So you have 10 days spare and you are wanting to visit Turkey. Whatever your interests are, you will find something from this former Ottoman Empire.
The first destination is where East meets West, it’s where Europe meets Asia, and it’s where the Black sea meets the Mediterranean. It’s Istanbul. A city of approximately 15 million people, Istanbul is a busy and happening city. With the majority of residents living near the water’s edge, it is quite easy to find a small café/restaurant to stop off for a bite to eat. I would recommend spending a day walking around the winding streets.
A city so large has an array of religious followers, but the main one being Muslim. And so, a place of prayer named ‘The Blue Mosque’ was erected. It attracts millions of visitors each year and as soon as you arrive, you can see the
large blue domes in which it was named after. You will have to remove your shoes and ladies, make sure you cover up. The mosque is still active so head to http://www.bluemosque.co/ to find out the 5 Prayer times throughout the day. There is no admission fee, but feel free to leave a donation.
Top tip: head there in the afternoon to get some good photos.
The Grand Bazaar is the place to go for some local shopping and your chance of grabbing some souvenirs. Be prepared to get pestered by the shop keepers and lost between the 400,000 daily visitors. The markets are open Monday through to Saturday, 09:00 – 19:00.
Top tip: Try before you buy. Ask for a taste of the Turkish Delight
If you have a day free in Istanbul, board one of eight ferries that travel to Adalar (Princes Island). These ferries can fill up quickly and will carry over 1500 people. Even when you think the ferry is full, more people will be boarding. The cost is 4 Turkish Lira one way. There are four main islands which are open to the public and it can be a nice way of escaping the busy city life. Once you are there, grab an ice-cream and walk around the streets. If you are prepared, you could even take a picnic.
Top Tip: Check out when the last ferry from the island is as it can be expensive to stay the night.
The Basilica Cistern is the largest underground cavern located in Istanbul. It is estimated it was constructed in the 6th century and was lost to memory before Petris Gyllius noticed people lowering buckets in their house to fetch water. It is open 09:00 until 18:30 and will cost 10 Lira.
Located a 10 hour bus trip or 1.5 hour flight from Istanbul, the Cappadocia region will capture your breathe.
Walk through the love valley
Over hundreds of thousands of years, the wind, rain and other natural elements have carved unique rock formations thus creating what is known today as the ‘Love Valley’. The rock formations have gathered the nickname as Fairy Chimneys. Stay in a cave hotel and you will have a constant temperature inside any time of the year. I stayed at the ‘Travellers’ Cave Pension’ and had an enjoyable experience.
Top Tip: Drink only bottled water, I don’t think you need me to divulge further on the issue.
Hot Air BallooningTo get a great view of the vast landscape, I would definitely recommend booking yourself onto a hot air Balloon trip. With the region being one of the most popular in the world to do so, there are plenty of companies to choose from. Prices start from 120 euro and include pick up/drop off from your hotel. You will be mesmerised as you drift over and down into the valleys.
Sunset from Sunset Point in Goreme
After a morning of Ballooning and a day of exploring the valleys, head up to Sunset Point and watch the different colours of the rocks come to life. Be warned that when the sun goes down it can get a little chilly so take a jacket with you. For directions, ask your hotel and they will be more than happy to help.
A day trip from Goreme will take you through to some surrounding towns and sights. One of these which will blow your mind is Derinkuyu, an underground city which provided a haven from Persian and Arabic armies. Keep an eye out for the massive rock doors.
In the middle of the country side, a small mountain pokes its head out. From first glance, Pamukkale could be mistaken for a baron hill. However once you drive closer, you begin to take in the remarkable calcium cascades which spill into shallow pools. At the top of the mountain you will find a natural hot spring and ruins from centuries ago. The hill becomes flooded with tourists and it can be quite tricky to get a good photo.
Top Tip: Head there early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Kusadasi and EphesusKusadasi is the gateway to the Greek Islands….. Please read ‘Taming Titan and other Greek Gods’ for information on Athens and the Greek Islands (in production)…..and a great base to visit the ancient city of Ephesus. A day tour will include a short stop at a Persian rug factory, lunch and Ephesus. You will have a couple of hours to scarper through the streets in search of old bath houses, amphitheatres and the front view of the Library of Celcus. It is hard to imagine that the town was once located on the waterfront but is now situated a couple of kilometres inland due to the silt deposits from the river.
Day 1 – Arrive in Istanbul and wander the streets.
Day 2 – Visit the Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar and Basilica Cistern.
Day 3 – Head to the Princes Islands with a picnic.
Day 4 – Make your way to the Cappadocia region.
Day 5 – Take flight in a hot air balloon and walk through the valleys.
Day 6 - Jump on a day tour of the Cappadocia region.
Day 7 – Travel to Pamukkale and visit the site.
Day 8 – Head to Kusadasi and walk around the town.
Day 9 – Do a day trip from Kusadasi to Ephesus.
Day 10 – Relax down at the harbour over a coffee.
Contact me to get any more information.