Back in December 2014 I took some time off from my London life to enjoy the sights and sounds of beautiful Turkey. It was a holiday I was looking forward to with eagerness as I needed some time away to relax from a rather challenging year.
Turkey is one of the most exciting countries I have ever had the privilege of visiting. An 8-day guided tour saw me travel across some of the most beautiful locations and breath-taking scenery you could imagine. From Instanbul through to Antalya to Izmir, Kusadasi and Pamukkale, visiting ancient ruins of Aphrodisias, Ephesus/Kusadasi, the UNESCO world heritage site of Hierapolis-Pamukkale and many other sites of astounding beauty across the mountains and coasts.
We had landed in Istanbul from Stansted Airport and caught a connecting flight to Antalya. Antalya is one of those old ancient cities lining the Mediterranean coast with some famous waterfalls such as the Kursunlu Waterfall, the 13th century Seljuk Bridge, and a few mosques, one of which is the Yivliminare Mosque, which was first built in 1230 and then reconstructed in 1373. The present day mosque was built around the 14th century after the destruction of the original mosque and today, it houses some fun and exciting stuffs like the ethnographic museum. There are displays of clothing, kitchen utensil, tapestry, embroidery etc. That place left an impression on me.
The entire region is surrounded by the Taurus mountains, with winding roads and views to die for. Driving through the winding roads up the mountains, I remember our guide telling us how for hundreds of years, the mountains were a place for many ancient temples of the storm-gods. Alexander the Great was also said to have defeated Darius III Codmanus at the Battle of Issus down at the foothills of the mountains along the coast.
In Ephesus, I was struck by some monuments such as Odeon, Temple of Hadrian and the Scholastica Baths. This ancient Roman city, which is now ruins, left me thinking how folks back in those days lived such beautiful lives, with pillars of marble lining the streets, on the ground, everywhere.
The highlight of my tour across the Southwest of Turkey was my visit to Pamukkale, a natural site in the Denizli Province which contains hot springs and travertines, a white bed of carbonates covering the size of more than three football pitches. Everywhere is white as snow, extremely beautiful and awesome to behold. Pamukkale sits nicely in Turkey’s Inner Aegean region, in the River Menderes valley. The climate is mild for most part of the year, making it one of the most ideal places if you want to escape from a freezing cold December winter.
Back in Antalya on my sixth day, I went into Antalya. The ancient part of Antalya magically transports you back into the ancient times. The beautiful little shops selling native wares and tourist jewelleries, ornaments, textile etc was just a tourist delight.
Tried some of their local foods, sweets and some stuff like yogurt which I thought was nice.
Back at the hotel, we were treated to some fantastic belly-dancing and I had to join in the fun dancing after a few drinks and some strong Turkish coffee.
I do hope when you go on your various travels, you do make out time to enjoy the locals and what they have to offer. See things not just with the eyes of the tourist, do try to blend in and be one with the locals. That’s how best I enjoy my travels.