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23 Remarkable Train Stations and Their Fascinating Secrets

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | September 17, 2017 | 6 Comments

Clothed in a dark velvet gown, she glides down the passageway, a flash of metal escaping from beneath her cape. She holds her breath before sliding open the compartment door, as if anyone might hear a tiny squeak over the thunder of rolling track. She silently pulls out her knife. That’s more or less how…

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Ten Years of Women on the Road

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | June 5, 2017 | 42 Comments

I was 30,000 feet above the Sahara when I saw her. Plodding in the opposite direction, she had wild red hair and was bent over with the weight of a heavy backpack. I blinked and looked again and she was gone. She had been in my mind only. But she looked uncannily like me. A life of…

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10 Experiential Adventures in Kyrgyzstan

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | April 24, 2017 | 28 Comments

Most countries have a list of “sights” – see this, see that, move on. Kyrgyzstan is different: you can see it, of course, but you really should experience it, putting all your senses into play and delving into the country like you would into a luscious cake. Yet it’s not a destination that comes naturally. It isn’t that simple…

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How to Make Travel Decisions: Should You Revisit a Familiar Place or Try a New One?

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | January 20, 2017 | 20 Comments

  Do you ever get the urge to travel without exactly knowing where to go? Do you start by asking whether you should revisit a place you know and love, or go somewhere you’ve never been? And how do you decide? Before you begin to make travel decisions and go rummaging through your guidebooks, you might want to settle…

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2016 – The Year That (Almost) Scared Me

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | January 3, 2017 | 9 Comments

I finally finished this year-end post around two in the morning… And then I hit DELETE. Its original title was “2016 – The Year That Scared Me.” But then I qualified it because it did have a few delightful interludes. Let’s face it, it has been a scary year. Trump was incomprehensibly elected to the US presidency,…

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The Magic of Lake Song Kul, Kyrgyzstan

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | November 24, 2016 | 3 Comments

Imagine an immense steppe. A sparkling crystal lake. Rough snow-capped mountains in the distance. Scattered yurts, horses running wild. If your eyes happen to be seeing this, you’ll know you’re at Lake Song Kul, Kyrgyzstan’s second largest lake – for me, its most beautiful by far. (The largest is Lake Issy-Kul.) Lake Song Kul’s beauty isn’t a pleasure…

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The Mysteries of Khiva, Uzbekistan

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | November 21, 2016 | 5 Comments

When the lights go off at night and the streets are swept clear of day-trippers, what’s left are 2500 years of walls and dust. Inching along paving stones I might once have shared with camel caravans on the Silk Road, I round a corner lit only by stars, nearly expecting a brigand to swipe me with his…

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My 9 European Foodie Destinations for October

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | October 2, 2016 | 20 Comments

Returning home after spending September in Central Asia, I was shocked. I’d left in summer, yet some of my trees were bare, and the rake was waiting for my swift hand. Suddenly I was reaching for a jacket in the evenings whereas days earlier, I had been hiding from the hot Uzbek sun in shaded patios. It only…

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A Solo Woman’s 3-Week Central Asia Itinerary

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | September 30, 2016 | 18 Comments

For the past month, I’ve been traveling solo through Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and posting my travels to Facebook (starting with this post on Day 1). Many of you have asked for itinerary details and specifics. So quickly, briefly, here they are. Welcome to my three-week Central Asia itinerary. Any woman traveling on her own can do…

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Part 11 – Anatomy of a Solo Female Backpacking Adventure: Packing for Central Asia

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | August 29, 2016 | 15 Comments

(Back to Part 1) I should have started far earlier. Yet here I am, the day before departure, my bed strewn with odds and ends that I think I’ll need for a month in Central Asia. It’s not that I don’t have a packing list – I certainly do, and it’s elaborate. But I’m traveling solo, I’ll be…

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