Turkey

When

  • April 2012 for two weeks

Places

Cappadocia (Gerome)

  • Gerome is a cool little town and we stayed in Gerome where it was full of the ‘fairy chimneys’ and cave houses it is well-known for;
  • A day trip in Cappadocia took us to an amazing view of pigeon valley then onto Dernkyu (underground city which you can go eight levels down!), Ihlara Valley and Selime Monestry;
  • We also stopped in an onyx factory and ended the day at Fat Boys Restaurant (Aussie charm);
  • Cappadocia is one of the best places in the world for hot air ballooning and at the crack of dawn it is well worth the early morning, spectacular views (of course at 900m high!) which are picture perfect, you even get a glass of champagne at the end to celebrate;
  • Gerome open air museum is worth a peek in as well to explore all through the different rock caves.
In Cappadocia - I have since seen so many of my friends take the exact same picture of this tree!!
In Cappadocia – I have since seen so many of my friends take the exact same picture of this tree!!

Pamukkale

  • We did another day trip in Pamukkale which took us firstly to Red Rock Springs then to some Roman ruins with a massive amphitheatre which could hold 10,000 people.
  • The last stop was the travertines which are a massive calcium build up that is incredible and includes some hot springs that you can dip your feet in – we slowly walked stopping in the warm water and stayed for the sun to set which was beautiful.
The travertines of Pamukkale..
The travertines of Pamukkale..

Fethiye

  • Fethiye was stunning and the day before we arrived there had been a massive storm so it still had that storm feel lingering over with a couple of downpours;
  • The night markets here are cool. You choose your own fresh seafood our at the stalls then pick a restaurant where you ask them to cook it for you how you like and pick some salads to go with.
  • Şaman Butik is a really cool jewellery store, I could have spent so much money here but controlled myself. Each piece of jewellery with no two items the same;
  • Paragliding in Ölüdeniz is also a must for this area (another place that it is ‘one of the best spots in the world’), I have never seen such blue stunning water and to glide over it after jumping off a cliff was breathtaking.  We went with Hector Paragliding;
  • We also did a 12 island boat cruise from Fethiye which took us to about four different islands having enough time at each to explore and then a yummy seafood lunch to follow – a nice way to spend the day.
Paragliding over Ölüdeniz
Paragliding over Ölüdeniz

Bodrum

  • From Bodrum we caught a ferry to a Greek Island, Kos. Here we hired a quad bike and drove from beach to beach around the island.
  • We really didn’t spend much time in Bodrum and all we saw of it was a bit too commercial for me.

Selçuk

  • Ephesus ruins are huge and impressive. The library in particular is impressive how it still stands;
  • The Temple of Artemis (a wonder of the Ancient World) was good to check out – well what is left of it.
Ruins of Ephesus..
Ruins of Ephesus..

Çanakkale

  • Çanakkale town was nice and good to sit opposite Gallipoli Peninsular with a cup of tea;
  • The outdoor war museum has a lot on show here too;
  • The Trojan horse in Troy (45 minute bus trip away) was pretty average and the ruins not much better.

Gallipoli Peninsular

  • Was on an overnight tour through Gallipoli Peninsular for Anzac Day so we visited all the war memorials then found a spot to camp out in Anzac Cove (with hundreds of other people) ready for the dawn service the following morning. Lone Pine was a pretty special especially for an Australian Service.
  • We visited places such as the Turkish Memorial, the British Memorial, Quinn’s Post, Johnston’s Jolly, Chunuk Bair (New Zealand Memorial) and of course Lone Pine (Australian Memorial).
Lone Pine (Australian Memorial)
Lone Pine (Australian Memorial)

Istanbul

  • Grand Bazaar is pretty cool but the vendors are ruthless and are hard to bargain with as they deal with tourists everyday;
  • Having a bath in a Haman here is also pretty special (I went to a local place so was very authentic – and I really had no idea what was going on) and you come out feeling so incredibly clean;
  • Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia were all really good and I highly recommend getting to each and every one of them;
  • Galata Tower has a great 360 degree view of Istanbul if you go up to the top;
  • The Spice Marker is nice to grab a bite to eat and everyone is very friendly – I sat down on a step and was waiting for some friends and this old guy was feeding me his different fried fruits all for free just because I was chatting to him;
  • Kadikoy is the Asian side which is a must to visit and feels a little strange going from European Turkey to Asian Turkey;
  • Üsküdar is a great place to watch the sun setting over Istanbul with a warm cup Sahlep (tea) next to the Maiden’s Tower;
  • The Princess Islands are various islands a ferry ride from Istanbul and are vehicle free meaning lots of horse and carts and bicycles to ride around the islands on. Go there on a weekend and you will be there with all Turkish children and families.

Accommodation

  • Cappadocia (Gerome) – Fairy Chimneys are pretty cool cave-like rooms. We stayed at Nirvana Cave Hotel;
  • Pamukkale – Artemis Yoruk Hotel had great hosts who were very nice to us and upgraded us to a room of our own and let us check in at 8am after the overnight bus;
  • Fethiye – Yildirim Guest House was great and again awesome hosts who shared some of their birthday cake with us;
  • Bodrum – Hotel Kalender brought our bags to the bus station for us when our ferry ran late (great people again);
  • Selcuk – ANZ Hostel was good and had bikes we could use to ride to the Ephesus ruins;
  • Canakkale – Egem Pension was ok;
  • Gallipoli Peninsular – we camped in Anzac Cove for Dawn Service;
  • Istanbul – Chillout Cengo served us well and had a good vibe about it pretty close to Taksim Square – just off the main pedestrian street of Istiklal Street.

Language

  • Turkish but English is fairly common and you shouldn’t have any issues.
  • Hello: Merhaba / Salām
  • Thank you: Teşekkürler (te-shek-kewr-lehr)
  • Good bye: Güle güle
  • Yes / No: Evet / Hayır
Hagia Sofia in Istanbul..
Hagia Sofia in Istanbul..

Visa

  • Australians travelling to Turkey as a tourist or for business must apply for a visa online at www.evisa.gov.tr. Visas are no longer issued upon arrival at the border (as of 10 April 2014)
  • A maximum stay of only 90 days within a 180 day period for tourists.

Money

  • Turkish Lira (2.11 TRY = $1 USD)

Food

  • Drank lots of apple tea (Elma cayi) here and it is offered to you everywhere you go
  • Kebabs are also big here and you will find them everywhere you go
  • Börek is very thin dough layers staffed with cheese, meat or vegetables
  • Pide is made with minced meat (together with onion, chopped tomatoes, parsley and spices), kashar cheese, spinach, white cheese, pieces of meat, braised meat, pastırma or/and eggs put on rolled-out dough, and is one of the most common traditional stone-baked Turkish specialities
  • Gözleme is made of lavash bread or phyllo dough folded around a variety of fillings such as spinach, cheese and parsley, minced meat or potatoes and cooked on a large griddle
  • Manti (Turkish ravoli) is also delicious – Turkish pasta that consists of folded triangles of dough filled with minced meat, often with minced onions and parsley
  • Sahlep (served hot with cinnamon) is extracted from the roots of wild orchids and may be used in Turkish ice cream as well.
  • Dolma is stuffed vegetables
  • Köfte – meatballs
  • Meze platters are also big here and come with a wide range of choices (all delicious of course!)
  • Turkish ice cream is delicious and quite the spectacle – go for the traditional type from the men with the red hats on
  • Baklava is made either with pistachio or walnut
  • Turkish delights come in any and all flavours here
  • Dried fruits are everywhere and usually a wide selection too
  • typical Turkish breakfast consists of cheese, butter, olives, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, jam and honey
  • Lots of different types of cheeses here mostly from sheep’s milk
  • Rakı is the most popular alcoholic drink in Turkey and is considered the national alcoholic beverage
  • Çay is all kinds of tea but most often Turkish black tea and you will find it everywhere
Having a cup of Sahlep watching the sunset from Üsküdar next to the Maiden’s Tower..
Having a cup of Sahlep watching the sunset from Üsküdar next to the Maiden’s Tower..

Tips and tricks

  • We were well impressed by the long distance busses in Turkey. We took a couple of overnighters and couldn’t believe it when they actually walked down the aisle with tea/coffee and snacks on a trolley. The seats also had a screen in the back but found out most movies were in Turkish.
  • We played a lot of Backgammon here – it is very popular and if you do not know how to play (I didn’t) there are plenty of people who will teach you.
  • Shisha (hubbly bubbly) is quite common here and you will find it most places – although you will most likely smell it before you see it (the sweet scents of apple, mango, banana). One of the cool places to have shisha was under the bridge in Istanbul whilst watching the sunset – pretty magical.
  • What I found a bit odd was that we saw turtles in place like Cappadocia and Selçuk just strolling around in desert-like landscape!

Turkey blog posts

Gallipoli Peninsular..
Gallipoli Peninsular..

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