Long time retreat for Europeans and Russians, the lesser visited (by Americans) Turkey makes for a wonderful adventure. The people are very hospitable, the food is awesome and the place is Filled with history.
Alittle background: It has been inhabited by ancient Anatolians, Greeks, Persians, Romans and early Christians There are ruins and points of interest left by all of these civilizations. We can’t forget that this place was the home of the mighty Ottomens whose empire covered Eastern Europe, North America and Western Asia.
I have traveled alone and in a group with other travelers throughout this ancient country. Here are some of my favorite places after my year long stay in Turkey:
- Antalya – If you are looking for a great Mediterranean beach vacay with lower prices, Antalya is it! On the Mediterranean coast of Turkey,this city is a popular tourist destination for Europeans looking for sun. I visited Antalya in November and still laid on the beach of the Mediterranean. Yes, I felt like a jetsetter. 🙂
- Cappadocia- This was one of the most interesting places that I have ever been! There are hundreds of rock formations called “fairy chimneys” that have been made into homes and hotels. Early Christians took refuge in these formations and some are still used as homes today. The landscape is stunning and is a definite must see. I explored the city on a fourwheeler tour and it was breathtaking. Cappadocia is in central Turkey, take a flight from Istanbul to Nevşehir airport. You must stay in a cave hotel, check out the Argos Hotel. Also, check out the ceramics in the city and try your hand at making some at a local pottery.
- Termessos/Chimaera/Olympos – These cities are near each other along the southern coast of Turkey. They have must see Roman ruins. Termessos is the best perserved ancient city in Turkey. We are talking about cities that were thriving during the time of Alexander the Great, before Christ! Amazing. Chimaera is the site of the eternal flames. There are flames coming out of small holes in rock that have be continuously burning for over a thousand years with no apparent source 🙂 pretty. cool.
- Ephesus – This city has many unbelievably beautiful ruins from the Greeks. Thousands of years old, there are parts that are still being unearthed today. I was able to go into an area that was being uncovered by archaeologists. There were almost intact houses that had beautiful frescos on walls and tiles! Furthermore, Ephesus is a must for Christian pilgrims because it is believed to be the last home of the Virgin Mary before she died. There is a small structure in which you can quietly visit and say a prayer. The structure is on the very spot were the Virgin Mary lived her final years.
- Istanbul – This is an awesome city. You can make a full vacation with just this city. Visit the Sultanahmet area for historical sites such as the Ayasofia, Blue Mosque and the underwater Cisterns. While in Istanbul, you must visit the Çemberlitaş Hamamı (Turkish bath). It was built by the wife of a sultan in 1584 and gorgeous inside. Think white marble and Ottoman glamour. I had a body scrub on a hot stone and then an hour long massage for about $50. It was phenomenal. . I recommend it 100%! In Istanbul, visitors must visit the Grand Bazaar where you can find everything from carpets to handmade tiles to spices.