Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar – Keep Calm and Wander

In 2014 (yes, I know, it’s been 4 years already), the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul was the world’s most-visited tourist attraction, according to Travel+Leisure. If you look at the Instagram hashtags of this marketplace, you’ll be dazzled by the colors of what this well-known tourist destination would offer to your four senses.

On the day I was there, the scene didn’t disappoint me. I was enamored not just by its history, sights, and colors but also how the Turkish vendors won’t bother you just by passing through their shops. Unlike other busy markeplaces I’ve been to in many countries (like China, Hongkong, Vietnam, and Thailand), the sellers at Grand Bazaar are not the pushy kinds. They’d leave you alone once you politely say, “I’m just window shopping.”

I was there in the early morning, so the crowd was still thin, and I felt like I was the only (or most) obvious tourist going around.

The Grand Bazaar is a 15th-century shopping mall that makes your shopping experience worthwhile. However, in the frenzy of buying all good things, do not forget to revere the character of the architecture and historical vibes sprouting from the walls.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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Hagia Sophia in Istanbul – Keep Calm and Wander

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul - Keep Calm and Wander

Aya Sofia or Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is another must-visit attraction that would blow your mind away. It served as a Byzantine Cathedral from 537-1204; a Roman Cathedral until 1261; a Greek Orthodox Cathedral through 1453; an Ottoman mosque until 1931; and then, it became a museum which we enjoy until today.

I gasped when I visited the church turned mosque turned museum. It’s a mixture of historical and architectural wonders. It’s a wonderful blend of Roman, Ottoman, Islamic and Byzantine architectures – and I couldn’t help myself but gazed at every details of the interior that stood the test of history and war times. The towering dome is, in itself, a beauty that I’ve never seen anywhere – lightened up by its innumerable windows filtering the daylight.

Hagia Sophia is just across the famed Blue Mosque in Sultahnamet area of Istanbul. You can’t skip one in favour of the other. These two are inseparable tourists destinations that you must see – once in your lifetime!

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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Inside Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern – Keep Calm and Wander

Basilica Cistern

Featured in some Hollywood blockbusters, such as 1963 James Bond film “From Russia with Love”, Ron Howard’s adaption of Dan Brown’s “Inferno”, and the recent one Marvel’s “Black Widow”, the Basilica Cistern is the largest cavernous cisterns of Istanbul. It is called “basilica” because it lies underneath the location of a Roman basilica long lost in the pages of history. I could not fathom how a place so marvelousas this one was used as a dump in the Ottoman rule over Constantinople. But it relieves me to know that it was discovered by Petrus Gyllius—a French researcher—and it is now open to the public, for all of us to see what’s beneath Istanbul’s famed Sultanahmet Square. This underground Byzantine water reservoir is just one of the many subterranean structures across the city.

Where is it? It’s just few steps from Hagia Sophia. Just cross the street and find a tiny sign leading to Basilica Cistern.

1. A Forest of Columns

When you see 336 pillars towering at a height of 33ft and supporting a massive roof right in front of you, it is almost as if you’re seeing countless trees of a forest. These pillars were not built. Actually, they were salvaged from different places and were reused here.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Turkey Gay Travel Resources

Before You Visit Istanbul’s Blue Mosque – Keep Calm and Wander

Blue Mosque

Istanbul is a culmination of Byzantine, Constantinople, and Ottoman art and culture. Although, there were many eye-catching attractions in the city, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul stands out from the rest of the list.

Remember: Since this is a holy place for Muslims, you’re expected to dress decently. If you are exposing flesh (including men wearing shorts), get or borrow a shawl near the entrance and cover the exposed parts of your skin before going in. Entrance is free.

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul goes with other two names: the Sultan Ahmet Mosque and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque.

10 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul

1. The name “Blue Mosque” is not because of its exterior, which is not even blue. It is because of the blue tiles inside.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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Gay Danube Cruises – Passport Magazine

gay Danube cruises

Just say the words “the Danube” to people who’ve been there, and they’ll sigh longingly, and probably start a word salad of superlatives. The romance and beauty of this fabled river, which flows from Germany all the way to the Black Sea evokes a kind of magic, and justifiably so.

And that alone – plus the fact that you can do this river on all-gay cruises (offered by companies like the award-winning Brand g Vacations) – should be enough to have you running to your laptop to book one.

But just in case, here are a few more good reasons:

1. It has some of Europe’s most exciting and memorable cities, like Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Bucharest. It’s like a sightseeing superstore, except you don ‘t need your CostCo card. (Incidentally, Prague isn’t actually on the river, but it’s the starting point for most upper Danube cruises, so it’s considered a Danube port.)

2. The river runs through so many countries, it has multiple itineraries available, like Prague to Budapest, known as the “Upper Danube”, and Budapest to Bucharest, or the “Lower Danube”.

By Eric Poole – Full Story at Passport

Europe Gay Travel Resources

Antalya, Turkey: The Old and The New


Situated on Turkey’s south west Mediterranean coast line, a region that has been famously dubbed as the ‘Turkish Riviera’ or the ‘Turquoise Coast’, the city of Antalya is a an intriguing mix of modern cultures and ancient history. The Old Town harbor and cobbled stone market sit door to door with wide boulevards and high street shops and within a few kilometres you can find examples of Roman structures, Ottoman architecture, stylish eateries, traditional cafes and a giant shopping mall boasting top 21st century brands. This particular city is a fantastic combination of history, culture and natural beauty. Jump on an Antalya Tour to get a taste for what this stunning region has to offer.

A Brief History

AntalyaAntalya has been a popular destination as early as the 1st century BC when King Attalos II of Pergamon arrived and made the coastal city his naval base. Since then the Antalya has been continually inhabited and the city boasts an impressive guest book: Romans, Byzantines, Seljuk Turks and Ottomans were just some of the major influences on development of Antalya. Under Roman rule Antalya flourished into a prosperous city and capital of the region, Christianity dominated until the arrival of the Ottoman Empire when minarets began to appear across the skyline. During the first world war Antalya was occupied by Italy, and was not returned to Turkey until 1923 when the Republic was born. Today Antalya is one of Turkey’s top destinations, it hosts a large British expat community and countless holiday accommodations.

The Old Sites…

As you wander through the quaint streets of Antalya’s ancient inner citadel, now known as Kaleici or Old Town, you will notice many historical structures hidden among colourful souvenir stores and vibrant handicraft stalls. The entrance to the Old Town is marked by a set of 3 richly decorated stone arches, the Hadrian’s gate was named in honor the Roman Emperor himself who visited the city in 130 AD. Walk under the ancient bricks to an Ottoman Clock Tower which looms above the surrounding cafe’s, the impressive monument dominates the square on which it sits and even dwarfs its neighbour, the 18th century Tekeli Mehmet Pasa Mosque. This particular square is also a charming meeting point and coffee spot, ideal for people watching and soaking in the mediterranean sunshine.

Once you’ve eaten in one of the tasty restaurants you can begin exploring again. The Old town is a bit of a maze but you should be able to find your way to the Hidirlik Tower, the Broken Minaret and the Antalya Museum which boasts an extensive collection of artifacts from Turkey’s Anatolian region, dating as far back as the Palaeolithic period.  Even if you’re not into history it is still worth taking a walk through Antalya’s coastal park towards the museum. You will be rewarded with magnificent views along this dazzling coastline.

And the new…

AntalyaLeaving behind Kaleici, you can take a walk through Antalya’s bustling commercial centre, along the main pedestrian walkway are a number of elegant restaurants and quirky cafes with diverse menus and fast WiFi. Independent fashion stalls spill out onto the sidewalk between Hadrian’s Gate and one of Antalya residents favorite multi-level shopping malls, MarkAntalya. A shopaholics paradise. The mall functions as a central point of the city and buses to most neighbourhoods stop along the busy avenue. You might want to hop on a local bus going to Duden Falls. A botanical haven on the outskirts of the urban jungle. The park is a fantastic spot to grab some Turkish ice cream and relax alongside gorgeous natural beauty.

If you’re in Antalya for the weekend don’t miss Sunday’s famous farmers market. With locals traveling from some the region’s most rural villages to sell their goods, from fruit and veg, to meats and fish to olives, nuts, jams and wines. It’s certainly an event that shouldn’t be missed.

Outside The City…

Not just Antalya but the entire country is a contrast of historical sites, stylish cities and flashy resort towns. Turkey has played host to some of the oldest civilisation in the world and if history is what draws you to the country then you will definitely want to check out some of the Anatolia regions top sights. The ancient ruined cities of Termessos, Perge and Aspendos are all located within 40 kilometers of Antalya. Traveling further afield you could visit some of the Lycian sites such as Phaselis and Patara, or jump on an Olympos to Cappadocia Tour to journey through the Taurus mountain range to Turkey’s interior plateau and ‘Land of beautiful horses’.

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A Turkish Odyssey

Turkey - Pixabay On an early September evening in the Aegean, some- where between the Greek island of Lemnos and the mainland, seven gay men and everyone’s new bestie, singer Abigail Zsiga, are literally hanging out over the bow of a gorgeous clipper ship. We are tanned from the day and tipsy on mai tais, laughing and taking pictures as we zip over the deep blue toward the horizon under fiery slashes of an orange and pink sunset. We’re hanging on tightly to our smartphones, as there’s no going back for anything that falls through the thick rope net that holds us up over the flashing sea 30 feet below. This moment is exactly the kind I’d hoped the trip would offer. I didn’t think twice when offered the chance to board that dramatic SPV Royal Clipper again—it had provided immea- surable relief to my polar-vortex doldrums in the Caribbean in 2014—and this time it was for a Brand G cruise from Istanbul to Athens, with Turkish and Greek ports, on the mainland and islands, for an entire week. The trip featured a ton of upsides: an all-LGBT cruise (nearly all gay men, one lesbian couple), a truly romantic tall ship (based on the Preussen, a famous German five-mast wind- jammer, circa 1902), ports of call including some significant sites of antiquity, a relatively small passenger manifest ( just 227 at maximum), and ports that the big cruise ships don’t have access to, making the experience more about sailing and the destinations, and less about cruising.

By Matthew Breen – Full Story at The Advocate

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Highlights On the Way to Fethiye, Turkey

Turkey TurkeyMarmaris is a natural deep water harbour. Ferries link the Turkish mainland at Marmaris with the Greek Island of Rhodes. This is also an excellent starting point for a cruise east to Fethiye. Marmaris is now a very lively tourist town with many bars, restaurants and hotels. Perhaps you might spend a couple of days there before boarding? The change in atmosphere and environment will be striking! Marmaris TurkeyMarmaris may have lost some of its natural beauty because of its rapid development but there are still a few things to see as you start your Marmaris Fethiye Gulet Cruise.

  • Cleopatra Island in the Gulf of Gokova has both Greek and Roman ruins. Its real name is Sedir but it gets its nickname because it is said that Mark Anthony had fine sand delivered to create a lovely beach for his Egyptian lover.
  • Cennet (Turkish for ‘’paradise’’) Island is in fact a peninsula but not really accessible by land so your cruise gives you the chance to see it.
Your Route TurkeyCruises are full board with fresh local produce at every meal. You may try to catch dinner one day because there are plenty of fish in the sea. If you are unlucky you will not go hungry with the captain likely to BBQ lamb, chicken or both instead. TurkeyAs you head east you will immediately be struck by the natural beauty of the coastline. There are many coves and certainly two points of real interest very quickly.
  • Ekincik is a popular place to anchor. There is a small beach, hotel, restaurant and bar. You may decide it is a nice spot to spend the night.
  • Only a short distance further there is the famous Iztuzu Beach. It is a protected area because it is a nesting site for the endangered loggerhead turtle. By day it is a stretch of 5 kilometres of sand. Behind the beach is the delta of the Dalyan River which has come from the inland lake of Koycegiz, past the famous Lycian rock tombs and the ruins of the ancient port of Kaunos.
  • TurkeySarigerme a little way on has a nice beach but with the independence of your own boat you can drop anchor in any of the small coves en route.
  • As you you can also enjoy the small islands that form a very popular day trip for those staying on the mainland. The 12 Islands Tour begins either in Gocek, a small town with an impressive marina or in Fethiye which is your final destination on this cruise.
Fethiye Fethiye is another town that has expanded tremendously as tourist numbers have increased. The population that includes the outlying villages and resorts is now approaching 150,000 and those number increase dramatically during the summer months. TurkeyWhile you are still on board there are a few places to see before exploring Fethiye on land later. One of those places is Tersane Island which was home to Greeks before the formation of the Turkish Republic in 1923. It has been uninhabited ever since though there are some tourist facilities manned during the summer. It is a chance to explore and have a final swim during your cruise. Incidentally a more famous Greek settlement is nearby; Kayakoy was abandoned at the same time. It is a popular tourist destination and restaurants cater for visitors from Fethiye which is perhaps 20 minutes’ away. That is a place to see at the end of your memorable cruise. Once you have taken a cruise like this you are likely to want to do another in the future. There are several popular routes just waiting for you to book.

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Cruising Turkey

Bodrum from Castle - Alaturka This post comes to us courtesy of Ned at alaturka boat cruise turkeySail the azure waters of the Aegean Sea on a blue cruise in Turkey. Explore the rich history, diverse culture and pristine environment along the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts of the Turkish Riviera Istanbul is the capital of the gay community in Turkey, however the seaside is amazing for vacations. For the ultimate holiday experience, whether for relaxation, partying, or exploration, a blue cruise with Alaturka Cruises will ensure you have a breathtaking adventure! Floating along the Turkish coast on your carefully selected gulet-Turkish sailboat- will make you feel like a Greek god and goddess. Let’s look at just a few of the destinations that are visited during a blue cruise. Although Alaturka Cruises has defined schedules, you are welcome to create your own itinerary. Alaturka


This vibrant city is the fashionable place to go for Istanbul socialites. Beautiful beaches, spirited nightclubs, and world class cuisine are all found in this former fishing village.


If you enjoy history, go to the Underwater Archaeology Museum located within Bodrum Castle. The largest museum dedicated to marine archaeology in the world, items from local shipwrecks dating back to the late-Bronze age can be seen. Get insight into the colorful gay culture of Turkey with a visit to the Zeki Muren Arts Museum. Turkey’s version of Liberace, Zeki Muren, was a famous cross-dressing singer, composer and actor in the 1970s and 80s. This was his Bodrum home until his death in 1996 and houses his flamboyant costume and art collection.


The Mandarin Oriental Bodrum is is the ultimate modern and luxurious hotel above Paradise Bay. Relax by one of the 4 pools, or grab a lounge chair on one of the private beaches. You can also spend the day getting body treatments, facials or Thalassotherapy at the beautiful spa.


For a low key, easy going café try Frappe Bodrum. Pasha the dog welcomes all visitors at this gay-friendly establishment. Breakfast is plentiful in the mornings and the vegetarian burger is one of the best in town. There is live music on most evenings throughout the summer. Fethiye boat harbour 2 - Alaturka


Fethiye is the port where many blue cruises begin. Before or after your journey along the Turquoise Coast, spend a few days in the sublime nature of this area.


Oludeniz Blue Lagoon Turkey 2The beaches in Fethiye, especially in Oludeniz (dead sea), are world-famous for their serenity. Pull up a lounge chair at Sea Horse Beach and sip chilled wine as you watch the day pass by. Gemiler beach is a bit secluded and less crowded than the super popular Calis beach. If you enjoy extreme sports, go paragliding from the top of Babadag Mountain. The view from the sky is unbelievable! The best way to convene with nature is camping. Lilith Camp in Kabak Cove is gay-owned and shows the true meaning of Turkish hospitality. Just a 5-minute walk to the beach, this colorful camp offers bungalows for those who don’t prefer to pitch a tent. The parties in Kabak are well-known by EDM lovers.


Yediburunlar Lighthouse is a lovely guest house surrounded by forested beauty, in case you need a break from the parties in the city. The homemade meals are prepared with local, seasonal ingredients, so enjoy the fruits of Mother earth. Another gay-owned establishment is the Gul Baba House in Kalkan. Located on a hill overlooking the city and harbour of Kalkan, this rustic home has a minimum stay of 1 week.


Arty’s Fish and Chips is the closest flavor to home, that is if you’re from the UK or Australia. Sit outside and enjoy a cold Efes beer while you wait, or have food delivered if you can’t manage to leave your comfortable hotel balcony. The city comes alive at night, so options for merry making are ample. The best cocktails in Fethiye are at 4 Corner Bar where the atmosphere is relaxed, but the music is lively.


There are weekly and daily blue cruises from the famous party city of Antalya, so stay here as long as you wish.


The historical sites in this region are vast. The amphitheater at Aspendos is the most unspoiled Greco-Roman theatre in the world. The International Opera and Ballet Festival has performances here throughout the summer. There are clubs galore in Antalya! Inferno is the most intense example of dancing bodies in the city. During foam party nights, bubbles encompass the dancefloor to ensure everyone is truly soaked. Ceyn Athena Club is a popular gay bar in Kaleici, the old town. As with every club you visit, be sure to ask the price of drinks when you order. Some places can be highly overpriced.


A trendy, sophisticated hotel near the beach is Hotel Su. Mood lighting is the specialty in this luxury resort in the city center. All rooms have balconies to gaze on the swimmers and sunbathers at the pool below. Dining on Turkish, Asian and Italian cuisine takes place inside or outdoors at the lounge, poolside, the beach, or the sushi restaurant. For the ultimate pleasurable experience stay at Royal Adam and Eve Hotel. The walls are covered with mirrors at every step and the modern, sleek design inspires sensations of all kinds. The hotel is ideal for couples and honeymooners.


In the old town, Vanilla is a nice contemporary restaurant set within Ottoman architecture. Dishes are prepared with (mostly) regionally selected items. ]]>