A foolproof guide to turkey: transcontinental eurasian city
by Marion Smith
The country on two continents – one day that cold winter the bug bit
After spending ten days on a tour travelling around seeing the most popular sites in Turkey I fell in Love with the gem of Europe and knew I had to return. After all when a girl from Africa touches snow, drops to the ground and makes snow angels then jumps up shakes the snow out of her boots and sits down on a park bench and admires the views of surrounding buildings like the Aya Sofya and sips on a hot cup of Salep, you know know this is what dreams are made of.
Turkey is a country made to explore by train, air and my personal favourite, the bus. I love nothing more than starring out the window on a long road trip and day dreaming about far off lands and how people travelled the notorious silk road. When you are in the heart of Turkey, take a moment and talk to the locals and eat their hot, home made bread and share a cup of Cay (tea) . The lives of people in villages are simple but you leave them feeling richer and appreciating their values. They find such joy in family and friends and enjoy the pleasures in life.
Ani, is my spot for some “ me time “ where I can go and wonder the vast expanse of open ground and marvel at the structures that were built centuries ago. The silence in winter is so surreal, driving the 30 odd km from the town of Ani to the ruins you can often see foxes running around in the fields of untrodden snow. This open air museum demands respect and the lack of tourists makes it even more appealing for those wanting to have a snow fight or look over the river at Armenia.
One of my favourite ways to see Turkey is to have no plan. Spontaneity is the order of the day, if the weather looks good in Fethiye then I rush off to the bus station, buy a ticket and enjoy the ride. This seaside resort is oozing with activities and any adrenaline junkie will love it. Boat trips to the Butterfly islands, Lounging on the beach of Ölüdeniz soaking up the sun, watching large turtles swim in the crystal clear waters of the harbour, paragliding over the bay, or walking through the ghost village once inhabited by Greek citizens the choices are endless.
Marion’s Guide to Turkey
EXPLORE the UNESCO world heritage site of Safronbolou. This town was first discovered for its source of the precious spice saffron, now the cobbled streets and winding ally ways are filled with boutique hotels. All the building have been well preserved with red tiled roofs, wooden floors and carved ceilings and doors. The Hamman is a must and the people who work at the local tourist office speak very good english.
EAT as much Turkish food as you can. Breakfast should start with Menemen ( Turkish omelet ) this filling dish served with bread to soak up the juices is a good start to a day. Lunch offers a lot of options ranging in street food like a Simit ( bagel type bread ) doner sandwiches, lahmacun ( Turkish pizza ) or something a bit different would be the Cig Kofte ( raw meatballs ) a very deceptive vegetarian food and is in actual fact made with bulgur wheat rice and not raw meat. A personal favourite for supper is the Iskender Kebab, that originates from NW Turkey. Thin slices of Lamb or beef in a tomato sauce served over pide bread with yogurt and grilled veggies.
SHOP at the world renowned Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world with over 4000 shops selling everything from ceramics, lamps to handbags and clothes. Not far is the 350 year old Egyptian or Spice bazaar.The vivid colours of the spices that tickle your nose, exotic teas, fragrant oils that glisten in their glass bottles , chunky soaps filled with herbs and infusions, dried fruits and nuts and the tasty lokum ( Turkish delight ) make you want to walk for hours and test and buy as much as you can. This bazaar was the final stop for camel caravans completing the Silk route from far off lands in its heyday.
VISIT the maidens castle 60km west of Mersin. Located in the bay, this sea castle protected the port of Korykos. Legend has it that there was a king who had a beautiful daughter, but a prophecy predicted she would die of a snake bite. To keep her from harm , the king built a castle in the sea so his daughter would be be safe. She had fresh fruit brought to her everyday and somehow a snake landed up in a basket one day and the prophecy was fulfilled. The sea side town of Kizkalesi is a small holiday spot with street cafes , shops and hotels. Spoil yourself to a day on the secluded pebbled beach on a lounger or go and visit the castle. What ever you do the unwavering beauty is worth the visit .
STAY at Upper House Boutique Hotel in Kas ( which means eyebrow ) This is one of the most beautiful little towns on the Turkish Mediterranean coast. The town is located directly opposite the Greek Island of Meis. The hotel has 31 rooms and offers comfort and luxury. The big pink chairs outside caught my eye on arrival and it was a hustle between me and the local cats that eventually landed up with me sitting on a chair and a cat on my lap. You walk just 100meters to the beautiful pier and cafes. The town has Blue Flag beaches and has somehow managed to elude mass tourism and this has allowed it to maintain its charisma and appeal.
FLYING with Turkish airlines is still the best way to get to Istanbul. With direct flights leaving every night from JHB they come highly recommend. I have flown on various airlines using various stop overs with some trips having me go through a total of 4 countries in 24 hours. Its not worth the small amount you save in the air ticket price. For comfort and time saving and good food it’s worth the price
Don’t forget South African Passport holders apply online for an E-Visa that takes only 3 minutes to get and we can stay in Turkey for one month and a maximum of three months within 180 day period free of charge.
If you want to find out how East meets West then hop on a plane and have an adventure of a life time.
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