Expert Travel Reviews

Unique and Private Shore Excursions in Ephesus

December 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

With ancient ruins, Biblical sites, and old architectural wonders, shore excursions in Ephesus lean heavily toward exploring the history of the city. Indeed, Ephesus has an exciting mix of ancient, cultural, and scenic sites. With its location on the coast of Ionia near Turkey, Ephesus offers many active daily excursions. Visitors will also find unique arts and crafts, shopping, and dining.

While most cruise lines offer similar tours, travelers can book directly from an independent shore excursion company to snag a better price and beat the crowds. Here’s a sampling of unique, private, and affordable Ephesus shore excursions.

The Ancient City

With comfortable shoes and a nice sun hat, visitors to the ancient city of Ephesus can explore the area’s glorious temples and cultural sites, many of which date back to 3rd century B.C. A walking tour of ancient Ephesus takes visitors to the Magnesia Gate, the Temple of Hadrian, the Trajan Fountain, the Odeon Theater, and the Celsus Library.

Biblical History

Ephesus is home to numerous Biblical sites. A typical private shore excursion lasts about five hours and goes on a walking journey to sites such as the House of the Virgin Mary, the Temple of Artemis, the Shrine of St. Mary, and Tithe Basilica of St. John. Visitors are picked up from the port in an air-conditioned, luxury mini-van.

In addition to Ephesus tours, guests can also find similar tour excursions in nearby Turkey and Greece. Whether you’re interested in Ephesus, Istanbul, or Kusadasi shore excursions, it’s worth booking a unique shore excursion from an independent tour company.

5 Days in Istanbul and What to Do With Your Time

December 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Posted by Phin Upham

Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city, and it features an UNESCO World Heritage site at its center. With a Mediterranean climate, Istanbul is a modern city with roots in biblical times. The densely populated city offers pockets of beauty with amazing views and fine dining. If you’re lucky enough to get a five or more days in the city, here are some thoughts on what to do with your time.

Galata Tower

Galata Tower offers one of the finest views in Turkey from a tower that overlooks the city and the Bosphorus river running through it. An elevator takes visitors part way and a short walk up two flights of stairs leads to a beautiful vista. A restaurant at the top gives seekers a chance to admire the scene.

Old Town

The old city houses some of Istanbul’s most treasured landmarks. Often called “the Walled City,” take a boat across Bosphorus for the full experience.

Hagia Sophia

Housed inside the old city, this Church can trace its roots back to the Roman empire. Guides can lead you through a tour of mosaics and artwork inside, but the most impressive aspect is the 1000 meter dome that lies over your head as you walk the grounds.

Blue Mosque

The courtyard of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is one of the most beautiful places in the world at dusk. Minarets and domes surround you as you cross through hallowed Turkish grounds.

Dining and Shopping

Try Feriye Lokantası if you’re looking for fine Turkish cuisine. Situated on the banks of the river Bosphorus, you can watch sea life frolic while you eat.

About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Facebook page.

Planning a Family-friendly Trip to Grand Cayman Island

December 11, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Grand Cayman Island is a great vacation destination for families. The largest of the three islands, Grand Cayman offers everything from water sports to great food and live music. Whether you’re going with young children, the elderly, or the entire clan, there is something for everyone on this beautiful island located in the Western Caribbean. But how do you make sure everyone in the family has fun without splitting up? Here’s how to make sure everyone in the family gets to enjoy an island getaway at the same time.

Rent a car. While active adults might enjoy walking, young children, the elderly, and other people might not be able to walk to and from every spot on the island. To make sure that everyone has a good time, rent a car while on vacation in Grand Cayman. There are many rental cars in Grand Cayman, from large vans and SUVs to convertibles. Make sure you rent a vehicle that accommodates everyone with room to spare.

Reserve a car rental before arriving on the island. While this might seem obvious, it’s not. Many guests end up visiting the island without booking proper transportation ahead of time. Once there, you might have a hard time booking a car big enough for everyone in your party. This can be a problem, especially if you plan on exploring the island’s many beautiful treasures.

Visit family-friendly beaches. Your Grand Cayman vacation simply isn’t complete without visiting the beautiful beaches. However, not every beach on the island is friendly for everyone in your party. Plan your trip around family-friendly beaches. A family-friendly beach is one that offers public restrooms, changing areas, and other convenient amenities. You might also want to visit a beach that is in walking distance of restaurants and shops.

Take a helicopter ride. A great activity you can do with everyone in your party is to book a helicopter ride. A helicopter ride is pleasant for children, adults, and the elderly. It’s an opportunity for everyone to enjoy the activity together, without worrying about losing someone in a crowd. Children usually don’t get bored during a helicopter ride, and parents can sit back and relax without worrying about driving or navigating a new location.

Visit the Turtle Farm. Vacationers young and old love Grand Cayman’s Turtle Farm, a place that sees more than 200,000 visitors a year. Grand Cayman Turtle Farm offers a variety of programs sure to please the pickiest vacationer.


This article has been provided by Andys Rent-A-Car, a car rental company located in Grand Cayman. Plan ahead and book one of our rental cars in Grand Cayman, such as a jeep, SUV, or van.

Exploring the Mourne Mountains

December 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Posted by Phin Upham

Once of the most beautiful places to see in Northern Ireland are the Mourne Mountains, also called the Mournes. If you’ve never been there before, it’s worth reading about the beauty of the area. In the article “In the Kingdom of Mourne,” Eric Weinberger takes a trip to the Mournes. He’s on the hunt for the perfect view, and ends up finding one by hiking on foot. The article describes the lure of the granite-covered hills as well as the many beautiful places in the same area.

While on his journey, Weinberger discovers the ancient Kingdom of Mourne. He writes about the various ways to get there, including the best way if you plan on going by car. He discovers Rostrevor, a little village in the area. He also discovers the dunes. One of the place he visits while on his journey is Lecale, the home of many castles such as the Norman ruins Dundrum and Clough. It’s also home to Castle Ward, a home that has two faces, one Gothic and one classical.

The author also offers place to stay if you hike in County Down. He recommends staying in Newcastle because it offers a variety of choices. He suggests the Brook Cottage Hotel. He also provides information for people who want to hike in the Mournes.

Read more:

How to avoid timeshare scams

December 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Timeshare has gotten a bad rep over the years, but it could be a good value if you are regular traveler. Here are some things you can do to avoid timeshare scams:

    1. Don’t ever, ever buy (or sell) ‘on the spot.’ Sleep on it, and take the time
      to evaluate whether the deal is a good one.
    2. If you are offered a prize as an incentive, read the ‘fine print’ on the
      prize, and DON’T PAY for anything.
    3. Read the contract and have it reviewed by an attorney. If the sales person
      promised you something that’s not in the contract, don’t sign the contract!
    4. If the presentation is too high pressure, leave. You have every right to
      leave when you want. Simply stand up and politely say ‘thank you very much but
      we’re leaving now.’ Then go — don’t let them argue with you.


  1. Ask for references — and call them. Ask for folks who have been happy and
    unhappy with the previous service.
  2. Don’t ever call a 1-900 number to book a trip — it’s very likely a scam.
  3. Consider a timeshare the same way you’d consider any other real estate investment.
    Do research and educate yourself on the market and the value.

Let’s now talk for a moment about timeshares as real estate investments. A common
question Nolo Press gets asked is “I’ve been told that I shouldn’t buy
a timeshare because it will be hard to sell later. Is this true?”

Here’s their answer:

“Very likely, yes. Timeshare owners face a few difficulties when they try
to sell. The first hurdle is the lack of a strong resale market. Although statistics
vary, all studies show that there are many more timeshare owners wanting to
sell than there are buyers.

“Another problem is the likelihood that you will lose money on the sale
of a timeshare. The original price of a timeshare may have included premiums
of up to 40% to cover sales costs. Also, timeshare properties age and can become
less desirable. So, your resale price may be anywhere from 20% to 60% of the
original purchase price — plus you will have to pay a commission to the broker
(often as high as 20% of the resale price) who sells the property for you.”