We so often think of ancient Rome, the famous sights of Athens, the Pyramids and wonders of Egypt to be the highlights of western antiquity. Another country, Turkey, bridges the lands between east and west and holds a wealth of civilisation and history with vast treasures just waiting to be rediscovered by the more intrepid traveller.
Tourists visiting Turkey may coo at the Hagia Sophia or the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, they may rave at the natural wonders of Pamukkale or Cappadocia; however, far too often a trip to Turkey is undertaken as a whistle-stop tick the boxes type of tour and given the vast size of the country it seems, at the least, to do a vast disservice to both host country and visitor alike.
It is tempting if one only has a short break or a tight budget to try to cram as much in as possible. I would suggest that visitors could get “more bang for their buck” by concentrating on a couple of regions and endeavouring to spend less time travelling on long distance buses and more of their valuable vacation actually in situ.
Continue reading Selçuk, Turkey and the riches of Anatolia
Heading to Copan and the ruins from Nicaragua through El Salvador was always going to be a challenge; the borders notably frustrating, the roads long and winding but the unfolding landscape promised to offset those disadvantages in spades.
The reality is that the express buses do the trips between capitals in Central America very well indeed, though not cheaply. They afford a level of security and peace that the local services do not and they tend to ease the passage though immigration which is a big help if you have minimal Spanish.
I was more in the mood for adventure so my journey began at 6am in the bus station of Leon, Nicaragua crammed into a small minibus to Chinandega on the route to the border with the luggage piled on the roof so more passengers can be squeezed on for the hour long trip. Unfortunately my travel buddy and I had just missed a transfer and had to wait until the bus filled up before we could leave. This put us behind schedule somewhat in our attempt to make it to the Honduran border to the north of San Salvador by nightfall.
Continue reading To Copan Ruinas through the magnificent Honduran countryside
It’s a jungle out there
For the adventurous traveller nothing is more exciting than hacking through the jungle in the early morning mist to discover a lost empire with towering pyramids and ancient city streets. Like Indiana Jones you swashbuckle your way through crocodile infested swamps, past crazed howler monkeys to find yourself at the lost tomb of the tribal chieftain.
At least that was the scenario going through my mind as our party entered the national park in Peten, Guatemala on our way to Tikal, the most important city of the Mayan civilization. Once a bandit ridden and dangerous area regular police and army patrols have made this destination much safer for tourists however some caution should still be exercised.
There are two main ways to get to the region, either from the Guatemala City in the south or across from Belize which is how I came in. My journey had started in the town of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, a small island off the coast of Belize. I took the 7am water taxi to the marine terminal in Belize City where there was a connecting bus that would take me all the way to Flores in Guatemala.
Continue reading Discovering the Ancient Ruins of Tikal, Guatemala