'Pearl of the Mediterranean', apparently. And wow, what a pearl it is. Sarcasm aside, I didn't mind being stuck in Mersin for a day, even though it has almost nothing to see. I'd come in search of a boat to Cyprus, but with the ferry from Mersin cancelled and the next boat from Taşucu not for a couple of days, I booked a cheap flight from Adana instead, and was left with a day to kill in Mersin. The seafront is nice enough for a walk, some of the dreary backstreets hide the occasional old house or church, and the people were friendly...I met a lot of Syrians here, so for me it was interesting to chat with them. After dark though, the city centre shuts down early, catching me unawares...I foolishly assumed I'd be able to find somewhere to eat around 8pm, but that was too late and many central streets were eerily quiet. One place I dıd find was a place devoted to künefe, a special type of sugary pastry with cheese and served with a big dollop of cream and sprinkled with crushed pistachios...after one portion of this, several glasses of sweet black tea and a chat with the Syrian waiters, I didn't need to eat more anyway, so I trudged back through the dark streets for an early night before my flight to Cyprus.
Unable to face the long bus journey down to the coast from Afyon, I decided to stop halfway in Konya and hoped it would be a bit warmer than Afyon. It was, but still well below freezing. Konya in winter is quite a bleak place, and conservative all year round, this being a place of pilgrimage. The star attraction is the tomb of Celaleddln Rumi, better known as Mevlana, a Sufi dervish who came here in the 13th century. The surrounding buildings are all part of the free Mevlana museum, a place to learn all about Sufism in İslam. Away from the Mevlana area, Konya has a handful of Selçuk era mosques and medreses strewn around the city centre, enough to keep me occupied for a day, but there's only so much snow a boy can take and the call of the Mediterranean was too strong to linger longer.
'Opium Black Fortress' is an attractive old town spread out around a castle impossibly perched on a tall rock. It's also the coldest place I've ever been with temperatures approaching -20 in January. I spent the morning wandering around the picturesque Ottoman neighbourhoods at the base of the rock, struggling to stay on my feet with all the icy pavements. Then I did something a bit foolish, and climbed the hundreds of snow-covered steps to the remains of the castle. It wasn't the safest climb, with the snow waist deep in places and a couple of sheer drops, but worth it for the spectacular views over the city, and amazingly I wasn't the only mad person up there with a couple of local photographers also braving the cold and the snow to snap Afyon covered in white beneath clear blue skies. Back down in town, I tried my best to warm up at some cafes, but that's hard to do outside with a heater gently grilling your upper half while your feet turn to blocks of ice...but the cold doesn't stop the people of Afyon from taking their coffee outdoors.
More a city to be a student in than a city to visit as a tourist, Eskişehir is probably not worth a special detour, but that's not to say there is nothing to see or do here, despite what any guidebook might say. The centre of the city is a confusing sprawl of modern shopping streets, but the area along the banks of the Porsuk River has been done up with statues and pedestrian bridges. In summer I can imagine it is quite an attractive place to spend time as the area is packed with outdoor cafes and bars...even ın temperatures of -15, the place was buzzing with students from the large university, all drinking outside huddled under heaters and blankets. For something a little older, the Odunpazarı neighbourhood has a collection of Ottoman mansions, some a bit over restored and Disney-esque but others on the verge of collapse, as well as some nice old mosques and a museum dedıcated to meerschaum pipes. The many cafes and shops here were all shut in mid-winter, but it is probably livelier and more characterful in summer months. I enjoyed my two nights in Eskişehir, but maybe not enough to rush back there.
We spent a good week in Cesme, a nice beach (if you forget the wind...). Not far from Izmir, it is a touristy area, with all the facilities, some good restaurants but without any great attractions challenging the beach.Related to:
Located in the southwest corner of Turkey, Bodrum is a unique and diverse holiday resort with an excellent climate, beautiful coastline and a selection of historical sites and natural beauty. The resort combines ancient and modern, with its white-washed houses and narrow streets and offering watersports, great shopping, traditional bazaars, dining and nightlife, alongside its cultural and historical heritage. Must see sights/attractions include: the Tomb of King Mausolus, the Castle of St. Peter, the Theatre of Halicarnassus and the Myndos Gate to name but a few.
See My Travel Page for more information.
Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey straddles two continents, with one foot in Europe and another in Asia, Istanbul’s unique geographical location lies at the heart of the city’s magic. Europe is separated from Asia by the hilly straits of the Bosphorus, and the inlet of the Golden Horn, one of the world’s most sheltered harbours, separates different parts of the European city. For food lovers hop in a cab for the Kumkapi district and its busy fish restaurants. Must see sights/attractions include: the Hagia Sophia, the Anadoluhisari and Rumelihisari Fortresses, Chora Church, Pammakaristos Church and the Grand Bazaar to name but a few.
See My Travel Page for more information.
Beysehir, in the Lake District near Konya
We drove from Antalya to Aspendos, then on to Konya and took the road through the mountains to Beysehir where we stayed the night.
Was really happy we did as found a hotel that was a decent price - 100 lira for 2 with very nice buffet breakfast - with sea views and nice quality being 3 star and has only been opened for a year - and looking down from over the mosque roofs we could see the storks out enjoying the morning sunshine
My guide book said that apart from the lake, the main attraction was the beautiful old wooden mosque which we went to visit and saw the sign there advising that the mosque is on the tentative list for listing with Unesco. The mosque was absolutely - wooden celiings and pillars, and stunning beautiful tiling and doors. Well worth the detour to stay in Beysehir to see this.
There is a covered bazaar next door which is also ancient - from the 12 th century. There were a number of old houses to see in this area.
There are public toilets here near the mosque and a few ladies selling handicrafts. I bought some crocheted roses!
Quite lovely walking back beside the lake before crossing the bridge and heading back to the car parked in front of the hotel.
There is a music shop just there in the main street so asked the guy serving what he recommended to buy of music in the area and bought one with very nice music.
Tourist information boards elaborating on historic sites in the area with photos gave inspiration and information on driving from here to KOnya via a country road to Fasillar to see some ancient monuments and Hittite statues. The countryside along the way was very beautiful and we crossed a wide and deep fast flowing canal with very blue water. The village of Fasillar was a fascinating very old, farming village with interesting houses and chickens scratching around.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
- Sailing and Boating
For all of those who want to get a quick insight of what the Cappadocia+Eastern coast+Istanbul looks like, take a look at our video shooted last summer. So many great memories!
- Budget Travel
I first visited Gallipoli as part of our 3 busloads of 115 Aussie and Kiwis for 3 weeks around Turkey - our visit to Gallipoli was as a Reconciliation ceremony for many of those present had lost relatives in the past during this very sad and significant event in military history.
We visited Lone Pine and Anzac Cove and then our buses went over on the vehicular ferries to Cannakale for lunch.
Last year, in 2013, we rented a car for 4 weeks and had a wonderful time seeing many places around Turkey - when reading around while planning routes and getting ideas for our itinerary it was interesting to read various comments to give Gallipoli a miss unless you are interested in military history...welll this area is a very significant part of the histories of several countries - including Turkey and i think a visit here really impacts on a personal level as a Kiwi who feels very grateful for her roots but also very sympathetic of the sacrifice that those from my country gave in obedience to the then leaders of the British Empire lol
We decided on staying at the Crowded House Hotel - which im glad as very informative staff and wonderfully convenient location. The rooms and bed were comfortable and low price was good on our budget.
Excellent maps of the area is available pointing out all the sites in the area - which military units were involved there, are buried there, the history etc...a little unclear at times when out on the roads as to which road to take to where we were wanting to go and sometimes the site we were looking for needed a bit of hunting or if we past locals we would try to communicate for assistance but overall the whole area is wonderful - well worth having the extra time and having a car to explore. The sites are all wonderfully maintained along with information boards provided.
We decided not to visit the huge museum that is in the middle of the peninsula as thought it was far too expensive - a surprise and a bit of a shame but we decided it was just too much.
There is a fortress south of Eceabat that is worth a visit too and only 2 TL to visit!
The car ferry was cheaper down near that fortress...just south of the military base rather than the one at Eceabat we were advised as its a smaller privately run company with ferries that run more frequently.
Wonderful to stay at Eceabat and have time along the water - we had an excellent meal in a recommended seafood restaurant the first night and then the next evening enjoyed a delicious fish meal at a special place on its own beside the water with wonderful views out across to the other side, watching the ships making their way up the cove and out to sea as the sun came down...Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Road Trip
We only passed by Konya, having time to visit Mevlana's tomb.
Even without seeing the most famous thing of this town, (the twirling dervishes), I think that it has enough attractions for a more detailed visit.
Maybe next time.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Finding myself in Trabzon for the sixth time, I decided to make a trip out of the city and into the mountains. Public transport to the various towns and villages is not so useful for making day trips, as the buses are timed for people to come to Trabzon for shopping and return home in the evening. However, some of the more touristy places have special tours, one of them to Uzungöl.
If you've been to Trabzon, you already know what Uzungöl looks like, as it features in every travel agency window: a white mosque reflected in an impossibly blue lake, with green hills towering above. Well, it looks just like the posters. A day trip to Uzungöl leaves you several hours to hang around waiting for the return trip...you can do a few laps around the lake, eat trout, drink tea, make another lap...but that's about it. The time is not enough to go on a serious hike into the snow-capped mountains, but too long to sit around by the lake...still, it was a nice day out.
To get anywhere inland from Amasra, you have to pass through Bartın first, a small Black Sea market town with some nice old houses. I'd changed buses here in 2001 and remember it looked a pleasant place then, but didn't return until 2013 when my friend offered to show me around while waiting for a bus to Istanbul. She works in a shop on Bartın's main street and took an hour off to take me to the locally famous women's market, where women from the villages wearing brightly coloured headscarves sold local produce. Dotted around here and there are some attractive wooden houses crying out for restoration before they collapse.
On the borders with Greece and Bulgaria is the Thracian city of Edirne, a small provincial town with some magnificent mosques. Mimar Sinan, Turkey's most famous architect, built arguably his most impressive mosque here, the Selimiye Camii, and it's worth coming to Edirne just for that. But aside from the Selimiye mosque, there are several other huge mosques in the centre, in between covered bazaars and old hamams, while on the outskirts along the Tunca River are a number of old bridges connecting grand public buildings in planned suburbs that never really materialised. It is strange but rather beautiful to find a huge mosque complex in the middle of fields, but Edirne has plenty of these. Just three hours from Istanbul, it makes an easy day trip.
Çanakkale is famous for two things...the WW1 battlefields and cemeteries across the water around Gallipoli (Gelibolu), and the ancient ruins of Troy. I saw nothing of the former, and the only trace of the latter was a replica Trojan horse on the seafront that was apparently used in the recent film Troy. The only reason I was in Çanakkale was to change buses, but arriving just before sunset, I soon found out the next bus on to Edirne was at stupid o'clock in the middle of the night, so I decided to find a hotel and continue my journey the next day. This gave me an evening to see the delights that Çanakkale had to offer. It seemed a pleasant enough place, lively around the seafront with some very busy cafes and bars, and...well that was about it!
The great thing about taking a bus north from Çanakkale is that you start off with a ferry ride across the Dardanelles, taking around half an hour. Dawn over the Dardanelles with a glass of tea and a simit was great...but for some unknown reason most passengers on my bus decided to stay on the bus with the curtains drawn...
Housed in a former Ottoman prison, The Four Seasons in Sultanahmet is anything but. It is the...more
This was our first time in Turkey and first time in an all-inclusive hotel. i have to say - we all...more
This small property is both central (10 min walk to the bazaar and waterfront) and secluded and...more
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