Folks, this is my first attempt at a blog and since this is a longish post, have broken this down into two parts… Don’t forget to read the second part too and share your comments.
While we may not be the two great adventurers spoken about in the Eastern Legends emanating from the hills of Tibet, my Roommate and I have done enough to certify as wannabe travellers. As much as we plan to go around the world, we do not think we can manage a leave of 80 days. Hence for our short break of 10 days we realized to focus and enjoy one place, one culture, one civilization to the maximum possible.
So what were the hot spots in contention…
- Thailand…hmmm…Been there…Done Everything Possible
- India…Perfect…if we both had not been Indians
- Macau…Come again??
- Afghanistan…Too Cultural considering we are both young girls…
- Turkey…A gigantic Bird… That’s more like it…Perfect…
Let’s go to Turkey said my comrade.
Okay Turkey was not really the gigantic bird and our reasons for choosing Turkey was more or less the fact that it was easy to obtain a visa from the U.A.E, an affordable and safe tourist place for two back packers to roam around and moreover it had the reputation of being a quaint old place where the East meets the West.
Please note that my friend and I are very diligent hard working people who like nothing more than sweating it out planning a perfect tour provided everything can be done online. Everything includes hotel stays, bus tickets within Turkey, and of course, the airfare to the place and back. Now we would have liked to pay for luggage transfer from place to place as though we are back packers, my friend has a condition via which she is unable to carry bags for more than 15 minutes at a stretch without becoming incurably tired.
So where do we go to in Turkey??…Google…Ha…yes let’s start off at the capital…Istanbul… J
The flight was Turkish Airlines, the partner of the greatest football team on Earth, Manchester United. We got into the midnight flight so that we could sleep and travel at the same time and not really waste time. In 5 hours we were in Istanbul.
Now our hotel was called “Old City Preferred”…I did say we had this thing for ‘quaint old places’. We saw some Greek heritage in the breakfast served which was definitely Spartan. On hearing the market was always a bustle of activity, we decided to hit the popular markets, Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. The weather was perfect for walking, the path’s clean and hence worth making the trek. Now like in India, these market place Turks are curious people. It would make sense to wear a Tee Shirt with your nationality and country of residence printed on it to avoid telling every second local the same. Probably it should be printed in Turkish and Greek for good measure 🙂
Now travelling in Turkey can be done in style through trams. They charge 2 Liras and take you just about anywhere. Considering we were not really well versed with various locations, the trams just about saved our lives in terms of money spent as well as covering the whole city. We visited the Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia and our advice is utilise the trams to get there as we nearly missed out on both. No, we dint have our GPS with us.
Tired with a day’s walking and tram-ing, we returned to the hotel to freshen up and stepped out to have a Turkish dinner. We got some complementary Turkish apple tea. The food was simple but delicious. I, being a vegetarian ate the Turkish version of Pizza, called Pide while my friend, the carnivore preferred the grilled chicken aptly named Shish Tawook.
Some facts about Istanbul – it is located on both sides of the Bosphorous and the area we stayed in was called Sultanahmet (The Old City). Definitely visit the Theodosian walls. Also watch out for the popular Tulips in Istanbul. Turkish football is famed for the intense rivalry between the big teams like Fenerbache and Galatasaray. Moreover, it is one of the most intimidating places to play in for most clubs in the UEFA Champions League or the Cup matches because of the frenzied atmosphere created by the passionate Turks. So don’t mess about with a Turk and his football, its sacred.
Second day, we had a guide who took us on Bosphorous leg of our visit where we crossed the bridge connecting Europe and Asia. Fortunately it was nothing like the Bridge on the River Kwai and it is still standing after we crossed it. We had another one of those Turkish lunches which was nothing more than baked vegetables with a slice of watermelon to sweeten our disappointment.
We also visited the Dolmabache Palace before returning to our hotel. By now if you’ve become smart like us, you would know that we travel by night and sight see during the day. The flipside is, we missed all the parties in the night because we were busy travelling.
We travelled to Cappadocio where we toured the north side on the third day. We stayed at the “Hotel Elysee Pension” (we like old places and definitely Cave rooms excited us). We were part of an organized tour, called the red tour that took us to the Goreme open air museum which consisted of 5 Byzantine Churches. We visited the castle at Uchisar which was the place to take photos. Finally this was turning into a tour…God Bless Facebook Albums… 🙂
Do visit Avanos – a pottery haven, actually if you sign up for the organized tour, it is not like you have a choice, but still it ensures you do not miss the things people will question you about on your return. After that we had a heavy Turkish Lunch which I do not plan to describe. We were taken to a bunch of valleys that looked so beautiful, it could have fit into the Lord of the Rings without much difficulty and moreover even the names fit. The valley of the fairy chimney was called the Pasabagi while Rose Valley had some amazing rock formations. Save the best for the last they used to say and our very hospitable and friendly hotel manager did that by putting us up in our cave room for the night.
The next day, day 4 for the amnesiacs, we went on the green tour, that is to the south side. We were woken up as early as 4 am for our Hot Air Balloon Ride. The Balloon ride started at 6 AM, and we were in a balloon full of Japanese folks. The view is phenomenal and it is easy to understand why Richard Branson keeps trying to break records with Balloons. We climbed to a height of 1000 metres and the view was phenomenal. We got a crash course of what we saw yesterday albeit at a height of 1000 metres. The best part, after landing we get our own certificate for flying without puking and champagne to celebrate.
All the above just took 1 hour of our precious time and cost us about 100 euros each. We were back to the more conventional touring. Like some weddings are just a 101 reasons for the relatives to dance, visiting Turkey is about a 101 valleys with different names but fortunately all the ones we visited were pretty good aesthetically unlike some of my relatives dancing… Places to note are the Pigeon Valley, The Nar Lake located in a crater where you can see turtles and ducks during summer, the underground city of Derinkuyu, Ihlara valley, Belisarma and Selime (where some bits of Star Wars was shot).
Back to hotel…Sleep…Have you been reading anything till now? We mix travel with sleep whenever we can…and so we are off to Antalya that night.
(End of part 1)
This post is contributed by Harsh
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