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Why Turkey? Is it the history and culture? The ethereal landscapes, archaeological sites, mosques, bazaars and ruins? Or the pristine beaches and crystal-clear sea? Maybe it’s the coffee, sweet baklava and the warm generosity of its people? Whatever the reason, you won’t be disappointed by Turkey’s vast attractions.
1. Istanbul – How Bazaar
Undeniably one of the world’s greatest cities
Istanbul was built by empires and shaped by sieges, it sits on seven hills, straddles the Bosphorus Strait and is the only city in the world to locale two culturally eclectic continents. Tittering on the east and flirting with the west, ethnicities are fiercely diverse.
Turkish coffee and sweets
With narrow alleyways and crooked sea passages, the air is alive with chatter and the thick scent of Turkish coffee. An ancient Turkish proverb states that ‘coffee should be black as hell, strong as death and as sweet as love’ so brace yourself for a pitch black broth (with only an after-thought of milk) and a colossal dollop of sugar. Try Turkish Delight from traditional confectionery stores.
Frequent the largest and oldest covered market in the world
The Grand Bazaar – and make your own perfumes and colognes at the spice bazaar; picking through glass jars of flowers, oils and spices.
2. Hot air balloon above Cappadocia
Cappadocia’s clusters of cones and spools
The morning’s fresh, the air’s crisp and you’re in a hot air balloon drifting over shapes and textures you wish you could reach out and touch. The milky-white sediment of soil casts a moon-like cloak across the landscape below; there’s no better way to see Cappadocia’s fascinating rock erosion.
Göreme Open-Air Museum
With your feet firmly back on the ground, admire the ethereal terrain from the floor, or visit the fresco adorned rock-cut churches of Göreme Open-Air Museum. Built into chalky cliff-side, these clusters of monastic dwellings were once inhabited by monks, proven by the uneven holes that used to be windows.
Kaymaklı underground city
Deeper still, descend into Kaymaklı underground city. With tunnels, chasms and caves carved eight levels deep, the ceilings are low and the walls are curved, but it’s cool and airy and a seemingly never ending labyrinth of passageways and burrows.
3. Twinkling Turkish coastline
Turkey’s coastline is swollen with pretty oceanfront towns. Many, such as Bodrum, are former fishing villages, dotted with ancient ruins and Ottoman mosques. Bodrum especially is a dazzler of white washed backstreets and chalky houses climbing their way up the hillside. Easy on the eyes, the coastline’s platinum sands blend into a serene sea of sapphire.
The Turquoise Coast
You can discover a myriad of coastal towns by Gulet – a Turkish style boat with impressively tall masts and magnificent sails. Position yourself on the deck, absorb stunning views and allow the heat of the sun to sink into your skin.
As one of Turkey’s unsung beach heroes, Olympos is now a historical landmark littered with beachside ruins. With a hippy vibe, the mellow atmosphere is complemented by ramshackled huts and a complete lack of ATMs or banks.
Laid-back fishing towns
Including Kas, an old Turkish harbour where you can choose to be as active or as sedate as you like. Go in search of wreck diving, boat trips or kayaking, or imitate the locals and embrace the complete Mediterranean lifestyle. Bask in sunshine, eat frequently and laze on the beach.
For days that call for culture
Tancient city of Ephesus – one of Turkey's 15 UNESCO sites – is Europe's most complete classical metropolis and houses the remnants of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; the Temple of Artemis. A focal point, its towering pillars and fragmented masonry make for an inspiring centre-piece, while Ephesus’ remaining framework of Gladiator stadiums, cemeteries and ancient libraries are also big crowd-pleasers.
Open for day-trips only, visit Ephesus from Selcuk, a small farming town just two kilometres away. Base yourself at a family-run pension, where your hosts will treat you to traditional home-cooked food and will endeavour to make you feel completely at home.
So why Turkey? Simple. Its past is enthralling, its beaches are enticing and the people will stay with you long after you’ve gone. And of course the land’s only been around for a few thousand years, so it’s about time you penned-in a visit!
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