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11 Things I Was Told About Dublin (not all of them were true)

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | October 19, 2013 | 17 Comments

“Why would you ever think Irish food is bland?” my friend Úna asked in disbelief. I have no idea, but this was just one of many misconceptions about Dublin I carried with me recently. Perhaps it’s because unlike many of my fellow Canadians, I don’t have a single Doyle or Kennedy or O’Connell in my ancestry –…

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Haunted Dublin (And Not Just Around Halloween)

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | October 13, 2013 | 11 Comments

As Halloween nears, my mind turns to things spooky, haunted, scary. I think of darkened corners, their smell musty from centuries of avoidance, cobwebs clinging to ancient walls, providing goose bumps and sheepish grins in equal doses. In Dublin recently, that spirit – or the spirits – felt quite alive. In the land of mythical…

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There Was a Time in Communist Albania

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | September 3, 2013 | 0 Comments

Albania used to be the most communist of communist countries – but you’d never know it today. Evidence of the world’s strictest Marxist-Leninist regime has all but disappeared. What’s left are bunkers, thousands of ugly, concrete domes of which more than 700,000 were built to keep out ‘the enemy.’

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Misompuru Homestay: A Sabahan Adventure

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | August 2, 2013 | 18 Comments

The main road leading to Kudat in North Borneo is dotted with dogs: stray dogs, wandering dogs, dogs that belong to nearby farmers, all in danger of being hit by a car doing nothing guiltier than driving. Amidst the dogs off to the left a muddy road climbs a hill and cuts through a few…

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Up Close and Personal at the Istanbul Grand Bazaar

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | May 29, 2013 | 7 Comments

Walking into the Istanbul Grand Bazaar on a crowded Saturday afternoon can give even the bravest of shoppers a meltdown. With its nearly 5,000 shops, hundreds of thousands of visitors a day and come-hither merchants, even an expert shopper would be forgiven a moment’s hesitation at what is believed to be the world’s most visited attraction. (estimates are between…

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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…

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Barcelona Highlights, Unconventionally

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | September 28, 2012 | 12 Comments
El Born Barcelona

It’s not my first time in Barcelona but it’s definitely my most offbeat – and slightly adventurous: I arrived by train after a 13-hour journey from Santiago de Compostela, stayed in a luxurious flat, shopped for food at the upmarket La Boquería and was whipped around the city in a motorcycle sidecar. This came about because I applied –…

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