Tag Archives: Research

Do you Know Turkey Law?

A little over a month ago, my mom’s very good friend and her husband went on a trip to Turkey. They are a very well traveled couple and even went with a travel group of people on this trip. They have been to Europe several times and both have very social and aware personalities. This all goes to show that you can never be too prepared.

I say over and over again to friends and relatives and readers to research your trip. For example, I was a little nervous going to Cairo by myself in 2011, so I specifically researched female traveler safety tips. I read blogs, travel sites, and national travel guides. Somewhere I read to cover my head no matter what and to wear headphones not plugged into anything. If I had headphones in and I was being harassed, the predator was more likely to dismiss me ignoring them on the account that I could not hear them. So why not plug them in? Well, because it would inhibit my awareness of my surroundings. Little advice like this is crucial. So I decided to write to my readers about my mom’s dear friend.

The second or third week of this November, they were on their last day in Turkey and heading home. They stopped at the market to look for some more souvenirs to bring home. Her husband found a decorative knife and bought it for himself to bring home. They packed up their bags and headed to the airport. He did not put the knife in the carry on but in his checked bag to be safe. While at the gate, they called him over and asked if he had papers for the knife in his luggage. He replied that he did not and they asked him to wait. He knew it might take awhile so he told his wife and friends to go on ahead and he would take the next flight.

When my mom’s friend got home to America, she came to find out that her husband was arrested at the airport after she left and was put into prison. It is against a Turkey Law to remove antiquities from the country, and the knife was enough of an antique to cause problems. They had no idea. They thought it was just your average souvenir. He stayed in prison for about 2-3 weeks, after they had countless Turkish and American lawyers, the embassy, the consulate, and several politicians involved. He had to stay in Turkey for a hearing and put under house arrest. Thankfully he is now home for the holidays with his family, but it is quite scary what happened to him.

Research, research, research!

Oh the Places You’ll Cruise??

My dear co-worker and friend Candace married her long time girlfriend Genna last month in Chicago. They had a lovely wedding, but like all weddings go…it is finally time for the honeymoon!!

Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio

They booked a Mediterranean cruise that goes from Barcelona to Naples/Pompeii to Rome to Florence/Pisa/Livorna to Cannes to

Pisa Cliche
Mom at Pisa

Palma, Majorica. I have been to six of those nine places. I thought I could give some good insight to it. Then I decided for a wedding gift that I would make them one of my iWander books of their cruise for free of charge!

It was a lot of fun to make, because I have always wanted to know all the potential places I could go to in limited time and therefore I (or whoever I am writing it for) would have lots of options once there. But, this was a cruise.

I gave Candace her book!
I gave Candace her book!

They are only allowed 10-12 hours in each place. How does one see all of Rome in 10 hours?! Well. Actually. One doesn’t. So I did a lot of research of finding the best one day excursions in each place. I looked up blog suggestions, must-do’s and must see’s, and travel sites suggestions. It was a really fun book to make because I was able to set personalized suggestions of where to go and when.

Here is a blurb of my Barcelona part:



History: The city is the capital of Catalonia and is Spain’s second biggest city. They have a population of about 1.5 million people. Best known for the Olympics being hosted in Barcelona in 1992, and since then the city has changed its neighborhoods and the way the city is presented today. It was originally under Roman rule. Barcelona was founded under two stories: the first being Hercules (yes, the Mythological God) founded the city, and the second being founded by Hamilcar Barca the statesman of Cyrene. He was said to command the forces in Sicily from 247 BC to 241 BC. The Roman redirected the city as a military camp around 15 BC, and used for its excellent harbor.  After the Romans were the Visigoths conquer, and this was a rule by the Moors for the next 100 years. The city gained a reputation during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century with the World’s Fair in 1888. Catalonia fought for freedom from the rule of Spain through the 20th century, and with this heightened Barcelona’s importance.

Suggested Options for A Single Day in Barcelona:
(On your first day, with only a few hours, it might be beneficial to start one of these and then finish the suggested list on your return back and be able to spend more time in a museum or Cathedral.)

    – Mirador de Colon         – Placa de Catalunya                 – Parc Guell
    – La Rambla                 – La Rambla                          – Train to Sangrada Familia (Go in?)
    – Detour thru Barri Gotic   – Mirador de Colon                  – Av. Diagonal to Casa Batllo (Go in?)
    – Visit Museo Picasso      – Placa Reial                         – Casa Mila (Go in?)
    – Walk back by Catedral     – Thru Barri Gotic                   -Thru Barri Gotic
    – La Boqueria (off of La Rambla) – Visit Catedral               – Visit Catedral (Go in?)
    – Placa de Catalunya           – Walk to Can Culleretes         -Visit Town Hall
    – Casa Batllo (Go in?)          – Montjuic                           – Olympic Stadium
    – Casa Mila/Pedrera (Go in?)  – Sangrada Familia (Go in?)        – Montjuic hill
    – Avinguda Diagonal              – Train to Parc Guell        
    – La Sangrada Familia (Go in?)                    
    – Train to Parc Guell                        

* (G) signifies Gaudi Work

– Avinguda Diagonal – A collection of bars and restaurants on one of the most important streets in Barcelona. It was designed by IIdefons Cerda (one of the city original planners).

– Barcelona Catedral (of Holy Cross) – The cathedral was started in the 13th century and finished in the 15th century. It was built on the site of an old Roman town (close to what was once the Roman Forum). The Roman city’s gate was once across the street (Carrer del Bisbe) and you can still see the lower segments of the towers as well as a Roman aqueduct at the base of the Bishop’s Palace (Palau Episcopal).The cathedral was spared by the anarchists during the Civil War and is the place where Santa…..cont.


Amazon Life Nervousness

Your parents and loved ones will always worry about you. If they don’t then something could possibly be wrong. It makes me second guess myself sometimes on decisions or actions that I may later regret not doing. I am not 100% happened to me while preparing for this trip, because I am a total nut when doing research and preparing. This time I did not receive my Malaria pills until the day before I left (all my shots were up to date since 2006), and I forgot to print out my itinerary. What was happening?

Once in Ecuador, I was worried about the night bus I was taking to

Jamu Lodge Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve
Our wonderful Lodge

the Amazon for fear of being robbed, I was cautious as to what I was eating for fear of a parasite, and I was trying my best to stay as clothed as possible for fear of mosquito bites. I felt like a over-paranoid hypochondriac, especially compared to my very laid back cousin whom I was visiting.

Some sort of cosmic energy must have sensed this because the Universe through me a curve ball to knock me out of the ridiculousness and into enjoying my time. We arrived at the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, took a 2 hour canoe ride to our lovely Jamu Lodge, and got time in the lodge. Then the guides took us

Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve
Amazon Lake at sunset

away. We were told to put on our swimsuits and to file into the canoe. Just to clarify this was our FIRST few hours in the unknown Amazon. We went on a nice tour to find birds and monkeys and then we went to the middle of a large dark lake and were told, “Ok you can go swimming now.” I looked over the edge of the canoe like the rest of my lodge companions. It was total black water. There was nothing around to swim to near by. One gentleman from Argentina took off his shirt and jumped in right away. My cousin and I looked at one another. We were not dumb to the fact the Amazon was full of creatures such as boa constrictors, anacondas, piranhas, caymen, manatees, and more.

Caymen in Cuyabeno
Baby Caymen Danielle named Tina

Danielle then said exactly what I was trying not to. “I’m nervous.” I said that I agreed….but when are we going to jump in the Amazon again? And the guide told us they have never had an accident yet. Although, his reasoning was that the animals were “too lazy” to swim to this area of the lake. Yeah. Right.

So with every bit of courage (and stupidity) I could muster up….I took off my clothes and hopped in. There WAS a moment I thought I might feel a bite or something brush past me. I didn’t. The water was

Swimming in Amazon
Bad Selfie on phone after swimming in the Amazon

extremely warm. It was also so dark that I could hold up my hand and not see it about an inch under the surface. Danielle jumped in right after me. The guide was joking with us and I asked why he would not come in. Was he afraid of the boa constrictors? He replied that the “boa constrictors are lazy and sleeping in the trees. The anacondas are the ones swimming around.”

I am pretty sure my face went white. Danielle swam to the canoe and held on, continuing on that the guide was scared. So he took off his shirt and jumped in as well. For some reason, I felt a bit better. And so after all of this, I was able to let go of my inhibitions that I was so nervous about before the trip. I was finally embracing everything as it came. I was my “travel self” again….and all it took was jumping into a creature filled Amazon river.

Cuyabeno River
Canoe Ride

PS The last day of the stay at the lodge the guide told us, while floating on the same lake, that if you were to throw in a bloody chicken into the water the piranhas would eat it within minutes….Thank God I didn’t hear that until the last day! A bit of advice: Do NOT look up any videos of creatures in the Amazon before traveling there…the videos are always the extreme ones…