Turkey, a country in which we were told to be extremely careful about and not to travel to, ended up being probably one of my favourite countries and the complete opposite to what we had heard. Turkey was relatively clean and we had no problems at all with safety AND I got to tick off a couple of major bucketlist experiences. We decided to do 2 busabout tours, with positives and negatives, overall it was a great experience. Although I would probably recommend doing things differently by skipping a few points of interest and incorporating some domestic flying as the bus rides were sooooo long. But booking our trip only 2 weeks in advance, an organized tour like that was perfect to ease my stress levels haha.
PICTURES IN ORDER OF:
We started the first tour leaving from Istanbul and drove to Gallipoli to see the sights, museums and cemeteries of the ANZACS who fought for our country in 1915. I held back tears all day but was so glad I got to somewhat see such an important part of Australian history. We then headed to explore the ancient cities of Ephesus, Troy and Pergamum where we got to see some of the best open air museums in the world. By day 4 we ended up in one of my bucketlist destinations, beautiful Pamukkale! We got to bathe in the picturesque healing waters of the white calcium pools, which I could of easily spent all day frolicking around taking photos of! Only got to spend an hour here but definitely recommend going in the early hours of the day to avoid the hundreds of other tourists 😐 We then made our way to Saklikent Gorge to stay in a tree house overnight and spent the next day tubing down the Xanthos river (such a laugh), bathing in mud and exploring the crystal clear waters of the canyon. Day 6 we arrived in Fethiye to start our 3 day sail. Stopping off multiple times a day to swim, play in the ocean with pool noodles and lilos, mucking around on rope swings and jump off the boat, we were so lucky to have great weather, we had an absolute ball! The last night we docked back into Fethiye for a big night out in the town with all the new friends we had just made to end the tour.
The second tour started by driving to Olympos beach, stopping by a small town called Kas (would of loved to have stayed here for a few nights, such a beautiful little town). The next morning we decided to do a kayaking tour for a couple of hours, which was so fun paddling through caves and swimming in clear water. In the afternoon a group of us decided to do a bit of a fun workout (we had a PT on the tour) as we were all feeling pretty fat after eating bread, bread and more bread haha. The next day (after a huge 10 hour drive) we arrived in my favourite place in the country, Cappadocia! The most breathtaking town I have ever seen! Driving around you see houses embedded in the hills, fairy chimneys, pigeon caves and breathtaking valleys (so hard to explain the towns beauty, you really just have to see it yourself!) We also visited an underground city, castles, churches, caves and an open-air museum in Zelve. And of course the balloons! I have to admit it was pretty much the only reason I did the tour haha. We woke up at 4:30am to pitch black darkness and made our way to the take off sight. When we got to the fields the sky was slightly getting lighter and you could just start to see the hundreds of other hot air balloons spread out about to take off too. That’s when the excitement started to kick in! We floated through the valleys (see first photo) miring so close to the rocks (lucky our pilot had over 10 years experience) it was the biggest adrenaline rush ever. We went up about 800 metres, the view had me speechless and gripping onto the side scared for my life. I had to blink a fair few times to realise it wasn’t a dream! We were up there for about an hour while we watched the sun rise and over 100 other balloons in the distance. We finished up with some wine, it was probably one of the best days of my life. You cannot go to Turkey and miss Cappadocia! Seriously cannot rave about the place enough! We headed back to Istanbul, which was another 10 hour driving day (stopping off at kdnfkd salt lake on the way) where the tour ended and we had to say goodbye again. Tyler and I stayed for another night to see the blue mosque, grand bazar, spice market and roam the beautiful streets. We met some awesome people, experienced some crazy things and had a blast, thanks Turkey!
Just a brief post of Turkey, I didn’t realise how hard it would be to write, edit, upload photos and post while on a busy travelling schedule (whilst having shitty wifi). Will hopefully have more time to write more detailed posts in the upcoming countries.
TIPS – We were warned by a couple on our tour to be careful of scammers in Istanbul and funnily enough, the exact story they told us we saw. They said a guy walked past them and dropped a scrubbing brush, he picked it up for the guy and gave it back to him. He then, being so thankful, offered him a free shoe shine and told him a sob story about his wife and kids. By the time he finished, he demanded money and started to get very aggressive. It was kind of funny because when it happened to us I turned around to see what he had dropped and the guy quickly picked it up and kept walking (probably because he saw we were all wearing thongs and thought damn it haha) and then the penny dropped and we remembered the story. It sucks that you never know whether someone is actually being genuine or trying to rip you off, but whilst travelling I never take the chance.
FOOD – Be prepared for pretty repetitive food, not sure whether it was because we were on a tour but we pretty much had the same thing every day and being vegetarian made my food choices even harder (no one seemed to understand the concept of no meat haha) Average meal was about $5-$10AUD pretty cheap. I loved the meze plates like tapas with dips, Turkish bread and salad.
LOCALS – Again, didn’t have any trouble with locals as we were apart of a tour but I could see people (particularly girls) coming unstuck in Istanbul at night (just like any other city late at night, not always the safest). I can’t really comment much further as pretty much everything was already organized for us and we didn’t really have direct contact with the locals.
MONEY – We got told the currency used in Turkey is LIRA & EUROS but we pretty much only used LIRA. Based on your security provisions with money when traveling, decide whether to withdraw a lump sum to avoid ATM conversion fees (something we didn’t do and regret) or do otherwise and pay the price.
NEXT UP – DUBROVNIK!