Did You Know These Facts About Morocco?

An Arabic name for Morocco, al-Magrib al-Aqsa, means “the extreme west” and attests to Morocco’s place as the westernmost country in the Arab world.

* In Morocco, it is considered impolite to handle food with the left hand and to say no to meat if it is offered at a meal.

* White is the color of mourning in Morocco. A Moroccan widow wears white for 40 days after the death of her husband to show she is in mourning.

* Moroccan Berber women still have tattoos in geometric designs on their faces, sometimes covering much of their forehead, cheeks, and necks. These are marks of tribal identification and date from a time when it was necessary to be able to spot women of one’s tribe who had been carried off in raids.

* In Morocco, it is estimated that there is one dentist for every 800,000 residents, and the standard treatment for a toothache is extraction. At country souks (markets), tooth-extraction specialists are identified by their set of pliers and small carpets littered with bloody molars.

* Moroccans jokingly call their tap water Sidi Robinet (Sir, or Lord, Tap), and it is drinkable in most parts of the country.

* The word kasbah probably derives from the Turkish kasaba, meaning small town. In contemporary Morocco and all of North Africa, it is generally used to refer to the fortified strong point in a city.

* Often called the “Red City,” Marrakech, Morocco, requires sun protection and headgear of some kind all year-round, even during winter.

* The English word “genie” comes directly from the Arabic word djinn, denoting a spiritual being that may play some part in human affairs if called upon. In Morocco, djinns are believed to frequent places associated with water: public baths, drains, sinks, and even pots and pans….


See our Morocco Tours Offered here

SANTORINI & MYKONOS

article-2740819-2056A8F500000578-121_964x640

Did you know that the whole complex of Santorini islands is still an active volcano and probably the only volcano in the world whose crater is in the sea? The islands that form Santorini came into existence as a result of intensive volcanic activity; twelve huge eruptions occurred, one every 20,000 years approximately, and each violent eruption caused the collapse of the volcano’s central part creating a large crater. The volcano, however, managed to recreate itself over and over again.

Santorini is considered to be the most sought after place for a romantic getaway in Greece, since there are not many places in the world where you can enjoy exquisitely clear waters while perched on the rim of a massive active volcano in the middle of the sea! A trip to Santorini with your other half is a dream for anyone who has seen at least one photo of the island’s famous Caldera.

A visit to Santorini is the ultimate gastronomic experience, as the island is a true culinary paradise!

mykonos-greece-1

Mykonos is Greece’s most famous cosmopolitan island, a whitewashed paradise in the heart of the Cyclades. According to mythology, Mykonos was formed from the petrified bodies of giants killed by Hercules. And did you know that the island took its name from the grandson of Apollo, “Mykonos”?

Soak up the atmosphere along the lively waterfront and admire a fleet of fishing boats casting colourful reflections in the azure waters. This is where you will find the Kazárma building, which served as accommodation for the soldiers of Manto Mavrogenous, a heroine of the Greek Revolution.

On the island you can find many well-organized diving centers (some of them also offer snorkeling lessons) and stores specializing in diving equipment. Explore the island on a caicque or a boat and discover secluded beaches, or take a boat tour around the nearby islets, which are also ideal fishing spots!

In Mykonos, take the opportunity to explore the tiny archaeological gem of Delos, just a short boat trip away. Delos was a sacred island in ancient times, and according to mythology was the birthplace of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis.

For more info on joining one of Sojourn Travel’s Greek Tours click here >>>>>>>

GREEK CUISINE

Mediterranean Greek Cuisine
Mediterranean Greek Cuisine

The Greek diet is the perfect example of traditional Mediterranean eating. It’s based around a variety of colourful and flavourful foods that are high in nutrients and low in animal fats.

Wheat is a staple part of Greek cuisine. It’s used to make a variety of breads including pita bread and crusty whole grain peasant bread. Bulgur, which is made from cracked whole wheat, is eaten as an accompaniment to hearty stews or added to soups and salads. Pasta, which was introduced to the Greeks by the Italians, is also a popular wheat-based food. Another important grain food in the Greek diet is rice, which is used in pilafs and bakes, served with stews or wrapped in grape leaves to make dolmades.

Like wheat, olives have been cultivated in Greece since ancient times. The golden green oil extracted from the first cold pressing of olives is called extra virgin olive oil, and it is used in some form in most traditional Greek dishes. Crusty bread dipped in a little extra virgin olive oil is also a popular accompaniment to food.

Greece is almost surrounded by sea, so it’s no surprise that fish and shellfish are eaten regularly.

Meat doesn’t play a prominent role in traditional Greek cuisine. It’s usually reserved for festivals and special occasions or used in small amounts as a flavor enhancer.

The warm climate of Greece makes it ideal for growing vegetables and fruits, and these are eaten in abundant amounts. These include tomatoes, garlic, onions, spinach, artichokes, fennel, lettuce, cabbage, horta (wild greens), zucchini, eggplant and peppers.

Fruits are eaten either fresh, or preserved by drying. Popular varieties include apricots, grapes, dates, cherries, apples, pears, plums and figs.

Many types of nuts are used in cooking or eaten as snacks—particularly pine nuts, almonds, walnuts and pistachios.

Wine is consumed regularly in Greece, but mainly with food, and in moderation. Ouzo (an aniseed flavored spirit) and beer are also popular alcoholic beverages. Strong black coffee is one of the most popular non-alcoholic beverages.

For more info on joining one of Sojourn Travel’s Greek Tours click here >>>>>>>

Demre: The Home of St. Nicholas

demre first

Demre is a town in the Antalya Province on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, named after the river Demre. Demre is the Lycian town of Myra, the home of Saint Nicholas of Myra, the historical man later developed into the figure of Santa Claus. A substantial Christian community of Greeks lived in Demre until the 1920s when they were forced to migrate to Greece after the Population exchange between Greece and Turkey. The region is popular with tourists today, particularly Christian pilgrims who visit the tomb of Saint Nicholas.
demre 4
Before the tourism boom in the 1980’s agriculture was the area’s main industry.  However, despite the tourism boom, the cultivation of local fruits and vegetables still continues today, with the flourishing growth of pomegranates and citrus fruits in addition to a many other varieties of produce being cultivated all year in greenhouses.  Fresh Mediterranean fish and seafood is the basis of local cuisine in this area.  With hot, dry summers and warm, rainy winters the climate is typical of the Mediterranean region. 

demre1

FEATURED LOCATION: SUNKEN CITY OF KEKOVA

kekova 4

Kekova is a small Turkish island near Demre , which faces the villages of Kaleköy (ancient Simena) and Üçağız (ancient Teimioussa). Kekova is uninhabited.

On its northern side there are the partly sunken ruins of Dolchiste/Dolikisthe, an ancient town which was destroyed by an earthquake during the 2nd century. Rebuilt and still flourishing during the Byzantine Empire period, it was finally abandoned because of Arab incursions.
kekov2

kekonve1
The Kekova region was declared a specially protected area in 1990 by Turkish Ministry of Environment and Forest. All kinds of diving and swimming were prohibited and subject to special permits from governmental offices. In later years the prohibition has been lifted except for the part where the sunken city is.

kekova 3

THE STORY OF ST. NICHOLAS

Long ago, in a far off land known today as Turkey, there was a boy named Nicholas. Nicholas was a person who created numerous miracles and accomplished many good deeds. As a teenager, Nicholas inherited a vast fortune, but he had no idea what to do with it. Wanting to help those less fortunate than himself, Nicholas set out to make the wishes of others come true. While Nicholas knew the townspeople needed his help, he was also aware that they were very proud people, so Nicholas decided to help his friends secretly. st nicholas
Each night, Nicholas would disguise himself and deliver such items as food, clothing and money to the people of his village. Of all the townspeople, Nicholas felt the closest bond with one specific family. In this family, there were three daughters. Sadly, the family was very poor and the father felt much pain over the fact that he could not afford the weddings of each daughter. In his desire to help the family, Nicholas left a bag of gold on the father’s doorstep as the wedding of the oldest daughter was near. Upon discovering the money the next morning, the family was very happy!

When it was time for the second daughter to get married, Nicholas again visited the family. He threw another bag of gold into the family’s chimney. The family greatly appreciated the individual who was providing them with such a great fortune, but they had no idea as to who this person could be. As the third daughter’s wedding neared, the father decided to stand guard so that he could identify the kind person who had created such happiness for his family. On this visit, Nicholas tossed the bag of gold through an open window. Upon hearing the bag of coins land on the floor, the father chased Nicholas until he caught up with him.

Nicholas was embarrassed and did not want the father to make his identity known to the townspeople. The father promised to keep the secret, but was so grateful for the kindness of young Nicholas that he could not keep the secret no matter how hard he tried. Soon the entire town knew that Nicholas was the person responsible for the wonderful events that had occurred in their town.myrr

Every December, Nicholas took it upon himself to reward all of the boys and girls who had been good throughout the year by secretly delivering presents to them. All these years later, Nicholas is still remembered for his kindness, generosity, and undying love for children. In honor of Nicholas, many countries throughout the world provide children with gift bags in December on Saint Nicholas’ Day.

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT EPHESUS

[mappress mapid=”2″]

  • Did you know the toilets in Ephesus were ranged side by side with no partition between them? And that before the wealthy people used the toilets, their slaves sat on the stones for over an hour to heat the toilets for their masters?

efes1

  • On one of the stone carvings, you can see from the round shape on which one foot of Emperor Trajan  is resting, (symbolizing his rule of the world) that the ancient Romans knew the true shape of the world even back in the 1st century AD.

trajan

  • Did you know that the Celsus Library in Ephesus was the third largest library with the capacity of 12,000 scrolls after the Alexandra and Pergamum, and that the facade of the library has 2 stories but the interior has 3 stories because of original architecture?

ephesus

  • Did you know one of the early philosophers Heraclitus (well known for his famous quote “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man”) was born in Ephesus
  • It’s interesting to realize that Ephesus, which is now 6 miles away from the sea, was once a sea port.
  • Did you know that The Virgin Mary supposedly lived her last years of life in Turkey, here in a small cottage near Ephesus and that her house in Ephesus was visited by Pope the 6th Paul and Pope Jean Paul as well?
  • One of the seven wonders of the antiquity, Temple of Artemis, is at Ephesus, and it is believed to have been rebuilt 7 times? (Though now it is in ruins, with only 1 column remaining.)
    temple
  • One of the Seven Churches (congregation in the first century AD) of Revelation was in Ephesus. (Revelation 2:1-7). And that St. Paul the Apostle gave lectures in the Tyrannus Hall and the synagogue in Ephesus for two years in his third missionary journey.  (Acts 19:8,9)
  • Did you know the first advertisement of the antiquity, which supposedly shows the way to a brothel, is on the Marble Street in Ephesus?
  • 7 Christians who fled Ephesus are believed to have slept in a cave near Ephesus for 200 years.

Get Ephesus Tour Plan & Pricing Now

The Treasure Chest of Ephesus Beckons Visitors

Among the wonders of Turkey travel, there is probably no place more evocative of ancient life through the ages than Ephesus.  Known as the city where Paul preached the Christian message so passionately, local history is also interwoven with myth and mystery and has been influenced by successive religions, cultures and civilizations extending back to Bronze Age Hittite occupation; perhaps as long as 6,000 years ago.

Located within a short walk of modern-day Selcuk with its walled fortress, and its seasonal April through September stork nesting places, one could spend an entire vacation trip exploring the ruins and the historical sites of Ephesus, once a bustling seaport with a population of about a quarter million people.  Ephesus visits can be planned as add-ons to most Turkey travel packages.

The largest Roman amphitheater in the world at the time was located here.  It could seat 24,000, with perfect acoustics even to the uppermost levels, and to sit there today is to be transported back to the spectacle of games and gladiators.  One can walk Roman streets, explore Roman dwelling places, imagine Roman markets and even sit briefly on still-existing Roman marble toilets.

Before the Roman age, however, Ephesus was a jewel in the Greek crown, and housed the renowned Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  There are other remnants of that culture to behold as well: A library, statuary, columns and artifacts, with more treasures housed in the Ephesus Museum.  Persians once ruled here too, only to be defeated by Alexander the Great who went on to conquer the whole of the known world before he was 33.

Alexander was born, by coincidence, on July 21, in the year 356 BC, the same night the temple of Artemis was destroyed by arson.  The temple’s rebuilding, on a grander scale than it had existed previously, was completed by order of Alexander the same year he died, in 323 BC.

When designing your upcoming Turkey tours, do not neglect the treasures to be unearthed in Ephesus.

Visit A Real Turkish Hamam

Here in the United States, we have fancy and extremely expensive day spas where we can go and pay upwards of $500 or more for an afternoon of pampering. This may include a “vichy bath,” or a scrub-down with soap performed by an attendant, followed by a rinse, a massage and an application of oil all over the body. After we’ve paid that pretty penny and come out of the salon with a much lighter wallet, our skin may glow for a couple of hours but the pain of our empty pockets can linger for weeks or even months. In Turkey, the identical bathing experience can be had for about $50.  We recommend you consider this local treat during your Turkey tours.

There are two major types of hamams, or Turkish baths, available for you to enjoy. As you explore Turkey travel packages, keep these two options in mind so you can choose which one suits you best. The first type is the hotel hamam which caters mostly to tourists, and the second type is the public hamam which is a regular weekly ritual for many Turkish people. If you choose the public hamam, you will certainly be in a for a great experience.  For details on modesty and what to expect see our previous post here.

Both types of hamams generally employ the same methodology. You will be placed onto a heated, raised stone slab in the middle of a tiled room. After sweating for about 15 minutes, an attendant shows up to exfoliate your skin with a rough cloth, then scrub your body with soap and bubbly lather. After the exfoliation, you can opt to be massaged with oils, sometimes in a separate room. In public hamams, friends often attend to each other rather than pay an attendant. Public hamams range in price from about $20-$80.

Hotel hamams are more westernized, and offer higher quality soaps and oils. They also charge a lot more money for the same experience, so you might want to consider delving into a real, historic hamam for the most authentic visit.

There are many hamams in Istanbul, and some of the most popular traditional, public and oft visited by tourists are:

-Cagaloglu Baths: Kazim Ismail Gurkan Cad. No:24 Eminonu/Cagaloglu, Fatih, Istanbul

– Uskudar Cinili Hamam: Valide-i Atik Mh. 34664 Üsküdar/Istanbul Province

– Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamami: Cankurtaran Mahallesi Bab-i Humayun Cad., Istanbul

Some of Sojourn’s Turkey tours may include a visit to a hamam, just ask. Do check and make sure that the hamam you will be visiting is one that offers an environment in which you would feel comfortable. Of all of the unique Turkey travel experiences you can have, a visit to a hamam will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable.

Turkey Travel May Indeed Be a Magic Carpet Ride

Textiles of all kinds, from flat-woven rugs of cotton or wool to hand-knotted tribal-pattern carpets of wool or silk to finely striped and vibrantly colored, absorbent cotton towels, are a staple of Turkish history and tradition, and the arts thrive today throughout the country.

Some of the most popular purchases for particpants in Turkey travel packages are rugs. Because Turkey is comprised of a vast land area with a rich, multi-cultural tradition, the historical significance of its rug-weaving traditions is also varied and immense. From the earliest examples of Anatolian knotted rug-making, dating to centuries before the Christian, era to contemporary examples of hand-knotted rugs incorporating traditional tribal patterns, motifs and natural colors, the artistic tradition of rug-making extends from one region to another across the land.

The history of the flat-woven Kilim, traditionally crafted by women, may reach to approximately 7,000 BC. It is certain that the familiar geometric patterns are ancient, and they look so very modern. Variations in the type of knot help to identify the origins of the many different styles of knotted rugss. All, however, particularly older rugs, employed natural dyes and emerged from the traditions of local tribes and cultures. Although changed through the generations, local traditions remain strong; that fact is one of the important aspects of the art. Every rug has a past as well as a future.

Buying a carpet is easy — it’s only the wide variety that makes it difficult. The best advice is to look at many, but select only the one (or the several) that you truly love. Whatever your budget, you are certain to find many that are appealing. Look for quality; all reputable dealers will be happy to educate you about attributes and value.

Then, simply enjoy your purchase when you return home, a reminder of your Turkey tours.