Tag Archives: travel guide

48 Hour Guide to DC

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I hopped on a plane to DC for a quick 48 hour “Adult Spring Break.” It was the height of cherry blossom season, instilling a tradition for father-daughter cherry blossom trips (also photographed here). In 48 hours, we were able to figure out some of our favorite spots, museums and useful tips and tricks. It boiled down to this here guide.

Where to Eat

a baked joint – the bakery off-shoot of DC’s baked&wired, we visited this “joint” everyday for a substantial breakfast and caffeine fix. Dad’s favorite was the sugar-encrusted, raspberry kougin-amman.

La Colombe – Not a new-to-me spot, but La Colombe never fails in terms of flavorful espresso and cold brew that I now crave daily.

indigo – An outdoor, twinkly-lit Indian restaurant where you order from a chalkboard at a window and eat on picnic tables outdoor. As the summer months near, this is a perfect spot.

Ethiopic – I centered our meals around global cuisine and introduced my Dad to Ethiopian. A little different from what I’m used to but their green bean dish was something special.

2Amy’s – a Love Taza favorite that serves my favorite, neapolitan pizzas

Beefsteak – A Jose Andres fast casual concept, they prepare veggies that even my Dad enjoyed.

Shouk – Voted DC’s best fast casual, Shouk is veggie-friendly with hearty servings of flavorful, real food. Their sweet potato fries are something stupid.

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What to Visit

Newseum, African American History Museum, Washington Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Georgetown neighborhood

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Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey

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Istanbul is a city of 20 million people. Can you please think for a moment about 20 million of anything? I remember arriving and expecting to be able to walk everywhere. Turns out – we “literally” couldn’t. The city is too big. And our dinner trip would be over an hour walk. 20 million people means that Istanbul is busy, busy, busy. And after 6 days, it was a welcome change of scenery to travel to the Cappadocia region of Turkey (Central Anatolia.

Cappadocia is primarily known for its beautiful sunset photography where hot air balloons nestle in its valleys. I had the grandest dreams of these perfect pictures with the sun rising and brightly colored balloons floating in the distance. About a week before our trip, I noticed that the weather did not look perfect. And non-perfect weather means that the hot air balloons do not go up. Unfortunately, this post won’t include a hot air balloon story because the weather did not cooperate. However, my Dad and I both agreed that the trip was more than worthwhile without the air balloons. It just gives us an additional reason to go back!Argos Cappadocia 1

We stayed at the Rox Cappadocia. I cannot recommend this hotel enough – each night includes a beautiful Turkish breakfast with the best view of Pigeon Valley. We asked for a room with a window although it specializes in “cave” rooms. The staff was more than helpful with questions about hiking and tours of the region.

To avoid missing the hot air balloons, I would recommend traveling to Cappadocia earlier in the year. At the end of November, the weather gets to be a bit more difficult and tourist season declines. We also noted that we should have begun our trip in Cappadocia and made our way to Istanbul. When you get to Cappadocia, I would recommend touring the region with trips to the Goreme Air Museum, hikes in Pigeon Valley and climbs atop Uchisar Castle.

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Goreme Air Museum

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Istanbul Guide

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Somehow I ended up spending the last week in Turkey. It has been a secret dream of mine to travel to Turkey since high school (I originally wanted to study abroad here but timing didn’t agree). I think it was my complete and utter love for AP World that pushed my dream over the edge – I love history and Turkey is the epicenter of so many histories and cultures. If anything, my trip to Istanbul (and Central Turkey) made me fall even more in love with this place and its people. I cannot say kinder or more honest words about Istanbul and Turkey. I think I met my match – an old friend who I will return to time and time again. I keep replaying these moments over and over again, hoping that soon I can return. I hope these photos exude the kind of love and awe that I feel for Istanbul.

Ciragan Palace 1Ciragan Palace 2

Istanbul is quite the city – most of its tourist destinations are located extremely close to each other (Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Grand Bazaar). It was so easy to move from place to place – we often found ourselves in the same areas time and time again. My favorite areas that I visited were Karakoy and Bebek. I dragged a coffee-deprived mother to Bebek and we fell in love with its serenity. The first photo was taken along the waterfront path in Bebek – it was so nice to remove ourselves from the hustle of Istanbul (whilst remaining in Istanbul). Other sites to see are Galata Tower, Dolmabahce Palace, Ciragan Palace and Istanbul Modern. My most memorable experiences were experiencing golden hour from a Europe-to-Asia boat ride and receiving a Turkish bath (OMG!).

I am no expert on travel or Istanbul but my biggest recommendation would be to stay near a metro station. We were located a bit further from the center but directly next to a metro station. It made it all the better to know that after a long day on our feet we could walk right off the metro and into our hotel. Also, apps like CityMapper and Google Maps often failed us when we tried to locate restaurants or places. We would probably ask 5 different people where something was until we inevitably found it. By the end of our trip, we thought it was odd if we didn’t struggle finding our restaurant. So carefully plan any trip that is not a tourist destination (such as a restaurant or shop) because these places will not be pointed out on a sign or a map!

In these photos, I challenged myself to capture Istanbul apart from its notable landmarks. A visual guide to Istanbul – in hopes that you too can experience its magic. More to come on food and Cappadocia!

Topkapi Palace Harem 2Topkapi Palace Harem 1

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I cannot recommend a boat ride enough. We ended up getting a transit card for our week in Istanbul and caught this commuter train to Kadikoy (on the Asian side). I was happily snapping photos when a man recognized what I was doing and began throwing pieces of bread off the side of the boat. Before I knew it, there was a cluster of birds flying along side the boat, posing for my pictures (or rather trying to get a piece of bread). This moment was truly a testament to the kindness of the Turkish people. This man created this moment just for me. A million thanks go out to him.

Berlin: What to See

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Three days in a city is never enough time to see everything. I almost feel disrespectful in thinking that such a trip could give me an understanding of a place. With my most recent trips, I make it a point of planning far in advance so that I can see as much as possible. Jam-packed days, sore feet and large camera rolls often result but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It isn’t too hard to find wonderful travel resources such as TripAdvisor or Tripomatic. I recently discovered Tripomatic – not only does it show and describe main attractions, but it allows you to organize your itinerary based on day and location. I would highly recommend! In case these resources aren’t your thing, I compiled a guide of what to see in Berlin.
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East Side Gallery

One of the most iconic sights of Berlin, the East Side Gallery is a bit of what remains of the Berlin Wall. The wall space has since become an art gallery depicting murals about freedom, humanity and dreams about the world. The Gallery consists of so many murals from different artists from all around the world. It truly exemplifies the belief in unity that its murals taught.

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Berliner Dom

Berliner Dom is a grand church in Berlin. Located near Alexanderplatz, it is centrally located and supposedly has a wonderful view of the city from its top. It was unfortunately was closed on our visit but we stilled enjoyed looking at the grandness of the Church. Compared to other churches, Berliner Dom may not be anything spectacular but I particularly loved finding its specifically German elements. If you are visiting Berlin, I would try to visit when the top is open in order to get the most out of your ticket.

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Berlin Wall Memorial

The Berlin Wall Memorial is a must-see. Not only can you climb its tower for the best view of the city’s skyline, but it also has a wonderful “Ghost station” exhibit in the train station. We wandered around a bit to find this exhibit but it was quite literally located in the U-Bahn station. The U-Bahn station was a “ghost station” meaning that it had closed when East and West Berlin became separate. Instead of functioning as a metro station, it became a dangerous space where people attempted to escape.

What unsettled me most was the fact that the station now operates as a functional U-Bahn station. I could not help but feel haunted about the eeriness of the station – and what it once was to East and West Berliners. After finding the exhibit, follow the normal Berlin Wall Memorial. When we visited, it was the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall and the path of the wall was lined entirely by white balloons.

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Holocaust Memorial

A beautiful,  heavy, reflective space. I feel that words are not too necessary to describe the importance of this site. If you can, take the time to go through the museum underneath the memorial. It may cause you to wait in line but I think it was worthwhile. We visited during the golden hour, which allowed for the most beautiful light.

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Holocaust Memorial 2

Noticeably missing from this list are the Jewish Museum and Topography of Terror. We visited both but out of respect for the spaces, I refrained from taking pictures. Other important Berlin landmarks like Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Victory Column, the Tiergarten and Gendarmenmarkt are must visits! Most are located near what I like to refer to as “Berlin’s center” and can be seen simply from site alone.

Berlin treated us so well for our 4 days. It was even more special that we visited on the 25th anniversary. Have you ever been to Berlin? Or explored any other parts of Germany? I’d love to hear.