Bodrum Travel Diary & Tour Tips

I managed to sneak in a very last minute trip to Bodrum-Turkey beginning of this month, so I thought I would document this trip on the blog in case you were ever interested in visiting the beach-side city.

To start with, Bodrum is very easy to access if you live in Europe or the Middle East. In Lebanon for instance, we have daily flights during summer, and the flight duration is approximately 1hr30. The weather in September is very pleasant, hot during the day (30°C-35°C) and breezy during the night (mid 20°C).

What to do in Bodrum?

Visit The Main Marinas

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Bodrum is famous for its marinas. If you happen to visit this city, I highly recommend Palmarina and Bodrum Marina.

Palmarina was definitely one of my favorite hangout spots. It is a large marina surrounded by high-end stores and restaurants. You can also find the famous Nusr-et there, but make sure you have a reservation ahead of time since it’s always packed. I had dinner at a place called Cookshop, and the burger I had was easily one of the best I’ve ever had!

If you’re based in Gumbet (where usually the majority of tourists stay in Bodrum), you can take the 10 min bus journey to Bodrum Marina for 3 Tukish Liras/person. If you want to visit Palmarina, you have to go by taxi since it’s approximately 30 mins away from Gumbet and buses don’t usually go there.

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Bodrum marina is considered the “city center”. It is filled with traditional shops and kiosks that you expect to find in a market. It is very cozy and the prices are definitely cheaper than the shops at Palmarina.

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Island Tour

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You can’t visit Bodrum without experiencing the boat trip that takes you to different islands. Nothing beats the feeling of sailing in the middle of the sea surrounded by other boats and beautiful scenery. The trip takes about 6 hours, so you might want to keep that in mind while planning your itinerary.

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Dalyan Tour

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Many people visit Bodrum without experiencing Dalyan. It is definitely an exhausting trip, but it’s worth the long hours. This tour is longer than the boat trip, you start at about 6:30 AM and you arrive back to your hotel at about 6:30 PM, so it’s considered a full day trip. Dalyan tour consists of a mud bath, a boat trip, and finally a swim in the sea where lake water and sea water meet. I don’t recommend this trip if you have kids, but if you’re with family or a group of friends it’s fun.

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Visit the Windmills

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If you want a nice view of the city you can head to the windmills in Gumbet area. You can also see the Greek Kos island from this hill so it’s a nice spot for photos. If I go back to Bodrum I would definitely hike there during sunrise or sunset.

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Extras

Here are a few things that I didn’t get the chance to try (since our stay was very short), but I would definitely like to try them during my next visit:

1- Visit the castle of St. Peter

2- Have lunch at Gümüşlük, a sea-side village 

3- Try the famous Turkish bath 

4- Drive to Pamukkale & Ephesus 

Hope you liked my mini travel diary and tour guide! Have you ever visited Bodrum?

Lara xx

 

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Cities I Would Like to Visit

I decided to dedicate my 3rd post in my #NovemberBloggingChallenge to one of my favorite topics, travel! Thankfully, I’ve been managing to plan at least 1 trip a year and so far I am blown away with all the cities that I’ve seen so far.

In today’s post I decided to list my top 5 places that I would like to visit in the near future. I still have many other cities that I would LOVE to visit, but I decided to list the ones that I can realistically visit in the next 2 years (I hope)

Thanks to Instagram and YouTube (in my case), it is now much easier to plan trips and find hidden gems around the world. The down-side of this whole online travel frenzy is that “hidden gems” are no longer hidden, but there’s no harm in wander-lusting every now and then 🙂

If you’ve been to any of the cities mentioned below, please leave your tips and suggestions down below. I would love to read all about your experiences and the best places to stay at and visit in each of the cities below. You can also email me laraspeaksstyle@gmail.com 

1- Amsterdam, Netherlands

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2- Marrakesh, Morocco

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3- New York City, USA

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 4- Lisbon, Portugal 

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5- Cappadocia, Turkey 

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Where would you like to travel next?

Lara xx

Spain Travel Diary

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Hello everyone! I’ve been offline for a while now, but today I am back to blog about my favorite thing, Travel!

Two weeks ago I went on my family vacation to discover Spain. After going to 8 cities and 5 hotels in 9 days,  I was exhausted, but the best kind of exhausted where you can’t get enough! I can tell you one thing; I am definitely going back to Spain one day since 1 visit is not enough.

In those 9 days I visited Barcelona, Mijas, Marbella, Granada, Sevilla, Cordoba, Madrid, and Valencia

Travel Highlights:

  • You should definitely allocate a shopping budget while there since Spain is the home country to some of our favorite brands like Zara, Mango, Oysho, Berska, Stradivarius, etc..
  • While in Barcelona you need to visit La Rambla, the port, park guel, gothic quarter, and the magic fountain if you had limited time like I did.
  • You can have the best Paella in Valencia since it originated from this city
  • Make sure you don’t book your flight in a way where you arrive to Sevilla on a Sunday since all the stores close
  • Speaking of Sevilla, you really need to visit the Placa d’Espanya over there since it’s really stunning
  • Spanish people are honestly the nicest people I’ve ever met!
  • While in Granada, you need to visit the Alhambra Palace
  • Madrid has breathtaking parks and excellent shopping
  • Marbella’s beach is kind of freezing, but don’t let the water intimidate you, it’s totally worth the dip!
  • Make sure you head to Marbella’s old town for dinner since it’s so cozy and pretty
  • Explore Mijas through a horse ride or by walking if you prefer to do so
  • If you’re not a big fan of dogs keep in mind that Spain is super crowded with dogs, you can even find them inside churches or shopping stores!
  • Keep in mind that shopping in Spain is highly popular which means you have to wait in long lines at the cashier or to go inside the fitting rooms.
  • If you live in Lebanon or the Middle East, the stores that I’ve mentioned earlier are cheaper than Lebanon in about 35%!!

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My Summer Bucket List

Hello beautiful people! Today I thought of sharing my summer bucket list that I am hoping to accomplish by the end of September. One of my best friends is coming from Canada this summer so it’s a great opportunity to accomplish all of the things I want with my group of friends. Here we go!

1) Go for a picnic by the river

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I’ve seen many beautiful pictures online for Nahr-Ibrahim so it’s one of my must go to places. If you have suggestions for other rivers to check out please let me know 😀

2) Travel

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My passion for travelling just keeps on growing and growing so I am hoping I could be able to travel this summer.

3) Go to Tawlet Ammiq

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I’ve heard amazing things about this place in the Bekaa Valley, so I am looking forward to discover it!

4) Do More Water Activities

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I am also planning on doing more snorkeling, and maybe learn a new sport like surfing!

5) Learn How to do Smoothies

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With the really high temperatures approaching, I really want to master all the delicious smoothies that I keep on seeing on my Pinterest feed!

6) Go on  Road Trips

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There are many beautiful areas in my country that I am really curious to discover so a road trip can be a good way to do that!

7) Film Videos

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That’s not only on my summer bucket list, but also on my 2015 resolutions, and sadly I haven’t filmed any videos yet 😦 However, I am really willing to document things in video from now on. Fingers crossed!

8) Work on the Ultimate Summer Playlist

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9) Go Back to Working Out

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10) Go to a Winery

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We have many in Lebanon and I want to discover more about wine making & tasting

What’s on your bucket list for this summer?

Lara xx

Top 5: Ways to be Inspired

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The word inspiration has become in the past few years a very important concept in my life. Inspiration is not only what bloggers seek, but what all businesses and individuals chase now a days.

I do believe that inspiration enhances your creativity and your quality of life in general, since it pushes you sometimes out of your comfort zone, and motivates you to chase your dreams and aspirations. Now please note the difference between inspiration and imitation, i do believe inspiration is when you feel that you are mentally driven to do something special and creative, it’s when you pour your soul into something. On the other hand, imitation is just a copy/paste process.

Yet, I do think that it’s a wide topic that deserves more depth and discussion (maybe in the future), but today I am giving you 5 ways to be inspired that are based on my personal experience.

1) Online

Nowadays blogs are becoming a major platform for inspiration, and I really hope you guys find any source of inspiration from my own blog! Other websites include Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr, We Heart It, Instagram, and many many others. The images, quotes, and the words of other people all around the world can really be inspirational. I personally get mostly inspired online.

2) Books

Reading and being lost in the book you are reading can be a great source of inspiration. It might be in the characters, the setting, the era or the story itself! Not only does reading teach you  millions of things, it also opens your mind and soul to many sources of inspiration

3) Travel

I always make an effort to travel at least once a year, even if for 3 days! Travelling opens your eyes to so many new things and experiences, and it teaches you many things primarily about yourself!  The process of seeing a new place and new faces is a very good way to find inspiration and new ideas.

4) Meeting New People

If you feel you are seeing the same people over and over, try to stop that. Always talk to new people since you learn so much and discover so many things by meeting new people. Discussing new thoughts and ideas will bring fresh information and experiences to your life which is so important and enriching. It is not so complicated, talk to new people at the gym, work, class, or maybe your friend’s friends!

5) New Activities

I always write on this blog about the importance of doing new activities and going out of your routine. This was something I was really suffering from in the past, and I am gradually trying to always seek new places and new experiences. Change is really good when it comes to your activities, so try for example to always visit new villages in your country, try different restaurants, try different gym classes, and cook different food! This change can be an excellent way to be inspired & to inspire!

I hope you liked today’s post! I would love to know what are your sources of inspiration?

PS: This image was taken in Dubrovnik – Croatia (Summer 2014) 

Lara xx

10 Things to do in Istanbul

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Hello everyone and Adha Mubarak to all those celebrating it! During this eid, people in my country (Lebanon) usually tend to place Istanbul on their go to list since it’s very close and it doesn’t require a visa. I have been to Istanbul 2 times, in 2010 and 2012, and I have luckily tried almost everything that needs to be done in this beautiful city, that’s why I am giving you few tips. Whether you are planning to visit it during this eid, or any other time during the year, this post might come in handy especially if you are a first timer!

Top 10 things to do in Istanbul:

1- Tea + Simit

This should certainly be the first thing you consume right after you land! They have the best tea almost everywhere you go! You can also spot carts selling something that looks like bagels, it is simit and you surely won’t regret tasting it.

2- Topkapi Palace

This palace was the residence for the Ottoman sultans for a very long time and it is now turned into a beautiful museum that contains the sultans’ personal belongings and jewelry. We were also able to see some important Muslim relics like Prophet Muhammed’s sword, but I am not really sure about that!

3- Hagia Sophia + Blue Mosque

Both are a very important part of the Turkish history and it’s very important for any tourist to visit both places to learn more about Turkey’s history. You can visit them both in 1 day, but be sure not to wear shorts or a skirt (if you do they will give you something to cover up)

4- Grand Bazaar

This bazaar just like the name says is HUGE! You can find anything there from carpets to jewelry to bags and spices! You can literally walk there for an entire day without even noticing! If you have bargaining as a hobby, that’s your place to be!

5- Bosphorus Bridge

Istanbul is very famous for this bridge since it links Asia to Europe so make sure while you’re there to go on a boat trip during the day or the night for spectacular views!

6- Istiklal Caddesi(Street)

This is probably the busiest street in Istanbul! It’s very beautiful with many restaurants,shops, and pubs surrounding it from left and right. My advice is for you to book a hotel that’s close to that area because the best nights are usually spent in the narrow lost streets that you discover on Istiklal Street.

7- Princess Island

This island is a must see! Take an early morning boat ride since it takes a few hours to reach there. I remember we stopped on 2 islands before reaching to Princess Island since the boat was dropping off a few passengers to different islands. This island is car free, you can walk around or use a bike. Make sure to go on a horse ride that will show you the entire island, and of course have some fish for lunch!

8- Dolmabache Palace

My favorite pictures of Istanbul are certainly the ones taken in this breathtaking palace! It has beautiful interiors and wide green gardens, and it is right on the sea! Such a beautiful place to visit but make sure you also get there early to avoid waiting in line for long hours

9- Shopping

It is no secret that Istanbul is famous for its shopping! Many people go there just to shop so you can imagine what I am talking about. This city offers a wide range of local brands some cheap and some super expensive based on the quality of course. I found many local brands that offer beautiful clothes that are cheaper than Zara, Mango, etc.. Istanbul has many malls too, one of my favorites is called Istinye Park, it’s huge and offers a wide variety of brands and restaurants. It is located in Istinye which is a bit far from Istiklal street so make sure you take the metro since a cab might be a bit pricey!

10- Final Tips

People in Istanbul are not very fluent with English so you have to use A LOT of hand gestures! They use the Turkish lira as a currency so try to exchange your money to TL to avoid any rejections of euros or dollars. The food in Turkey is not the best, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t taste it, there are certainly many hidden gems around the city. Check your hotel on Trip Advisor before booking and some restaurants as well. My final tip for you is to try to enjoy this beautiful city to the fullest, and I am sure you will feel part of your soul will be connected to this city forever just like I feel!

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Are you planning to visit Istanbul soon?

Lara xx

Montenegro Travel Diary

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As fall approaches, I look back to my week spent in Europe and remember my best days of this summer season! After my 3 days in Croatia, we headed to Budva which is approximately a 3 hours drive from Dubrovnik. We stayed in Budva-Montenegro, but we had the chance to visit many other beautiful areas around Montenegro. Budva is certainly more crowded than Dubrovnik; you can easily notice the Russian domination over there haha! Montenegro in general has beautiful nature, and the people there are very similar to the Lebanese people after our guide mentioned that people in Montenegro often break rules and they spend more than they earn lol!

What did I do in Montenegro?

– Visited Budva’s Old Town which is smaller than the one in Dubrovnik, but it is also beautiful!

– Went to Kotor which is another region few hours away from Budva. We spent most of our time in the beautiful Old Town of Kotor where it started raining. It really felt good walking around a new place in my flip-flops with rain, I felt so careless like nothing else mattered!

– Visited also another region called Cetinje (pronounced cetinye) which is the old royal capital of Montenegro. We had the chance to visit the palace of Prince Nicholas; let me tell you it is nothing compared to the palaces I saw in Instanbul in terms of luxury and sophistication haha, the palace in Cetinje is simpler!

– Went to the breathtaking Skadar Lake. What is interesting about this lake, other than the fact that you feel you are inside a painting, is that 2/3 is in Montenegro and 1/3 is in Albania so we also had the chance to visit Albania in some way haha! The boat trip through Skadar Lake took a few hours, but they were few hours of pure serenity and beauty.

– Tasted delicious sea food and enjoyed beautiful music!

Interesting note: If you ever visit Montenegro, you will notice a small island in the middle of the sea which is called Sveti Stephan. This island is actually a resort and a popular destination for many international stars like Madonna since 1 night in this resort can cost from 1000 to 3000 Euros. Our tour guide also mentioned that this Island is no longer owned by Montenegro, and if people want to go there just to walk around or swim, they need to make reservations! (You will see a picture for this island, the last photo)

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