Monthly Archives: March 2017

Island for every traveler

Long the domain of savvy sailors and fly-in millionaires, the spectacular Grenadines also offer plenty for the independent traveler – you don’t need your own boat to fully explore the magnificent archipelago. Spanning the nations of St Vincent & the Grenadines and Grenada, the island chain offers a wide variety of authentic Caribbean experiences where nature is never far from the spotlight.

The most visited of the Grenadines and rightly so, beautiful Bequia is the quintessential slow-paced Caribbean island that really does have it all. Visitors can swim, dive or hike through dazzling natural beauty by day and then soak up the tropical atmosphere in the evening, sipping cocktails or tucking into a gourmet meal on a panoramic terrace.

Among its many draw cards are Princess Margaret Beach and Lower Bay, two wonderful stretches of sand backed by lush greenery, just a short hike from the capital Port Elizabeth.

As the second largest island in the chain, Bequia offers plenty of attractions for nature lovers. There are good drift dives along the leeward side of the north of the island while the remote hilly north of the island affords ample opportunity for exploration; climb some of the imposing forested peaks for fine views of St Vincent and other Grenadine islands.

Getting there: Visiting Bequia is a breeze thanks to its efficient regular fast ferry service linking it with Kingstown on St Vincent Island. SVG Air has flights from the airport on the south of the island to Kingstown, Barbados and St Lucia.

 

The European continent beckons

Looking to kick back this September? You’re in luck. The European continent beckons with turtle watching trips in Cyprus, mellow days on the Mediterranean isle of Corsica and a gut-busting break in Puglia, Italy. Meanwhile, down in the southern hemisphere, Australia’s Whitsunday Islands hold their own with the promise of crystal clear waters, serene scuba diving and pristine sand as far as the eye can see.

Beautiful landscapes, balmy days and a bounty of foodie fare await those who need a relaxing break. Here are our top chill-out spots for September.

 

Head to north Cyprus for sun, sand, turtles and time travel

Visiting the northern half of divided Cyprus is a bit like holidaying in the 1970s. It might lack a certain slickness, but there’s also a pleasing lack of development. Some of the Med’s most unspoilt sands are here, especially along the wild Karpaz Peninsula, where you’re more likely to see donkeys and turtles than other people. Indeed, turtles visit North Cyprus regularly, and from June to late September, the Society for the Protection of Turtles runs guided, eco-sensitive night tours to view them from its base at Alagadi Beach, just east of Kyrenia’s harbour.

September is a fine time to visit: the crowds have gone but weather and waters are warm. It’s ideal for hiking between ruined Crusader castles in the Kyrenia range or strolling the well-preserved ancient city of Salamis. Don’t miss Lefkoşa, the world’s only divided capital. Amble the minaret-speared streets before passing a checkpoint for a weird wander into the bullet-scarred no man’s land that separates Turkish north and Greek south.

  • Trip plan: Spend a week mixing beaches, ruins, castles and traditional villages.
  • Need to know: Fly to Ercan Airport (North Cyprus) via mainland Turkey.
  • Other months: Apr-May & Sep-Oct – warm, quieter; Jun-Aug – hottest, busy; Nov-Mar – cool, wettest.

A Day Out in Istanbul Tips

Crowded and at times chaotic, the youthful energy of the middle-class Beşiktaş neighbourhood north of Dolmabahçe Palace is infectious. With a busy central çarşı (marketplace) full of cafes, bars and cheap eats, and lingering Ottoman splendour on its waterfront, Beşiktaş gives visitors a slice of modern Turkish life alongside a dive into history.

Beşiktaş is also the name of one of Istanbul’s biggest and most beloved football clubs, so expect the çarşı area to be packed and rowdy on match nights. If you happen to be visiting in October, don’t miss the annual Fotoİstanbul festival, which brings excellent international photography to pop-up exhibition spaces around the neighbourhood.

But there’s plenty to experience even if you visit on days when there’s no football buzz or international festivals. Here’s what one of those days might look like.

 

9am

Fuel up for the first part of the day at one of the popular indoor/outdoor eateries along the winding intersection of Çelebioğlu Sokak and Şair Veysi Sokak – an area so full of places serving the morning meal it’s been dubbed ‘Kahvaltıcılar Sokağı’, or ‘Breakfast-Makers’ Street’. Tuck into a delicious traditional egg dish like menemen at the no-frills Çakmak Kahvaltı Salonu (Çelebioğlu Sokak 8) or linger over a full serpme kahvaltı – a table full of sweet and savoury bites – at Reçel Türevleri or Cafe Faruk. If the endless cups of black tea haven’t sated your caffeine craving, pop into the tiny Dem Good Coffee, run by a mixed team of deaf and non-deaf employees, for a quick post-breakfast espresso.

 

10am

Head down to the waterfront for a peek into the former residence of the Ottoman heirs-in-waiting, now the National Palaces Painting Museum, where the evocative images of old Istanbul – including a canvas depicting the ships of the Ottoman navy arrayed along this very coastline – are a highlight of the collection. The nearby Palace Collections Museum offers a more intimate glimpse into the sultans’ daily lives, displaying their Baccarat-crystal ice-cream bowls and porcelain vases alongside their writing sets and shaving kits.

 

1pm

Join the local office workers for lunch at Hatay Antakya Mutfağı , a cosy corner restaurant specialising in kebabs and meze infused with the spicy flavours of south-eastern Turkey, or at Elde Börek (Ihlamurdere Caddesi 26), a cheery lokanta serving up a wide range of home-cooked dishes, all attractively displayed at the front counter.

After lunch, grab a small treat for later at 7-8 Hasanpaşa Fırını (Şehit Asım Caddesi 12), an old-fashioned bakery renowned for its almond biscuits and tahini-infused pastries. You’ll find it just down the street from the ‘kartal’, the black eagle statue that represents the Beşiktaş football club and is one of the neighbourhood’s best-known landmarks.