Istanbul: Favorite spots to stop, shop and hop around

Eren Göknar/ Special to the TOwn Crier
Turkish delights: When in Istanbul, take in views from a Bosphorus cruise.

Every time my plane lands at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, my heart anticipates the vitality of one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

The call to prayers, regardless of whether you believe in Islam, lends a lyrical quality to the atmosphere five times a day. The “azan,” or prayers, are broadcast from mosques high and low, blanketing Turkey’s largest city with a soulful melancholy.


Carmel Valley Ranch unveils upgrades

Courtesy of Carmel Valley Ranch
Carmel Valley Ranch recently upgraded its Vineyard Oak suites, which feature sweeping views, rocking chairs and private outdoor tubs for soaking under the stars.

Things are heating up at Carmel Valley Ranch, with 30 new suites targeting couples, according to a resort spokeswoman.

The 700-square-foot Vineyard Oak one-bedroom suites feature outdoor fireplaces, a concrete soaking tub, daybeds, rocking chairs, picnic tables and tree-top views with filtered light through the oaks. Natural stones and woods and glass and mosaic showers highlight the bathrooms.


Peru for two: A hiker's take on Machu Picchu, mules and making it to the top

Alicia Castro/Town Crier
The sun illuminates the ruins at Machu Picchu.

We plopped down on the grass, exhausted from the trek and a bit grumpy. But the man beside us couldn’t stop smiling.

Rudy from Los Angeles, we learned, had dreamed of visiting Machu Picchu since he first heard about it in school at age 8. Now in his mid-60s, he’d completed a successful career, raised two brag-worthy children and, at long last, journeyed to see the Incan ruins.


Calistoga pools: Hot fun in the summertime

Eren Göknar/Special to the Town Crier
The grounds of Indian Springs Resort & Spa in Calistoga feature four natural geysers. Since the 19th century, the area has attracted travelers eager to “take the waters,” thought to hold curative powers. The resort recently underwent a $23 million expansion and face-lift.

As we float in the 102-degree thermal pool at the Indian Springs Resort & Spa in Calistoga, the triple-digit heat outside softens my outlook. This might be a good place to retreat after an IPO, I think, as my pool raft bobs near a Buddha statue in lotus pose.

It’s the middle of the week, but all around me adults drift into one another. A smiling couple sails by on two white, plastic rafts linked by blue pool noodles. Children splash wildly, knocking into the relaxed grownups. Although there’s an adults-only pool as well, this place – located at 1712 Lincoln Ave. – is made for families.


Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories

Eren Göknar/Special to the Town Crier
San Francisco-based humangear Inc. sells totes, tubes and tubs for traveling.

In travel, as in romance, it’s the little things that count.

Beyond the glossy brochures lie the travel discomforts too mundane to mention, like unmarked streets, heat waves or long lines.


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