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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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When you are looking for the best company with which to book your next holiday, there are certain priorities that will matter more to you than others. Of course, you will want to find a holiday provider with a wide range of destinations, but for many of the most discerning travellers, it's also vital to find a company that prizes the utmost quality in everything that it does.

Direct Traveller doesn't merely offer competitively-priced holiday deals online. That's because we also ensure that every aspect of our service lives up to the most demanding expectations. This specialist in tailor made holidays certainly has the right past reputation, having been founded back in 2003 as a pioneer in direct-flight breaks to North Cyprus, since expanding its range of destinations and scooping accolades from the likes of Virgin Group and The Sunday Times.

However, Direct Traveller would not enjoy the status of 77th fastest growing company in Great Britain unless it also truly valued the relationship that it enjoys with its customers, working hard to ensure that the holidays that it provides meet with constant high satisfaction. Over the last 11 years, we have established a reputation as one of the UK's premier specialist tour operators, with a portfolio of destinations that includes not just North Cyprus, but also Turkey, Dubai, Sri Lanka and Oman.

As well as a greater number of destinations, we have built on various aspects of our current service. In addition to the guided tours that we can now provide in all of our specialist destinations, we can offer everything from private villa holidays in North Cyprus to activities like balloon riding and cooking classes in Turkey and elephant safaris in Sri Lanka. Our currently available holiday deals online even extend to luxury desert night camps in Arabia and hotel rooms under the ocean in Dubai.

These are offered alongside all of the more traditional beach holidays and city breaks, all while Direct Traveller continues to pay close attention to its principal objective of the very highest quality. We recognise that our considerable success to date has not been by chance, and that only by continuing to cater for the specific requirements of our customers in line with our family-oriented service, can we remain a leading choice for high quality, tailor made holiday deals online.


 
Buddhism has been a great civilising force of the Sri Lankan people since it was introduced in the 3rd century BC by Venerable Mahinda the son of the Indian Emperor Ashoka.

Sri Lanka, with a population of 20 Million out of which 75% is Sinhalese Buddhist, has the longest continuous history of Buddhism compared to any other Buddhist nation.
Sri Lankan culture has been nourished by Theravada Buddhism & is dating back as far as 2600 years.


Buddhism is based on teachingsattributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is known as the Buddha ‘The enlightened one’. It is a ‘non theistic’ religion & doesn’t involve any believe in God. Instead, it encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices.

Buddhism has greatly influenced Sri Lankan way of life although this is less apparent today specially in cities like Colombo. Majority of Sri Lankans are quite conservative and have simple life style. They believe in the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. Some Buddhists exempt completely from eating meat & the ultimate goal would be to attain ‘Nirvana’ a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self.



However, Sri Lankan Buddhists have eventually adopted religious elements of Hinduism in their religious practices. Some of these practices may relate to ancient indigenous beliefs and traditions on spirits, worship of deities etc.

The Sri Lankan culture centres around the temple. Kandy ‘Dalada Maligawe’ which house the ‘tooth relic of Buddha’ is one of the sacred places on the Island. It is believed that Sinhalese as an ethnic group are destined to preserve and protect Buddhism in the country. Therefore, Sri Lanka has been ruled by Sinhalese Buddhist kings and leaders for many years in the past to date.


Buddhism has formed & shaped Sri Lankan heritage. In most instances, Sri Lankan arts & crafts, Literature, music & dancing, beliefs and traditions have originated from religious beliefs. This is represented in many forms such as painting, sculpture, and architecture.
Such as, the paintings and statues found in the ‘Dambulla Cave temple’ are related to Lord Buddha and his life. The frescoesfound at Sigiriya and Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy are with historical value.

UNESCO has identified six archaeological World Heritage Sites in the island, such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Kandy & Galle fort. Most of these World Heritage Sites within a compact area called the Cultural Triangle.


These are few of the places not to be missed! You can see these amazing sites for yourself with a Direct Traveller Sri Lankan culturaltriangle tour which explores the very best of the region in the comfort of a private tour, chauffeured by your own guide.


 
Having visited Istanbul so many times, each time the trips become more and more fascinating. People tend to do Istanbul as a short weekend city breaks or combine it with a beach stay in Turkey or North Cyprus. It extremely charming that a city can vary from one visit to another where you find ‘not one’ or ‘two’ places you have not seen or heard off but so many places which you did not even know were there from your last visit which is why my experience has been a different and better every time.

Istanbul Bosporus bridge - Ortakoy

I travelled to many cities around the world but this city has by far been one of the most interesting and fascinating, especially for dining and eating out. Restaurants from your local average hidden places, in the side streets to the more commercial dining places but the experience no matter where you chose to dine it is just incredible and memorable each time. Having discovered new places which were better than the previous and yet still so many restaurants to explore and try the local Turkish cuisine. One thing , you do find in Istanbul is the good quality of food was not just in those very expensive restaurants but also in those small local places where the people are credibly friendly, service and food is just ‘spot on’ at all times.

You will notice that the less commercial side of the city and places to dine were actually the best which you will find in many other cities surely but what makes Istanbul unique is that there is so much choice and variety of places to dine that you really feel the real Turkish Culture.  The most amazing places to eat are often found on small side streets which are not on any tourist map/guide by the way so make sure you explore the hidden streets during your visit as you will get good value for money as well as amazing food.  One thing the Turkish culture takes pride in is their food and their big kitchen so whether you’re on a budget or don’t mind splashing the cash you will always find ‘good’ food to suit your needs in this city.



The local small kebab booths to the top end classy prestige restaurants and the best wraps that little man put together in the little ‘kofte’ booth near Taksim square. If you get hungry, at 2am at 3pm in the morning you will always find a place to eat in this city and not just fast food take out but proper home cooked food. It is like a 24 hour moving city. I will never forget the little diner place where I had the opportunity to have their local  home-made lentil soup with fresh bread early hours of the morning as I was ill with a cold and needed something warm for my throat. This little family owned place was where the locals would go if they were hungry after a night out with friends or people coming back from a long day of work so there was something for everybody...

Try to go dine at different places in Istanbul because this city has a big ‘food’ culture where you can experience home-made cooked food from different villages to the traditional Turkish Cuisine depending on what you feel like really. With various options and types of restaurants it really tops my list for fine dining as my experience has been nothing other than amazing. The options and variety of places to eat is creditable in comparison to other cities I have visited over the years and more importantly the quality of food just gets better.


A simple salad has never tasted so amazing with just simple ingredients; you can actually taste the freshness and enjoy it. When you think about the views of the Bosporus and the fine dining you almost forget the traffic and over populated crowd walking in the streets but it makes you wonder why people continue to migrate to Istanbul it has amazing views, history speaks for itself, great food and lastly socialising is so easy with so much to do you will never get bored. It is a 24 hour buzzing city! 

Have you been to Istanbul.. or are you planning to go? What do you think of Guner's tips on Istanbul dining. 
 
It is believed that Sri Lanka has the highest density of elephants in Asia...

A visit to Pinnawala – Elephant orphanage is an unforgettable experience for anybody.

The orphanage was originally founded in order to protect many of the orphaned wild elephants found wandering in and near the forests of Sri Lanka and is a captive breeding ground. Many Elephants were injured or orphaned due to deforestation or during the past conflict in the county.

 Pinnawala – Elephant orphanage

The orphanage did attract local and foreign visitors and the income was intended to use to maintain the orphanage.

It would take about one & half hours from Colombo to reach ‘Pinnawala’.  It is advisable to start the day early as it would give you plenty of time.

As soon as you enter, in the close vicinity you would see a group of 50-60 elephants of different sizes and shapes.  You may find some of the large Male elephants are chained. This may be sometimes necessary to tame them & don’t forget these are large wild animals and therefore, only specially trained ‘mahouts’ are capable of controlling them.


Tourists get the opportunity to bottle feed the baby elephants and can also observe the bathing elephants from the broad ‘Ma Oya’ river bank.  This would be very interesting sight as these herds of elephants interact socially, bathing and playing.

 Pinnawala Elephants bathing

Most of the elephants at Pinnawala are healthy and once attaining adulthood they were released to temples or private owners whilst the injured ones remained.

Unfortunately, the elephant population in Sri Lanka has declined drastically by at least 50% over the last three generations. This could be due to poaching, illegal trading etc.

Today, the elephant population is largely restricted to the dry zone in the north, east and southeast of Sri Lanka. Elephants are present in the Sri Lankan National parks of Udawalawe National Park, Yala National Park, Lunugamvehera National Park, Wilpattu National Park and Minneriya National Park but also live outside protected areas.

Sri Lanka Elephants Drinking

Elephant is an endangered species and need to be protected for the sustainability of the natural balance for generations to come.

Visit the orphanage is an amazing experience, and a must-see for anyone. Whether you are interested in wildlife or not, watching the elephants will captivate you into another world.


Are you planning to visit the orphanage? need tips or ideas? let us know here...


 
Oman – The undiscovered... - 27 August 2014 21:29
Oman renowned for it is endless desert; beautiful greenery it is one of those destinations with a lot of charm and natural beauty. The best time to visit Oman is between October and April where the temperature varies between 20c to 30c's.

The beautiful Muscat City is where most of the busy life takes place, saying that you would still find it quiet and peaceful. Rocky mountain scenery and the beautiful ocean complete the atmosphere of this beautiful area.

Oman Locals

While swimming in Oman, I walked in the sea for over 300 meters in a shallow water to reach 1.50 meter depth, it's a very nice sandy beach where locals and tourist can enjoy, but tourists tend to use hotel private beaches as it's not a local trend to appear with a bikini on public beaches. 

When it comes to hotels, it has more to offer than any other place and it’s the popular places for tourists and locals alike to hang out, dine, or have an alcoholic drink, as drinking alcohol is only permitted in hotels.

The Oman cuisine is quite spicy and close to Indian food, and it's not as popular outdoor, but you tend to find more Lebanese and Turkish restaurants in and outside the hotels. but one thing I can recommend is the sea food, Oman its an area rich in sea food cuisine as the sea food export business forms 70-80 % of it's economy, so don't hesitate to order fish it will always come flapping on your plate :)
Oman beaches

An enjoyable time prior to dinner is sipping a nice cold drink on the hotel terrace and watching the sun immersing behind the sea, reflecting a beautiful colour on both sky and water. 

The people in Oman are very friendly and polite, as they are famous on having a laid back and relaxed mood most of the time. 

Definitely, a must do in Oman is scuba diving especially if you have a passion for undersea photography and filming. The marine life is absolutely thrilling, in particular the turtles.

The beaches of Ras Al Had and Ras Al Junayz are the most popular areas for turtles to come lay their eggs. Green turtles, loggerheads, Hawksbill and leatherbacks live for over 100 years and swim the length and breadth of the Indian Ocean only to return every year to the same sites to lay their eggs.

Oman architecture 
What is more fascinating are the intriguing caves Al Hoota being the most popular cave in Oman. This cave is over 2 million years old; it is in Jabal Shams and will take about 45 minutes to tour the whole cave. Even though the cave may look like its made of stone, it isn’t. It made of water. It all starts when rainwater dissolves, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or soil, producing a dilute carbonic acid that dissolves the limestone, creating room for it, thus forming the cave.


From many people we hear Oman is the natural version of Dubai, which is agreeable based on the nature, the beaches and the amazing architecture. If your looking for a place to escape have nothing but pure indulgence, fantastic beaches and deserts, with a lot of scenic views Oman is the place to go.

Have you been to Oman? or thinking tell us your thoughts?


 
Karpaz and the New Yacht Marina - 17 August 2014 02:10
For a few years we've been hearing a lot about this beautiful Port Marina opening in North Cyprus. In June 2013, it was a very exciting time with the grand opening of the Karpaz Marina in North Cyprus. The launch was absolutely fantastic; it was a beach party with a live Cuban band singing and dancing the night away. Cocktails and snacks were available all night.

Sunset at Karpaz Gate Marina, North Cyprus

Full of lush yachts stationed on the port side, you can have a lovely dinner to begin with at the Hemingway restaurant overlooking the marina. Watching hundreds of guests arrive and sailing in by sea and land during sunset to start the celebration of the grand opening – was truly spectacular.

Night-time at Karpaz Gate Marina, North Cyprus

The Marina was built to be an access gate through which people can enter TRNC, rather than just flights and commercial harbours.  It is a unique hospitality development with elegance of al fresco dining, advantages of duty free status. It provides 300 berths for vessels up to 55 metres and boat maintenance facilities on site.

Restaurant at Karpaz Gate Marina, North Cyprus

On the promenade not only is there the Hemingway Bistro Bar restaurant, but there is also a shops, the beach club, fitness centre, art gallery, and diving school. The marina can accommodate vessels up to 55 metres, while boats up to 45 metres and with a beam of up 10 metres can be brought ashore for refit or anti-fouling.

Yachts Karpaz Gate Marina, North Cyprus

If you have a keen interest in yachts and your thinking of purchasing, Karpaz Marina is the perfect location for this, you will find Cyprus Yachts a subsidiary company of Sea Alliance group located right in the marina. This exclusive dealer has yacht brands such as Jeanneau, prestige, nautique, wellcraft, Four winns and the famous ski and wake boats of Natique. The company sell a large range of pre-owned yachts too.

Karpaz Gate Marina scene

This Marina specially designed with super-yachts and larger vessels is unlike others,  has superb berthing as well as on-shore facilities, advanced technical services and range of leisure activities. The unique Northern Cyprus venue is attracting many sizes of yachts cater for larger vessels.  Sailors are discovering this striking location on the Karpaz Peninsula as a perfect stop over during a cruise, while other yacht owners from ports across the world are taking advantage of this marina as a tax free, sheltered and secure base for an extended stay.

Karpaz Gate Marina docked yachts
Just a short drive away from the Marina, you will find accommodation from 5 star luxury hotels to small beach bungalows on the Karpaz Peninsula if you wish to be away from the buzz and taken by the nature. The beach bungalows are highly recommended as you’re surrounded by nothing but sea and sand, what more can anyone want…. Burhan’s Beach Bungalows is one of the popular choices. 

This beautiful location on the island is where you forget everything and totally relax and unwind. Listening to the waves, watching the sunset, seeing the stars shine at night I really cannot wait to go back.


The marina is situated in Yeni Erenkoy, near the Karpaz Peninsula towards the tip of the island, but no matter what location you are at in North Cyprus – it is definitely worth adding this to your trip itinerary.

Have you been to the new Marina? what did you think?


 
Winter Fun in North Cyprus - 14 August 2014 01:25
I am 36 years old and originally form Sri Lanka, currently living in the UK with my wife. I am working for a specialist tour operator - Direct Traveller.


I had an opportunity to go on a free holiday thanks to my Managing Director. We arranged a free winter holiday in North Cyprus last year December with my wife.



As a leading North Cyprus tour operator, has a very high repeat client rate, with some of them travelling to North Cyprus more than 2 or 3 times per year. Intrigued about what all the fuss is about, I decided to visit and try for myself.




As an organised person I prepared an itinerary for our holiday. I combined adventure, fun, discovery, shopping, and peace and quiet all into one holiday.


Here is my North Cyprus winter itinerary:

Day 1 - 17/12/2013

9.00am - 01.00pm

Rest at Pia Bella

4hrs

01.00pm - 2.00pm

Walk down to Harbour @ take lunch from somewhere

1hr

2.00pm - 4.30pm

The Girne Castle & Shipweck Museum

2.5 hrs

4.30pm- 5.30 pm

Aga Cafer Pasha Mosque

1hr

From 5.30

Harbour sight seeing


Day 2 - 18/12/2013

09.00am - 01.00 pm

St. Hilarion Castle

4hrs

2.30pm - 4.00pm

Bellapais Abbey

1.5hrs

Afternoon

Alagadi Turtle Beach

Day 3 - 19/12/2013

Apostolos Andreas Monastery

Ayios Trias Basilica

see wild donkeys

Edremit -small church/slovenlier/deco plates

Day 4 - 20/12/2013

9.00am - 11.30am

Buffavento Castle

2.5hrs

   1.00pm -
2.30pm

Kantara Castle

1.5hrs


Day 5 - 21/12/2013

10.00am-10.30 am

Kyrenia Gate

1/2hr

11.00am - 2.00 pm

The Great Khan

3hr

2.30pm - 3.15pm

Selimiye Mosque

45min

from 3.30pm

Covered Bazaar



Day 6 - 22/12/2013

09.00am - 10.30am

Salamis Ruins

1.5hrs

11.00am - 12.00pm

Porta Del Mare (Sea Gate)

1hr

2.00pm - 3.00 pm

The Othello Tower

2hr


For the route, we chose the Pegasus airlines night flight from London Stranded airport on 16th December 2013 within six hours; we were in lovely sunshine temperature near to 15C in Cyprus.

We headed to Piabella hotel (4 Star) near to Kyrenia town centre. It is a very beautiful hotel with amazing views of Kyrenia Mountains. Afterhaving a short rest at Piabella around 2.00pm we went out to buy some local currency (Turkish lira). My advice is, it’s always exchange your money at local exchange bureaus rather than stick to the airport or Hotel.

Thereafter we had a lovely lunch assorted with grilled beef and peppers at a Mexican grill, which is very close to the hotel - great value for money! I won’t hesitate to recommend this place to anyone... You will love it.

Then we had a wander around Kyrenia town centre, it is a beautiful town, which is between Kyrenia harbour and the Kyrenia Mountains. Kyrenia town is the best place to do your shopping. There was a sweet shop called ‘SIMIT DUNYASI’ and there are lot of sweets in this shop. We never forgot to visit every day, for late afternoon tea at this shop, as we fell in love with their sweets and Turkish tea.



 In Kyrenia town centre there are lots of fruit juice and soft drinks stores. You can buy freshly made orange juice for less than £1, which is squeezed from more than 14 oranges!

At the hotel we stayed on a half board basis. The hotel gives different types of dishes throughout the week and it was a buffet style dinner. It was not amazing but was always a good standard and some days was even very good. They had even served a BBQ night, Curry night, grill night and other varieties, making it interesting for guests.

We are used to fly-drive holidays and easily adapted to self driving our rental car in North Cyprus. Our local rep handed over the car to us, I asked where are the keys?, he said they are in the car…That’s an example of how safe it is in North Cyprus. I was very surprised, because that is not something we can expect in UK.  Cyprus is a really honest country, which is close to a zero percent crime rate.

Compared to London the weather is amazing and during the day time its around 15C to 20C, and night time it was reduced to 8C to 12C.

Our mission was to discover the island as much as possible, we took early breakfasts and we started each day early. As it was winter time we went with a soft jacket and that was amazing. We went to the end of North side of island (Karpaz), known as the “Panhandle”. In this side of the island there are lots of wild donkeys - we even gave carrots to them. There is very old church in this area, where people make wishes and we made a wish as well.

We went to two castles, and I think winter time is the best time for castle visits as its not excessively warm.
The food was amazing and we tried different types of dishes.

We love to walk through Kyrenia harbour in the evenings as the ambience and view in the harbour area was beautiful. There are lots of fish restaurants in the area and the fish is very fresh. In fact you can choose which fish you would like the chef to grill for you..

We went to the restaurant at the Bellapais area and that was the best lunch in North Cyprus. I had grilled fish with salad and a different type of humus.

Nobody really used the hotel pool except to sunbathe, as the water was chilly. One day I bucked the trend and on a warm 16C sunny day, I took a plunge. I jumped into to the pool and swam 2 lengths. As I came out the pool some guests and hotel workers Cheered me! “come on”. To be honest the water was cold, but once you stepped out I quickly defrosted in the sunshine J


Unfortunately our 7 days had gone very quickly. We came to London on the 24th December and were presented with the great British winter...

North Cyprus is very safe country with honest locals – the people are very good.

I know now why people fall in love with North Cyprus. One day I hope to purchase a retirement house in North Cyprus.. but for now I am definitely planning to visit this winter as well..

Have  you been to North Cyprus in the winter? what's your favourite aspect?


 

Although much of Sri Lanka has been enjoyed as a holiday destination, the North East of Sri Lanka had been a ‘no go’ area due to 30 years of civil war.  In 2009 the troubles ended and everyone lives in peace & harmony today - making it an amazing opportunity to discover something new.

Sri Lanka wildlife



Being a Sri Lankan, visiting Trincomalee two years ago was like a dream come true .I was really amazed how beautiful this area is.  I was travelling from the South where we did a safari at the Yala national park. It was about 7hrs drive through the jungle to Trincomalee. You are sure to see some elephants in the bushes just as you pass the Yala National park.

Sri Lanka beaches
In some areas the main road was under construction then but it was a pleasant journey.  When we reached Batticalo the main site was the herds of Goats and Donkeys which also reflected the livelihood
of the locals.

When we reached Trincomalee, my perception of the North East of Sri Lanka was enforced. It is a relatively undeveloped area, and  I thought Trincomalee was naturally beautiful with Lagoons, sandy beaches, I actually felt like I was in a different part of the world.  

We stayed at Pigeon Islands resort in Trincomalee where we had a warm welcome.  This was a boutique style property and the beach was right next to the hotel and Pigeon Island was just a 10 minutes boat ride away.  The food was fantastic there and the staff was really attentive.

Sri Lanka cuisine
Pigeon Island, is a national park that contains some of the best remaining coral reefs of Sri Lanka. We took an exciting boat ride to the Island & the boatman was an experienced diver too which was a bonus. The sea was quite shallow to a certain limit so it was ideal for those who are interested in swimming, snorkelling or even diving.

In the afternoon we visited the seven hot springs at Kanniyai located just 8 kilometres from Trincomalee. These were therapeutic properties of water & the temperature did vary from one well to the other.  People who gathered there did believe by bathing in this water could purify your body & soul which prompted us to join the queue.


I had an amazing few days in this unspoilt part of Sri Lanka and couldn’t fault a thing and I can’t wait to go back J

By Nilupa

Have you been to Northern Sri Lanka? what did you think?
 
Shopping in Turkey is a pleasure you must try at least once. You can lose yourself in the narrow alleyways of bazaars from Istanbul to Bodrum and spend many happy hours browsing for souvenirs that will allow you to have a little bit of ‘Turkey’ in your own home. Here are some items you simply must buy.

Turkish Carpet and Rugs

No trip to Turkey is quite complete without buying a traditionally crafted Turkish carpet Rugs. Carpet and Rug making is an ancient Anatolian craft and Turkish carpets are either double - knotted Kilims or flat woven. Hand-made carpets are an original, one-off work of art and will be a glorious decorative addition to any home. So have fun visiting the carpet stalls searching for a colourful carpet you love. Try at least three stalls and enjoy the whole process of buying, which involves bartering with the stallholder to agree on a fair price.


Turkish Carpets & Rugs









Turkish Delight






Turkish delight or Lokum is a delicious soft gel sweet which comes in a range of flavours and colours. With the introduction of sugar to Turkey in the 18th century came a new era of confectionary as Turkish delight was created in the kitchens of the Ottoman court. An old Turkish adage says, “Eat sweetly and speak sweetly” and the gentle flavours of rosewater, Bergamot orange or lemon definitely sweeten the breath. It is beautifully presented in dainty cubes of deliciousness dusted with icing sugar and makes a perfect gift if you can stop yourself eating it on the plane.

Turkish Delight








Raki

Traditional Turkish drink sometimes called Lion’s Milk due it turning a milky white when water is added. Raki is a distilled alcoholic drink made from fruit and flavoured with aniseed. Different fruits are used depending on the region where it is made but grapes, figs and plums are most commonly used. There are many rituals associated with drinking Raki but what is most important is what it is drunk with. It can be drunk as a cocktail but mostly it is consumed with cold ‘Meze’, such as tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, fish and seafood. Buy a few bottles to take home to bring the flavours of Turkey home with you.

Turkish Raki Table






Turkish Evil Eye Protector

In order to protect yourself from evil looks, those jealous of your tan, when you get home why not purchase an Evil Eye Pendant. You will see this symbol everywhere in Turkey as it is believed to ward off Evil and negative energy from individuals and places, which is why you will see it on people and in houses and offices. The Turkish Evil Eye or Nazar Boncugu is a blue bead made of molten glass, iron, copper, water and salt with a dark eye at the centre. In Turkey and many Mediterranean countries the colour blue is thought to have protective powers which is why so many front doors are painted blue.

Turkish Evil eye Protector









Leather

Turkey has a long tradition of producing high quality leather goods and is a leading place in Europe to buy leather products such as jackets, shoes, belts, handbags, purses and wallets. Turkey is known for the quality and craftsmanship of its leather products. Treat yourself to a custom made garment or buy beautifully crafted purses and wallets as gifts.

Bazaar selling leather, gold & much more






Jewellery

The variety of jewellery available is staggering and you will find it in any bazaar in any town in Turkey. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul has several streets purely devoted to Jewellery. You can find copies of designs from the Ottoman Empire using gold, diamonds, rubies and other precious stones next to modern pieces in gold, silver and precious stones. If you love big, bold necklaces, brooches and rings then you will be in heaven.

Ottoman & Anatolian Jewellery














Did we miss anything out? what's your favourite souvenirs.. 
 
Called the Jewel of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is blessed with stunning scenery and well-kept cultural and historical sites. This is dream destination for travellers as there is so much to see and do: from the beauty of golden sandy beaches to the diverse of wildlife, from historic temples and sacred temples to tea estates and traditional Sri Lankan cuisine. Here are 5 must do’s whilst holidaying on this incredible island.

Visit a Tea Plantation

In the 19th century the British turned the natural jungle landscape into an area which became an area devoted to the growing of tea. Sri Lankan tea is world famous so what could be better than sipping a cup of delicious Ceylon Tea on a veranda overlooking the sprawling tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya. Why not take a tour around Pedro tea estate, built in 1885 and full of 19th century engineering, to see where your morning cuppa originates. A visit to Dambatenne tea factory, built by Sir Thomas Lipton in 1890 is a very popular place destination where you can take a tour to learn all about the processes involved in transforming the humble green shoots into delicious tea so popular in the UK and around the world.


Climb Mount Sigiriya

The town of Sigiriya is located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. The town has one main attraction; its fortress, inclusive of various gardens and was built in the 5th century AD by King Kasyap. The fortress at Sigiriya is a World Heritage Site and even though the entire fortress is in ruins it is well worth a visit. Anyone taking the climb to the summit will be rewarded with picturesque views over the surrounding area.



Sigiriya Rock


See the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage

Another very popular attraction is the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage run by the Department of National Zoological Gardens. Pinnawela orphanage is situated northwest of the town Kegalla. It was established 1975 by the Sri Lanka Wildlife department. This 24 acre site is home to orphaned and injured elephants. Visitors and volunteers can get close to the elephants under the supervision of the keepers. Feeding the baby elephants with the largest milk bottle you ever saw is good fun, as is standing in the river Mahaweli watching the elephants bathing.

Sri Lanka Elephants


Visit a Turtle Hatchery

About 62 km south of Colombo in the South West is the city of Bentota. It is a city graced by palm trees and has a serene atmosphere. Here the Sea Turtle Project is a must if you want to take a look at the conservation of turtles in Sri Lanka. The turtle hatcheries are open from 06:00 in the morning to 18:00 in the evening. If you want to release a freshly hatched three-day old turtle into the ocean you can do it here.

Sri Lanka Turtles



Visit The Temple of the Tooth

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is one of the most-visited destinations in Kandy and is a UNESCO world Heritage site. It is the most sacred Buddhist shrine in the world and is said to possess a sacred tooth relic of Buddha which has been preserved safely. The temple has a very long history, dating back to the end of the 16th century and although considerable damage was caused by the terrorist attacks of 1998 repairs have been made and it has not deterred tourists and pilgrims from visiting. The sacred tooth is housed in a Chedi made out of solid gold and once every six years the tooth is put on display for the public. Being a sacred relic for Buddhists it is cared for by the monks and priests who every Wednesday perform a symbolic bathing of the relic, with a preparation using scented water and fragrant flowers. This water is believed to possess healing powers.

Sri Lanka Temple













Are you travelling to Sri Lanka? Where are you planning to visit?
 
If you are in Turkey right now, or about to travel, you should definitely not return without having tasted the ultimate Turkish tomato!

Juicy Turkish Tomatoes

It’s that time of the year when all the seasonal fruit and vegetable are in abundance scattered across the local food markets all over Turkey. But one fruit in particular stands out most and that’s the giant juicy red tomatoes. It’s no surprise when I read somewhere that due to its geography and climate, Turkey ranks third globally in tomato production. I was even more surprised that 70% is consumed fresh whilst the remainder is processed, of which only 10% is canned – so the rest is pretty good stuff. So, if you’re lucky enough to visit this amazing country be sure to taste one of those amazing organic tomatoes.


I remember on one of my holidays to Turkey, I could see the locals selling jars and jars of this tomato paste across the local market stalls, and at the time I was thinking ‘wow there is so much of this just everywhere’ now the statistics are making a lot more sense.

Some stall holders were even displaying them cut through the middle to tempt buyers with their juicy redness – and yes it was working..



Giant Turkish Tomatoes



Recently I have been experimenting in kitchen trying to really steer clear of using any canned products and really going down the organic path route for a healthier well-being. With this mind, one day on clearing out the airing cupboard I realised how much tin tomato I used for my cooking, then at that point a little bell rang, and I remembered these amazing fresh juicy tomatoes I’d seen in Turkey and how the locals were really utilising their assets.

That was it; I was going to make my own tin tomato! And off I went into research frenzy on how to make the best version possible, and in fact nearly all my sources were pointing in the same direction. A very simple way of converting your juicy tomatoes into your own ‘jarred tomato’ for every day cooking, look no where else, enjoy the experience.

Makes up to 10 jars of tomato for everyday cooking and will last you months..

Tomatoes recipes

What you need:
8.5kg of organic tomatoes
Hot water
10 medium size glass jars
Salt

The process:
1. Put all your fresh tomatoes in a large deep pan of hot water
2. Bring water to the boil, then remove the tomatoes and peel the skin
3. Place them into a blender and mix but not to a smooth texture, a chunky texture is what you are looking for. Then place this mixture back into the pan with a pin
ch of salt and bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes.
4. At the same time as step 3, sterilize all your glass lids in a separate pan of boiling water, and line up your jars ready to fill.
5. Once you have filled the jars, you must ensure you tighten the lids very securely, and the trick to this is that you must turn the glass jars upside down! Set all the jars somewhere cool & dry upside down, so once they are fully cooled down you can then put them all back upright and place them in your airing cupboard.

And there you have it Organic Fresh Jarred Tomato!

Organic Tomato Sauce 

It’s amazing what inspirations you pick up along your travels, and this is just a simple example of mine… 
By Rasme Ozdemir

Have you had any inspiration while on holiday? What was yours?
 
Planning a wedding abroad is stress free and fun, and North Cyprus is the ideal location. I am getting married on 21st September 2014. I chose to do my wedding in North Cyprus for many reasons but one being the most important is that this was the destination that me and my partners love blossomed. This island has a special place in our heats full of amazing memories so for us this was perfect location.

I started planning my wedding in March this year which is plenty of time unlike in the UK, where you need to book venues at least a year in advance. 

I have been planning my wedding from the UK, and so far I am very happy with the progress. People assume doing a wedding abroad is too much hassle/ time consuming and stressful- but in fact it is so much simpler. You can have your dream wedding in the warm climate with beautiful surroundings for very good value- price wise, and have a dedicated wedding planner that will organise the whole thing for you , taking the stress away..

Wedding

We started off with choosing what type of wedding we wanted, of course for us anywhere in the sun was good enough! There are various options you can choose from in North Cyprus – a beach wedding,  golf resort wedding,  church wedding/ pool side wedding and plenty more. My partner and I love warm weather, scenic places and open air so we chose to do our wedding at Korineum Golf and Beach Resort, an enchanting venue overlooking the mountains and the Mediterranean waters. The ambience and setting is exactly how we always imagined! Very romantic I must say.  There are so many different choices of settings you can choose from, you’re spoilt for choice.

We started the planning process by asking the wedding coordinator at Direct Traveller, to contact the venue and receive different wedding package options according to our predicted number of guests and style of wedding. Our wedding will begin with a cocktail reception during sunset near the olive trees and stone bridges, and then moving onto the velvet greens for the wedding party. 

Wedding on the beach
At Direct Traveller you will have an allocated wedding coordinator looking after all your arrangements from start to end.  Our wedding organiser is very helpful and very efficient making sure every aspect of our wedding arrangements is exactly how we want.  We were given a selection of menu choices to select from; you have the opportunity to do food tasting on your favourite two menu choices. I must say it was hard to choose but we got there in the end. 

Our wedding organiser recommended musicians and DJ’s to contact according to our specific requirements. As we are having a combination of Turkish and Lebanese wedding we have opted for a DJ during the party and a trio band for the cocktail reception.

Choosing the right decoration/theme is an important aspect to all weddings, especially when you choose the perfect location. Even though, the venue alone speaks for itself we showed our wedding organiser  the kind of style we wish to follow and they have kindly taken all this on board and are working towards creating the theme we want. During the process we exchange emails/photos to get the perfect match.  The flower choices are endless…. And look fab !

Our photographer is renowned in North Cyprus to be the best and judging from his previous work we love his work. He will be with us from the moment we start to get ready creating the story by building up the day until we party till dawn.

Wedding couples abroad


When it comes to the beauty side, brides don’t worry North Cyprus has plenty of hair salons and make-up artists that come to the wedding venue to prepare the bride for the big day. Trials are easily bookable.
Our delicious Wedding cake is being prepared by the hotel’s head patisserie chef; you choose your outer layer, inside layer and colours all to your own preference.

Direct Traveller has also arranged a free Honeymoon Suite with Champagne and 2 hours golfing lesson after the wedding! That should be interesting …. 

So wedding venue- tick, food – tick, cake –tick, music- tick, decoration-tick, hair and make up – tick…..  Now all we need to do is countdown to the big day ! I will keep you posted after the wedding with some photos. J

So, brides and grooms, I hope I have given you head start to this wonderful journey if you’re thinking of choosing North Cyprus as your wedding destination I recommend Direct Traveller wedding coordinators.
By Guner Surucu


Are you thinking of getting married abroad? What is it you are looking for in your wedding? 

 
April is not usually the month I travel to Cyprus, but I have to say not only was I pleasantly surprised with the weather, but even braved the sea on a few occasions! You can expect an average 9 hours of sunshine each day. Additionally, April has an average high temperature of 22°C. With water sports in mind – the sea is a pleasant 18°C on average.

On this trip I had set myself a mini little mission. I really wanted to dig deep into the roots of North Cyprus and visit the smaller local villages that are far away from the usual cosmopolitan areas that one normally visits. I wanted to walk away from this trip having got a real feel of everyday Cypriot village life, and, to experience and taste the local cuisine made from the heart of those that created them!

One of the first places I visited was Guzelyurt, otherwise known as Morphou. With a slight obsession with lemons {practically on the table with every food} this place was like a mini little haven for me on entrance. Totally besotted with the abundance of citrus groves and lemon trees that surrounded me, the beautiful fragrance of orange blossoms will be an unforgettable aroma in my travel memoirs. I was told by the locals that this area is an ideal picnic spot for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of Kyrenia city life, sounded just like what I wanted to do!

Citrus Groves of Guzelyurt
So off I went with my guide book at hand, to get lost in this small but intriguing little town. Passing so many churches, I began to wonder if there was more to this town than meets the eye. Apparently, nearly all of them were dedicated to St Mamas, popularly believed to have lived as a hermit in a cave near the area. To cut a long short, at the time local authorities wanted to tax this hermit, but he evaded them. Soldiers finally captured him, but on the way back to Guzelyurt he saw a lion attacking a lamb, and managed to escape the soldiers, saved the lamb, jumped on the lions back and made his way back to the town. It was his bravery that earn him exception from tax. This is exactly the stories I wanted to find on my journey...plenty more to find I'm sure.

From here I drove to my final destination for the day, Lefke, but along route visited the ancient city of Soli which dates back to 16th century BC, and the Persian-style palace of Vouni built in 5thcentury. Lefke is a mixture of coastline and vast mountains, passing through the town I saw the massive dams and understood more why agriculture is so important to this region.  It was recommended that I have my final meal at one of the fisheries along the coast overlooking the sea and watching the sunset, and must I say this was probably one of the best fish I have eaten with a truly magical view...another one to add to the journal. I said I wasn't going to put recommendations as I wanted to keep all my best founds a ‘secret’, but this one is a must...visit a small restaurant called Asbaba and take a full mezze for starter and choose from one the local caught fish of the day... you can’t go wrong!

Freshly Grilled Cyprus Fish

During this trip I was very fortunate to have met some wonderful people just in passing conversations just sitting and chatting at a local cafeteria, and on doing so, they were so very kind to offer me the opportunity to experience how Cypriots make cheese. I couldn't believe my luck; this was exactly what I was looking for. So off I went to meet the ‘aunties’ at their home village of Alaykoy, a short drive from Nicosia. I arrived at their house early at around 09.00 am, after going round and round the streets of this yet interesting but unknown little village. Greeted with such warm and hospitality, the first thing we did was sit down for a traditional breakfast which included fresh warm bread just out the oven called ‘corek’ {which came in a loaf form moulded into its cut off pieces smothered with sesame seeds, was so yummy I had two notches}. Alongside the bread was olives, cheese {of course} honey, local home-made jams (known as ‘macun’} in a variety of flavours and colours which made the table look more pretty than it already was. After a scrumptious breakfast, we then moved onto the cheese making process. 

Freshly made Hellim (Halloumi) Cheese
 A knock at the door came right about this point, with the friendly local farmer holding a huge pot of what was sheep’s milk. The lady of the house immediately proceeded to add yeast to set the first part of cheese. After an hour, I was handed the first trial – a smooth milky texture almost tasted very much like fresh mozzarella. The next stage involved a steady but moderate boil of this form for at least 45 minutes, mixing endlessly with a long wooden stick until finally reaching the satisfied texture. Once this mixture was warm, big balls of cheese were formed into the normal shapes with added mint for extra taste, making what we may all know a little better Hellim (Halloumi)  cheese. Now trust me when I say this, I have eaten these out the packets from many supermarkets, but tasting them at that point right out the pot...nothing would even come close! The next stage was ricotta cheese, this time I was given the chance to make my very own, yes and a good job I did! Moving the remainder crumble like pieces in the weeded baskets to take their smooth shape, i flipped and tossed from one basket to another, even the ‘unties’ were impressed.

After such an amazing day, perhaps with a slight dairy overdose, nothing will beat this experience by far. I even took away my own home-made Hellim (Halloumi) & ricotta cheese!

This is definitely the start to my discoveries in North Cyprus...such an amazing place to explore, this is just the beginning...

By Rasme Ozdemir - Sales & Operations Director

Have you been to villages in North Cyprus or any other destination? 
Tell me what do you think of my village life experience...
 
Why we love Kyrenia - 12 September 2014 17:34
Kyrenia is a town in North Cyprus, noted for its picturesque horseshoe-shaped harbour, with its dramatic backdrop of the magnificent Besparmak ‘Fivefinger’ Mountains. With its 6,000 year long history, miles of natural beaches, unique remains of countless civilisations, calm sea, and mild climate Kyrenia is an idyllic Mediterranean town. In this blog post we will be telling you why we love Kyrenia in North Cyprus. 

Kyrenia Harbour

The town’s charming tiny harbour is full of yachts and fishing boats bobbing on the sparkling sea. The harbour is lined with the grand warehouses, once used to store carob beans, now housing bustling restaurants and buzzing bars. The impressive fortress of Kyrenia Castle guards the entrance to the harbour as it has done since Byzantine times. Its massive defences surround a complex mixture of building styles from centuries before and it is likely that there was a Roman fort here originally. Later enlarged and strengthened by the Lusignans and then the Venetians, the castle is home to many historical artefacts.

Kyrenia is a place where it seems as if the world has slowed right down and is moving at a slower pace. You can while away the day… exploring shops, markets and local cafés in late morning, strolling in the narrow cobbled alleys behind the harbour in the afternoon, or stepping out for a stroll along the promenade at dusk.

St Hilarion

Kyrenia is a place full of history and if you look up from the town you can just see St. Hilarion Castle clinging to the rock high above. Rumoured to be the original inspiration for Walt Disney’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’, it is one of the most –visited sites in Northern Cyprus. This 8th century castle built by the Byzantines perches precariously on the rocks 660m above the sea and though the climb is steep and uneven your efforts will be rewarded by the breath-taking views of the island’s northern coastline from the top.

The beauty of Bellapais

The beauty of the Bellapais village is legendary. The British author Lawrence Durrell painted an enticing picture of the leisurely pace of life in a Cypriot village in his book ‘Bitter Lemons of Cyprus’, describing his time in the quaint village of Bellapais. Set in the mountains, just ten minutes above Kyrenia, a visit to the 14th century Monastery with its fabulous location and atmosphere of tranquil calm is a must-see for any visitor. Bellapais Monastery derives its name from the French, meaning 'Monastery of peace'. It was also known as the 'white abbey' on account of the white robes which were worn by the monks who lived here. Bellapais Abbey was built in 1158-1205 AD and with its iconic arches is one of the finest examples in Cyprus of the Gothic architecture of the Lusignan period.

There are hotels in Kyrenia to suit everyone’s tastes; from modern sophisticated hotels to rustic and traditional hotels. When choosing your hotel bear in mind location and what you want from your holiday. Do you want to be surrounded by countryside views or would you prefer to stay in the heart of a town which has exciting nightlife? Whatever you desire from a hotel you will find it in and around Kyrenia.

Restaurants

As the sun sets restaurants prepare to for the evening’s guests. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to suit your taste and your wallet. In Kyrenia harbour locals take their evening stroll and the cafés and bistros that face the sea prepare for their nightly trade; arranging crisp white linen and small vases of local flowers on table-tops to welcome the evening’s guests to wine and dine in the cooling breeze. For a different setting, opt for a balcony or even a rooftop table, giving you amazing views of the sunset over the sea, while you enjoy the Turkish or European cuisine. There are over 125 bars and restaurants in the harbour area and dotted along the coastline so you can try out a new one every night.

Beaches

The coast around Kyrenia has great beaches. If you want the excitement of water-sports, such as windsurfing or jet skiing you will find them at beach clubs dotted along this part of the coast. Or perhaps you are an adrenaline -junky…if so why not try out sports like paragliding, parasailing and scuba diving which are well catered for in this area.

One of the best ways to explore the beautiful coastline around Kyrenia is to take a boat trip for the day on one of the boats leaving from the picturesque harbour. Cruise the crystal- clear waters of the Med, enjoy a rustic lunch on board, discover hidden coves and dive off the boat into the deep blue sea.

Need to find out more about this beautiful holiday resort in North Cyprus? Contact Direct Traveller on 0844 414 1686 or click here.
 
North Cyprus Q&A - 12 September 2014 17:45
If you hadn't guessed already, here at Direct Traveller we're pretty big fans of North Cyprus. It's a destination that is close to our hearts and it's great to be able to share it with those that choose to travel with us for this reason. One of our team members - marketing manager, Enver has been to North Cyprus many, many times and his family are originally from Cyprus too, meaning he knows a thing or two about what a holiday here is like. We decided to pick his brains about what makes a holiday to North Cyprus so special. Hopefully it will help any of those that are considering going to get a better idea of what they can do and see whilst in this beautiful region.


What do you like most about North Cyprus? 

North Cyprus is a perfect holiday for me. It has sun, sea and sand but at the same time plenty of culture and a friendly ambience. I love how it still feels very Mediterranean, with old men sitting in community cafes playing backgammon, locally run restaurants and bars, with no commercialisation. Everyone seems to know everyone and this gives it lots of character and just a really enjoyable destination to be in.

Which foods should people try when visiting? 

With regards to eating in North Cyprus, to be honest - that's all people do. Eating is a big social factor for locals. At every corner you will find a restaurant offering Cypriot food. Meze is my favourite in North Cyprus, this is small hot and cold dishes served to the table, which allow you to try a little bit of everything, very much like a tapas style dining.

Food in North Cyprus is always fresh: freshly-caught fish or succulent kebabs. Specialities I would recoommend for someone to try are: seftali kebab which is a Cypriot sausage, hellim/halloumi cheese but served grilled, and pilavuna, a savoury bread made from cheese, egg, milk and raisins. 

Are there any restaurants in particular that you’d recommend? 

Restaurants I would recommend are:
- Ambience Restaurant – (Kebab & Meze)
- Address Restaurant - (Kebab & Meze)
- Sofra Restaurant at the Ship Inn Hotel - (Kebab & Meze)
- Hur Deniz - (Fish Restaurant)

What are your favourite activities to do in North Cyprus? 

I always try and do something different when there. Obviously the usual is to lay on the beach and classify that as an activity, but there's plenty more to do in North Cyprus.

I have done paragliding off of the 5 Finger Mountains in Kyrenia and that was amazing. Scary! But amazing. You can see a video of this experience here:



Windsurfing is always fun too but depends on the time of year you travel, as the main summer months of July - August don't have too much wind. I like to also have my camera by my side as there is always something interesting to take a picture of - amazing scenery, wildlife and people. My favourite areas to take pictures of are the Kyrenia Harbour, Bellapais Monastery and the St Hilarion castle.

Boat tours are also a great way to relax with the opportunity to catch your lunch with a spot of fishing, sunbathe, have a swim in some of the remote spots along the coast, and if you’re lucky - see some Loggerhead turtles.

What are the best beaches to visit? 

Popular beaches are Çatalköy Beach and the Escape Beach in Kyrenia, which is one of the more busy beaches on the Northern coast. My favourite beach would be in Karpaz, which is at the very tip of North Cyprus. There's just miles and miles of sand here. I have been there a couple of times and it's so remote that you may not see civilisation for a few hours, but so peaceful for this reason, and the beach is one I would definitely recommend.

Which hotels would you recommend? 

North Cyprus has hotels for all types of travellers. If you want a small boutique hotel then I would recommend the Hideaway Club, Bellapais Monastery and Bella View. 3 star hotels would include the Citrus Tree Gardens, The Ship Inn Hotel and Altinkaya Hotel. 4 star hotels would include The Pia Bella Hotel, Oscars resort, L.A Beach Resort, The Vuni Palace, Malpas Hotel and Spa, and the Colony Hotel.

Do you have a favourite historical site? 

St Hilarion is my favourite, the views are amazing once you get to the top.

If you had to sum up North Cyprus in one word, what would it be? 

Unspoilt!


If you'd like any more information on North Cyprus or to book a holiday give Direct Traveller a call on 0844 414 1694, e-mail at info@directtraveller.com or visit www.directtraveller.com.

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Hi, my name is Cansu, I am 18 years old! and I thought you may want to know what North Cyprus is all about from a younger person’s perspective. Many people assume, North Cyprus is just for relaxing but here is my remarkable holiday experiences I would like to share… far beyond just a relaxing holiday!





What do you like most about Cyprus?

I visit Cyprus almost every summer because that’s how much I love it. The weather is absolutely beautiful. I like going in August as it’s the hottest month and I have that guarantee of sunshine. What particularly attracts me about Cyprus is how safe it is. I love that you can go out at night without having to worry about petty crime or even travelling with a group of friends. There have been several occasions where I have forgotten money in a restaurant or in my hotel room and when I had returned it was still in the same place I had left it. The second best thing is the hotels. They have lots of activates and midnight entertainment so there isn't a chance you can ever get bored even if you stay in your hotel. 





Being 18 what is there to do in North Cyprus?

Even though compared to other destinations there may not be that much on offer.. what night-life there is on offer is spectacular. When I visit North Cyprus I always tend to stick to the same bars and clubs as they’re located in beautiful areas. For example I love escape beach which also turns into a club at night. They also have personalised VIP areas for anyone that wants to hang out in there own little group or even for special celebrations. There is also a go-carting pitch which I like to visit and its very good prices. There is a massive bowling alley which also serves food such as burgers, chips, mini pizzas. 




Which foods should people try when visiting?

Makarna bulli is a traditional local retreat with home-made Cypriot cuisine. You must definitely try the ‘patates kofte’ yum! There is astonishing Turkish style waffles! They scatter the fresh fruits across the waffle and drizzle a lovely Turkish home-made chocolate sauce. There are some wonderful desert places such as Cacao, Waffle House and Simit Dunyasi. But there’s so much to choose from you will never run out of options. If you enjoy the Mediterranean cuisine you will defiantly enjoy Turkish Cypriot food. You've also got the home-made soups, such as the red lentil soup which is a must try. They also serve the best salads. I would also recommend trying the amazing fresh fish restaurants in Kyrenia, near the harbour. You should stick to the harbour if you like fresh fish and chilled white wine and on the opposite side there are some Shisha bars which play a range of music.

What are your favourite activities to do in North Cyprus? 

North Cyprus is mostly about relaxation but that’s not to say it doesn't have it wild side for us youngsters. There is so much natural beauty to explore. You can also do lots of tours and local excursions. Turtle watching is one of the most fascinating activities in North Cyprus. There are some protected areas where you can admire this beautiful feature of the nature on your holiday.


You can also enjoy one of the longest diving seasons in North Cyprus which is a stunning experience. You've also got go carting which has one of best racing surfaces in the region.  I also visited a local village high up in the mountains towards the west of Kyrenia. I had the most incredible opportunity to feed some baby lambs, do horse riding and enjoyed a delicious early lunch whilst admiring the spectacular view. A definite must see. There are lots of hidden little tucked away cultural places like this.

What are the best beaches to visit? 

You've got many striking beaches such as the Karpaz Golden Beach, Escape Beach Club. However Golden Beach is known as the island's most beautiful beach. Ideal for anyone who would like to get away from the crowd and if your seeking some privacy. You may need a car hire to go to Karpaz but it’s definitely worth it!






Which historical sites have you been to and which is your favourite?

You have to visit Kyrenia Castle. Leaving Kyrenia without visiting this magnificent castle would be close to wickedness.  Another place I would recommend is the Bellapais Monastery. You can get a spectacular view of Kyrenia coast from the Bellapais Abbey. The ancient city of Salamis is one of the most impressive archaeological sites on the island, despite the fact that they have only been partially excavated. The site is located 5 miles away from Famagusta. When I visited this extravagant site I really sensed the scale of an ancient Roman city. Unlike many similar sites elsewhere in the North Cyprus, here you can escape from the crowds and feel that you are discovering history for yourself. 


If you had to sum up North Cyprus in one word, what would it be?

I did not know what to expect when I visited North Cyprus, but I can safely say all my fears have disappeared. The friendly and comfy atmosphere doesn't come close to any other place. The way the staff welcome you into their hotel, just seems like they are really over the moon that you have chosen to spend your vacation in North Cyprus. I convinced my friends and family to go there nearly every summer. For me it’s my number one destination.  Cyprus is beautiful, hot and quiet! The beaches are practically empty and the sea is so clear, clean and warm. If you want a little bit of freedom with gorgeous sights around you, I can safely say you will love Cyprus!

If having read that you'd like to book a holiday to North Cyprus, 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.



 
Finding Flora in North Cyprus - 14 May 2014 20:03
Spring is that dreamy time of year where we think of fluffy little rabbits hopping through fields, beautiful flowers in bloom and a whole lot of chocolate. If you live in the UK though, you’re likely only going to agree with the latter point. Our springs are a bit of a lucky dip, as we get teased with some sunshine and blossom, then rain, rain, and more rain. Forget going on nature trails, this time of year usually means burrowing under a duvet and working through the hoards of Easter chocolate.

There is a way for flora enthusiasts to still get their fix though. While the world is full of exotic nature, there’s one little part of it that is a modest host to some truly spectacular plants and orchids: North Cyprus.


North Cyprus Flora
North Cyprus’ flora is such a highlight that it’s one of the main reasons many choose to visit. There are over 1,250 different species to see, and this is particularly beautiful to experience when in bloom, from around March to April. The vibrancy of the colours and diversity in species due to the Mediterranean climate makes for a spectacular sight amongst the regions placid, unspoilt scenery.

Visiting in spring not only offers the most beautiful of the nature as it gradually comes to life, but also provides comfortable temperatures that range from about 21-24 Celsius. This means that those visiting can go on nature trails and hikes, exploring the various plant species without the heat getting to the point of distraction.

Which plant species will I see?
The types of species that you’re likely to encounter in North Cyprus during spring include the neon yellow of the Oxalis pes-caprae, which illuminates the deep green of the grass, brightening the landscape to a similar effect of lanterns glowing amongst darkness. Then add to this sight the gentle pastels of the anemones, and most fascinatingly, the orchids.

Orchids come in many different types and are most remarkable through their animated resemblance to certain creatures. Take the Ophrys Apifera for example, which is also known as the Bee Orchid due to the fact it could easily be mistaken for one. Others such as the Ophrys Elegans appear like Rorschach tests, with their patterns forming face like features. The wonderful thing about the variety of orchids in North Cyprus, which is estimated at around 32, is how diverse and animated a species they are, embellishing the environment in fascinations.

There are also a number of trees to see – namely the olive trees, along with carob trees, Pinus Brutia and orange trees, reminding of the importance agriculture plays within North Cyprus, as well as adding a gentle fragrance to the air that rejuvenates the senses of those walking the paths they line.


The best areas to find flora
The North Cyprus orchids are best found at Alevkaya Forest Station herbarium, which is situated along the mountain trail of Kyrenia and includes around 800 species of plant. This was first created back in 1986 and includes an amazing collection of flora all in one place, famously including orchids, so that those with a particular interest in North Cyprus’s nature can find out more and satisfy their curiosity without travelling all over the region.

Outside of this the mountains are spectacular for finding woodland flora, making Kyrenia Mountain in particular a popular hiking trail. The Karpaz Peninsula is also a part of North Cyprus that is renowned for its natural beauty. This is the place to be if you want to see plant species such as the Zosima Absinthifolia, Helianthemum, and the odd wild donkey along the way too! 

Getting around
There are two main ways for experiencing the North Cyprus nature. The first is renting a car, which allows you to venture further afield from where you’re staying, which in turn allows you to explore the diversity of plant species across the landscapes with ease. The second and most common way is to walk. You can either go with a tour guide or without, as maps are available for those that want to explore the local plant life.


The benefits of North Cyprus’s flora
 Whether a botanist or not, a North Cyprus holiday spent seeing flora is something everybody should do. Along with the region’s treasure trove of historical sites it’s what casts a charisma over the environment, adding an essence of exhilaration to the laid back ambience. A nature trail in North Cyprus also rarely just means spotting plants and orchids, as particularly in parts such as the Karpaz Peninsula It’s very likely you’ll catch sight of some exotic birds and other wildlife.


It’s the ideal holiday activity for all types of traveller, including families. North Cyprus’ placid nature is so much a part of its identity and therefore to explore this aspect of it is to become truly acquainted with it. Most importantly though, it’s an activity that encourages the focus on eco-tourism in North Cyprus, which is what preserves the region’s landscapes so that those visiting can feel as at peace as the grounds they’re stood on.  
 
Kusadasi is close to the historical heart of Turkey, with many of the country's most famous ancient ruins and artefacts located in the area along with some beautiful beaches and delicious eateries to enjoy between exploring. Due to the amount of things to see here, tours can often be popular in and around Kusadasi, while others prefer to stay in the peaceful resort and visit sites at their own leisure. 

To give those contemplating visiting Kusadasi an idea of the kinds of thing it offers as a holiday destination, we interviewed our sales and operation manager, Guner, who would you believe has been to Kusadasi eight times?! You can rest assured she knows what she's talking about when it comes to staying here. 

Kusadasi Marina

How many times have you been to Kusadasi?

I've been to Kusadasi about 8 times so far!

Wow! What do you like about it most?

I like the different beaches, the port marina, the lively town centre and the shops.

What are the best things to see and do?

There's lots! Paying a visit to the old Greek Village of Sirince, the Ancient city of Ephesus, exploring Pigeon Island and the museum, visiting the National Park for clean crystal clear beaches, taking a dip in the Cave of Zeus or a boat trip around the bays near Kusadasi.

Going on a day trip to Pamukkale is incredible, as is climbing to the top of Ataturk Hill for a truly spectacular view over Kusadasi. For a feel of the local life, visiting one of the Kusadasi Markets is a must, while if you're feeling brave I'd also recommend doing a tandem sky dive at Selçuk so that you can see the wonders of Ephesus from the air!

What is the food like?

A mixture - kebabs, lots of seafood /fish restaurants and then cafes that make local pastries and sweets. Yummy!


Turkish Baklava

Did you have a favourite historical attraction?

Ephesus and Pamukkale

Historic Ephesus Library


Do you have any tips for those thinking of going to Kusadasi?

In order to fit everything in you need about a week in duration for your holiday, so that you can spend plenty of time relaxing beside the beach as well as touring around.

Thanks Guner! 

If you're interested in taking a trip to Kusadasi or would just like to find out more information, get in touch with us by ringing 0844 414 1684, emailing info@directtraveller.com or taking a look at our website: www.directtraveller.com. 


Have you been to Kusadasi? Tell us what yo thought, and any tips you have for holidaymakers.


 

Everyone loves a good holiday deal, and they’re easy to find if you’re savvy about booking your getaway. We have some tips for you on how best to go about this, and while many will seem pretty obvious they can still be helpful to remind yourself of when starting to plan a holiday.


1. Go at an off peak time

Although this may be more difficult if you have kids or your holiday periods fall at peak times such as June to September, there are still ways to get around this. For example, peak times can vary depending on the destination. For Dubai June is actually considered off peak, and therefore is likely to have better deals than normal while still maintaining a warm, luxurious climate.

For those that can be flexible with when they take their holiday, May is one of the best times to go in regards to Mediterranean destinations. Flights and accommodation will be cheaper, while the climate is still comfortably warm. You’re also likely to find that the tourist attractions are less crowded.

2. Book early 

This is a simple one, but nevertheless a mantra everyone should keep in mind: The earlier you book, the cheaper the deals you’ll get. This is especially true of flights, where prices are always fluctuating and so it’s good to book before the prices go up, which is likely to be the closer it gets to your holiday date.

3. Research destinations 

It’s not a shot in the dark to assume that going to Bognor Regis will probably be a lot cheaper than going to Barbados, but for other parts of the world the difference in costs might not be so obvious immediately. For example, going to Turkey can work out much cheaper than going to other spots in Europe due to the fact it uses the Turkish Lira as a currency rather than the Euro. Little things like this can make a big difference and be worth researching for that reason.

4. Be flexible

Sure, flights at normal hours would be nice, preferably with your favourite airline and from the most convenient airport, but it’s not always possible. The same goes for accommodation – sometimes you have to weigh up whether the sacrifice is worth the money it will save you, and often it is.

5. Choose your tour operator carefully 

If you have a particular destination in mind then sometimes going with a specialist tour operator can be the best option. This can mean that you’ll be offered more choices for things such as airlines and also better deals.

6. Keep a lookout

While the above will all help to get a cheaper holiday, on top of this keeping a lookout through checking online for deals is also always a good idea. For example, here at Direct Traveller we currently have 15% off specific Turkey tours: the Anatolian Highlights, Fire of Anatolia, Best of Anatolia and Anatolian Treasures, and the booking period for this is the 1st of April to the 31st May.

 
Spring is that dreamy time of year where we think of fluffy little rabbits hopping through fields, beautiful flowers in bloom and a whole lot of chocolate. If you live in the UK though, you’re likely only going to agree with the latter point. Our springs are a bit of a lucky dip, as we get teased with some sunshine and blossom, then rain, rain, and more rain. Forget going on nature trails, this time of year usually means burrowing under a duvet and working through the hoards of Easter chocolate.

There is a way for flora enthusiasts to still get their fix though. While the world is full of exotic nature, there’s one little part of it that is a modest host to some truly spectacular plants and orchids: North Cyprus.

North Cyprus Flora

North Cyprus’ flora is such a highlight that it’s one of the main reasons many choose to visit. There are over 1,250 different species to see, and this is particularly beautiful to experience when in bloom, from around March to April. The vibrancy of the colours and diversity in species due to the Mediterranean climate makes for a spectacular sight amongst the regions placid, unspoilt scenery.

Visiting in spring not only offers the most beautiful of the nature as it gradually comes to life, but also provides comfortable temperatures that range from about 21-24 Celsius. This means that those visiting can go on nature trails and hikes, exploring the various plant species without the heat getting to the point of distraction.

Which plant species will I see?

The types of species that you’re likely to encounter in North Cyprus during spring include the neon yellow of the Oxalis pes-caprae, which illuminates the deep green of the grass, brightening the landscape to a similar effect of lanterns glowing amongst darkness. Then add to this sight the gentle pastels of the anemones, and most fascinatingly, the orchids.

Orchids come in many different types and are most remarkable through their animated resemblance to certain creatures. Take the Ophrys Apifera for example, which is also known as the Bee Orchid due to the fact it could easily be mistaken for one. Others such as the Ophrys Elegans appear like Rorschach tests, with their patterns forming face like features. The wonderful thing about the variety of orchids in North Cyprus, which is estimated at around 32, is how diverse and animated a species they are, embellishing the environment in fascinations.

There are also a number of trees to see – namely the olive trees, along with carob trees, Pinus Brutia and orange trees, reminding of the importance agriculture plays within North Cyprus, as well as adding a gentle fragrance to the air that rejuvenates the senses of those walking the paths they line.

The best areas to find flora

The North Cyprus orchids are best found at Alevkaya Forest Station herbarium, which is situated along the mountain trail of Kyrenia and includes around 800 species of plant. This was first created back in 1986 and includes an amazing collection of flora all in one place, famously including orchids, so that those with a particular interest in North Cyprus’s nature can find out more and satisfy their curiosity without travelling all over the region.

Outside of this the mountains are spectacular for finding woodland flora, making Kyrenia Mountain in particular a popular hiking trail. The Karpaz Peninsula is also a part of North Cyprus that is renowned for its natural beauty. This is the place to be if you want to see plant species such as the Zosima Absinthifolia, Helianthemum, and the odd wild donkey along the way too!

Getting around

There are two main ways for experiencing the North Cyprus nature. The first is renting a car, which allows you to venture further afield from where you’re staying, which in turn allows you to explore the diversity of plant species across the landscapes with ease. The second and most common way is to walk. You can either go with a tour guide or without, as maps are available for those that want to explore the local plant life.

The benefits of North Cyprus’s flora

Whether a botanist or not, a North Cyprus holiday spent seeing flora is something everybody should do. Along with the region’s treasure trove of historical sites it’s what casts a charisma over the environment, adding an essence of exhilaration to the laid back ambience. A nature trail in North Cyprus also rarely just means spotting plants and orchids, as particularly in parts such as the Karpaz Peninsula It’s very likely you’ll catch sight of some exotic birds and other wildlife.

It’s the ideal holiday activity for all types of traveller, including families. North Cyprus’ placid nature is so much a part of its identity and therefore to explore this aspect of it is to become truly acquainted with it. Most importantly though, it’s an activity that encourages the focus on eco-tourism in North Cyprus, which is what preserves the region’s landscapes so that those visiting can feel as at peace as the grounds they’re stood on.

 
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).