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  • Paula Cullison

Experience Turkey: A Land of Exotic Delights

Updated: Sep 9, 2019



Remains of the old fortress at the top of the hill, you can catch a view of the Black Sea, which is guarded by the Turkish military. Take time to enjoy a leisurely seafood lunch at one of the outdo or restaurants here before the ferry heads back to Istanbul.


TURKEY TRAVEL TIPS

  • Hotel prices are about $350 per night for high-end hotels.

  • Guided van tours are most popular with tourists.

  • Taxis are the best way to get around town, as the public transit system is overcrowded.

  • Most of the restaurants focus on fish or meat dishes.

  • Tea is the favored drink ofTurkey.


But don't travel all the way to Turkey and limit yourself to the Istanbul area. The city's airport is a great launching pad for reaching other incredible sites around the country including Cappadocia in central Turkey, a UNESCO World Heritage sire with a vast and sophisticated network of underground cities created in 200 B.C.


No trip to Turkey is complete without a traditional, relaxing Turkish bath and massage. Built in the mid-l 700s Cagaloglu Hamami, listed in the best seller 1,000 Places To See Before You Die, makes the experience memorable.


It's also worth taking a one-hour flight to Izmir, a vital port city situated north of the Aegean Sea. With a population of two million, it is Turkey's third-largest city. In the center of the city is Alsancak, a pedestrian-only area with high-end shops, restaurants

and condominiums.


East of Izmir is Ephesus and Pamukkale along with numerous small villages that are responsible for the country's agricultural production of olives, tomatoes, apricots, nuts and spices. Each village also has a quintessential outdoor fresh produce market and a cafe uniquely its own.


Trips to archeological sites of Ephesus, Meryemana and Pamukkale can be secured ahead of time on www.viator.com. Pamukkale, which looks like an enormous chalky white cliff rising more than 300 feet, is home to mineral-rich volcanic hot springs thought to cure arthritis and other ailments.


PERHAPS IT'S THE PULSATING AND EXOTIC MUSIC, THE MAGNIFICENT BOSPORUS STRAIT OR THE INTRIGUING BLUE MOSQUE THAT ATTRACTS EXPLORERS TO THIS PARADISE. OR MAYBE IT'S THE UNIQUE GRAND BAZAAR,THE STRONG COFFEES OR BEAUTIFULLY DESIGNED CARPETS AND HANDCRAFTS EXCLUSIVE TO THIS ANCIENT REALM. A DESTINATION WITH A MAGNIFICENT COUNTRYSIDE, TURKEY'S MYSTERY AND INTRIGUE WILL CAPTURE YOUR HEART.


Istanbul, home to over 12 million of the more than 70 million Turks, is a vibrant city with a rhythm uniquely its own. Filled with Old World charm and strategically situated by the Bosporus, Sultanhamet is one of the most popular areas of Istanbul and one of the best locations for rourisrs.


SITES TO SEE

Most of the major sires are within walking distance or a short taxi ride from the

city. Even if you don't like to shop, the bustling Grand Bazaar is a must. Here, visitors can find a wide array of Turkish handcrafts, carpets, jewelry, clothing and leather goods.


Other attractions should be on your list as well. Built in 1609, the Blue Mosque is one of the most famous symbols of Istanbul. Its overwhelming size and magnificence, both inside and out, makes it an architectural masterpiece. Designed by Mehmet Aga, the interior's high ceiling


is lined with about 20,000 blue tiles that give the mosque its name. These fine examples of 16th-century lznik design feature flowers, trees and abstract patterns.


Hagia Sophia, the Church of Holy Wisdom now known as the Ayasofya Museum, is a former Eastern Orthodox Church originally built in the sixth century under the rule of Roman Emperor Justinian. Considered one of the greatest buildings in history, its conquest by the Ottomans at the fall of Constantinople is thought to be one of the great tragedies of Christianity by members of the Greek Orthodox religion. A cobblestone incline leads to its upper reaches for a great view of the dome and the tops of the marble columns.


Also visit Topkapi Palace, a complex network of rooms and courtyards with a vast collection of costumes, pottery and jewels. The most eye-catching jewel is the Spoon maker's Diamond, which is set in silver and surrounded by 49 cut diamonds. The traditional Turkish marching band in full costume occasionally performs on the grounds during the summer.


The Dolmabache Palace is another must-see. The overstuffed furnishings and elaborate crystal chandeliers exemplify the extravagant lifestyle during the Ottoman Empire. A silk coverlet designed with a Turkish flag rests on the deathbed of Ataturk, the great reformer who died in 1938.


OUT AND ABOUT

Taksim Square, with its elaborate fountain and vendors, is a huge bus depot and meeting point. Take a stroll along lstiklal Cad, likely one of the most crowded pedestrian-only shopping areas you will ever experience. Then visit Istanbul Modern, the Museum of Modern Art, for a better understanding of present day artistic thought.


Also popular with tourists is the Turkish government-run ferry, which offers an all-day trip zigzagging along the picturesque towns lining the Bosporus for only $12. One can hop on and off on either the European or Asian side. The ferry stops every three hours at Anadolu Kavagi, an old Byzantine fortress on the Asian side of the country.


These day trips include lunch and an English-speaking guide. Each city has its own rich history and sites to explore: the ancient city of Ephesus contains the largest collection of Roman ruins east of the Mediterranean; in Meryemana, visit the House of the Virgin, which daces back


co the 7th century and is believed to be built on the site of the Virgin Mary's original house; and Hierapolis, adjacent to Pamukkale, features an extensive cemetery, a theater and a Temple of Apollo, much of which is still being unearthed.


Turkey is rich in history and culture, and its people are friendly and hospitable. A visit here will create many cherished memories. Whatever beckons your inner world adventurer, be sure to add Turkey to your travels.




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