blog-header
Click here to subscribe

Goree Island, Senegal: A Highly Touted History

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | January 4, 2013 | 10 Comments

I’m not accustomed to being yelled at. Not by someone trying to sell me a service. Nor am I used to being called rich, stupid and foreign all in the same breath. It was bound to happen one day, my being foreign and all… It was on Gorée Island, just after I stepped off the ferry…

Read More

Seyssel: The Last Day of the Year in a Small French Town

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | December 31, 2012 | 10 Comments

New Year’s Eve in France is a serious business: mostly it’s about food, the kind of food you don’t buy every day, like lobster and crayfish and 20-year-old Comté cheese and fruits confits, those lovely sugar-coated fruits that crunch crisply when you bite into them. In the evening, families will gather to ring in 2013,…

Read More

My 2012: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | December 25, 2012 | 8 Comments

Those who know me personally may be surprised by this post: I don’t often get personal. I was trained as a journalist and spent a lifetime taking myself ‘out’ of a story. Now, as a travel blogger, I have to train myself to get back ‘into’ the story. And it doesn’t come naturally. Then I…

Read More

Learning History by Eating: the Lower East Side Food Tour

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | December 23, 2012 | 8 Comments

New York City makes me fat. I visit about once a year and I rarely go home without gaining more weight than I can afford: bagels, pastrami, hot dogs, tacos, cupcakes… anything and everything I can’t get in the French countryside. Yes, I know we eat sublimely here but it’s not about eating well. It’s…

Read More

Cheap New York – When You’re Close to Broke

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | December 17, 2012 | 10 Comments

‘Tis the season to be jolly and surely New York City is among the jolliest. I love this time of year and its Christmas spirit and crisp air and bright lights. Through a series of mishaps I ended up here with a small stash of cash (emphasis on small) and a credit card that wouldn’t deliver.…

Read More

Santiago de Compostela: My One-Hour Camino

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | November 12, 2012 | 2 Comments

While I can’t claim to have walked the Camino, I can certainly confirm I have walked on the Camino. For an entire hour. I wonder whether I should have walked at all… I was a tourist, not a traveler, a sightseer, not a participant, a voyeuse in a way, or to put it more kindly,…

Read More

The Forgotten Churches of Voskopoje

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | October 24, 2012 | 5 Comments

The Albanian village of Voskopoje harbors hidden treasure: remnants of extraordinary ecclesiastic art, murals and frescoes which unexpectedly survive in a handful of ancient mountain churches. It is a miracle they’re still standing, having been battered by just about everything: war, erosion, abandon, graffiti. Many of the walls are gone, the ceilings crumbling, paint flaking…

Read More

Riding the Blue Rustbucket on Lake Komani, Albania

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | October 14, 2012 | 7 Comments
Lake Komani Albania

When a guidebook calls it “one of the world’s classic boat journeys” there must be a reason. Here it is. You’d think such an extraordinary destination, a gateway to the Albanian Alps, would be easy to find, with hundreds of travelers making a beeline for the lakeshore. Not quite. But that’s part of the adventure.…

Read More

Girona. Barcelona. David. Goliath?

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | October 7, 2012 | 11 Comments
Girona vs Barcelona

How a smaller, more provincial town not only survives but thrives next to a much larger urban neighbor is a bit of a mystery. It’s common for people to visit Barcelona on weekend city breaks from around Europe, and the Catalonian capital’s name is the upstart darling of the travel set. How then can little…

Read More

Guimarães, Portugal: Women, Hearts and History

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | October 1, 2012 | 2 Comments
Guimaraes Portugal

What is that saying again… Behind every great man stands a great woman? That this would apply to a small Portuguese city was a bit of a surprise, at odds with my initial expectation of a more macho history. At first sight Guimarães is a typical town of the North: massive Catholic churches dedicated to Mary, orange-tiled…

Read More