This last October I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Turkey. If you find yourself on the Southwest coast and needing to escape the resort buzz in Marmaris, I highly suggest renting a car or scooter and drive out to the ancient ruins at Knidos. There you can find a place to grab a beer or food and if you time it right, watch the sunset over the Aegean.
Well, Norway doesn't show up in the 'Select a country' drop-down...
Anyway, Lee, about 5-6 years ago I did a sailing trip arounf Lofoten, one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. Sailing in themiddle of the night with the midnight sun lighting our way. We sailed straight from Tromso to Vaeroy, amojst the very tip, and then made our way back slowly through the archipelago. Beautiful and desolate. Hardly encoutered a soul. If you get a chance to stop at Svolvaer, there's is a little bar just as you enter the harbour that serves FREE fiskesoup at ungodly hours in the summer (no one really sleeps anyway), subdued ambiance, smoke, beer, the lost world. If you plan to stop by Stavanger do let me know I have a couple of really good friends you can hang out with.
I lived in Cairo, Egypt for a period of time in the early 90's. While I'm sure much has changed since then I'd like to recommend the following for your must see/do list:
For an amazing shopping experience the immense rabbit-warren of shops and stalls in the mostly outdoor shopping district the Khan al-Khalili (a.k.a. the Khan) can't be missed. Originally built around 1382. Take a map of the Khan with you...it's easy to get lost in there. You can also hire a guide but he will most likely only take you to the stores of his relatives, still if you don't have a lot of time to spend it's an option to consider. Bargaining is an artform in Egypt so practice your skills. If it's something you REALLY want try to act uninterested and don't be afraid to walk away. You can get some excellent perfumes custom made (they will copy designer scents as well). Frequently the perfumes come in pure oil form and will last forever. You can also get some excellent buys on gold bangles and bobbles! For big ticket items be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time negotiating (often involving sitting down to tea) before closing the sale.
While you're in the vicinity you might want to take a taxi or bus over to the City of the Dead, the City of the Dead houses the funerary complexes of the Mamluk sultans and their amirs. There are some amazing Khanqah's there. The khanqahs supported large numbers of inhabitants who developed complex communities. Some of the more notable: Kanqah of Barquq, Khanqah of Sultan Barsbey and the Funerary Comples of Qaytbey.
Old Cairo is also worth exploring. The easiest way to get there is to take the Metro south (Helwan direction), get off at the Mari Girgis stop. Plan at least a 1/2 days worth of exploring here to truly appreciate all the amazing architecture and history (the Coptic Museum is there).
The Egyptian Antiquities Museum is a must while in Cairo. Not something you can do in just one day. This is a vast collection of Egyptian antiquities.
Of course you have to stop at the pyramids while you are there. We enjoyed renting horses rather than camels whenever we went to Giza, the horses seem to attract less tourists, and you can find a personal guide for a small party of 2 or more.
If you want to stay out of the central hub-bub of the city center, Maadi is a good option for accomodations. Maadi is located in the southern suburbs of Cairo, there are some gorgeous villas there left over from the English settlements. The hotels can sometimes be more affordable in Maadi and New Maadi. Taxis (find one driver you like and stick with him -- negotiate day rates) and the Metro provide easy access to all other areas you might wish to visit.
Other places to visit in Egypt: Alexandria, Memphis & Sakara, Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel. For a real adventure consider renting a Falouka and sailing up the Nile, not recommended in the hottest months, bring lots of mosquito protection.
The Siwa Oasis is a must see destination. It is one of Egypt's most isolated settlements. While it has become more of a tourist draw in recent years, it's still far enough off the beaten path that you're sure to have a wonderful adventure and have a chance to get a closer look at this unique Siwan Berber culture. Don't miss the fine crafts produced by the locals. While you're there consider a Siwa Safari.
There's so much more to do and see, but those are some of the highlights.
Ten temples might be too many to think of right now, but the title had a nice ring to it and there really are SO many temples, that it does help to get personal opinions on which ones are worth seeing in a limited amount of time.
Kiyomizu - I would definitely recommend. In Eastern Kyoto it stands far apart from the many others temples you'll see in Japan. Upon a hillside overlooking Kyoto, the temple has a wonderful view of the city. Even the massive wooden pillars supporting the temple have a certain charm, (I think the entire temple might have been built without nails). Sip water from the special flowing spring as you leave the temple for blessings of fortune and health. But the real must is walking down the picturesque Ninnenzaka as it leads away from the temple. A great place to stop and have a snack is Kasagi-ya a tiny homey tea shop with only a handful of tables, but which serves the best ohagi and tea sweets I've ever had. Their Kaki-gori (shaved ice) with green tea is also so oishii you'll want to make the trip back to Kyoto just for this little shop. (if I remember correctly if you're walking down the stairs of Ninnenzaka it's on the left hand side, partially covered by the stairs - look for the kaki-gori kanji)
Todai-ji - if you have the time this is a nice day trip from Kyoto (it does take the whole day though, so only if you have the time). Todai-ji is memorable from other temples just for the sheer massiveness of the Buddha. The bowing deer and being pulled through a hole in the pillar (the size of the Buddha's nostril) for good luck, makes it even more enjoyable. Watch your pockets though, the deer can get a little aggressive.
Kinkaku-ji - SO different from any other temple. GOLD. Not quite what I think of when I think of the tranquility and peace of zen gardens (and personally, I think I prefer the calm of Ryoanji or Ginkakuji) but if I were never able to visit Kyoto again in my life, then this is something I would have wanted to see.
Okay, so sorry to disappoint. I'm stopping at three. ;) Just wanted to put in my couple of two cents on Kyoto temples to balance out Kai. :D
With Sach and Lee already making their way through Asia, looks like I better start writing...course once I start who knows when it'll stop!
Thank heavens for the categories, for now I'll stick to sight seeing.
Chapter 1 - Sight Seeing
Aside for your normal temples and shrines, there are a couple of must sees in Japan.
Harajuku on a Sunday afternoon - Young Tokyo fashion is something entirely in itself (think loose flash dance socks to the knee), but it's nothing compared to what you'll see on the corner of Omotesando at the entrance to Yoyogi park on a Sunday afternoon. Take the Yamanote line to the Meiji-jingu/Harajuku Station. if you're in a crunch for time exit at either end of the station (the closer end is Meiji-jingu-mae) and hang a right, but if you have the time give yourself a treat and walk down my favorite street in all of Japan, Takeshita-dori, where you're packed shoulder to shoulder by the bustle of young fashionable Japanese looking for a good buy, hang a right at the first real street, then another right on Omotesando. (Suddenly you're hit by real Western Culture: GAP, J-Crew, Starbucks, oh and Condom-mania) However, keep going up the street and BOOM, your in the middle of a cross between a cult, a costume party and the 60's, 70's, 80's all combined. It's unforgettable and unlike any fashion party or gathering you'll ever see again. (Don't be shy with the camera, we were polite at first and took pictures subtley from a distance, till we realized their preference was to pose as people snapped happily away)
Tsukiji Market is another must-see and an experience all in its own. Tour books often have this written up incorrectly or not enough. They say get their early, but after it's officially open to the public. The real action happens earlier between 5am and 6am when the HUGE masses of tuna (I believe they average 200 lbs) are auctioned off to restauranteurs and wholesalers. (Did I mention that this one open market supplies the WHOLE of Japan and the Westcoast - well I thought I read that somewhere, and it's certainly busy enough to make me believe it) More species and types of fish for sale than you've ever seen in your life. So if ANYONE has just a smidge of appreciation for seafood or sushi take the time to wake up early, you don't see too many foreigners, but as long as you're able to weave through the frantic masses of crowds and little motorzied delivery trucks, you're fine. Don't forget to stop for sushi and sake at one of the numerous shops on your way out. Follow the locals or the men in knee high boots, they know where to go. It is the freshest possible sushi your palate will ever have the pleasure of experiencing, and pretty affordable as well.
Shibuya Crosswalk I've been to Tokyo numerous times and the throngs of people, never cease to amaze me, but never more so than at this one intersection in Shibuya. I wish I could tell you more of exactly where it is. You'll know when you're there, when you're trying to cross the street at the same time as HUNDREDS of other people and you get so turned around you can't remember which side of the street you were trying to get to. I'm not 100% positive, but I believe it's the Hachiko exit of the station (Hachiko is a famous dog and statue rendezvous point)..I do know that the best vantage point is from the second floor of Starbucks that's either adjoining or a part of the Seibu Department Store. This is also a great area to hang out at night, the lights, the crowds the feel is amazing. I've never felt more IN Tokyo then in that exact spot (or corner).
Ouch...hmm..that was only three sites and I've babbled your ears off (or worn your eyes out)...better stop for now. I did try to warn you and I haven't even gotten to temples yet!!!
Jya matta ne! Stace
Let’s dress up --> Putting on beautifully and heavily embroidered Myanmar shoes and bags promises to be an enriching cultural experience. Most of Royal Rose’s products are very much Myanmar and very much original. Although it has been a sole producer of designer Myanmar bags and shoes for years, the designs are never out of date as new designs are frequently released to deep up with current trends. 28/Kl, Inya Yeik Thar St., Kabar Aye Pagoda Rd.
Vibrant Silver Jewllery -->Silver jewellery decorated with semiprecious stones is becoming more and more popular among Yangonited. This eye-catching colorful jewelers is becoming the epitome in attractiveness and elegance. Victory Gems at Bogyoke Aung San Market specializes in 925 silver jewelers with semi precious stones. Their use of the latest technology also helps keep the designs up to date. Prices are reasonable and because of its variety of colors, the jewelers can be made to match any color of outfit. 163, East sing of Bogyoke Aung San Market.
Lotus Shawls --> Whenever you wear lotus shawls, remember that you are lucky in possession of a rare accessory. The fact is that it is never easy to become one lotus shawl. Obtaining threats itself takes 15days and weaving takes another two weeks as handling the very thin fabric is apparently a difficult task. Lotus shawls are a true treasure of Myanmar and come from Shan state around famous Inle Lake and Kaya State, where they are available only six good months of a year. However, it is always worth of waiting, Its cool look and earthy natural colors suit both men and women keen to be stylish. Zawgyi House near Bogyoke Aung San Market sells different colors of these expensive shawls. 372, Bogyoke Aung San Road.
Treasured images --> The internationally renowned Myanmar photographer, Zaw Min Yu’s photo portrayal of the country’s most sacred site, Bagan tells its history differently. Zaw Min Yu’s experience and expertise in photography is shown distinctively in this book, A Journey Into Bagan. His presentation of the ancient city from morning to night dusk’til dawn, as well as images reflecting the people’s strong beli9ef in religion, gives readers the chance to experience Bagan through and artist’s eye. The veteran photographer captured the true essence of the city and recorded it beautifully, and the photos also reveal a sense of the history of Bagan. Innwa Book Store, Sule Pagoda Road.
Modern Cotton --> In the past, cotton clothes were made more in the traditional style. But now shops like Shayi modernize their designs and create vibrant Myanmar cotton clothes which are in tune with modern youth, Shayi also weaves its own exclusive patterns to set it apart from others in the market.
The modern touch changes the look of the cotton clothes and they compare well against imported counterparts. 24/3, Nawaday Street, Dagon Township.
Tourism is coming to a remote village community in Laeshi, Lahel and while planners see it as a perfect enterprise, you’ll be listening to Young Naga soon why they will have the final say .....
Turn off along the unmetalled "roads" that lead into the higher hills, however, and your vehicle must engage four-wheel drive if it has one, and even then negotiating axle-deep slush and treacherous landslips that erase the way ahead is not a task for the weekend adventurer.