sydney you should take off for an easy, relaxed trip to the fabled Blue Mountains.  On a clear day you can see them from Sydney – inviting you to explore.  Declared a World Heritage site, a visit to the Blue Mountains National Park is a perfect day trip.

The best option is the Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour.  You drive through some magnificent country with the option of stopping off so you can explore tempting forest trails, plunging waterfalls and a ride on the Katoomba Scenic Railway – the steepest in the world.  Then there are the towering Three Sisters and the Everglades Gardens to make your day full, wonderful and totally idyllic.

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5 Of Bali’s Most Interesting Temples

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There are an estimated 10,000 (or even 20,000) temples in Bali.  There is one at every turn and corner.  You will also find that Balinese temples come in an amazing variety of sizes and descriptions – from tiny little personal shrines to large elaborate complexes.  There are “puras” (Balinese for temple) on the top of rugged cliffs, besides lakes, in the middle of lakes, in the midst of jungles, in caves, at the seaside and on islands.  So it is no wonder Bali is called “the island of a thousand puras.”

Here is a selection we found fascinating.

Pura Besakih

Besakih Temple Bali

This is Bali’s holiest and largest temple.  Considered the “Mother Temple,” Pura Besakih is actually a grouping of 23 temples and pavilions.  The temples are situated near the village of Besakih on the slopes of Mt. Agung, Bali’s largest volcano and tallest mountain.  Many of the temples are over 1,000 years old and serve different purposes.  The largest and main one, Pura Penataran Agung, is really impressive as its meru (tower) consists of six levels.

Pura Taman Ayun
Pura Tamn Ayun was built by King I Gusti Agung Putu of the Mengwi Empire in 1634. It is a Royal Family temple.  Its name means “beautiful garden” and fittingly so.  It is definitely one of the loveliest temples in Bali.

It has a moat around it, a picturesque landscaped courtyard, gardens and merus rising up several levels within its precincts.

Pura Goa Lawah (Bat Cave Temple)

Goa Lawah Temple Bali

This temple is radically different from the others in Bali.  It is a cave temple.  It has inherited its name from the thousands of bats that inhabit it.  The temple is also a preferred cremation site for the Balinese.  Bathing in the temple’s pool is supposed to purify worshippers.   Located in south eastern Bali, it was established as a temple early in the 11th century.

Pura Luhur Lempuyang
Luhur Lempuyang is not on the regular tourist trail but it is definitely worth a visit.  For the Balinese, it is an important shrine because it is one of the six “temples of the world” (sad kahyangan) and one of the nine directional temples offering a defense against evil spirits.

To get to the temple visitors and worshippers have to walk up 1,700 steps cut into the mountainside with a jungle all around.  Once atop, the location also provides some really awesome views of the island.

Pura Tanah Lot

Pura Tanah Lot Bali

This temple has a spectacular setting.  It sits on a rock outcrop just off the shore, in the sea.  Its name aptly means “land in the middle of the sea.”  It is also a very pretty one, especially at sunset when it can turn magical.  You can only get to it at low tide.  It was built in the 15th century by local fishermen under the guidance of the priest Niratha.

Dress Tips
Balinese temples are functioning places of worship and it would be advisable and respectful to dress properly when entering any one of them.  Legs should be covered and tops should not be too revealing.  You may have to wear a sash in some temples, which you can rent at the entrance.  Sarongs are also available to cover the legs.

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Cappadocia: An Astounding Oddity

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Located in the Anatolian region of Turkey, Cappadocia is an unusual and truly unique area. It is a rugged land of deep ravines, bizarrely shaped rocks, cliffs and pinnacles that don’t look earth-like. It is an extraordinary landscape that will make your jaw drop and imagination lift off.

Here are some interesting facts about this odd place that seems to have come straight out of a sci-fi movie. Human imagination, though, would find it difficult to conjure up such a setting.

Fairy Chimneys Cappadocia

Name Calling

Cappadocia has been known by several names through the centuries. The ancient Scythians called it Khepatukha, meaning “the country of the people of the great god Hepat.” One can hear echoes of that name in the present one. The early Persians called it Katpatuka, which is thought to mean “the land of the beautiful horses.” The name could also have come from the Hittites, who ruled this area, meaning “low country.”

The Ancient Greeks gave it their version and called it Kappadokia. When the Christians came along it was renamed Cappadocia, which is the widely used name today. The locals however still call it Kapadokya.

Home

Despite the harshness of the area Cappadocia has been important in the history of the region and human beings have lived here for a long, long time. The rock is volcanic and soft, ideal for tunneling and carving. Complementing the work of nature, humans have cut and burrowed a vast network of living quarters, monasteries, churches, stables, and storehouses. So extensive are the connections that they have formed entire towns with as many as eight underground stories. Some of these amazing underground cities are Derinkuyu, Ihlara Valley, Selime, Kaymakli and Belisirma.

Surprisingly this moon-land has excellent agricultural soil. Many vegetables and fruit are grown here. It is also the main grape-growing area for the Anatolian region with many prolific vineyards.

and Sanctuary

It used to be on the boundaries of one the of the Greek, Persian and Roman empires. These competing powers created an unsettled situation for the Cappadocians who needed a refuge and found them by tunneling into the rock itself. The inhospitable landscape and isolation were perfect conditions that kept them safe from outside power struggles.

The early Christians also escaped to this place to shelter from the persecution of the Roman Empire. They created a large defence network of traps leading to their caves and in them too. The traps included large round stones that could block doors and ceiling holes from which they could hurl spears and other weapons on attackers.

Fairyland

The Cappadocian region is made up of sedimentary rocks and also material from volcanoes of 9 million years ago. The land has been eroded by strong winds and water action into amazing shapes. The harder elements of the rock have turned into pillars, minaret-like towers, cones, pinnacles, fairytale chimneys (over 130 feet tall) and mushrooms. Nature’s handiwork has been added to by humans.

Cappadocia turkey

Such has been the forces – human and nature – at work that the area has been declared a World Heritage site. Nature continues to do its magic, converting human action into more magical conditions.

Cappadocia in the Movies

The extraordinary topography and landscape of Cappadocia has made it a cinematic magnet for many filmmakers from across the world. So far more than 193 movies, shows, series and documentary films of 32 countries have been shot here.

The Turks do a lot of shooting here and so do the Japanese. Some of the notable films using Cappadocia as a location are Nicolas Cage’s Ghost Rider II, Jean Reno’s Empire of the Wolves, the sci-fi movie Slipstream and Pasolini’s Medea. The region also features in many popular video games such as Vampire: The Masquerade, and Assassin’s Creed.

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What’s New On isango! – August 2014

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Well, the travel season has really taken off and isango! has some fine offerings for you to check out.  So pack up your travel bags and come fly with us to a variety of destinations around the world.

Vienna Evening Bike Tour
Vienna has managed to preserve its architectural landmarks that make it such a charming city.  One is swept away to an older elegant time after walking or cycling down its unsullied boulevards.  The beauty of the Ringstrasse, flanked by an unbroken stretch of magnificent buildings including the Burgtheater, is matched by the unhurried flow of water in the Donaukanal or the soaring spires of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

The Historic Centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Once, the capital of the Hapsburg dynasty, Vienna retains much of the cultural cross pollination of its heyday.  Its imperial past is there for all to see, especially in such fine buildings as the Oper and the Börse.  All these are illuminated in the evening adding to their appeal.

The Singapore Flyer with Free Hop-On Hop-Off ticket
Getting on the Singapore Flyer is really going for the heights.  Till just a short while ago, it was the tallest observation wheel in the world.  It has now achieved the status of a Singapore icon.  With 28 air-conditioned capsules mounted outboard, you enjoy unobstructed views on the entire 32 minute ride.

Singapore Flyer 1

The best time to ride the Flyer is probably around sunset when the light gives the skyscrapers a mystic feel.  The Flyer is the best place to see and get a feel for the beauty of Singapore.  As a bonus you get views of Malaysia and Indonesia. Also, you get a free Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing pass with this tour!

Sydney Harbour Tall Ship “Convict” Cruise
This tour is not what it sounds like.  You don’t sweat it out in the galley.  You get to do it in style with a glass of champagne, wine or beer and a grand buffet lunch while sailing past Sydney’s magnificent skyline in a genuine 1850s tall ship.

Sydney harbour convict cruise

The journey around beautiful Sydney harbour also includes a tour of Goat Island, which witnessed important events in Sydney’s history.  Your guide will give you very entertaining and interesting facts about the history of the convicts.

At the Top: Burj Khalifa
The view of Dubai and the surrounding area is simply spectacular from the 124th floor of the world’s tallest man-made structure.  In conjunction with the other attractions, the Burj Khalifa has put Dubai on the world tourism map.  Even the journey to the top of the building is an adventure.  From the reception you get on to a ‘travelator.’  This 65 metre trip is a history lesson of Dubai.  The ascent to the observation deck is via a high-speed elevator that does funny things to your tummy.

burj khalifa day 1

The Burj is an engineering and urban masterpiece.  Once you are on the observation deck and looking at the vista spread out, you get a real understanding of Dubai’s remarkable vision and achievements.

Lunch at the Berlin TV Tower
One of the really great places to see all of Berlin is from the TV Tower.  The tower (also known as the Berliner Fernsehturm) is the city’s tallest structure at 368 metres.  There is a panoramic viewing level at 203 metres that gives you a fabulous view of Berlin.

Another great and unforgettable experience is to sit down and have a meal at the elegant revolving restaurant.  Located just above the viewing area, the restaurant revolves once every hour – just the right amount of time for you to have your meal and admire Berlin from your table.

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Body Worlds Exhibition: The Happiness Project, Amsterdam

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If, like me, you thought that happiness was all in the mind, then a visit to the “Body Worlds: The Happiness Project” permanent exhibit in Amsterdam is in order. It will give you an unusual view of the very close and physical connection between the human body and happiness.

The exhibition is the latest by Gunther von Hagens, a German anatomist. He invented the ‘plastination’ technique that preserves biological tissue. For this exhibition, he has presented the human body in ways that have not been seen before. The exhibits consist of more than 200 specimens of real donated human bodies assembled in a variety of lifelike poses and dissected to show various structures and systems of human anatomy. The bodies are arranged in an artistic way to demonstrate how our everyday activities affect us. Many of the bodies are arranged in graceful stop motion.

Body Worlds 2

The exhibition covers seven floors. You start on the top floor and work your way down. Each floor has a different theme, brilliantly set out, which keeps it very interesting and educational. The exhibits on each floor focus on different aspects of the body, examining the mind and body connection and how different health conditions affect behaviour.

The overall ‘happiness’ theme of the exhibition comprises of dissected human body parts. It also deals with a whole range of other themes such as movement, stress and sex. The body exhibits provide insights to diseases, functionality of different muscles and body parts. Each exhibit has information cards carrying interesting facts.

Body Worlds Exhibition: The Happiness Project shows off the human body in a wonderful combination of art and science.

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Five Fantastic Food Destinations

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At isango! we believe there are two essential yardsticks to measure your experiences when travelling.  One is seeing the sights and the other is sampling the food.  Here we give you a taste of what foods to look out for at five popular destinations.

Flavours of New York City
New York City has been and continues to be the gateway for people coming to the United States.  So you will find every ethnic and world cuisine available.  New York also prides itself on inventing many dishes and foods.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Manhattan clam chowder

Taking a foodie tour of NYC is a delight for the taste buds.  Hot dogs and New York style pizzas in the East Village; a Manhattan clam chowder; Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches; savoury French quiche, and Mexican yucca are just some delights in store for you.  You could also try out a knish appetiser or some Greek spinach pie to go with a succulent lamb souvlaki.   Then there is a sinful choice of chocolates to top off your meal.

Lyon, Gastronomy and Beaujolais
Lyon’s ancient fame lay in its silk weaving industry.  That has however changed.  Over the centuries it has become known as the capital of French gastronomy and its renowned cuisine.  The city and municipality has a deliciously bewildering array of traditional Lyonnais restaurants, called bouchons, serving local dishes such as salade Lyonnais; marrons glacés; coussin de Lyon, sausages, duck pâte and roast pork, and local wines.

Marrons Glacés

Marrons Glaces

The Lyon bakeries, fromageries patisseries and chocolatiers continue to make their wines, breads, cheeses and chocolates the way have for centuries.  In addition to its gastronomic delights, the Lyon area is at the heart of Beaujolais wine region.

Tapas In Barcelona
Barcelona offers a variety of pleasures but none as staggering as tapas!  Choosing or even listing them is a near impossible task.  Salmon sashimi with cream cheese; honey and soy, or cod; passata and black olive pâté; fried fish and seafood, patatas bravas; Galician octopus and ensaladilla rusa; croquetas made with ham, fish, chicken or spinach are just some choices.

Tapas

Tapas Barcelona

Whether you are strolling down La Rambla or feasting your eyes on the fruit, vegetables, fish, cheese or meats of La Boqueria (Barcelona’s food market), you will never be far from a tapas bar.  So feel free to wade into one of them and pick out your choice.  Don’t forget to wash it down with some cava, wine or draught beer.

Bangkok & Food
The two are synonymous and no one needs coaxing to dig in to a plate of Pad Thai (or phat Thai).  Take a walk down any street in Bangkok and you will be constantly reminded of food.  The innumerable fragrances waft out at you from myriad street stalls and restaurants.

Yong Tau Foo

yong tau foo

Thai street food is the safest and tastiest in the world and probably the most reasonably priced too.  Whether it be juicy pieces of grilled pork on a stick or a fiery bowl of ‘Tom Yum’ soup or Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup) or good yong tau foo and pork stew with green chilli dip, you will find it really difficult to pass it up or stop eating.  Thai food is among the most appetising and popular cuisines in the world and it is an exciting experience to take a cooking class and learn how to make some!

When In Rome – Eat
That’s right!  Food in Rome is just as fascinating as the Colosseum, the churches and the Vatican museums.  Roman cuisine is some of the most delicious in Italy.  It is based on seasonal ingredients, plenty of fresh vegetables, meat and cheeses.  All put together in a simple way.  Lamb roasted with herbs and spices is a very important part of the cuisine so is pizza, of course.  In Rome they have three different ways of making pizza but a Roman characteristic is that it is thin with no lip to the crust.

Pizza

rome pizza

The Testaccio is the best place to find the original and traditional Roman food.  Another great place is the Rione Monti area, a stone’s throw away from the Colosseum, where you will find a range of authentic Italian delicacies in local family run shops and pizzerias.

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