Oia, Santorini is Paradise on Earth – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , November 23rd, 2018

Oia, Santorini, Greece - Keep Calm and Wander

In Santorini, Oia is paradise on earth. That is – if your idea of paradise is filled with white-washed houses with blue domes, sitting on a cliff that traverses down to the blue waters of the Aegean Sea.

You have probably seen Santorini already, I’m sure. Its white-washed houses with a spectacular sunset in the background have graced in countless postcards, books, photography websites, calendars, blogs, posters, promotional materials, and romantic wedding albums.

The volcanic island’s capital is Fira, but the postcard-perfect place not to miss is Oia. It’s on the edge of the island but it’s accessible by buses.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Greece Gay Travel Resources

Oia is Paradise on Earth – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , November 23rd, 2018

In Santorini, Oia is paradise on earth. That is – if your idea of paradise is filled with white-washed houses with blue domes, sitting on a cliff that traverses down to the blue waters of the Aegean Sea.

You have probably seen Santorini already, I’m sure. Its white-washed houses with a spectacular sunset in the background have graced in countless postcards, books, photography websites, calendars, blogs, posters, promotional materials, and romantic wedding albums.

The volcanic island’s capital is Fira, but the postcard-perfect place not to miss is Oia. It’s on the edge of the island but it’s accessible by buses.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Greece Gay Travel Resources

Lost in Translation in Hangzhou – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , November 16th, 2018

Lost in Translation in Hangzhou

“Welcome to the back!” proclaimed an English sign at the front door of a small Chinese restaurant in Hangzhou, a city in China, known for its West Lake. It was here where Marco Polo once sailed, mesmerized by its stunning beauty and declared the place in ancient times as “the most beautiful place in the world.”

Six exhausted backpackers from four countries and I, who all met in a hostel, froze for a moment in silence, as if trying to decipher one of China’s ancient, decrepit signboard. We exchanged quick glances, hoping one had a clue to share. We were pretty sure we were standing at the entrance, not the back, of the restaurant. Almost in unison, we quickly realized what the sign meant was, “Welcome back.” It’s one of those rampant translations gone wrong in Chinglish, a blend of Chinese and English.

With hunger excruciatingly creeping into our stomachs, we gave up looking for another restaurant. We’d been walking all day and we were so hungry we could eat a barrel of dumplings sans chopsticks.

Two ladies behind the reception desk smiled when we came in. One disappeared quickly to call someone from the kitchen. When we were all seated, the other waitress came with a kettle of tea and a vacuum flask of hot water. She carefully poured the hot water and tea alternately with impeccable skill. When she was done, she said something in Chinese and our jaws dropped. We understood not a single word. She looked at each one of our tired faces, hoping a single one of us could make sense of what she just said. Meeting our uncomprehending looks, she smiled sheepishly and left embarrassed.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

China Gay Travel Resources

 

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , November 11th, 2018

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

Turkey Gay Travel Resources

 

Sedlec Ossuary: The Church of 40,000 Bones – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , November 9th, 2018

Sedlec Ossuary - Keep Calm and Wander

I’m gonna bring you with me to Sedlec Ossuary, a church with 40,000 human bones inside! It’s chilling, eh? Don’t worry – there’s nothing to be scared of. Hopefully, after seeing all these, you’d still be able to sleep well, without nightmares. Guess what; I was fine. I was able to sleep without monsters and ghosts in my dreams.

I’ve got to be honest though – I found it weird the moment I stepped inside. I was fascinated and overwhelmed by all the skulls and bones surrounding me like they’re trying to petrify me. I had goosebumps the entire time I was there, but I was not in a hurry to get out of that holy place; in fact, I was the last person in our tour group who went back to our bus.

How to get to Sedlec Ossuary. It’s an hour drive by car from Prague – and the best way to get there is by joining a half day tour to Kutna Hora. Every hotel and hostel in Prague advertise this tour, and they can also book this for you. Now, you might be wondering why on earth Sedlec Ossuary is decorated with 40,000 bones! It actually has a fascinating story.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Czech Republic Gay Travel Resources

 

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , October 8th, 2018

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

Turkey Gay Travel Resources

 

Inside Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 28th, 2018

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

Author: , September 22nd, 2018

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

Turkey Gay Travel Resources

Inside the Pisa Cathedral – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 7th, 2018

Pisa Cathedral - Keep Calm and Wander

The Pisa Cathedral marks the zenith of the architectural power of Pisa at the time of its creation by having bits from the Islamic, Byzantine, Lombard-Emilian, and classical architecture. Lying peacefully in the Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracle Square), it gleams in multi-colors, courtesy of the different types of marbles that it is adorned with, especially cosmatesque marble.

1. The marble facade

Unlike the exterior, the cathedral’s interior depicts much more decorations and ornamentations. The Romanesque façade of the cathedral is made of pastel-colored marble that is designed divinely by the students of Giambolongna.

While the three doors leading inside were constructed or cast after the deadly fire of 1595, an original door “The Door of San Ranieri” designed by Bonnano Pisano still stands and provides a way in from the southern transept.

2. Medieval and Renaissance art

The interior of the cathedral has a mixture of the Renaissance and Medieval architecture. This mixture has been a result of the fire of 1595. After the destruction of most of the Medieval parts of the cathedral, they were rebuilt in the Renaissance style as it was popular back then.

The surviving Medieval pieces include Tomb of Emperor Henry VII, originally sculpted by Tino di Camaino, and the pulpit by Giovanni Pisano, which has been recently placed in its original place after being found dismantled.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Pisa Gay Travel Resources

Baptistery of Pisa – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 3rd, 2018

Baptistery of Pisa - Keep Calm and Wander

Located in the Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracle Square), on the west coast of Italy, the Baptistery of Pisa forms one of the four buildings. In fact, it comes second in the chronological order, neighboring the Duomo di Pisa, the cathedral, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

It is an ecclesiastical building, and throughout history, it has played a keen role in the religious scene in Pisa. This actually shows in the multiple architectural veils that it is draped in. The lower side has arches and pillars that hint towards the Romanesque style, but the upper levels show a stark Gothic style with pointed figures and closely spaced pillars.

The entrance to the edifice is covered with ornate pillars and reliefs, in which the upper one depicts the life of Saint John and the middle one shows Christ flanked by Saint John and Madonna and surrounded by several angels.

The Baptistery of Pisa – Where Galileo Was Baptized

This baptistery is famous for its architecture and also for the following things.

1. The Acoustics: Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni Pisano have done an outstanding job by designing the interior that it facilitates reverberations or acoustics. Anyone standing below the edge of the dome can have his voice echoed. Every 30 minutes, one of the employees would sing loud to demonstrate the power of its acoustics.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Pisa Gay Travel Resources