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The Rest of Turkey!

sunny 16 °C

Pamukkale

We had another quite long drive from Cappadocia to Pamukkale, but we managed to leave at a good time so we arrived in the late afternoon. We could see the giant mountain of white travertine rock as we drove in, and it looked pretty out of place as there was nothing else remotely like it in sight. After settling in to our hotel we took a nice walk around town. We’re here in the offseason, so once we noticed that the town was pretty dead we decided to stay in for the night and just have a couple of drinks with our Australian friend. We woke up the next day to sunshine and warmth, which we were very grateful for after leaving a snowy and cold Cappadocia. Our first activity was to climb the travertine mountain to find all the naturally formed pools staggered throughout the rock. They were quite the sight to see as the water in them was a bright turquoise blue and the view from the mountain was of the town and surrounding white capped mountains. The pools were too shallow to actually swim in but we walked through them with our shoes off even though some of them were very cold. Once you get to the top of the mountain, you reach the ancient Roman city of Hieropolis, which had a good combination of rebuilt and untouched ruins. This town was built in the early second century by the Romans, and was famous for its hot springs. The highlight of the ancient city was the theatre that the Italians are in the process of rebuilding and it was absolutely beautiful. We decided that it was a good place to have a mid afternoon beer. We left Pamukkale after one night as there wasn't much to do there, even though it was a very cool city. It was also Colby’s birthday and we wanted to get somewhere with some nightlife.

Antalya

We got to Antalya for dinner time and we were very happy to have finally reached the coast. The Mediterranean was a very pleasant site as we drove in. We stayed in old town Antalya which was a typical Mediterranean city with cobblestones and great boutique restaurants and cafes. We decided to get a nice dinner for Colby's birthday and it was well worth it as it was the first good food we’d had in awhile. We went to a pub that had a great live rock band. They sang English songs, but the lead singer hardly knew any English, which we thought was interesting. We met some Turks who took us to a Turkish nightclub, which was super packed and a lot of fun. The next day we just moseyed around Antalya and had a couple of beers on the patio. Before leaving Antalya on our third day there, our Aussie travel mate left us to go to Romania, but we reckon we’ll meet up with him again at some point as we have become very good friends.

Kas (pronounced cash)

The drive to Kas was short but sweet as it was a windy road overlooking the Mediterranean. The city is a small coastal town right on the water. Our hotel balcony had a beautiful view of the city and the ocean. In our one day here, I woke up with some stomach problems (nothing serious) so I opted out of the boat trip we were going to take. Colby went anyway, and once my stomach settled down, I wandered around the town. There's a ton to do in Kas as it is quite an outdoorsy town, including kayaking, scuba diving, parasailing and touring the surrounding islands. I unfortunately did not do any of those, which is probably for the best for my wallet. Our next stop is Bodrum, where we’ll take a ferry to Greece where we finally hope to get some good food!

Bodrum

Our last stop in Turkey was a town called Bodrum. We were only there from about 8pm til 9am as there was an early ferry to Greece the next day and we knew that flavourful food and decent beer was awaiting us! Turkey was great but we definitely had spent enough time there. Next stop is the Greek islands for some sun and gyros!

Posted by geoffboulton 12:20 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Cappadocia

Cave city


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We arrived in Cappadocia at around 1 am after an 8 hour drive that involved driving through the capital city of Ankara and seeing a little snow. We had considered staying in Ankara for a night to split the drive up, but we are very glad we didn't as the town seemed pretty crappy. It has been so nice having the car. We’ve been exploring around a lot and stumbling upon cool little Turkish towns that we would have missed otherwise. We also met an Aussie in Istanbul who was going in the same direction, so he's been with us for the past couple days, and it's been a load of fun.

Back to Cappadocia - this place was unbelievably cool. There are a couple towns in the region, built around and into the volcanic rock formations. On our first day we went to the Open Air Museum in Goreme. This was an outdoor museum of tiny cave churches and chapels built into the rocks. The Catholic people lived in these caves to hide from the Muslims. It was very cool. After the museum we decided to go for a hike, through the Sword Valley. This was an amazing experience as you hike through natural underground tunnels that were carved by water and explore the rock hills to see even more caves than we saw in the museum. Turned out we didn't really need to pay to go to the museum! That night we went to a hole in the wall winery that was run by a lady who spoke pretty much no English. We managed to communicate enough to try 4 wines and buy a couple bottles. We had a glass in the winery where we met some other travellers and chilled with her cats. We tried to go to a night club after that, but they wouldn't let us in because we didn't have any girls with us, which we thought was hilarious as there was hardly anyone in the night club as it was!

For the next day, we were contemplating doing a highly recommended guided tour through the region, but we decided that since we had a car, we could save the money and replicate the tour on our own. Our self guided tour started at the Derinkuyu underground city, where 20,000 people lived in 8th century BC. These caves were deep and uncomfortable, but very cool to see. It's really hard to believe that people could live in a hole like an ant. After that we drove to the Selime Monastery, which like the open air museum, was a refuge of sorts for Christians to escape from the Muslims. This was a bit different as it was actually built into the side of a mountain. From there we cruised along the Ihlara valley, stopping by some really great small Turkish towns, and seeing the awesome rock formations. There were thousands of dwellings and hundreds of churches built in the caves in the area and many can still be viewed.

Our last (half day) in Cappadocia was reserved for a hot air balloon ride, which I was a little on the fence about for financial reasons. The region is famous for balloon rides, as everyone gets out early in the morning and hundreds of balloons go up at once. Our decision not to go was made easy, when we woke up to snow! We couldn't believe it.

Photos to follow!

Posted by geoffboulton 10:54 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Istanbul!

First stop

overcast 8 °C
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Hello everyone!

It has been a crazy, packed 4 days since we got to Turkey so I haven't had much chance to write. There is so much to see in Turkey with so little time. I probably would have liked a good 10 days in Istanbul, but we had to manage with only 3. We spent a lot of time walking around the city exploring, as it is very diverse, straddling both Asia and Europe and having both Muslim and Catholic influences. It was very cool to be able to hop on a ferry and switch continents. Our hostel was on the Europe side, which is where all the tourist attractions are. We saw many mosques including the Blue Mosque, which was gigantic and absolutely stunning. We went to the Grand Bazaar which was a giant indoor market where they sold literally everything you could think of. One of the coolest things we saw was the Basilica Cistern, which is a huge underground temple-like structure built in the 6th century, with crazy cool columns with carvings of Medusa on them. We went into the Topkapi Palace, which was used for 600 years by different rulers, emperors and sultans of the Ottoman Empire. There was some great art, and amazingly intricate wall patterns. But Colby and I, of course, thought the best part of it was the armoury! We were lucky enough to be here for Easter, so we headed to the Church of St Anthony of Padua (or as the Turkish call it, Sent Antuan Kilisesi). The church was absolutely beautiful and though the Mass was very long, it was pretty interesting as it was said by two Italian priests, speaking English, in Turkey!

Our time on the Asian side of town consisted mostly of what we're calling an "urban hike." We figured we'd bypass transit and walk everywhere, and by the time we got home we figured we'd walked about 10 km. We saw a lot of the residential and industrial side of Istanbul where we were the only tourists, and we stuck out like sore thumbs. We ended up at a seawall full of locals drinking beers, playing sports (even roller hockey!), and walking the boardwalk. It was quite cool.

In terms of food and drink in Istanbul, everything has been quite average. I was expecting more spice and flavour in their food, but it was kind of bland. Still, we had a couple of good meals. We've mostly been eating beef,lamb and chicken kebabs, and pita wraps called durum. The Turkish beer isn't great, but it's not too expensive and it gets the job done.

Today we rented a car and undertook an 8 hour drive east to central Turkey to the region of Cappadocia, which is a world heritage site. We have just arrived but we have heard there is a cave city, crazy hot air balloon rides and wineries!
That's all for now!

Posted by geoffboulton 00:25 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

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