Turkey is fast becoming one of the most popular countries to travel to, and has an enormous amount to offer its visitors. Its past history of rulers, invaders and conquers have left a legacy of fascinating and interesting history and sights that will keep you wanting to learn and discover more.
Istanbul is the first port of call for most people arriving into Turkey, and there is a lot to see. The beautiful Blue tiles of the Blue Mosque, the exquisite mosaics of the Aya Sofia, the opulent Topkapi Palace where the Ottoman rulers kept their Harems, and the summer homes of the affluent – seen whilst cruising along the shores of the Bosphorus are top of the list, but my personal favourite would have to be the underground Basilica Cistern where in the dark depths of the underground, the water for the great palace was stored back in 532. It’s slightly spooky but well worth wandering around looking for Medusa’s head!
When hitting the tourist trail a must for any traveller from Australasia is a visit to pay your respects to the men who gave their lives on the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915. ANZAC Cove is an emotional, moving place to visit, but the site is an informative tour into the hardships and realities of our heroes that gave their lives defending our countries almost 100 years ago and should not be missed.
Continuing south and stepping way back into the past there are Roman and Grecian ruins literally all over the countryside. The most famous of these would have to be Troy (nothing like the movie! – and no signs of Brad Pitt!) Pergamum and Ephesus give a wondrous insight to how lives were lived centuries ago, and the ruins have been recreated to give visitors a realistic feel as to how these cities were in their heydays. The famous Library at Ephesus makes you feel very insignificant and small, and wondering along the main paved road conjures up images of Romans peddling their wares.
Travelling in land, Pamukkale is like an oasis in the wilderness. After driving through dull brown countryside all of a sudden appears a crystal white hillside in the distance. It looks as though someone has turned on a snow-making machine in the middle of nowhere creating a small ski field. As you get closer you realise it is the famous Pamukkale Travertines. Beneath Pamukkale and the ancient Roman city of Hierapolis lays a vast source of water heated by volcanic lava. The Romans used the ancient city (worthy of a visit in itself) as a place of healing, bathing in the Thermal waters at the Ancient Pool. If you have the chance, and the time, it’s well worth taking a dip in the 36C waters of the pool to relax amongst the fallen Roman columns.
If I had to choose, the highlight of my trip would have to be the Cappadocia area. It’s well worth making the effort to go to this mystical moonlike landscape area, where “fairy chimneys” (isolated pinnacles caused by erosion) look like giant mushrooms growing out of the ground, and rooms are carved out of the hillsides where the inhabitants lived. If you have the nerve – try crawling around in the underground cities where upwards of 3000 people hid for months on end hiding from the invading armies in the 6th and 7thcenturies. To top it all off, take an early morning Hot Air Balloon ride over this incredible landscape, it’s an amazing sight to see upwards of 50 Hot Air Balloons floating over this dramatic landscape and something that will be forever etched in my mind.
I could go on and on about this special country – the very friendly, helpful and respectful people, the great shopping for leather goods (jackets a speciality), cotton clothing (excellent quality) and Turkish Rugs to name a few things – you could spend days in the Grand Bazaar alone!! But be warned: it’s not for the faint-hearted as there is an overwhelming number of people in here at any one time!
One cannot forget to mention the food – if you can grab a bunch of friends and try the delicious meze plates, or the two-metre-long pides served on wooden planks, the shish, the kebabs, the fresh fish and vegetables, and the Turkish bread – you should be extremely satisfied. And lastly, don’t forget to try the Turkish Delight (the Pomegranate with Pistachios is extremely moreish!) Like me I think you will be pleasantly surprised with this amazing country and leave here wishing you had another two or three weeks to discover more. Overwhelmingly it is the best Turkish delight in every way!!