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dec 24 2015

YUM! A Delicious Baklava Recipe Straight from a Palace in Istanbul

Golden Baklava from Istanbul

And now...we feast.

(Courtesy Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul)

Mmmm...baklava. Can't you almost taste the flaky pastry right now? Baklava making was honed in Ottoman sultans' kitchens in the 1600s, so who better to share the perfect baklava recipe with us than an actual Ottoman palace?

The Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul is now a swanky 5-star hotel—complete with Turkish baths and an infinity pool—but more than 300 years ago, it served as the royal abode of Admiral Kılıç Ali Pasha, one of the Ottoman empire's greatest admirals, and eventually flourished into the extravagant 19th-century palace of Sultan Abdülaziz.

jun 17 2015

15 Dances to Learn Around the World

hula girl dancing at a luau oahu hawaii

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to learn the hula in Hawaii!

(Courtesy Ray_from_LA/Flickr)

This article was written by the Viator Travel Team on behalf of Viator.com.

Great art isn’t always found in museums. Dance varies from place to place, yet remains a constant way for people to express themselves. Whether performed in a grand theater or on a street corner, dance can be emotional, tell tales, or be a way to celebrate. Whatever the reason or venue, the rhythm is out to get you. Grab your passport and take on a calorie burning challenge with these dances to watch and learn around the world.

Samba in Brazil

sep 10 2014

Shoulder Season Bargains in Europe!

Venice is one of Europe's "Shoulder Season" bargains, with fewer crowds, great weather, and lower prices in fall!

(Courtesy BethanieKay/myBudgetTravel)

"Shoulder Season" is the time in between high and low seasons. Europe's high season, of course, is summer—the kids are out of school, you want to soak up, say, that Italian sun, but you've got to pay a premium for it. Winter, on the other hand, is Europe's low season—rain, fog, and possibly knee-high water in Venice. But in the fall, the crowds depart Europe for school and work, the weather cools to a comfy mid-50s in Dublin, mid- to upper-60s in Venice, low 70s in Barcelona, and at Budget Travel we love to watch those prices go down!

dec 21 2012

Europe's Up-and-Coming Destinations

Croatia tops the list of up-and-coming European destinations for 2013, reflecting a 34.9 percent increase in bookings. Above, the Adriatic port of Split is home to the ancient palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.


You've checked Paris, London, and Rome off the list. So what should be your next European vacation destination? According to a survey of more than 1,000 American travel agents conducted by Travel Leaders Group (and based on actual trips already booked), perennial faves like London, Rome, and Mediterranean cruises are going to continue being top spots in 2013. But there were European countries that saw surprising gains in popularity. So you better book now. Here are the top three:


jul 12 2012

UNESCO Adds 8 New Spots to the World Heritage List

The Catalhoyuk excavation site in Turkey (Courtesy Turkey Tourism Board)

It's a feather in any location's cap to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so congratulations are in order to the eight new sites added for 2012. "New" might not be the best adjective, actually. The sites include Chengjiang Fossil Site in the Yunnan Province of China, where 196 species that help determine how today's animal groups have developed over the last 530 million years, and Catalhoyuk, a 34–acre Neolithic site in Turkey that was occupied as far back as 7,400 B.C.

jul 23 2010

Turkey: An expert decodes where, what, and how to eat

Çiya, a restaurant in Istanbul (Courtesy Anders B./Flickr)

For five years now, Virginia Maxwell has spent time eating her way across Turkey on assignment for Lonely Planet's Istanbul and Turkey guidebooks. So I enlisted her to write our Turkey Menu Decoder, a handy, one-page resource with translations of food terms and popular dishes—the latest in our growing Menu Decoder series. Below she dishes on the food scene and Turkish etiquette.

jan 15 2010

Istanbul kicks off a culture-packed year

At 20:10 tomorrow evening, a music and light show over the Golden Horn harbor will broadcast Istanbul's arrival as a European Capital of Culture for 2010. The citywide launch party also calls for fireworks and for concerts by an Ottoman-style military band in historic Sultanahmet, local pop star Tarkan at Taksim Square, and alternative rock band Mor ve Otesi at Kadikoy Square on the Asian side on the Bosporus. Many museums will be free and open until midnight.

sep 03 2009

Istanbul: A traveler in need of your tips!

Are guidebooks necessary anymore? I'm not so sure. I'm traveling to Istanbul this week, and I'm relying entirely on using the Internet to connect with smart, openminded, "real" travelers—you know, people like you—for suggestions, ideas, and tidbits.

Is there a great shopkeeper you met in Istanbul who you think I should go visit? A good time to hit a tourist stop? Someplace excellent to stay? A friend there that I should meet? Someone who can teach me how to haggle?

aug 28 2009

Dining on the Bosporus? Preposterous!

The patio at Zuma, an izakaya-style restaurant (Courtesy Zuma)

Dining along Istanbul's Bosporus used to mean shelling out an absurd amount of lira at a stuffy hotel restaurant, but recently a crop of laid-back and worldly spots has opened—all with glittering views and down-to-earth prices. Our favorite is Zuma, a Japanese grill and lounge that turns out creative small plates, such as sea bass with truffle oil. Salhane Sokak No. 7, zumarestaurant.com, from $12.25.

jul 30 2009

A blow to Turkey's new smoking ban

A coffeehouse in Istanbul (Courtesy walterbjoern/Flickr)

Enraged at having his cigarettes confiscated, a customer shot and killed the owner of a restaurant in the southwestern town of Saruhanli, according to a report by Reuters earlier today. It's the first—and hopefully last—casualty since a nationwide ban on smoking inside bars, coffeehouses, and restaurants took effect on July 19.

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