Here are some of my memories of travelling around Turkey. Of course it depends on your budget and time frame as to what you will do but if you are making it a once in a lifetime visit, don’t short change yourself with a token visit, make sure you allow plenty of time to absorb this country full of diverse landscapes, complex history and culture.
Istanbul – stay for at least 5 days. Include a trip down the Bosphorous. It takes a day to see all Topkapi Palace has to offer, it is vital as an introduction to the history of Turkey. You don’t need me to tell you that the Blue Mosque is also the next must. A visit to Istanbul would not be complete without getting lost in the Grand Bazaar. Find a landmark and try to write it down or even photograph it on your phone.
Our breakfasts consisted of very healthy options that we took on the top floor of our small hotel.
We did not actually lose our senses in the Grand Bazaar but it was hard to stay on track and resist all the shopping opportunities. I confess we did end up with some carpets, not bought at the Grand Bazaar but from a clever carpet merchant who had loft full of handwoven rugs, saddle bags, garlands and other finery for camels and anything else you need…our chief salesman smoked a joint whilst chatting to us – be prepared to buy as I doubt you would be allowed to leave without a carpet. We bought two for safety. By the way, they will never take the excuse you have no room, they can roll a rug up like a fold away raincoat or smaller if you wish.
Cappodoccia – is always included in a comprehensive tour and it is worth just going to Turkey to see this amazing land and the way of life here past and present.
The ancient landscape formations are unlike anything you are likely to encounter elsewhere in the world. If you have the time, take a sunrise hot air balloon ride. The day we were booked the flight had to be cancelled due to bad weather. In any case you will still see and experience some wonders of the world. Some of the formations look like giant toadstools whilst others look disarmingly like penises. Let your imagination flow here!! We stayed in the Kelebek Cave Suites, and very comfortable for a cave dwelling, not that I have stayed in any caves before. It is as close to living the authentic way of the locals with the luxuries you need to survive in the 21st century. If you do get here make sure you get a copy of the Goreme Heritage Trail, a walk that will take around two and half hours. Our hotel provided a copy of the walk. Some of the caves house medieval churches and monasteries, allow plenty of time in this region.
Pammukale – you should allow two nights here, we stayed in a run down 80’s style spa hotel, you couldn’t get any more ordinary! In Pammukale there are terraces of water and remains of Hierapolis and Necropoli to see here. Try to find better accommodation than we did.
Kusadasi – well this is a very touristy town, one where big ocean liners come in and spill their guests into the port’s eager and expert touts. We had a run in with a carpet salesman in Kusadasi. After several hours of wining and dining us – we were lucky we weren’t drugged. The salesman actually wouldn’t take our last offer, but amazingly we were strong-willed and left with our wallets intact. It must have been a first for that salesman. This is the place you visit for accommodation so you can go to Ephesus so it is worth it for the inconvenience. Ephesus is high on the list of ancient temples to see in this part of the world. It is around 20 ks inland from Kusadasi.
Fethiye – we vowed to stay here longer the next time we visit. Somehow our travel agent managed to get it right and we ended up in the Pine Garden hotel that was perched on a cliff, large rooms and lovely pool to swim in.
Bodrum – Our travel agent put us in a dump here thank goodness it was only for one night, we were mortified, this is the problem with Turkey, you really have to go upmarket and pay the money otherwise you never know what will happen to you. Our sense of common decency when it comes to a room for the night is nowhere near theirs. Another issue is that if it is cheap and nasty no one speaks English and so you end up talking to yourself! How lucky we were that our real stay here, after the one night fleapit was in a little stone farmhouse in the hills of Bodrum in Yalikavak.
The farmhouse known as the ‘Village House’ is on an extensive estate owned by Frank Marciano an expatriate American and his Australian wife Robyn Rae. They have exquisite taste and although we had a problem working the hot water and they were away when we arrived, we survived until they returned. We hired a car here that cost around $75 a day, no cheap at the time but we made the most of having wheels. Yalikavak is a small fishing village, there are many in Turkey you can bet. Finding a restaurant that serves sea bass here is compulsory for fish lovers. The food market in Bodrum is also a must if you love wet markets and looking at the locals. We ended up having lunch later in the town and chose artichokes as we had seen them being peeled in the markets and they were large enough to form the basis of a meal on their own. Frank has a business called Babazar and I wrote a blog on him earlier titled Meze and more, Bodrum in Turkey so you can go back in my blog to the search field and see what we got up to at the Turkish Slow Food lunch.
We plan to return to Turkey to take a trip around the islands on a sail boat. We did actually leave Turkey temporarily from Bodrum to go to some nearby islands of Greece. But in our future there is a classic teak sail boat called the Tai-Mo- Shan 54 foot long, made of teak for charter. Coburg Brokers have a good website with full details. If sailing is your thing, try looking it up on http://www.coburgbrokers.com/tai2.html – If that doesn’t work just put in the brokers address, you might find something else that you would like to sail on. My next trip to Turkey will be to fly into Istanbul and then head straight to Bodrum, I will definitely try to book another of Frank’s farmhouses and will charter that boat. Roz