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Posts Tagged ‘Istanbul’

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Day 5:

On reaching Antalya early morning from Cappadocia, we decided we had enough of organized tours and we wanted to do some exploring after all we belong to the clan of back packers. Plus we wanted to relax a bit, it’s a vacation after all. So we decided to go to the nearby town of Kemer. On reaching there we realized this is where all the ‘real vacationing tourists’ are. We booked a slot the next day for some scuba diving off the beach of Antalya. Then we took a local bus to the spot of Cable cars in Kemer, where we boarded the Cable cars to the Mt. Tahitli. This was one of the rides which leaves one breathless and amazed at the visual magnificence of what one sees. After all the best things in life can only be experienced, nothing else really does justice. The car took us 2465 metres high and to our surprise we realized this is also the highest Parasailing point on the Earth. Naturally we did that too and that more or less sums up the best day of the trip so far. The ultimate experience of flying as a human being was the one experience I will recommend to everyone. After the fun at Kemer, we decided to have a quite dinner with wine savouring the experience in our minds.

Anatalya, Turkey

The next day, we had our appointment to Scuba Dive in the Antalya beach. We had an hour long crash course on scuba diving and then we were fitted with the diving equipment which though a bit heavy on land was not felt at all in water. The instructor took us on a basic diving trip for an hour showing us the sea bed, activity of sea creatures and what not. It was the best experience for me on the whole trip and I cannot wait to scuba dive again.

Anatalya, Turkey

We were so motivated by the experience that we ended up travelling by the evening bus to Pammukale and checking into our hotel “Dort Mevzim” at night.

In the morning, our hotel manager dropped us off at the Pammukale tourist spot which is known for its geological heritage in the form of its hot bed springs, geological formations and also the historical remains to be found there. The town is famous for its pagan connections through the hot bed springs which are supposed to have healing powers.

Pammukale, Turkey

It is a very peaceful place and after half a day’s sightseeing, we took our next bus to Bodrum.

This time it was a planned move as Bodrum, a modern port town is known to be the most happening place in Turkey known for its night life and we reached the place at 9 P.M. which would fit in the JIT (Just in Time) category in Operations Management. We showed our instinctive side finally in Bodrum when we went berserk shopping. Even the food in Bodrum was amazing with the town being famous for its Waffles and Baked Potatoes.

Turkish cuisine

Bodrum, Turkey

All in all it was one of those places you just do not want to leave.

Finally we were back in Istanbul, this time we had had enough of the old quaint idea and stayed in the Taksim area in a hotel called Santa Hill. This area is the exact opposite of Sultanahmet but we still managed to get an ancient hotel room in keeping with the trend on our trip. After resting for half a day, we got out to go to the Taksim square expecting a noisy place with a lot of orthodox Turks, but we found the place to be a cut down version of the Times Square in New York, with all kinds of people who were all in flashy attire. So much for thinking Turkey is a quaint old place where the East meets the West…Almost…!!!

Taksim, Istanbul, Turkey

Then we went back to the instincts Mother Nature bestowed up on our gender when travelling and went on a shopping spree that lasted till the end of our trip the next evening. We shopped for just about everything possible, souvenirs, fashion accessories, sweets and what not. Do not miss out on the Turkish Bath as it completely relaxes you.  Finally it was time to return and our 10 day vacation was finally at an end.

On the whole it was a very refreshing experience to tour Turkey with its cultural values and its amazingly beautiful locations. Jokes apart, the food was much better than what it was made out to be above. I would definitely return to Turkey and the next time I come, I know where I want to go. Definitely carry a friend along… After all, you would rather fight a friend than a passionate Turkish football fan who might just bring half of Turkey crashing on you 🙂

This post is contributed by one of our readers Harsh

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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…

  1. Thailand…hmmm…Been there…Done Everything Possible
  2. India…Perfect…if we both had not been Indians
  3. Macau…Come again??
  4. Afghanistan…Too Cultural considering we are both young girls…
  5. 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 🙂

Istanbul, Turkey

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.

Istanbul, Turkey

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… 🙂

Capadoccia, Turkey

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.

Capadoccia Region, Turkey

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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Over the years, Istanbul, Turkey served as capital for four empires. Today, it’s one of the biggest European cities, with a historical center designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprising incredible Ottoman, Greek, Roman and Byzantine buildings.

Quick facts:

Istanbul is the largest and most populated city in Turkey. Daily direct flights from Mumbai and Delhi on Turkish Airways takes you to Istanbul in over 6 hrs. Cheaper options include flying via Egypt or UAE.

The airport is about 25kms from city centre and is well connected by metro right under the airport terminal. Each metro and tram ride costs 1.5 Turkish Lira.

You will need 3 -4 days to cover all the important tourist spots in the city and more than half a day on the Bosphorus cruise to this little town called Anadolu Kavegi which is at the tip of Bosphorus river and Black sea.

Weather – Pleasant throughout the year – 2 deg Celcius is the min and goes up to 29 deg Celcius during summer.

Currency – Turkish Lira (TYL) and is equal to 32 Indian Rs

Transport – Metros, Trams, Buses and Taxi cabs

Average Cost per nite – 20 – 40 TYL per head per nite at a good hostel in the heart of Sultanhmet area with breakfast.

Food – Street food like bread n chicken shavarma will cost 4 Tyl and a proper sit down lunch will cost upwards of 12 – 20 Tyl.

Popular Turkish Breakfast

Popular Turkish Breakfast with olives, boiled eggs, cucumber, tomatoes, cheese, jam, honey and bread

Turkish sweet shop, Spice Bazaar

Turkish sweet n spice shop in Spice Bazaar

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

View of Blue Mosque at the Istanbul Square

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul with over 3000 shops under one roof

Sultanhmet - Popular area in Istanbul with restaurants, hostels and pubs

Intricate gold tile work inside Hagia Sofia (Church) in Istanbul square

View from top floor of Hagia Sofia with restoration underway

Bayazit Cistern, underground water storage system situated below Istanbul square

Last fishing village on the Bosphorus - Anadolu Kavegi

Efficient Tram service in Istanbul

Istanbul's Metro and Tram routes

For more pics, do visit our flickr link

 

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