About yalla2013

Ya'lla Tours USA is a boutique tour operator offering top quality travel services in 10 exciting countries: Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Ya'lla Tours communications director, Kyna Perry, writes this blog based on personal experience and the deep well of experience and knowledge of Ya'lla colleagues near and far.

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Büyükada Island is the largest of a chain of small islands known as the Princes Islands in the Marmara Sea, about an hour by ferry from the country’s largest city, once known as Constantinople. In the 19th century wealthy Ottomans built summer houses here and many of those distinctive wooden mansions are part of the island’s appeal to tourists today. Motorized vehicles are prohibited on the island, which adds to its slow-paced, old-world atmosphere. 

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Sharqiya Sands, also known as Wahiba Sands after the local Bani Wahiba tribe, is roughly 4,000 square miles of sandy dunes in the north-east of our mystery country, about a two-hour drive from the national capital of Muscat. Along with several indigenous Bedouin groups inhabiting this desert, the high moisture content of the sand supports a surprising variety of flora and fauna. Heavy fog regularly rolls in off the sea and is absorbed by the sands.

There are lodges and tent camps in the Sharqiya Sands, but tourism, which has taken off across the country in recent years, may soon be limited to designated areas in order to preserve the unique and sensitive ecosystem. 

 

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Jews in Morocco

the mellah, the Jewish neighborhood of Fez

the mellah, the Jewish neighborhood of Fez

Jews have lived in Morocco for thousands of years, at least since the 6th-century BCE, after the Babylonian Exile of the Jews from Israel. In the 1st century, after Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70CE, many Jews fled to Morocco. Their numbers increased significantly after the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, as part of the Spanish Inquisition.

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The Paseo del Prado in Cienfuegos is the longest pedestrian promenade in the country. It stretches about 2km across the city to the malecón, the waterfront promenade. Developed by French settlers in the 19th century, Cienfuegos is much younger than the Spanish colonial cities of the country and its abundant Neoclassical architecture gives it a distinctive feel. Many of the city’s beautiful buildings can be seen along the Paseo del Prado.

 

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Istanbul Neighborhoods – Kuzguncuk

Kuzguncuk is a neighborhood in Istanbul on the Asian side of the Bosphorus at the eastern foot of the 1st Bosphorus bridge. It’s directly across the from Ortakoy on the European side and adjacent to Beylerbeyi, home of the Beylerbeyi Palace.

The neighborhood ambles down a leafy valley opening onto the Bosphorus Straight, which separates Istanbul into European and Asian sides. With cobbled streets,  Ottoman houses, and small family owned and operated shops lining the lanes, the atmosphere recalls 19th century Istanbul. An active neighborhood association works to restore and maintain the traditional character of Kuzguncuk, threatened by more profit-oriented urban development.

Historically Kuzguncuk has been peacefully multicultural, with Jews, Christian Armenians and Greeks, and Muslim Turks living and worshipping side by side for centuries. On the Bosphorus shore, a synagogue, church and mosque make friendly neighbors.

Jews expelled from the Iberian Peninsula in the 15th century settled here and put down roots, but since the establishment of the State of Israel in the mid-20th century, that population has decreased significantly. Two 19th-century synagogues still stand in the neighborhood and there’s a Jewish cemetery, with graves dating to the 15th century.

Istanbul’s oldest Armenian church is here and two Greek Orthodox churches, one of which, Hagios Panteleimon, was first established in the 6th century.

Locally, Kuzguncuk is known for fish restaurants, Bosphorus views and the laid-back charm of simpler days. İcadiye Avenue is the neighborhood’s main street, with galleries, every-day shops, cafes and a community garden. Spend a few hours just wandering. Mingle with friendly shop keepers. Linger over a meal, quite likely organic and grown in a nearby garden.

Beylerbeyi Palace in the next neighborhood makes a good companion to a Kuzguncuk visit.

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Ancient Gadara was a Decapolis city, one of ten Greco-Roman city-states on the eastern fringes of the Roman Empire. Matthew 8:28-34 in the New Testament tells that Jesus cast demons from two men into a heard of pigs at Gadara, sending them running down the hill and into the Sea of Galilee. Today the Sea of Galilee is just across a national border from Gadara.

 

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