Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Packing for Istanbul

I am a packing machine today! I'm getting organized and making lots of lists and getting all of my ducks in a row. I have my liquids ready to be packed in a Ziploc bag, I exchanged some foreign currency at Chase and put travel notifications on my credit cards and debit card, and made sure to dig my passport out of my drawer.

Here are the outfits I have planned:
It's going to be chilly so I need warm clothes but I still want to look nice for the photos.
Here's what the weather forecast says for Istanbul:
And here's what the weather forecast says for Goreme (in Cappadocia) the day that we'll be there:
2 days!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Map App

Okay, so I was able to get this app, MapPocket, for free (as a one time free app deal of the day type thing) but it's $2.99 normally. There is a MapPocketLite, which is free, and I'm sure it has a few less features than the full version, but it still looks completely usable.

How it works: you "record" maps by scrolling around the screen and the app saves it so that you can access it offline. I think it works off of Google Maps - at least it looks like it - and it's awesome because going abroad for me means that my phone is completely disabled (minus the few moments of WiFi here and there).


Friday, February 24, 2012

Travel Accessories from Target

While shopping for travel-sized toiletries at Target (they have an entire aisle devoted to travel-friendly products) I decided to explore the luggage/travel accessory aisle and stumbled upon some fun things.

The first thing I found that surprised me: Heys luggage! Though the sales on gilt.com are a bit more economical (usually it's something like a three-piece set for under $250) the deals at Target are pretty decent. Normally the hardcase spinner goes for $105 but it's only $81.49 at Target - not bad.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Couture: Istanbul

I always plan out my outfits day-by-day for my holidays because it makes it so much easier to pack and it's less stressful and time consuming each morning to just throw on what I've already planned. I usually just make a list, but I got this Fashionary journal as a gift a few years ago and haven't really used it much and since I think it's super fun to draw my outfits, I've decided to start doing that for my trips. I did the same for my Maui trip, though I didn't plan out EVERY outfit - considering it was a holiday that revolved around swim suits.

These are just a few ideas - I have a little less than two weeks to finalize.
And I picked up this amazing nail polish from Essie (color: set in stones) that I think looks beautiful and might be the winning color for this trip. It's glamorous, will match everything, and will look awesome for night life activities.
12 days! :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tiny Umbrellas

I really dislike having to travel with an umbrella. I hate that the TSA has to inspect it and you have to re-wrap it and pack it after passing through security. I hate carrying it as I'm walking around sightseeing. I hate wrapping it up while it's still damp.

But how cute is this umbrella from Zara? Inside is a simple black umbrella, functional and not flashy but this penguin cover makes me smile.

I don't think I'd mind carrying this one around.

In reality, I have a tiny portable umbrella (Totes brand from Target) which suits me just fine but I am so so tempted to upgrade to Mr. Penguin.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cappadocia Flights

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm not into chocolate or flowers but traveling? I'll take it. I'm v. excited because our flights to Cappadocia are booked. After taxes and check-in fees, the total cost comes to $65 per person for round trip tickets.

I booked through the Pegasus website, which was rather easy and painless. Just a few notes:

  • To save a few bucks, don't forget to check the box that says you DO NOT want travel insurance. Once you check it, it become a box that says you DO want travel insurance so don't get confused and click it again.
  • You have the option of which currency you'd like to use (there are a few choices) to make your purchase. If your bank card or credit card doesn't charge a fee for transactions made online in a foreign currency, I suggest making the purchase in Turkish Lira. I have a feeling that the site pumps up the exchange rates. I say this because the website rate in $ was much higher than the number I got when I checked with an internet currency conversion. And later, I compared my charges online and saw that I'd saved $15 (per ticket) by making the purchase in TL instead of $.
  • There are a limited number of airports where online check in is available (the list is available online) and you can check in up to 72 hours in advance. If online check in is unavailable, you must check in at a desk or kiosk at the airport, up to 1 day before your flight.
Peerless Excursions has a shuttle that coordinates with the takeoff and landing times of Pegasus Airlines. It's 20TL ($11) per person, one way.

Now it's time to start making some more itineraries.
EEK!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Girly Post: leopard print nails

I like to plan a "pre-holiday beauty regimen" before I travel anywhere special. One of the things I like to do is pamper myself, which I mentioned in a post a few months ago: spa day at home for under $10.

I love doing my nails, not only because I think it looks nice and makes you look put together, but it's fun too. Usually when I go on holiday, I try to do my nails in a neutral color that won't look horrendous if and when it starts to chip because I usually don't make room in my luggage for nail polish. That's especially true if I'm flying since real estate in my liquids bag is always at a premium and I am a stickler for applying both a base coat and a top coat in addition to the color. However, once in a blue moon, I'll be in the mood to do something kind of special.

Here's an effect that I think would look great if I were going on a safari or maybe to Russia: leopard print nails.

Here's how you do it:









I prefer to do complementary colors for the base color and the splotches because I think the contrast makes the print look bold and crisp. However, feel free to use whatever color scheme you prefer. The outlining doesn't necessarily have to be black but a dark color is preferable. There's really no need to be precise. I think the messier it is, the more natural it looks. And if you notice, I didn't do it on all of my nails - why? Apparently it's a big trend this season to be a bit random with your nail colors so I figured, why not do the same with the print?

I'm not 100% sure that I'll be doing this particular scheme for my Istanbul trip yet. I might come up with a new idea before then.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Day trip to Goreme (Cappadocia)

I posted over a year ago about cave hotels in Turkey and now that I'm going to Istanbul, I might have a chance to see some of those hotels. The cave hotels are in a region called Cappadocia (pronounced Kap-uh-doh-kya or Kap-uh-doh-jhuh), to the east of Istanbul. There are whole cities that are formed underground, houses and churches carved out of the rocks and caves, and beautiful rock formations.

We are considering doing a day trip to Goreme, one of the more popular cities to visit; fly out in the morning, sightsee, and then fly back in the evening. It's small enough that you can explore the town completely on foot or there are bike rentals.

To find flights, I'm using bulucak.com, which is kind of like the Turkish version of kayak.com because it lets you compare costs of different airlines. To fly from Istanbul to Kayseri (which is the closest airport to Goreme) there are a few airline options: Turkish Airlines, Anadolu Jet, Bora Jet, and Pegasus. The flights can be a little pricey but Pegasus is like the Turkish RyanAir or Easyjet so you can get round trip airfare for as low as $50. Once you choose your flights, bulucak will direct you to the site of the airline you chose and you can purchase your tickets.

The Pegasus website is also rather user friendly (resembles the Easyjet site) and shows you fares for the week or even for the month so you can choose what suits your needs. There are a few hidden fees, like $4 for a check-in fee and it costs money to pick your seats: 6TRY for a middle seat, 10TRY for aisle/window, 15TRY for priority seating, and 20TRY for the exit seats. **It's not necessary to pay the fee to pick a seat - if you don't, I think you're just automatically assigned one. You can choose the currency, which is nice, because at this v. moment, the dollar conversion is stronger than what the website shows for their costs. For example, the website will show $4 for a middle seat while the internet says that 6TRY = $3.37. So depending on the day and the conversion rates, you can pick your poison.

Pegasus flies out of the Sabiha Gökçen airport in Istanbul, which is a bit farther and more difficult to access than Ataturk. It is accessible by city bus but if your flights are arriving or departing when public transit is not running, then you will need to take a taxi or a shuttle. The cheapest I've found so far is the Havatas shuttle which costs 12 TRY ($7) and runs almost every half hour.

From the Kayseri Airport, it's about 70km to Goreme. There are a few options on how to get there: taxi (costly), taking a bus to Kayseri city center and then the regular bus (hourly) that goes to Goreme (time consuming), or booking a shuttle bus. There are a two well-used shuttles, Heritage Travel which is €10 ($13) per person and Argeus which is 15TRY ($8.50) per person but they only coordinate with the Turkish Airline flight departure and arrival times. I emailed Argeus and they said that they can arrange to coordinate with Pegasus flights but can only do so if there are enough people to warrant it.

I will post an update if we do end up purchasing tickets (I hope we do because I can't stop looking at photos of this place). I'm meeting up with my travel cohort this weekend to plan out our itineraries so my fingers are crossed that everything falls into place.
fairy chimneys
balloon tour
cave dwellings
Now that I'm not in 100% Maui mode any longer, I can get super psyched about Turkey!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Maui: Old Lahaina Luau

You can't visit Hawaii for the first time and not attend a luau. We made reservations at the Old Lahaina Luau, which had the best reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, About.com, and many more sites. It's $98+tax for adults and $68+tax for children and seating is on a first come, first served basis so the earlier you make your reservations, the closer your seats will be to the stage. The seats closest to the stage have low tables and you sit on cushions on the ground (Japanese-style) and you can specifically request those seats if you'd like as well.

We spent the afternoon in Lahaina (getting shave ice at Ululani's) before heading to the luau. The town is so sweet and cute. There are plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Maui: Wedding Photographer

Maui was a trip planned by my cousin because she got married over the summer at City Hall in LA (while the bulk of the family was on the east coast) and wanted to be able to celebrate the happy occasion with the family. And what better place to do it than somewhere tropical?

They booked the vow renewal through the Maui Marrying Man (Reverend Ron, who also does marriage ceremonies as well). The ceremony took place on a small private white sand beach in Wailea - which means no tourists hanging out on the beach (although a few scuba divers walked through after the ceremony was over) and it was at 8 in the morning, to avoid the heat of the day (I believe the two options are early in the morning or around sunset).

The ceremony was really sweet; Rev. Ron had a lovely message and said some stuff in Hawaiian.

Meanwhile, I was acting as the photographer, using my cousin's awesome fancy DSLR camera.
My style of photography is more architectural, I'd say - I try to take photos of people as if they're buildings and do my best to incorporate the landscape to give the photo some context. However, having learned from a few of my friends that have gone into photography, and one who specifically does weddings, I did my best to make the photos look more romantic. Maybe I could go pro? And then I could travel all over for people's destination weddings! I definitely wouldn't mind.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Maui: Alternatives

Let's say you're in Maui and you want to enjoy the beach but you can't swim or snorkel (or just prefer not to) and want to avoid crowds. Where do you go? I'd recommend Waihe'e Beach Park, which is located next to the Waiehu Golf Resort. It's relatively isolated, there's free parking, restrooms and showers, picnic tables, and the water is crazy beautiful.
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