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Welcome to Direct Traveller's blog. The blog will be a place to come for holiday inspiration on North Cyprus, Turkey, Oman & Sri Lanka Holidays, Direct Traveller exclusive offers and Direct Traveller news. Remember to connect with us further with social networks sites such as Facebook, Twitter , Google+ and Pinterest.

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As a quiet slither of Mediterranean island, North Cyprus may not be an obvious choice for most people’s wanderlust lists. Don’t be fooled though, because this tiny part of the world is a hidden chest filled with historical and scenic treasures.

What makes North Cyprus so special is the fact that it’s not as well known to travellers as say, the Maldives or Barbados, but rather a secluded paradise that has an essence of being lost in a limbo of time and is incredibly peaceful for this reason, with calm and unspoilt environments that will lull even the most restless of souls into relaxation.

Still not convinced? Here are ten reasons that you should add North Cyprus to your list of dream getaway destinations.

1. The Beaches 


You can’t argue with a beautiful beach, and North Cyprus certainly has plenty. The Karpaz Peninsula in particular is a haven for miles and miles of golden sands, with the added allure of a wonderfully serene ambience that is untroubled by the bustle of tourism. Exotic birds pass overhead, fascinating flora embellishes greenery nearby, and on Alagadi Beach there are even endangered marine turtles to be spotted. The coastlines here also have something unique about them in that there’s the sense they are shrouded in the mysticisms of legends through the historical sites that surround them.



2. The Food 


Let’s be honest, good food always makes any situation, or destination ten times better. The food in North Cyprus is so delicious and important to the culture that there are even annual festivals held for it, such as the olive festival! The cuisine is a mixture of Mediterranean influences, with the mouth watering choices including halloumi cheese, kebabs, fresh fish and vegetables along with sweet tooth satisfying treats like syrupy baklava and the Turkish delights that go perfectly with a lovely cup of Turkish coffee. The rich flavours and sociable feel to the meals out here are so much a part of the experience in North Cyprus, enhancing the welcoming atmosphere and exotic surroundings.

 

3. The History 


History is of huge importance to North Cyprus. This is somewhere that has preserved the artefacts left behind from past civilisations so that the identity of the region feels honest and fascinating. Visitors have the chance to feel lost in time while here, connecting with those before them and better understanding the things that have taken place here and shaped how the region appears today. Notably, the Kyrenia harbour, castles, beautiful Bellapais Abbey, Salamis ruins and ghost town of Varosha all create an ambience that is sometimes eerie but always completely mesmerizing, creating a setting unlike anywhere else.



4. The People


North Cyprus locals are renowned for being extremely friendly. Everywhere you go you’ll find yourself greeted by Mediterranean hospitality, with authentic cuisine and an enthusiasm to introduce visitors to the attractions and culture of the region. It’s this that makes North Cyprus feel like a home away from home for many, as tourists are made to feel truly welcomed.







5. The wildlife 


North Cyprus is a destination for eco tourism. The region works hard to preserve the natural state of its environment and wildlife, focusing on the conservation of the endangered marine turtles that nest on Alagadi beach and making the beautiful orchids and flora trails an attraction for visitors. There are bird watching tours and beaches for going scuba diving, while the Karpaz Peninsula has a donkey sanctuary. The unspoilt nature of North Cyprus is what makes it such a unique place to visit, sheltered from the commercial rush of other places and instead somewhere to truly find contentment.
 
Istanbul is one of the most magical cities in the world. Its mixture of old and new, and eastern and western influences gives it a vibrant, mystical atmosphere that is certain to sweep those that visit off their feet and enchant them with beautiful sights and delicious foods.

The TripAdvisor voting results have been published  recently and Istanbul topped the polls, being named No.1 holiday destination to visit in the world! We think its a perfect time to let you know why, and one person who knows this better than anyone is Guner. Guner is one of our friendly team here at Direct Traveller and having been to Istanbul many times is the perfect person to give those wondering what the Istanbul experience is like some information and advice. 


When did you last visit Istanbul? 

I last visited Istanbul on the 20th June 2013. I went for 4 nights and had a fabulous time! I go to Istanbul every year because there is always more and more to see each time. I can never get enough. The weather was perfect - I wore t-shirts most of the time and light jumpers in the evenings.

Which hotel did you stay in? What was it like, and would you recommend it to others?

I stayed in Nisantasi (The House Hotel) or ‘The Knightsbridge of London’ as they call it…. It is literally 2 minutes from all the local restaurants/retail shops. It took us about a 30 minute walk to Taksim Square – now this is where you see the city come to life. I don’t think I've ever tasted such amazing food as I have on this street.

In Nisantasi town there are many boutique shops, so if you’re a shopper like me it's the perfect location. Of course, there are much better deals for hotels if you want to keep costs down and still be in the heart of the city. In particular, the old city – Sultanahmet area has very good standard hotels .The ones I can recommend are Momento Hotel/Celal Sultan/Art City/Best Western the President. Next time I go I will stay in one of these because they are central to the beautiful historical attractions and the Grand Bazaar.

What was the food like? Would you recommend any restaurants in particular?

I loved the food!!! I couldn't stop eating- every corner and street had amazing food places. You are spoilt for choice and guaranteed to come back a few kilos heavier!

I loved the Fish restaurants on the Bosphorus. There are mini boats that grill fresh fish on the shore side in Eminonu, which is really famous as this is where you see all the locals fishing. It's such a great ambience, so buzzy  and very lively.

My favourite experience was when I took a boat from the European side to the Asian side and went to a fantastic fish restaurant overlooking the famous Bosphorus bridge. There are local smaller restaurants hidden on the side streets, like Cibalikapi Balikçisi (fish restaurant). For deserts, I must say that Konak pastanesi is delicious for something sweet. It is near galata tower in taksim on a terrace. For breakfast one day I went to Guzelcehisar (anadoluhisari.) – it has breathtaking views. Fransiz sokagi near istiklal caddesi is also very nice to visit, with little small cafes/shisha lounges etc.

For evening entertainment, we went to a few snazzy bars and a few local bars.The snazzy ones were: Lebiderya bar terrace bar of Bosphorous, or for something more low key you've got the lambo bar outside, which is perfect for a quick drink. We also enjoyed listening to the local live bands that play in the side streets whilst eating dinner / having a drink - that was really nice because you see how the locals live and the lifestyle they have.

What were your favourite attractions/ things to do while there?

My favourite attraction were the Grand Bazaar – it's like a maze in there through the never ending streets. I think it has over 18 entrances/exits, each full of Turkish ceramics, jewellery, bags, carpets and fashion. Taksim street is also great, as this is the area to be for the buzzy lively diversity of the city. You get to see Istanbul at its best during evenings because it's so cosmopolitan, and for the historical attractions I loved the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) – the interior is so distinctive and the architecture is faultless.


What do you think makes Istanbul such a special city to visit?

I think what makes Istanbul the perfect city to visit is its diversity in attractions/entertainment/food. You can never get bored - this is my 5th visit to Istanbul and I  will definitely be going back again next year because every time you go there is something new to see. It's cheap to get there and it's cheap within the destination because it's Turkish Lira currency. It's the hot spot destination for shopping and has delicious food! what more could you want.

Lastly, do you have any tips for those thinking of going to Istanbul? 

I would suggest to anyone that is interested in going to Istanbul, to GO!!!!! There are really great deals for 2 or 3 night stays where you can do it as part of a tour, ensuring that you make the most of your time there.

The first time I went I did the Mini Stay Istanbul Tour, which included 3 nights stay at a 4 star hotel in the SultanAhmet Area. We had a full day city tour covering the Blue Mosque, St. Sophia Topkapi Palace, the Hippodrome and the Grand Bazaar. We also visited a carpet shop and learnt how carpets are made by hand.Then we also visited the Egyptian Spice Bazaar and took a scenic cruise along the European and Asian shores of the Bosphorous.

The tour included all transfers, transportation throughout the tour, an English speaking guide to explain everything we were visiting, entrance fees, 2 breakfasts and 1 lunch, which was perfect because then in the evenings we would go out exploring the local cuisine.


If like Guner you want to experience the wonders of Istanbul, you can call Direct Traveller on 0844 414 1684, e-mail at info@directtraveller.com, or visit our website at www.directtraveller.com for more information. 

 
Today we have special treat for you. A rather personal insight into our Managing Director's personal background, business life, and vision. We asked and he delivered... read on :) 

My Story... Crossing The Green Line And Beyond. 
As a child, I have always been connected to Cyprus. Having been born and grown up in the UK with my British roots, it never deterred me in thinking of this small but gorgeous place. Maybe it was the many long holidays I had here, in the agricultural area of Guzelyurt (Morphou), or the dream of living in the sun, with the friendly and laid back attitude of the people.

Scene in North Cyprus
Passion
Growing up this passion for North Cyprus grew with me, and my vision of living and working here was realised when I established Direct Traveller. Not quite living and working there... but at least one foot is now always there. Coming and going, meeting new people, working with the Cypriots. Taking in the sunshine (when we get a chance), and seeing my many family members and friends there.

Business Focus
Studying business, focusing on international business, and producing a dissertation on establishing a tour operator in north Cyprus, gave me plenty of scope and time to research and develop a product that would fit the needs of British public. This development however planned it was, was outshone when the borders of north Cyprus and Southern Cyprus opened for the first time. A surprise for everyone, it was the real start of Direct Traveller and where we have come today.

Crossing the Border
Late 2003 the borders of North Cyprus and Southern Cyprus were officially opened. At this time there was an influx of local people crossing the borders to see the land they grew up in. This was no different to my family, who originally was from Polemidia (aka Binatli) in Limassol.

Memories
I remember the day they crossed through, the memories and the people they saw; the simple things that moved them emotionally, such as the smell of their old Fig tree that was planted by my late grandfather in their citrus groves. The feeling they got when they once again saw the endless view of their vineyards, and their Carob groves.

They had left a lot behind, and were always thinking about this. Another amazing moment was when they met their old neighbours, and they welcomed them to their homes after 30 years. The moments they shared with the people that knew their parents and saw them grow up as children.

Uncertainty
Crossing through the borders, was so unclear at the time of the first opening. People were being told they could cross until sunset by one policeman at the border checkpoint, others were being told they need to come back by midnight. Some people were staying over for a day or two and crossing back over. The shear confusion and the scale of the change at the time meant one thing for Cypriots. It was a time of opportunity, a time of accessibility and a sign of things to come and a hope for the future.

Opportunities
One opportunity that I personally saw immediately was that of accessibility. While people who travelled to North Cyprus were deemed to have to travel via Turkey, this border opening meant a real opportunity. People could now travel to North Cyprus through Larnaca airport. The borders meant that from just the UK, there was now the option to fly from around 18 UK airports at the time, non stop and direct to Larnaca. With this opportunity in mind, we developed the very first non-stop direct flight package holidays to North Cyprus.

Direct Flights to Cyprus
Developments
This was an extremely popular product development for North Cyprus holidays. We saw huge demand in our services, as we not only offered non-stop direct flights with no touchdowns or stopover’s, but it meant travellers could now fly to Cyprus for 4 hours as opposed to the 6+ hours to North Cyprus, and ultimately fly from their local airport.

Our Specialism
A simple concept, but a powerful one! This development ensured Direct Traveller was the leading tour operator to North Cyprus within 3 years of establishing itself. Direct Traveller brought thousands of people to North Cyprus each year, with 2009 achieving our 10,000 passengers per year status (by utilising flights to Ercan airport via Turkey or directly to Larnaca in the South). This was not a coincidence. Our outlook of accessibility, competitive prices, and an ethos of 100% customer satisfaction, meant our holidays were very popular.

Awards Received From RT Hon Vince Cable, Sunday Times & Virgin
In 2010 Direct Traveller was awarded by Sunday Times and Virgin, and included in the Sunday Times league tables as being 77th fastest growing company in the UK. That was across all sectors. What an achievement, and what pride I take in saying that. Bringing North Cyprus to such a mainstream publication and event gave me huge satisfaction and motivation. Being presented this award in Richard Branson’s home was an honour.

Direct Traveller Awarded As 77th Fastest growing co. At Sunday Times Virgin
Fasttrack league Tables, at Richard Branson's home.
Ramadan Ozdemir being awarded Turkish Entrepreneur of the
year by Rt Hon Vince Cable, British Business Secretary
Achieving this for me, my company, and for North Cyprus was my own personal symbol of our success. From this, our awards continued, with TRNC hotelier’s association awards, British Travel Awards, awards from the Minister for Tourism of North Cyprus and also an award presented by Dr Vince Cable (UK business secretary) in 2012 for being the Turkish Entrepreneur of the year.

First UK National TV Adverts for North Cyprus Holidays
From this we found ourselves developing our company Direct Traveller form a small independent tour operator, to that of Medium status. Expanding our promotional activities we also expanded to launch the first UK national TV advertising campaign dedicated to North Cyprus holidays.

Direct Traveller national TV advertising
Further Development
Concentrating on North Cyprus initially, we have now further developed this product to include Turkey, Dubai, Sri Lanka and Oman. We have further developed our holiday types in all of our destinations, to offer experiences, and beach holidays, tours and much more.

Some of the Direct Traveller team in North Cyprus
Expansion
Our outlook for the future is further development, and we hope to maintain our status of UK’s leading independent tour operator not just to North Cyprus but to all of the destinations we offer. We have many more plans ahead, and are excited at the endless opportunities for us as a company, but also as individuals. I love promoting our destinations, as I have a real passion for them. Knowing we can make a difference to local people, and the British public is positive feeling.

Scenes from Direct Traveller new destinations - Istanbul example
Our continuous passion and focus
The satisfaction I get from Offering quality holidays to our clients, receiving a positive feedback, and from knowing we are making difference to people, by offering holidays that they truly desire, tailor made to their requirements, makes it all worthwhile.  It gives me a buzz, and gives my whole team the same feeling. That’s what I believe sets us apart – truly caring about what we do, and taking pride in offering the best that is possible.


More Memories...
Direct Traveller Awarded At British Travel Awards
Direct Traveller Awarded By TRNC Ministry Of Tourism

Have you had experiences with Direct Traveller? do you share the same passion for North Cyprus or any of our destinations as we do? Tell us about it...



 
White slithers of sand border crystalline sea, while pine clad mountains and friendly establishments embellish the land. Kusadasi is a part of Turkey that is not only beautiful, but also enchanted with historical attractions that allow those visiting to feel a connection with the country’s past.

Bird Island Kusadasi Turkey

Kusadasi History 

The name Kusadasi comes from the Turkish words for bird and island, due to having a peninsula that is shaped similarly to a bird head. It was an important port and has seen many different civilizations pass through over the centuries, including the Aeolians, Ionians and the Ottoman Empire. Many of these have left behind traces of their presence through the cultural heritage that exists in the town today. Such traces include the Kaleici Camii Mosque that was built in 1618, along with the Okuz Mehmed Pasha Caravanserai and the city walls, both of which were built by the Ottomans. These can be explored within the old town of Kaleici, where establishments have been influenced with an Ottoman style décor that makes the area feel like it’s taking you back in time.


Historical Attractions near Kusadasi 

Kusadasi to EphesusKusadasi is also located close to Turkey’s third largest city of Izmir, where there’s even more to be seen. There’s the Kadifekale, which is also known as the ‘Velvet Castle’. This charismatic site dates back to 300 BC and provides spectacular views over Izmir. The Konak Clock Tower has become a symbol of the city, having been first built in 1901 and given as a gift from the Sultan Abdulhsmid. It stands as a strong impression of the Ottoman era and adds to Izmir’s ambience of being lost in time. The Archaeological Museum also houses many different antiques such as statues, sculptures, ceramics and more from around Izmir and its surrounding areas.
Most famous of Kusadasi’s historic neighbours has to be Ephesus. Once an ancient Greek city that dates back to the 10th century BC, there is a lot to see here. Each attraction such as the Temple of Artemis, gladiator’s graveyard, Library of Celsus and ruins create a ghostly ambience that feels fragmented with the spirits that once built or lived amongst these sites. A visit to Ephesus provides the chance to see one of Turkey’s most famous historical attractions and to wonder at the weathered character of once grandiose and important places.

Beaches in Kusadasi

Kusadasi BeachesIt’s not just its historical fascinations that Kusadasi is famous for, but also some rather exotic beaches. In particular the ‘Ladies Beach’ is situated centrally in the area and has a vibrant atmosphere, with water sports on offer and usually quite a few visitors, creating a sociable energy.
For a quieter spot on the sand there’s the ‘Long Beach’, which can be reached by regular mini buses, and has clean waters and nearby restaurants. There’s also the aptly named, ‘Paradise Beach’ where little cafes can be visited for a light lunch beside the sea while Dilek National Park provides a strip of beautiful beaches along with being a prime spot for reveling amongst Kusadasi’s beautiful scenery.



Where to stay in Kusadasi

Deluxe Hotel Kusadasi
Kusadasi has a lot of choice when it comes to accommodation. Popular ones include the five star Fantasia Deluxe Hotel, which is just 3 miles from Kusadasi’s town centre and 12 miles from the marvels of Ephesus, while the Charisma Deluxe is another five star resort that sits beach front and has facilities and activities in abundance.
This makes it the ideal place to stay for families and those traveling in groups who want lots to keep them busy. Even the three star Hotel Carina offers as lavish a setting as its five star competitors, located just 1km from the beach and 500 meters from the town centre, with self catering studios and a gloriously blue swimming pool.


Why Kusadasi?

Kusadasi has everything you could want in an exotic getaway: beaches, bars, restaurants, shops, striking scenery, great hotels and plenty of fascinating history to devour. At the same time, it’s completely unique because of its history, which creates an atmosphere unlike anywhere else and also lets visitors see a vision of Turkey that is authentic in its cultural identity. This is somewhere everyone should see at least once in their life, not only to find relaxation, but also to find a connection with civilizations before us.

 
An Interview about Dubai - 02 April 2014 22:27
Many will already know a little about Dubai, like the fact it has man made islands shaped to look like palm trees and the world, or that there is an underwater restaurant and ski resorts in shopping malls.This is a city of big dreams, innovation and above all, lots of luxury. Don't be fooled by all the gloss and glamour though, as there's still an essence of old Dubai to be found through details in the scenery, like the traditional dhows that drift through the creek, bustling souks that are vibrant with the aromas of spices and the wild expanse of the desert, of course!

For those that are still unsure about whether the destination is for them, we have conducted an interview with one of our DT Team, the lovely Raz. She has been to Dubai twice and therefore has plenty of personal insight to offer, which should hopefully help you with planning a trip of your own.



    

Hey Raz! When did you visit Dubai?

I’ve been to Dubai twice now. The last visit was back in June 2013. I specifically chose this month as it's off-season in terms of prices – so I got an excellent deal. Everyone said the weather was going to be far too hot, but I think it was the perfect temperature for a beach holiday. Yes it was hot – but what I would normally expect if say, I travelled to the Med. I say June is perfect as it's just after the peak periods (October to May) while July & August is not preferred as it really is too hot. June is just that perfect month in between where it's hot and not overly priced!

Which hotel did you stay in? What was it like, and would you recommend it to others?

I stayed at the Sheraton Jumeriah Beach and I would say this was in a very good location, as generally to be located on Jumeriah Walk is perfect. You are within walking distance to the main strip where there are lots of shops, restaurants and cafes.You can also walk to Dubai Marina easily, which is a great place for taking some amazing photos - so make sure you have your camera! It was about a 10 minute drive to Downtown Dubai also.

Where did you go to eat while there? 

There were so many restaurants to choose from! I mean, food is definitely not of shortage in Dubai, and in fact your holiday is pretty much about the excitement of where you eat. We dined a few nights at the hotel to get our bearings, then we chose to explore the local cuisine. There were lots of great meze’s such as hummus (crushed chickpeas) cacik (mint, cucumber and yogurt), tabbouleh (bulgur wheat with parsley, tomatoes, onions and pomegranate juice) and then the mains were either fresh grilled meat, such as marinated chicken or lamb, or if wanted they even had the more traditional dishes such as okra stew with lamb on the bone (yum!)

You definitely must do the traditional Friday Brunch too – the Emiratis definitely know how to dine! We went to the Westin Hotel for our brunch which was approx 4 hours away – it was amazing.

If people want to see some history, where should they go in Dubai?

Dubai is predominantly man-made, so everything you see pretty much has been built in the last 10-15 years. I would say it's not the best place for historians. It's more for those whom enjoy amazing architecture (i.e. the tallest building in the world, Khalifa) and want to take in the local culture, generally enjoying all the luxuries the city has to offer for affordable prices – you'd be surprised at the great deals you can get out there!

What were your favourite attractions?

I loved Dubai Marina – the views were amazing. We chartered a private Yacht from the harbour and went out onto the sea for a few hours – it was totally breath-taking. We saw the whole of Dubai Strip, the skyline and famous landmark hotels such as the Burj al Arab and Atlantis from the middle of the sea. I also loved the rustic side of old Dubai – we went to the famous Karama Market, which practically sold anything from Gold to food spices.

Of course a visit to Dubai would not be a visit without a trip to the malls, and in particular, the Mall of Emirates and Dubai Mall. Oh, and the desert safari! Wow. This was a truly thrilling experience as we booked a Jeep Desert where you have the most exhilarating time going up and down the dunes (they are very steep!!)

Before travelling through the terrain you get to your camp whereby a camel awaits to give you a short and bumpy ride, then you are shown into your camp where a traditional Arabian Themed Night begins, with a BBQ, belly dancer and other shows. The best part is you get to sit on the floor on hand made carpets and cushions just like the Arabs used to!


Lastly, do you have any tips for those thinking of going to Dubai? 

I say travel in the ‘off peak time’ – June was excellent as mentioned above for weather & the price. I would also recommend you stay on the Jumeiriah Walk as it's fairly central to everywhere, and there are lots of hotels to choose from. I would definitely stay on a B&B basis, though most deals throw in the half board. When booking restaurants make sure you check whether they serve alcohol as not all places do (and it is pricey!) Other than this you are in for a brilliant holiday as there is lots to do & see!

If having read that you'd like to book a holiday to Dubai, or perhaps just find out more information then get in touch with Direct Traveller! You can call us on 0844 414 1684, e-mail us at info@directtraveller.com or visit our website on www.directtraveller.com. 


 
Mother's Day is creeping up (it's this Sunday!) If you're still feeling none the wiser with what to get, we have the perfect idea for you: cake!


Turkish semolina cake bathed in syrup, to be exact. It'd be tough to go wrong with something so delicious. This spongey desert has some history too, with the Ottoman's big fans who even gave the cake its Turkish name, 'Revani'. It's also known as 'yogurt tatlisi' in Turkey, which translates to 'yogurt desert'. A bite of this beauty won't just leave your mum in a sweet state of mind, but will also take her tastebuds on a holiday of sorts, far away to the flavours of the Mediterranean.


Ingredients:

For the cake

- 1 cup of plain yogurt
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 3 tbsp flour
- 3/4 cup of vegetable oil
- 1 cup of uncooked semolina
- the zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
-  2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup finely ground hazelnuts
- ground nuts and coconut flakes (for topping)

For the syrup

- 3 cups sugar
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 juice from a lemon


Let's get started.

First

You'll need to prepare the syrup so that it has time to cool down. Mix the sugar and water in a medium pan on a high heat until it comes to a boil, stirring the whole time. Turn the heat down and continue to let boil for around another ten minutes. Add some lemon juice and then leave to cool.

Second

Grab a large mixing bowl and put your eggs and sugar in first. Whisk until the sugar dissolves and then whisk some more. Lots of whisking! Next the yogurt, lemon zest and oil go in. Whisk up. Lastly, you want to put all the rest of your ingredients in, excluding the ground nuts and coconut flakes for the top.Give the mixture one final whisk until smooth.

Third

Pour the cake mix into a baking tray that measures 10 x 12 inches and then cook in the oven at a temperature of about 175 degrees celsius. You'll want to leave it until the cake turns slightly browned and the tip of a knife or a toothpick can be inserted and removed without any mixture residue on. Leave to stand for five minutes.

Fourth

Cut the cake evenly into squares in the pan and then drizzle the syrup over it, allowing it to sink through the sponge. Cover in foil and put in the fridge for a few hours.

Fifth 

To finish scatter a pinch worth of coconut and ground nuts on top of each square. Serve with a fresh cup of coffee and don't forget to say: Anneler Günün Kutlu Olsun! (That's Happy Mother's Day in Turkish).





 
One of the things that North Cyprus is famous for is its nesting beach – Alagadi, where endangered marine turtle species: the Loggerheads (caretta caretta) and Green turtles lay their eggs. Eco tourism and conservation has been incredibly important in helping to protect the turtles and their habitats through groups such as ‘The Turtle Project’, who also provide excursions to the beach so that those interested can actually view the fascinating egg laying and hatching process at specific times of year.


Visiting the Turtle Beach at Alagadi is something that should not be missed during a trip to North Cyprus, and aside from being very cute, the Loggerhead and Green turtles also have some fascinating facts. Did you know that...

1. The name ‘Loggerhead Turtle’ was inspired by the fact they have big heads, and by that I don’t mean that they go around boasting about how many crabs they’ve eaten that day, although their big heads are actually useful for helping with catching their prey. It supports their strong jaws, which allows them to eat hard shelled creatures far easier than other turtles.

2. Green Turtles love their greens. They’re herbivores, and tend to feast on algae and sea grass. Yum.



3. Loggerhead turtles can move through the water up to 15 miles per hour.



4. Green turtles can weigh up to a whopping 700 pounds, which makes them one of the largest species of sea turtle in the world.

5. It’s common for both female Loggerhead turtles and Green turtles to travel thousands of miles in order to return to the beach where they were born to lay their own eggs.


6. Green turtles enjoy sunbathing, which makes them unusual compared to other sea turtles, who usually only leave the water to nest.


7. Loggerhead turtles create a mental map of their migration route through using the Earth’s magnetic field.

8. Green turtles mate every two to four years by digging a pit in the sand with their flippers and filling it with around 100-200 eggs. After covering this they return to the sea until 2 months has passed.

9. The most dangerous time of a Loggerhead and Green turtles life is when they leave their nest for the sea. Due to being so small and vulnerable they can easily be caught by predators.


10. Loggerhead turtles can live to be over 50, while Green Turtles can live up to over 80 years old. Pretty impressive, huh?





 
AtlasJet is starting to fly from Luton to Istanbul  & Ercan airports in May... Direct Traveller Sales & Operations managers (Rasme Ozdemir, and Guner Surucu) went and spent the day at he launch event...

Our day out to Luton started with a positive, as surprisingly the journey from Kingston upon Thames only took just over an hour. This would definitely make me consider travelling from Luton Airport in the future.

AtlasJet Welcome Desk

On arrival to the airport grounds everything seemed pretty straight forward; park your car and then it’s a short stroll to the terminal building. Once there we were greeted by the lovely staff from AtlasJet Airlines & Luton Airport officials before getting another surprise: a refreshing glass of bubbly!

At the AtlasJet Desk
Of course, our experience wouldn’t have been quite complete without a sneak peak at the luxurious business lounge. We were even treated to a delicious biscuit and cuppa tea while there, which made us feel welcomed and comfortable, able to really unwind before our flight departure… Oops. I’m getting a bit carried away there. This was a fam trip. No flight to catch, sadly!

At the AtlasJet Desk in Luton

After indulging in the business lounge we made our way to the gate and finally were taken on board the Boeing 777 aircraft. We were met by the friendly, well dressed cabin crew whom showed us to our seats. Once on board the services were impressive too, with good seat pitch, on-board complimentary snacks & a refreshment service (which is very rare nowadays!)

Our Tour of Luton Airport

If there’s one way to end a day on a high it’s through cupcakes, and this is exactly the way ours finished at Luton Airport, with a personalised Atlasjet one at that. Yum!

Tour of Luton Airport

Overall the experience was excellent. I would definitely recommend those that live within London to use Luton Airport due to the un-congested atmosphere and comfortable passenger experience. 

Walking to the Gate
Atlasjet flights start on 2nd May and depart 4 times weekly up to the 31stMay, and then 7 times thereafter. Flight routes include Luton to North Cyprus, Antalya and Izmir via Istanbul.


SEE OUR FULL DAY BELOW:

VIP priority Gate

AtlasJet aircraft at Luton

AtlasJet Aircraft waiting

Boarding the AtlasJet plane

Cheeky snap by the plane

Another Cheeky snap by the plane

Say Cheese AtlasJet

AtlasJet aircraft

still smiling...

Ok last one we promise...

Inside AtlasJet aircraft

AtlasJet Seating

The AtlasJet Stewardess, smiling, ready for service


The aircraft engines

The atlasjet logo

AtlasJet Wing

Complimentary AtlasJet branded cupcakes.. yummy









 
Here at Direct Traveller we've started a new thing: at the beginning of each month one member of our staff cooks something, which is usually inspired by their culture. Our accountant, Savidu is renowned for being a dab hand in the kitchen and actually triggered this whole idea through making us a delicious Caribbean meal, so when it came to offering some international cuisine recipes on this blog, I knew I had to pick his brains. It had to be a Sri Lankan recipe too, as having been born and raised there, he knows a thing or two about the cuisine.

Without further ado, here is a recipe for a unique Savidu inspired, Sri Lankan style chicken curry. Word of warning: get your spice racks at the ready.

What you'll need:

First:

-  Tameric (quarter of a table spoon)
- Ground Coriander (2 tablespoons)
- Ground Cumin (1 tablespoon)
- 2 cardamoms
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- Chilli powder (half a tablespoon)
- Vinegar (1 tablespoon)
- Black pepper (half a tablespoon) and salt 

Second:

-  500 grams of chicken thighs and drumsticks
- 1 green chilli
- 1 big onion
- 1 and a half cloves of fresh garlic (chopped)
- 1 small root of fresh ginger (chopped)
-2 curry leaves/sticks
- 1 half of a small lemongrass
- 1 big tomato
- Coconut oil or vegetable oil
- 150 ml Coconut Milk
- Tamarind paste(1 tablespoon)
- 1 Pandan leaf

First:  Marinating the chicken

Put into a bowl ground coriander and cumin, then add 3 cloves, 2 cardamoms, 1 small cinnamon stick, half a teaspoon of chilli powder, half a teaspoon of black pepper, 1 tablespoon of seasoning salt and then make sure all is well ground. Next add 1 tablespoon of vinegar/coconut vinegar to it all and mix. Next you'll want to throw in half a teaspoon of tameric and then once again make sure the entire flavoursome concoction is well ground and mixed.

Put your chicken into this mixture and leave to marinate for 45 minutes to an hour.

Second: Cooking the chicken 

Put 2 spoons worth of oil/ coconut oil into a pan and add garlic, ginger, 1 pandan leaf and 2 curry leaves. After 1 minutes, add chopped up onion. Next chop up the tomato and add, followed by your lemongrass, 1 green chilli and then mix and allow to fry for around three minutes.

Lastly, add the chicken on a normal heat and cook for five minutes, making sure to cook on the other side for another five minutes also. Next add Tamarind paste, then about 300ml of water to the pan.

Mix together and leave to cook for 20 minutes on a medium heat. Then cook for another 20 minutes on a low heat.

Third: Optional coconut milk

You can optionally add some coconut milk and then leave for another 6 minutes at this point. Taste before serving to check flavour is good for you. You can always add some more seasoning at this point if not.

Fourth: Serve up

You're done! Serve up with some boiled rice or bread and enjoy!


If you decide to make this dish, let us know! We'd love to see some pictures.








 
The charming picturesque Bellapais Village is one of the most relaxing places you will ever visit. The serenity and tranquillity of the area will capture you.

You wont want to leave, but you definitely will want to sit down and take it all in. the slow pace of the sleepy village has that affect on visitors.

Below you can see some scenes of the village and take it all in too...



Enjoying a Coffee in Bellapais Village

 Watching the world go by in Bellapais Village

The enchanting Bellapais Abbey

The arches in Bellapais Abbey

Winter sun scene in Bellapais Abbey gardens

Inside the grounds of the Bellapais Monastery

A sleepy cat enjoying the peace of the village

The views to coast from the Abbey

Did you enjoy our scenic gallery? Tell us if you have been to Bellapais Village too...

 
Eat Well, Travel Often - 12 March 2014 01:10
We all love a good quote and a good saying. Well this is something simple, but something we love to agree with:

Eat Well. Travel Often

We love this saying at Direct Traveller. We love amazing food, and we love to travel. The perfect combination for this is North Cyprus with its many fresh fish restaurants, Turkey with its amazing kebabs, Sri Lanka with its gorgeous aromatic dishes, and Dubai for its touch of luxury dining.

Do you like this? What's your favourite saying?
 
A Sri Lanka Q&A - 25 February 2014 03:03
Here at Direct Traveller we like to offer holidays to the places our team know best. This way we can ensure that you're getting the most accurate information about where to go and what to see, as well as some great deals.
 
Two of our team members are the lovely Nilupa and Savidu, who are originally from Sri Lanka and therefore know it better than anyone! They agreed to let us pick their brains about the destination, which will hopefully give you a better idea of the varied attractions and scenery this beautiful country has in store for visitors.

What should those visiting for the first time do while in Sri Lanka?
Nilupa: 
Sri Lanka is a diverse country. It has un-spoilt sandy beaches, history dating back to 3000 years, wildlife & nature, beautiful landscapes and a hospitable culture. So whatever your intentions in visiting Sri Lanka, you won’t be disappointed.
Savidu:
My recommendations would be the following:


     1. Colombo city – Museum, Galle face (at night time), Old & new parliament and a Colombo city tour.  

2. Kandy – Temple of the tooth, Ambecke & Gadaladeniya Temple, Peradeniya botanical garden and Kandy market. 

3. Nuwaraeliya (Little England) - Haggala Gardens, Ohiya forest, Horten place, nuwaraeliya lake and nuwaraeliya gardens. 

4. Sigiriya & Dambulla

5. Anuaradhapura & Polonnaruwa 

6. National Parks: Yala, Udawalawa, Vilpathuwa, Wasgamuwa and the Singharaja forest

7. Pinnawala elephant orphanage

8. Galle fort

9. Beaches: Unawatuna Beach, Mathara Polhena beach and Nigombo beach

10.Trincomalee – the natural port and Nilaveli marble beach

What is the food like in Sri Lanka? Do you have any recommendations of meals or restaurants visitors should try? 


Nilupa:  
Sri Lankan's like spicy food. Seafood is my favourite and I would recommend this to anyone. There are plenty of restaurants to try out where ever you go.
Savidu:  
I am a food lover. I like to try foods from all over the country, as each area has its own special dishes.   
My absolute favourite place would have to be my mom’s kitchen. She is all the time preparing different types of amazing Sri Lankan and International cuisine, although unfortunately, not everybody can eat here! So these are my recommendations for eating out in Sri Lanka: 
        
- Colombo City – I am a Colombo boy and therefore whenever back in Sri Lanka, I am always visiting the local restaurants. 

Majestic City – Majestic city is a shopping mall. The ground floor is where the ‘Food court’ is, which sells amazing Sri Lankan and international foods. My favourites include biriyani, Sri Lankan hoppers and curry and rice, along with all the Thai, Mongolian and chains food options. 

- Sought Indian food (Lunch or Dinner) – Srathwati Lough in Wellawatha (Colombo 4), Shanthi Vihara (Colmbo 3), Vanivilas (Colombo 14).

- Galle face (Dinner) – This place is near to the beach and specialises in serving BBQ foods such as grilled meat along with other options such as naan bread, prawns wadei, kottu roti, Sea food and some cool beers to wash it all down. 

- Curry Leaf – best Indian food in sri lanka (Colombo 4 – Wellawaththa) 

- Best Sri Lankan traditional food – Mount Lavinia Hotel restaurant (Chef – Mr Pabilis Silwa) 

- Kaluthara – Blue Water Hotel is good for dinner or lunch (buffet style – Sri Lankan rice & curry).



Do you have a favourite hotel, and why?


Nilupa:  
As a nature lover, my personal preference is the Heritance Kandalama. This hotel is part of the landscape and overlooks the Kandalama Lake and Sigiriya Rock Fortress.If you like being part of the nature whilst enjoying luxury comforts this is one of the best places to be.  

Savidu:
     Some of my favourite Sri Lankan hotels are the following: 
  1.      Kandalama hotel – Relaxing atmosphere and very nice Sri Lankan food
  2.      Sigiriya village
  3.      Hunas Falls Hotel – Beautiful views and good service.
  4.      Galle Lighthouse hotel – Best beach hotel.
  5.      Tea factory hotel - I like the decorations and food here - great tea too! 
  6.      Vil Uyana – Relaxing & in a great location.
  7.      Kitulgala rest house
  8.      Miridiya – Anudhapura 
  9.      Earl’s regency Kandy – Near to Kandy City.


 If visitors want to go shopping, whereabouts should they go? 


Nilupa:
Colombo, being the commercial capital of the island, is where many shopping centers can be found. Odel, Majestic City, House of Fashions are a few examples of popular shopping malls. 

Savidu:
Definitely Colombo City! Including the Majestic City & liberty plaza shopping mall, House of Fashion and Odel. There are also many local supermarkets around. 

Where is the best beach to go to for water sports?


Nilupa:  
Sri lanka has long stretchy sandy beaches throughout the island.  Bentota & Hikkaduwa (South West coast) are the most popular beaches for water sports. Also, Passikudha & Nilawali beaches in the North East coast of the island is getting increasingly popular for snorkeling as well as whale watching. 

Savidu:
There are a variety of beaches that are great for watersports, depending where you are situated. Near to Colombo, at Mount Lavinia Beach, Kaluthara Beach and Nigombo Beach you'll find plenty of activities to do in the sea. In the south there's also Galle Beach, Mathara, Polhena Beach, the Hekkaduwa coral sands and beach, and Tangalle Beach. In the east there's the Nilaveli, Trincomalee and Batticaloa beaches. 

 

Where’s the best place to see the wild life? 


Nilupa:  
For the wildlife enthusiast the Yala National park is the best place to find the big ‘Five’. The Elephants, Leopards, crocodiles. Sloth Bears & and the Blue Whales are common. However, the best time to visit ‘Yala’ is the dry season between November to April.

Also, the Udawala National Park & Minneriya National Parks are famous for large gatherings of Asian elephants in their hundreds yearly from June to September during the dry season. Situated in the central north of Sri Lanka this is one of the driest areas on the island and there are other hundreds of species of animal to be spotted, many endangered.


Savidu:
There are many places! Yala , Udawalawa, Kumana, Monaragala – hadapanagala, wilpatuwa, wasgamuwa,

sinjharaja entrance (rain forest) – and more!




Lastly, if you had to describe Sri Lanka in just one way, what would it be?


Nilupa:  
Sri Lanka ..A land like no other

Savidu:
Fantastic!



For more information on holidays to Sri Lanka, visit our website at www.directtraveller.com, or get in touch directly through calling 0844 414 1694, or e-mailing: info@directtraveller.com. 
  
 

Köfte is one of Turkey's best loved dishes and makes a delicious and filling meal for any occassion. Last week our sales and operation manager, Guner cooked this dish for the Direct Traveller office, and it left us all wishing that every Monday had such an exciting line up for lunch!
It was so tasty in fact that we've decided to share her recipe here with you. Hopefully making this will take you away from the grotty winter weather we've had here in the UK and transport you to the exoticisms of Turkey and its flavoursome cuisine. 

Köfte Ingredients:

 First:
  • 450g/1lb minced beef or lamb
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 3 slices of stale bread, soaked in water and squeezed dry
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup plain white flour 
  • Sunflower oil for frying

Second: 

  • 6 potatoes, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • Aubergines
  • 3 tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp butter

 Got everything at the ready? Here's what's next:

1. Get your bread and take off any crusts. Crumble what's left into a bowl before adding all of the above 'First' ingredients, excluding the flour, oil, and leaving half of the chopped parsley (you'll use this as a garnish later).
2. Next, start kneading it all until the dough turns soft enough to mould into finger like shapes that are about 2.5cm/1inch thick. Keep doing this until you've used up all the mixture and then cover them and store in the fridge. 
3. Grab your sliced potatoes and fry them until they turn a tasty looking golden brown. Drain the oil from these after and then put to the side. Alternatively, you can put these in the oven as Guner did for a healthier method.
4. Go back to your meatballs and roll them in flour before frying/putting in the oven and turning until both sides look nice and crisp. 
5. Grease an oven dish with butter before carefully layering your potatoes, meatballs, some aubergines and sliced tomatoes. As a final touch put your sliced green pepper on top and a sprinkling of salt and ground pepper. 
6. Put the tomato paste into a cup of hot water and then pour over the top of the dish. 
7. Cover and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. 
8. Finally - serve up while still very hot and garnish with some parsley. You'll be feeling warmed up in no time! 
Extra: As a side consider a beetroot salad along with some bread and hummus. It works wonderfully!
  
 Like this? What's your favourite Turkish dish?
 
5 Reasons You Should Visit Sri Lanka - 07 February 2014 20:00
A diverse island of varied and exotic habitats, Sri Lanka’s allure is obvious. If you’re still undecided about visiting though, then here are five good reasons why you shouldn't miss out on all that this beautiful country has to offer.

1.       Tea




Tea is always a good incentive for anything. Us Brits especially love to have a chinwag over a freshly brewed cuppa, so imagine drinking it surrounded by the rolling green plantations it was sourced from.
Sri Lanka is the home of the famous Ceylon Tea, with its monsoon rainfalls and cooler air in the hills providing the perfect environment for it to grow in. Visitors can even help to pick the tea leaves if they wish, observing the industry and getting to make their very own cup from scratch. The only problem is that after such an experience, the next time you’re chucking a tea bag into a mug the whole process will feel very boring in comparison!

2.       Wildlife




One of Sri Lanka’s most exciting attributes is its wildlife. It’s renowned for its elephants and leopards roaming the jungle, along with a striking array of birds flickering through the sky. The mixture of sanctuaries and National Parks such as Yala are the perfect places for catching a glimpse of some of the exotic and endangered species that inhabit this land, while the undisturbed nature that surrounds them is perfect for finding a sense of tranquility.   

3.       Food






Good food is a route to the soul, and the mixture of vibrant flavours and international inspiration within Sri Lankan cuisine will have you feeling a connection to the country’s diverse regions and lively spirit.

Some favourites include hoppers, jackfruit and many different types of rice, meat and vegetable dishes that are infused with different flavours and spices. Coconut milk is also a popular ingredient for both mains and desserts.
One of the best things about the Sri Lankan food has to be how fresh it is though. Going shopping for fruit and vegetables in the markets is a must for getting into the community spirit and experiencing the difference in flavour of foods when they have only recently been picked.

4.       Beaches




Sri Lanka has much to offer in terms of varying temperatures and environments. If you travel up North you will be greeted by monsoons and lush greenery, while areas such as Kandy have the cool air of hills embellished in plantations. Colombo offers the bustle of a city, and national parks the seclusion and serenity of flora and fauna filled nature.
No luxurious getaway is quite complete without a beach though, and luckily there are also some of the world’s most beautiful beaches here too. Down South there are gloriously white sands and placid waters at beaches such as Unawatuna Beach. Bentota Beach is host to some very luxurious boutique hotels, while Pigeon Island, which is just by Nilaveli Beach on the East Coast, near Trincomalee is perfect for water sports.
The beaches in Sri Lanka are special, because each offers different opportunities, be it whale spotting, snorkeling, or just plain relaxing. The beaches are also far more peaceful than those that you find in overly populated beach tourist destinations. There’s a real sense of calm and escape through visiting the ones here.

5.       The Cultural Triangle




Many places around the world have spectacular history to see, though few will have as much of an impact as the Cultural Triangle within Sri Lanka. This part of the country is sketched by the following areas: cultural capital Kandy, ancient capital Polonnaruwa and the ancient cities of Anuradhapura. Within the triangle there is also the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, the rock temple caves of Dambulla and the Sri Lankan birthplace of Buddhism, Mihintale.
There is so much historical charm to be found here that you’ll feel as though you've travelled back in time while exploring it. There are a grand total of seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which emphasises the magnificence of the area, while spectacular events such as The Festival of the Tooth bring a spiritual charisma to the seemingly endless greenery. The Cultural Triangle is somewhere to rejuvenate your senses and feel closer to Sri Lanka’s identity. It’s certain to provide an experience like no other.

For more information on holidays to Sri Lanka, visit our website at www.directtraveller.com, or get in touch directly through calling 0844 414 1694, or e-mailing: info@directtraveller.com. 
 
While we’re not yet in an age of flying cars and alien meet ups, we do have ipads and self stirring mugs. Technology has made our lives better, lazier, and sometimes stranger.

As ridiculous and seemingly unnecessary as some gadgets might seem, especially many of those mentioned in the following list, they can still prove pretty helpful when it comes to things like travelling. 

Let’s face it too, a holiday is the one time you want life to be made as easy as possible, so I’ve compiled a list of 10 handy/bizarre inventions that could help to give you a smooth journey and enhance your holiday experience. A lot of them will also make great conversation starters with the locals and fellow tourists! 

1. The Ostrich Pillow 


While it may look completely ridiculous, the Ostrich Pillow is actually a great idea for those moments where your flight has been delayed or you’re struggling to nap on the plane. It creates a completely isolated environment for the person wearing it to easily relax in and fall asleep. While you might get some funny looks, who cares? You’ll be happily hidden away in your very own nap palace.



2. Underwater Camera Mask 


Scuba diving is a must for any beach escapists, with an exotic array of flora and fauna to be explored beneath the surface of coastal crystalline waters.

While waterproof cameras are all well and good for capturing the beauty of the underwater scenery, there’s always the worry that the deeper out you go, you might just drop your camera. Carrying a camera can disrupt the moment too, not allowing you to freely move your arms without clutching an extra object. It’s for this reason that the Underwater Camera Mask is a good idea, as you can simply click the button at the top of the mask and capture the very sights you’re witnessing.

3. Travel Money Belt


Money can be the biggest worry when travelling. It can be easy to misplace when distracted by the excitement of being somewhere new, or can be dangerous to carry around certain areas where there’s the risk of being pick pocketed. This is where the travel money belt comes in, helping to keep your finances, and your trousers secure. The only downside to this is that you’ll have to undo your belt every time you want to pay for something, which may look a little odd to the person at the till. 

4. Waterproof Cases


It’s more than likely that you’ll be bringing a phone with you on holiday, which is always slightly risky business, especially when your destination has swimming pools and an alluring sea. Don’t fear though, as you can buy both waterproof cases for phones and ipads, meaning that if you do accidentally walk into the sea with your phone in your trunks pocket not all is lost. 






5. TrakDot Luggage Tracker 


Something that is always a cause for concern is losing your luggage. It’s a fear that sits in the back of many travellers minds along with worries over forgetting to do something vital like lock the front door (or bring your kid). 

That moment where you step off the plane and stand amongst other jetlagged passengers; staring desperately into the hypnotic darkness of the luggage belt is intense. Then almost always there will be someone that has the same luggage as you, giving false hope and leaving you feeling embarrassed after almost trying to run off with another person’s stuff. 

The TrakDot luggage tracker is here to give you peace of mind though, through sending you a text message after landing to let you know your luggage has arrived safe and sound.

6. Personal Air Purifier 


Getting to your destination can involve a lot of sitting in stuffy public transport, and if the idea of this sparks nightmares of coughing, humidity and all the other hypochondriac thoughts that come with such an atmosphere, you might be interested in this personal air purifier. 

The light Minimate AS150MM gadget is designed to hang around your neck or clip onto clothing and blow purified air in your direction so that you can stay stress and germ free in your own little purified air bubble.  

7. The Mushroom Wall Charger 


This nifty little charger is not only colourful and cute looking, but also environmentally friendly. It can charge a variety of devices while also saving on energy. The way in which its wire tucks discreetly around it also makes this a great portable item for travelling with.




8. Battery Powered Back Up Phone 


We’ve all become so dependable on our mobile phones nowadays, though for this reason feel all the more lost when something happens to them. On day trips there’s always the possibility you might run out of battery, lose signal, or even lose your phone! Of course, you might not even want to bring your phone, not wanting to bother with paying the extra charges for using it abroad. Whatever the circumstance it’s always useful to have a backup way of contacting people, especially when in a foreign country. This is where the battery powered SpareOne phone is a big comfort. 

Its single AA battery allows for up to ten hours of use, and can be used to make emergency calls despite having no SIM card. It can even sustain its charge for up to fifteen years if unused! So you won’t have to worry about it running out of battery anytime soon once purchased. It also comes with a waterproof bag and resistance to extreme weather conditions, meaning that no matter the situation, the SpareOne will have your back. 

9. The Traveller's T Shirt 


The Traveller’s T Shirt is such a simple idea, yet also very useful if you’re visiting destinations where not many of the residents speak your language. You can just point to the symbol of what it is you’re looking for! The only issue may be working out what their response is. The other dilemma is that you probably won’t want to wear this t shirt everywhere, but hey, it’s only a t shirt so still light enough to carry in a bag just in case. 





10. The Bodum Coffee Maker Flask 


Nothing brings a bit of home comfort like a nice cuppa tea or coffee, and for this reason taking a Bodum coffee maker flask away with you allows you to make your own tea or coffee and then keep it warm for the next few hours. This is especially great if you’re getting up early to take a transfer to somewhere or wandering around some historical sites and want some caffeine on hand to keep your fascination fuelled. A flask is always a good idea. 

So there you have it, a list of some useful, and many rather ridiculous travel inspired gadgets. On one last note, if you’re quite happy to stick to the bare essentials when travelling, how about saving yourself a lot of money and just purchasing a funky pair of shades? 




For more information on holidays to Sri Lanka, Oman, Dubai, Turkey or North Cyprus, get in touch with Direct Traveller through visiting our website at www.directtraveller.com, calling 0844 414 1694, or e-mailing: info@directtraveller.com. 



 

As the world speedily gets smaller with the face of the online world and communication networks, traveller’s expectations are changing. No longer compelled to the boundaries of a glossy brochure, holiday makers are now doing their own research and staying at hotels and enjoying experiences that they desire themselves.

Travellers are moving away from the bucket and spade holidays, with a standard 7 and 14 night duration, at a fixed hotel of the tour operator’s choice. They are finding ways to add much more value to their holidays. This is not necessarily through price, but through added value of places visited, attractions seen, complexity of itineraries. People want more out of their holidays as they research what countries offer. Decades ago people were at the ransom of the tour operator or travel agent, supplying sufficient information about a destination. Nowadays, people can visit websites such as Wikipedia or websites such as Direct Traveller's specialist destinations pages full of information about their chosen destinations.

Tailor Made Holidays: The changing face of travel

Travellers have the empowerment of information… this information not only makes them make the right choices for them, but encourages them to push the boundaries of traditional package holidays. With the increased interest of tailor made holidays, specialist tour operators such as Direct Traveller can deliver holidays to suite the very requirements of their travellers. With flexibility and a consumer focused outlook, Direct Traveller for example creates holidays for their clients, with the finest details tailored to their requirements. Whether staying a couple of nights in a 5 star hotel, moving on to a private villa, flying off to another city, joining a guided tour, and then moving on to a beach to relax for a few days before coming back to the UK.

It’s this level of service that cannot be found from many tour operators bound to their operational restrictions, but only a handful of specialists flourish with such a challenge. Delivering the very tailor-made holiday product their client requires fulfilling their travel bug created by the wealth of information available to them on the internet.

For a truly tailor-made holiday service you can contact Direct Traveller who are specialists in tailor made holidays.


Tell us what you thin of this article? Do you feel you want more than just a simple beach holiday?
 
Homosexual relations are no longer a criminal offence in North Cyprus.

A relic of British Colonial times, the outdated laws of homosexuality have been updated by the government of north Cyprus. It is no longer illegal to have homosexual relations in the Northern part of the island. Seen as a huge step for Gay rights as this was the last European state to update its laws according to the modern times.

The outdated law was in section 171 of the criminal code, which actually punished up to 5 years imprisonment for homosexual relations, has now been changed.

Gay Rights in North Cyprus

The law was voted in majority on Monday 27th January 2014, and is now waiting for the president of TRNC Dr. Dervis Eroglu to authorise the change, and make it new legislation.
North Cyprus is ever changing, but always keeping its British connection in its history and present. Many British holidaymakers are choosing to hold in North Cyprus, for its slow pace of life, welcoming hospitality, abundance of history, and amazing beaches. North Cyprus welcomes you to enjoy its beauty. For details on holidays in North Cyprus contact Direct Traveller or visit the website www.directtraveller.com.


What do you think of the new change in the law?
 
10 of the Funniest Foreign Signs - 21 January 2014 02:00
One of the best things about travelling is the insight it gives you about different ways of life. You notice little details that are completely alien, like weird food brands, strange toilets, or hilarious signs. Whether it’s a bad translation, double meaning symbol or just plain odd warning these never fail to be amusing.
We've compiled a list of some of the funniest that have been shared on the internet, so stick the kettle on and get ready to explain to your co-workers what’s so funny.



1. So, we should fall into the water?


2. Good, because nobody would want fake fake watches.  

3. PLUS TAX?!



4. Thanks for clearing that up.



5. Deer attack or deer dance party?



6. It’s slightly worrying that a sign is needed for this.



7. Does this mean we can go back to bed?



8. *Feels around in the air* 



9. Poor grass.



10. If you have to slip…















 
Choosing a hotel for your holiday is not always as simple as when you first start out to research your holiday. You may think you want luxury, but when you start looking at hotels, you realise you want something more down to earth; you may wish to be in the town centre but when you research you find the town centre of your destination too busy; you may wish to be on a beach, but find the hotels are too secluded for you to get the most out of your holiday.

Each hotel has its own benefits and ultimately is suitable for many travellers. Finding the right hotel is something you must answer yourself. For example Direct Traveller reservations team is often given the question “what’s the best hotel you offer in North Cyprus” or “what’s the best place to stay in Turkey”.

North Cyprus Places to Stay - "Kyrenia"


What’s the best hotel you offer in North Cyprus?

The answer is always, this depends on what your criteria is for your holiday. Rightly so, the reservations team start talking through what it is you want for your holiday. You will often find when you start filtering down what your requirements are, its pretty obvious which hotel is best for you to stay at.

For example you may want a town centre hotel in Kyrenia, a hotel that has plenty of space, and large swimming pools, a nice bar, and good quality rooms. In this case The Pia Bella Hotel in Kyrenia is the hotel of choice. It ticks all those boxes.

For a hotel near the town centre with its own swimming pool and its own private beach, then The Oscars resort hotel or Vuni Palace hotel are the ones to go for.. both with good room standards.

If you’re looking for a hotel with an amazing beach, a real summer vibe, excellent service and quality standards, The Denizkizi Hotel Resort is ideal... but what out for the walk down to the beach.

For  a Famagusta hotel that offers luxury, an amazing beach, top service and standards, close to the town centre, then The Arkin Palm Beach is the hotel of choice. What an amazing sunset you will experience there too.

Luxury North Cyprus hotels include The Cratos Premium hotel with its grand design, its own beach and port, and a multiple of restaurants. You wont be disappointed. Other town centre hotels include the quality Colony Hotel and Rocks hotel, both offering luxury surroundings, and excellent service just steps away from the Venetian harbour.

Turkey - Places to stay "Bodrum"

What’s the best place to stay in Turkey.

This is such a general question that we need to drill down what you are looking for in your holiday. As turkey is such a diverse holiday destination, discovery tours will give you a sense of adventure, Istanbul will be a true experience of history and culture, Antalya will give you access to some of the bet beaches and luxury hotels in the Med, along with Fethiye, Dalaman, which will give you a more boutique holiday experience. Kalkan and Kas offer amazing views from most hotels, and a quality boutique holiday experience. 

Kusadasi is ideal for shoppers, as the endless windy street are filled with jewellers, leather shops, traditional souvenir shops and for those interested... imitation  brands.

Holidays in Bitez, and Turgetreis are a good option for those looking to be at peace, with accessibility to the main resort town of Bodrum, while Oludeniz offers an amazing blue lagoon, something you won’t find elsewhere..

These are just a small selection of what Direct Traveller offers in North Cyprus and Turkey. Available as standalone holiday destinations or as twin centre holiday combinations.

Have you visited North Cyprus or Turkey? What’s your favourite place to stay?


 
These days’ people are looking of unique places to get married, from beaches, to historic locations, and increasingly abroad. Well for those looking to marry aboard, North Cyprus seems to be on the map for many. The little gem, is proving popular for wedding planners... Scenery, charm, amazing food, accessibility and great value for money may have something to do with this!

Northern Cyprus is a relatively new tourist destination, so it is still untouched by the masses.  It is for this reason many couples are choosing North Cyprus Weddings for their special day.

Popular for that something different, with scenic locations throughout the island, and at a fraction of the price of other locations. For small groups of family and friends, or a large banquets for many, there is so much choice on offer, at high standards.

Weddings in North Cyprus

Direct Traveller has a number of beautiful places that couples can get married at and offer a selection of hotels for weddings.  Couples can choose to get married on a beach or have a truly fairytale wedding and get married in a Castle overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, or the very popular Bellapais Abbey, with its unique charm.

Wedding events are tailor made to ensure your special day is as unique as you. If a North Cyprus Wedding is what you are looking for and want to find out how to arrange it, Direct Traveller has dedicated Weddings Coordinator to help you.  The Wedding Coordinator can let you know what to expect and how to make your special day perfect.  Direct Traveller can also let you know all about the legal requirements of getting married in North Cyprus.

Firstly marriages there are legally accepted as legitimate marriages worldwide meaning that if you are from the UK and Ireland you can legally get married in North Cyprus.  Local law in is based on English law making the whole marriage process that much simpler to understand and also that wedding services and marriage documents are all in English. 

Like any country legal requirements must be completed.  First of all, for a wedding in Northern Cyprus to take place the bride and groom must have stayed in Northern Cyprus for at least 6 days prior to their wedding day and must bring the original copies of their birth certificates, decree absolute (if one or both parties have been married before then divorced) as well as their passports with them. Our wedding coordinators and local team will assist in arranging these for you and so ensuring the event runs smoothly, and tailored for you.

Direct Traveller has excellent experience in this field, as they have arranged so many successful weddings, for more information contact Direct Traveller on 0844 414 1684 or visit www.directtraveller.com to find out more on how we can help make your dream wedding come true.

Are you planning a wedding abroad? Tell us below what do you think of North Cyprus for your wedding.
 
Christmas and New year are celebrated in many ways around the world. In North Cyprus its also a huge celebration. Entering 2014 is a big event, and the Cypriots like to do this in style. A time for family and friends to get together, this is the perfect opportunity for this close community to socialise and make the most of the celebrations.

With a focus on a Kyrenia hotel, 5* Cratos Premium hotel, you can really get a taste of new year and Christmas while on your 2013 and 2014 holidays.

Here is a photo gallery to give you a feel of what you can experience on your winter holidays in the sun in North Cyprus during the festive season.

Merry Xmas and a Happy New year to all of our followers. 


Cratos Premium Kyrenia lobby - 2014 New year celebrations
Cratos Premium Kyrenia entrance - 2014 New year celebrations

Cratos Premium Kyrenia hotel grounds - 2014 New year celebrations with lights
Cratos Premium Kyrenia Casino entrance - 2014 New year celebrations

Cratos Premium Kyrenia stretch RangeRover for glamour - 2014 New year celebrations

Cratos Premium Kyrenia entrance with Premium Rolls Royce Car




Cratos Premium Kyrenia entrance grounds - 2014 New year celebrations

Did you spend you New years eve or winter holidays in North Cyprus? tell us what you thought below

 
Desert Dreams - 13 December 2013 23:44

A landscape of desolate dunes may not sound like the most inviting of places, but once you enter the enchanting Omani Wahiba Sands you’ll feel very differently. There’s a contrast of senses that are aroused in such an environment, with a supreme serenity alongside the exhilaration of such open land that inspires a desire for adventure, reminiscent of famous desert roamers like Lawrence of Arabia.

There are a number of exciting opportunities to be found, though a classic has to be the camel ride. It’s something that completes any venture to the desert and will make you feel like a fully fledged explorer. For a much faster ride you’ll want to consider doing some dune bashing. This involves jumping in a 4 wheel drive and hitting the dusty slopes, watching sand sweep past the windows and challenging the horizons with this adrenaline fueled activity.

Wahiba Sands


If the above seems a bit terrifying, don’t worry, as there are plenty of ways to enjoy the desert as a luxurious setting for relaxation and reflection. Desert camping is particularly popular, and there are a number hotel’s that are specifically based in this unusual location, such as the 1000 Nights Camp in Wahiba Sands for example. This allows your camping experience to be as basic or exotic as you wish, with many places providing similar facilities to city or beach side based resorts, with a swimming pool and fancy restaurants along with comfortable rooms designed with mystical charm all settled amongst the natural and tranquil beauty of the Omani sands.

While some may choose to only stay one or two nights in the desert, others might want to stay for longer. Either way, this kind of holiday provides the perfect opportunity for catching the incredible views of the sunrise and sunset over the dunes, along with the promise of crystal clear star studded skies each night. Daytime activities can include going on treks or being treated to some delicious coffee and traditional hospitality by a Bedouin family. Those that are interested in photography will also find being in such a setting a dream for taking magnificent shots. 

Desert Safari


While Oman is a colourful bustle of historical culture and spiritual architecture, it is in its deserts that you’ll find the true essence of its character. These remain untouched, like pieces of frozen time that are free from the rush and pressures of modern day life. For this reason, a visit to the Omani desert is a must for anybody in search of unique experiences and a little bit of magic.

For more information on holidays to Oman and desert activities, visit our website at www.directtraveller.com, e-mail us at info@directtraveller.comor give us a call on 0844 414 1694 to speak with one of our friendly in-house team members.


 
If you are thinking of Turkey holidays next year, then you will find these travel facts about Turkey interesting. 

As the 6th most visited country in the world, you can see the cultural diversity, historic attractions, and beautiful coastline makes it an ideal holiday destination. 

Infographic: Interesting Turkey Travel Facts
 

This time of year, people are often thinking about Christmas.... and what presents to get our loved ones. Let’s be honest, we all love a gift under the tree. Some people are lucky enough to receive a holiday in their stocking this Christmas day.

Direct Traveller often has requests from their clients looking to surprise their loved ones on this special day. This year is no exception with an Istanbul city break purchased as a gift, and a North Cyprus holiday purchased too.


We all love travelling... whether it’s to relax, or to take in the culture of a destination. Any travel gift is an ideal present... I know i wouldn't mind having a holiday away under my tree.

So if we are generous enough to purchase our loved ones a holiday to the sunshine, then what should we look out for in the holiday, and how can we ensure a real holiday deal?

Firstly and importantly it’s not all about price. Of course competitively priced holidays is the way forward, but look out for those hidden extra costs within the package.

  1.  A low price may sometimes be offset with low quality accommodation. Use a reputable company to arrange the holiday for you to ensure this is not the case. For example Direct Traveller hotels and holidays are all personally hand selected for their suitability and high standards within their class category.
  2. Is the price including your transfers, your in-flight meals, and even your baggage allowance? Many companies have hidden costs linked to their travel arrangements. The price you pay may be missing something that you would think is an obvious necessity for the holiday. Imagine flying without any clothes with you… well believe it or, many companies advertise their prices without your baggage allowance included.. .cheeky! All Direct Traveller holidays include your baggage allowance in the advertised prices. We even throw in free airport transfers for most of our holidays. Our policy is transparent pricing… and we will always keep it that way.
  3. Think conveniencewhen buying your parents or your uncle and aunt a getaway. The emphasis is that it’s meant to be a break... and not a trek 40 miles to the airport. The price might be tempting, but make sure you don’t force an extra cost onto your loved ones this Christmas with a heavy fee on taxi rides, or train journeys. Direct Traveller holidays are from 17 UK airports, to ensure complete convenience. Your dearest will be flying off to a great holiday from their close-by, local airport. Now that’s how to start a holiday!
  4.  Check the small print is the key to the next point… did you know some companies call their flights direct, even when there are touchdowns involved! Just because you do not change aircraft, they describe the flight as direct... so ensure you ask for “non-stop direct flights” to your destination… Direct Traveller includes non-stop direct flights in all of their holidays as standard. If it’s not non-stop, we will stay where the flight is via... whether you get out of the aircraft or not.
  5. The final point to look out for is the protection of the holiday. You don’t want your money to go to waste if the supplier fails, so ensure your flight holiday is ATOL protected for your financial protection. Also ask for ABTA membership to ensure the holiday has certain standards that the company must meet. Direct Traveller holidays are both ABTA and ATOL protected for total protection.

If you’re looking for stocking fillers, or a real cracker of a present, then a holiday will definitely be remembered.  In fact these tips should be remembered all year around. Whether you are shopping for your own summer holidays or winter holidays, or buying a gift for someone special.

Happy shopping, and have a very happy Christmas. 
 
Turkish Tea Culture in Istanbul - 03 February 2014 17:07
For many Istanbul is about its amazing views, the Bosphorus skyline, fresh fish and tasty kebabs. The hilly pathways and the amazing ambience of crossing the Bosphorus waters by ferry, the history, entertainment and of course the culture.

The culture in Istanbul is apparent everywhere.. and once thing that really sticks out is the culture of tea drinking. From the shopkeepers, to the shoe shiners, chestnut stalls, to the chic boutique shops.. Everyone, everywhere has one thing in common… they all drink tea.

Turkish Tea on the Bosphorus

Turkey produces over 6% of total tea production in the world. Not suprising considering how much Turks drink themselves. The main area of production for Turkish tea is Rize in the North Eastern area of Turkey.

The largest well known brand for Turkish tea production is Caykur, which is government owned and employs of 16.5 thousand people. You will mainly find this brand being served in many places, and the taste is the essence of Turkish tea.

Turkish tea ranges from the most popular black tea, which you find in most places to the more varied to apple tea, green tea, early grey and organic herbal tea which are available on request at most tea gardens and tea houses.

Loose leaf tea is used as a social element for day to day living in cafes, houses, and shops. The culture of offering tea to all guests, whether in a commercial environment or social environment still continues to this day.

Visit any street in Istanbul and you will sea the tea boy floating around from shop to shop, offering shop keepers and their guests’ fresh tea on request. Tea is seen as a sign of Turkish hospitality, and is a main social element of Turkish society. You can even have tea in local coffee houses around Turkey and there are even tea gardens, which are open gardens serving tea to locals.

So how do you serve your own Turkish tea?

  • ·         You need a caydanlik which has two pots.
  • ·         Stack them on top of each other.  
  • ·         Place the tea leaves with a dash of water on the top pot
  • ·         Add water for boiling in the bottom.
  • ·         Once the water is boiled, half fill a small glass cup with the top tea leaf water
  • ·         Pour in the boiled water to the top of the glass.
  • ·         Add sugar to taste.
  • ·         Drink and refresh yourself.


If you kind find the tools to make a Turkish tea, then visit any Turkish restaurant, or coffee shop whether in Turkey or in the UK, and you will still be offered this refreshing drink. A symbol of Turkish hospitality worldwide..


I cant wait to visit Istanbul again and have a hot cup of tea while on a ferry ride from Europe to Asia… such a simple thing, but something that has its own meaning to cultural diversity.. a pleasure we should all experience.