Sunday, February 17, 2013

Turkey Part I

Swansea to London to Istanbul to Cappadocia to Istanbul to Dalaman to Marmaris to Dalaman to Istanbul to London to Swansea. Whew! Never thought we'd do this much in a week. Then again, what's life without spontaneity?

On a more serious note, this trip was a short one. But totally worth it. All thanks to the beautiful country of Turkey and the lovely group of friends that were on this trip. Having said that, a week is not enough to see Turkey. Hell, a week isn't even enough to see Istanbul!


Istanbul is not the capital city of Turkey, as many people would assume. Ankara is the capital city of Turkey. However, Istanbul is probably more popular because this is where the Galata Bridge is, from which both continents, Asia and Europe, can be seen; a small part of Istanbul is in Europe while the rest of it is in Asia. Turkey on the whole is considered an Asian country.

Dolmabahce Palace
Photograph By: Parinetha S Aradhya

Istanbul has the most famous mosque, Hagia Sophia, which was once a church. Therefore, when you go inside the mosque, you will notice that there are paintings of Mary, Jesus and a few crosses here and there. Architecture in Istanbul (And in Turkey, in general) is a mixture of European and Islamic. You will find a mosque everywhere. Another place worth visiting in Istanbul is the Blue Mosque. It is famous mostly for it's Blue Dome, which has some intricate design work worth seeing.

In Istanbul, we also went to a place called "Dolmabahce Palace" which was served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire in the late 1800s to the early 1900s. It is divided into two sections: Harem, the administrative area, and Selamlik, the residential area. We only got to see Harem as we had time restrictions. However, seeing Harem on its own was enough. We are not allowed to take photographs inside the buildings as some parts of the building are made of real/pure gold and crystal and therefore, photography could damage these materials.


Cappadocia: Walking to the Caves
Photograph By: Anupama Subramaniyam
Cappadocia is very famous for its caves. It is known as the cave city. We stayed in a hotel called the "Local Cave Hotel" which has adapted some of the caves into rooms. It was quite a climb for us but the views from the rooms are totally worth it. The city (more like town) is really small compared to Istanbul.

We visited the Underground City. This is a "city" that was constructed BC and it has 12 floors. When you inside, you more or less feel like you are inside a cave. The tunnels through which you walk are rather narrow and small. On the whole, it's the experience that counts and somethings makes me think that even in those days, constructing something so complicated yet useful was possible without machinery. It was a good experience.

The caves in Cappadocia are quite a climb. They are high up, near a stream of water. The caves have some Christian paintings that were made by the Greek during the migration of people between Greece and Turkey years back. These paintings have faded today due to it's age and of course in the past, some of the paintings were deliberately rubbed off due to nonacceptance of religion. Today, of course, this is not the case.

Marmaris and Pamukkale

Photograph By: Anupama Subramaniyam
Our next destination, Marmaris, is near the beach. However, our timing was impeccable as we went during a thunderstorm. Therefore, we couldn't spend much time at the beach. However, we did go to Pamukkale, which is a three hour drive from Marmaris.

Pamukkale is a natural site of hot springs on this big rock of calcium. More than anything, walking on this "calcium-water" source is the most amazing feeling ever. The water is cold at some points and warm at others. Pamukkale is a relatively hot area so we enjoyed it the most (coming from cold, windy, rainy area!).

The food in Turkey is pretty traditional. If you are Indian, their spicy standards do not match yours. No matter how spicy you ask them to make it. If you are vegetarian, welcome to a "pide" spree. Pide is nothing but Turkish traditional pizza, which is like normal pizza but the bread is ten times better. Which brings me to my next point: Bread. Bread in Turkey is to die for. They really know their bread. You will find endless variety of bread, all freshly made. The smell of fresh bread. If you are in Turkey, you have  to try their Pita Bread. Total food-gasm. Best part? Bread is complimentary.

Traditional Turkish Wine
Photograph By: Anupama Subramaniyam
On the whole, the trip was worth it, even if it was a week. I would not recommend visiting Turkey for those who are physically unfit as you have to climb a lot! I am not even exaggerating. Having said that, the views and information are totally worth the climb. So if you're in for some fantastic knowledge gaining session, good food, good wine and some adventure, Turkey is the place for you.


If you are visiting Turkey, here are some tips. Note that we went to Turkey in January so these tips are according to the weather we experienced which was all types, rain, snow and sunny.

- Carry enough clothing to keep warm and protect from the rain
- Travel by the tram/metro in cities. Very cheap!
- Buying a sim card with data services is worth it. It will help you navigate better.
- Hiring a car is not a bad idea.
- Visit Marmaris during summer.
- If you have an Indian Passport (I know this because I have one), you get VISA on arrival.

Personal Experience to follow soon.

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