Istanbul, Turkey Series

This Tuesday interrupts the Turks and Caicos Series to update you there will be a new Istanbul, Turkey Series. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I thought I’d introduce to you, the Turkish jjimjilbang (Go Google that…) because my Hubs and I will be indulging in good eats and HAMAM, the Turkish Bath. Scrub a dub dub. Hamams and the bathing methods are 600 years old. Hamams are an ancient place of  family deals, where Moms scoped out their future daughter-in-laws. That’s close and personal too fast so soon, no?

Here’s a few know-hows so you walk into a hammam like a pro:

1)  Choose a hamam that suits you. Most of them are gender specific.
2) Bring your toiletries, including a comb or hair brush, and what you usually use after showering or bathing. Hair dryers are available.
3) After you arrive, you’ll be directed to a locker, and be given a scrubbing glove, and towel.
4) Under your towel, be comfy in your own skin and wear what makes you comfortable, as well: swimsuit, underwear, or nothing is acceptable.
5) When you enter the hamam,  wrap thyself in a towel, and wear slippers that they give you. No slip and fall accidents, please. After all, “slippery when wet” applies here.
6) Get hydrated because the  the hamam is warm. Before lying on the dais, drink water and don’t be shy,  pour water on yourself.
7) Lie down, relax and let time go by on the dais for about 15 minutes. When an attendant gestures you for your scrub, you’ll be ready.
8) You’ll indulge in a  10-minute scrub with wash splashed on you, when you’ll get a lathering of soap and massage for about 10 minutes, and finally a wash-down.

 

 

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Snorkel Gear

Snorkel gear is important to cover as a part of the Turks and Caicos series, because it’s an item you can rent at the many resorts, but also crucial to own if you want to snorkel when your heart desires.

The typical snorkel set includes:

  • mask
  • snorkel
  • fins

Mask, Snorkel, and Fins Set
You have the option of buying the mask, snorkel, and fins as a set, or buying them separately. Personally, I especially like Aqua Lung gear because of the quality and price range.  It is a important to have a mask that gives a wide view, which most masks offer. While some masks give a wide panoramic view, where the side of the mask has an extra panel so the diver can have peripheral vision, this is not a “must-have”.

A purge valve and splash on the snorkel is important to have because both prevent sea water from getting into the snorkel and when the water gets into the snorkel, allows the water to easily be eliminated.

If you are a beginning swimmer, a life vest is great to have on hand. Most of the resorts have this available.

The Aqua Lung size chart:

Small : Men (4-7) / Women (5.5-8.5)
Medium : Men (7-10) / Women (8.5-11.5)
Large : Men (10-13) / Women (11.5-14.5)

Other swim gear includes:

The neoprene mask strap covers keeps from hair becoming entangled in the mask strap, which is annoying and painful. The rash guard protects the skin from the sun and accidental brush ups against coral. Board shorts serve the same purpose as the rash guard. If the waters are colder, consider using a wet suit.

Please click on the link to view a series of snorkeling YouTube videos.

Princess Alexandra National Park

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Source: https://www.visittci.com/providenciales/princess-alexandra-national-park

Princess Alexandra National Park protects three beaches and two reefs in Provo: Grace Bay, Leeward and Bight beaches, and Bight Feef and Smith’s Reef. Within the natural reserve are areas of interest: the iguana sanctuary (Little Water Cay), and the wetlands islands (Mangrove Cay and Donna Cay). Cay is pronounced as “key.” The waters are home to bottlenose dolphins, fishes, turtles, and other marine life. The National Park is easily accessed through many of the resorts on Grace Bay and Turtle Cove, in the northern part of Provo.

Environmental changes to the reef include external changes over twenty years of time. The coral in the area has been damaged by motor boarts, a failed  artificial island development near Mangrove Cay, which has relocated sediment to areas corals normally inhabited. Additionally, the conch population (pronounced “konk”) has greatly declined over the years due to poaching. Introduced to the local water, invasive Lionfish has also increased. Lionfish originate from the Indo-Pacific and their predatory nature has minimized a large number of the smaller reef fish and reefs in the Atlantic and Caribbean.

A few favorite activities along the water and in the water include:

  • Snorkeing
  • Paddle boarding
  • Swimming
  • Sun bathing
  • Watching the sunrise or sunset
  • Reading on the beach

Here are a few websites to help:

Coral Gardens Reef

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As a part of the Turks and Caicos Series, Coral Gardens Reef also known as Bight Reef, is in the Princess Alexandra National Park, on Grace Bay Beach, 5 feet off the beach, and the water is no more than 9 feet deep. Coral Gardens Reef is one of many areas to snorkel, dive, spot a few turtles, see lots of colorful corals, see fishes, and sting rays, lay out on the beach to relax, take a walk, and enjoy in Provo.

Snorkeling and diving: Look for a roped area. This is where all the action is and you’ll find there are lots of fish, colorful coral, and may even spot a turtle frolicking in the water. Although Coral Gardens Reef can become very crowded fast, it’s such a great place to snorkel and dive!

Some fish in the area include barracuda, eel, reef parrot fish, white grunt fish, puffer fish, lion fish, angel fish, and tang fish. You may even spot lobsters or a school of squid.

Tips:

  • Cab fare: $18-$20 per way.
  • Great for kids and beginning snorkelers.
  • Do not stand on the reef. This will kill them.
  • Bring your own towel and snorkel gear. If you’re staying at a resort that rents out snorkel gear, you can bring that with you.
  • Do not touch the rope or the coral and try to keep clear of them. You will get stung.
  • Bring a rash guard to prevent getting stung from the coral.
  • Close walk from Somewhere Cafe Restaurant. Many resorts are steps away from Coral Gardens Reef.
  • You can rent chairs/loungers, if your resort isn’t on Grace Bay and near Coral Gardens Reef.

Grace Bay

Turks & Caicos Islands are in the Caribbean. Called “TCI” for short, the islands are known for it’s beautiful beaches and for those who love the water, snorkeling, scuba diving, and other water sports. TCI is nestled between the Bahamas and the Dominican republican and is know for its secluded white sand beaches, shallow water, and clear turquoise water. There is something for every vacationer to do on the islands.

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Provos is located to the west of the islands and Grace Bay is the ocean front of many resorts. The best activities I enjoyed were snorkeling and reading on the beach.

Turks and Caicos Series

What I miss about Turks and Caicos is the snorkeling around the island, watching the fan coral sway and watching sea turtles swim away really fast.

My Hubs and I went to Provo for the first leg of our honeymoon. We stayed at the Windsong Resort and spent time snorkeling in Grace Bay, drinking rum mixed drinks, rode our bikes to a bakery in the morning for breakfast, and rented a car to visit secluded beaches. The following attractions are must-sees and I’ll be reviewing them and compiling them into a travel guide:

  • Grace Bay
  • Coral Gardens Reef also known as Bight Reef
  • Princess Alexandra National Park
  • Long Bay Beach
  • Sapodilla Bay
  • Taylor Bay
  • Chalk Sound
  • Leeward Beach

Part 6 of Jamaica, Jamaica! The Fern Gully

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Continuing from Part 5 of Jamaica, Jamaica! Today I will be writing about the Fern Gully. Next Travel Tuesday, I’ll move on and write about Carl the Spice Man and Bob Marley Mausoleum in Nine Mile. The Fern Gully was memorable and my favorite part of my first Jamaica trip.

The Fern Gully runs along a 3 mile long road in Ocho Rios in St. Ann’s Parish. Along the road are appoximately 600 species of fern. The road was paved in 1907 after an earthquake rerouted a river. The riverbed left behind rich soil and a diverse species of fern and trees. The foliage is so thick, it creates a tunnel of greenery, where slivers of sunlight peer through. The temperature is about ten degrees cooler due to the tunnel of ferns. The Jamaica National Heritage Trust Act preserves this natural phenomena as a protected national monument.

Part 5 of Jamaica, Jamaica!

Continuing from Part 4 of Jamaica, Jamaica!, today I will be writing about Black River. Next Travel Tuesday, I’ll move on and write about the Fern Gully, Carl the Spice Man, and Bob Marley Mausoleum in Nine Mile. I hope to compile these and make a Travel Guide Section on Charmnomgo.com.

The Black River is in St. Elizabeth Parish in Jamaica. This long river, a little over 33 miles, has mangrove tree roots meandering in clusters along its banks. The Black River is also home to the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus). These crocodiles are the smallest and least aggresive of their kind. Chartering a boat is the best way to go in order to see the River. The tours can be as short as an hour and a half and as long as four hours and includes lunch with some vendors. The current lowest rate I found is $15 per person. You can contact KnowJamaica Tours and speak to Javia to work out a customized tour of Black River: Phone – 1-876-859-4739 or http://www.knowjamaica.com (the site plays music as soon as you open the page.)

Travel Tuesdays: Part 4 of Jamaica, Jamaica!

YS Falls
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Located in St. Ann Parish, YS Falls used to be a cane farm.  The property was also the site of a factory. The estate was a logwood supplier, exporting logwood to Europe, which was used to make dye.  YS Falls is a beautiful visit. It was not as busy as Dunn’s River Falls when I last visited Jamaica.

You will end up riding a tractor-pulled trailer, swim in natural spring water, and enjoy the nature that surrounds you. Like Dunn’s River, you will have a guide who follows you to ensure you safely navigate the smooth limestone and know when to safely jump in the water. You can jump in the water by using one of two rope swings. You can also zip-line through the beautiful scenery.

To learn more, visit:  http://ysfalls.com/

The Rates are, as follows:

Waterfalls
Adult: $17.00 USD
Child(3-13YO): $8.50 USD

See http://ysfalls.com/rates/

 

Travel Tuesdays: Part 3 of Jamaica, Jamaica!

On our first visit to Jamaica, we visited the Appleton Rum Estate, Dunn’s River Falls, YS Falls, Black River, Fern Gully, saw Carl the Spice Man, and Bob Marley Mausoleum in Nine Mile. I will walk through these excursions with you and what you should bring for the next few Travel Tuesday posts.

Today’s review is on Dunn’s River Falls. Dunn’s River Falls is in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. A tour guide will lead you through the falls and help you along the way, telling you where to place your feet. If you do not want to bring your camera because it is not waterproof, there will be a videographer and photographer who takes your picture at the beginning of the tour and it is $8 to purchase the picture, thereafter. The water is refreshing on a particularly hot day. If you bring water shoes, make sure they are not water clogs or Crocs. You may lose them. We saw a few floating past us. Water shoes are required on the tour. They are also available for rent. Vendors also sell them for $10 in Jamaican colors if you want to bring a souvenir home. The tighter they fit the better because the water will make it easy for your feet to move around in your water shoes. Walking through the water towards the waterfall, if you go up on your left-hand side, there will be rails and steps. If your group goes up towards the right, it will be a more adventurous route. Either way, be cautious and vigilant. Holding hands with your group might seem cheesy, but once you slip, you’ll be happy someone is there to pull you up.

Vendors upon exiting may be interactive with you (aka aggressive) and ask you to have a “gift” and then turn around and ask you for money by asking you the worth of that gift to you. This is very tricky. Be wary and do not accept a “gift.” Also, do not tell them your name because they will carve a souvenir with your name on it and ask you for what you think the “gift” is worth.

Admission: $20 per person
*Busy times are Sunday through Tuesdays when the cruise ships dock and the other tourists join in on the fun.

What to bring:

  • Bathing suit or swim trunks/board shorts
  • Water shoes
  • Sunscreen
  • Waterproof camera (optional)
  • Waterproof bag to keep your camera, wallet, and other personal items in while you are perusing the falls.
  • Money