I decided to travel to Turkey after watching a documentary on TV about this amazing country – it impressed me so much that I started to dream about a future holiday there. Two years later it became reality and now, after 3 weeks in Turkish lands, I have returned totally in love with this country.
I travel solo and it was hard to find a travel agency offering a tour that included all the places in Turkey that I would like to visit. Finally I found on the internet a tour operator from the UK, Imaginative Traveller, which offered a tour that I considered was perfect. I travelled during the Turkish spring, between April and May last year, and I am happy to say that it was the holiday of a lifetime.
Turkey surprised me from the very beginning – what a beautiful country with friendly people and delicious food. Its culture, history, music… everything is very impassionate.
I arrived in Istanbul Saturday night and from the airport I went straight downtown and started to explore this vibrant city, full of young people on the streets, music, colours and lights, “a metropolis” said my taxi driver. It’s an electric city, where different cultures cohabit with no problems. Palaces, fountains, towers, centuries-old ruins, lots of flowers… and mosques, that call muslims to pray five times a day – you get used to it, after waking up sometimes late in the night hearing the call.
During my three weeks in Turkey, on each new day I discovered new surprises:I found out that the first ‘flight’ by a man happened in Istanbul, where a crazy guy jumped from the Galata Tower, on the European side, wearing adapted wings and crossed the Bosphorus landing safely on the Asiatic side of the city, in 1630; the first coin, a mix of silver and gold, called an elektrón, was invented by Lycians on territory that nowadays is Turkish; Santa Claus? Also Turkish! Demre (Myra) city is dedicated to him; the first advertisement worldwide? Turkish! An inscription in the marble street in Ephesus divulges a brothel – and the ad is still there!
Although Turkey is a Muslim country, it was quite a cradle of Christianity. The Prophet Abraham was born there, in the sacred city of Urfa, and from him comes Christian, Muslim and Jewish people. Our Lady, Mary, mother of Jesus, lived her last days near Ephesus. Her home attracts people from all over the world, a place whose atmosphere makes people feel reflective and at peace. I lit a candle and left a note full of wishes on the wall dedicated to it.
Turkey is strategically located on the map. So much world history has happened in this region straddling the European and Asiatic continents – the scene of battles during the First World War (the tour stops at the emotive site of Gallipoli) and also the Trojan War (we visited the archaeological site at Troy).
The country is enclosed by the Black Sea, Marmara Sea, Aegean Sea and Mediterranean. On the Turquoise Coast part of the latter the water has a beautiful blue colour (turquoise!) and jumping in is inevitable. Landscapes in the country are fantastic and sometimes we weren’t sure if they were real or fake! Pamukkale, (“Cotton Castle”), is a rock formation so white that it seems to be snow.
Cappadocia is another surreal place, with its exotic rock shapes. These soft rocks were carved by nature and used as hiding places, shelters, churches and homes – even nowadays there are a few families living inside the rocks. Cappadocia can be explored on land, through hiking/biking/riding in the national parks and by air, through hot air-ballooning.
I returned home to Brazil, but had had so many experiences, made new friends, taken hundreds of photos and come away with fantastic memories, I would recommend this trip to anyone!
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