The best of Turkey at a glance

While Istanbul has enough history and charm to keep you hooked for days, there are many more places in Turkey waiting to be discovered.
Image courtesy: Lonely Planet/Michael Nicholson

Hop aboard for a scenic trip. While Istanbul has enough history and charm to keep you hooked for days, there are many more places in Turkey waiting to be discovered.

 

The route
Image courtesy: Gitika Saksena

Any day is a beautiful day in Istanbul. You can walk around the busy Sultanahmet district, admire the intricate architecture of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, and spend quiet moments watching the twinkling lights of Asia and Europe as they embrace over the straits of Bosphorous.

Streets of Istanbul
Image courtesy: Gitika Saksena
Inside the blue mosque
Image courtesy: Gitika Saksena
Hagia Sophia
Image courtesy: Gitika Saksena

Pamukkale and Hierapolis

In Turkish, the word ‘Pamukkale’ means a cotton castle. You will know why once you behold the cascade of travertine terraces. Apart from creating a unique dreamy landscape, the terraces are also dotted with numerous hot springs, ideal for a relaxing dip. One should also check out the Greco-Roman ruins of the city of Hierapolis adjacent to the terraces.

Pamukkale
Image courtesy: Gitika Saksena
Hierapolis
Image courtesy: Gitika Saksena

Fethiye

Fethi Bey, a pilot in the Ottoman Air Force, was killed in an air crash while flying from Istanbul to Alexandria. Today a statue of the proud young man overlooks the harbour in the town named in his honour. Warm and unassuming, the town of Fethiye has much to offer to a wanderer.

Warm and unassuming, the town of Fethiye has much to offer to a wanderer.
Image courtesy: Gitika Saksena

You can trek up the hills to the ruins of the ancient city of Telemessos; get a bit of the local lowdown with kilim (hand woven Turkish carpet) sellers; or just lose your way in the winding lanes – a black cat fiercely guarding a house numbered thirteen, an old Turkish couple smiling from a window above; and a glass figurine maker who could just as well been piloting a turbo prop across the Mediterranean skies – Fethiye is a character out of your favourite book.

An old Turkish couple in Fethiye
Image courtesy: Gitika Saksena
A glass figurine maker
Image courtesy: Gitika Saksena

For those who cannot resist the waters, hop on the day long twelve-island cruise of the Mediterranean. There are many operators plying, and you can negotiate the price on the spot at the harbour. On the boat, you can sunbathe as you take in the stunning seascapes, or sway to the lively strains of Turkish pop playing in the background. Or perhaps you can choose to jump and dive right into the sea, when the boat anchors off an island.

For those who cannot resist the waters, hop on the day long twelve-island cruise of the Mediterranean.
Image courtesy: Gitika Saksena
You can choose to dive right into the sea when the boat anchors off an island.
Image courtesy: Gitika Saksena

The underground city of Kaymakli

Located in the Cappadocia region, this city must be on any ‘thousand places to see before you die’ list. Built to protect the locals against the marauding Roman, Arab et al invaders, Kaymakli is arguably the largest among the underground cities in the region.

The underground city of Kaymakli
Image courtesy: Gitika Saksena

There are four storeys of the city currently open to public. One gingerly navigates through the long, sloping passages to discover a complete world below – living quarters, kitchens, cellars, wineries, even stables for domestic animals! You can find guides right at the entrance of the city; highly recommended as they keep you regaled with interesting anecdotes.

The Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia
Lava formations, further weathered by wind and rain, have created a spectacular moonscape of flat faced cliffs and pointy chimneys. Quite a few of these were chiselled into cave dwellings and chapels by the Byzantine Christians as they took refuge here. Best way to explore the valley is on foot. One must check out the Goreme Open Air Museum, an erstwhile monastic settlement, for fine Byzantine frescoes.

Lava formations weathered by wind and rain, have created a spectacular moonscape of flat faced cliffs and pointy chimneys in Cappadocia
Image courtesy: Gitika Saksena
The best way to explore the valley is on foot
Image courtesy: Gitika Saksena

Top Tip

Check Fez Travel for a plethora of tour options.

How to get there?

Turkish Airlines offers direct connections from India to Istanbul.

AUTHOR'S BIO: An economics graduate from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi and an MBA from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar, Gitika started flirting with photography in 2011 and it has been a constant companion ever since. She enjoys taking photographs related to travel, humanitarian causes, festivals and celebrations and once in a while, likes to connect dots and find the common thread between images of people and places. More on: www.gitikasaksena.com

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