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Turkey – Istanbul and Cappadoccia

Turkey is such an enormous country so with the 10 days we had there, we had to choose just a couple of places to visit. Our First stop – the capital, Istanbul.

We met up at the Airport raring to see Istanbul...

We met up at the Airport raring to see Istanbul...

The train from Ataturk International Airport (located on the European side) is really easy to take into the old city, Sultanhamet. Once you arrive you are thrown into the most bustling vivacious place that is also home to the most historical sites. We booked several nights accommodation right in the centre of this area so we had great access to:

The Grand Bazaar

The Entrance to a tourists shopping delight...

The Entrance to a tourists shopping delight...

These ornate light fittings are sold en mass in the Grand Bazaar...

These ornate light fittings are sold en mass in the Grand Bazaar...

If you don't like big crowds and a bit of push and shove, then you may want to avoid the Grand Bazaar...

If you don't like big crowds and a bit of push and shove, then you may want to avoid the Grand Bazaar...

The Blue Mosque

This is a spectacular Mosque in the heart of Sultanhamet...

This is a spectacular Mosque in the heart of Sultanhamet...

There are delegated times that tourists (or non muslims) can enter the Mosque but once you are in you can observe the prayer. You must remove shoes and of course remain quiet, but photography is allowed...

There are delegated times that tourists (or non muslims) can enter the Mosque but once you are in you can observe the prayer. You must remove shoes and of course remain quiet, but photography is allowed...

The ceiling is quite incredible. Beautiful artwork made from tiles. We spent about 20 minutes in this Mosque but we never forgot it as we were alerted to the call to prayer 5 times a day. Even the 3am call woke us up...

The ceiling is quite incredible. Beautiful artwork made from tiles. We spent about 20 minutes in this Mosque but we never forgot it as we were alerted to the call to prayer 5 times a day. Even the 3am call woke us up...

The view of the Mosque from our hotel at night was just incredible...

The view of the Mosque from our hotel at night was just incredible...

The Basilica Cistern

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We didn't know what to expect when entering the Basilica Cistern. This is the grandest cistern because it lay beneath the Stoa Basilica, a grand Byzantine public square. It's also called the Sunken Palace Cistern.

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Walking through you get to see the amzing architecture of this underground empire that was built during the reigh of Emperor Justinianus during the 6th Century.

Medusa

The Medusa heads are examples of Roman Age Art Sculptures...

One thing we did find was that the information supplied in the Cistern gave details of the architecture.. of the size, width, height of the columns but didn’t really explain what it was used for. We were later told it stored water for the Great Palace and nearby buildings.

There are a few more attractions such as Hafiz Sophia and Topkapi Palace which are also highly recommended by others, however we didn’t get there.

~~~

Turkish Food

With so many restaurants we had plenty of choice for delicious Turkish food and over the course of 10 days sampled some incredible dishes. There is no going hungry in Turkey either as every meal is huge and always served with bread.

This persuasive man lured us into his restaurant...

This persuasive man lured us into his restaurant...

We order the Shisa Kebab and one dish was enough to share between 2...

Perhaps this doesn't look that Turkish but we ordered the Shisa Kebab that came with the chips and salad. It was enough to share between 2...

We enjoyed the Turkish breakfasts which were always included in our room rate. This usually consisted of Tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese, olives, bread, fruits, jams and of course Turkish tea or coffee.

Most of the breakfasts served in the hotel were buffet style and offered similar sorts of foods no matter where we stayed...

Most of the breakfasts served in the hotel were buffet style and offered similar sorts of foods no matter where we stayed...

Gozleme was something we stumbled across when we saw a lady sitting in a shop front rolling dough and then laying it on a hot pan to heat. This is a traditional hand made and hand rolled pastry and is usually filled with cheese, or spinach and fetta, meat or potatoes to name a few.

This Turkish Mama sits here all day rolling dough and making Gozleme after Gozleme. They are so tasty...

This Turkish Mama sits here all day rolling dough and making Gozleme after Gozleme. They are so tasty...

All wrapped up and ready to eat...

All wrapped up and ready to eat...

We tried plenty of kebabs and there are a few – Çiğ köfte, Künefe and Beytii or Adana or Ali Nazık Kebabs. Sometimes you could get the Souvlaki type but most times this delicious meat was served with salad and yogurt and….Turkish bread.

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Pete preparing his own kebab. Cutting this meat is not as easy as the locals make it look...

Another Shisa Kebab - loaded plate but absolutely delicious...

Another Shisa Kebab - loaded plate but absolutely delicious...

Street Favourites

As we said you can never go hungry in Turkey because everywhere you turn there is something on offer. Street vendors have come up with some interesting, quick and cheap meal options:

Down by the Ferry in Istanbul there are many of these men who sell who knows how many fish rolls. At a cost of 5 Lira (or $1AUD) you can understand why this is a popular lunch choice...

Down by the Ferry in Istanbul there are many of these men who sell who knows how many fish and lettuce rolls. At a cost of 5 Lira (or $1AUD) you can understand why this is a popular lunch choice...

Fancy a mussel? These men stand along the streets selling fresh mussels with a squeeze of lemon. You choose how many you want and pay 1 lira per mussel...

Fancy a mussel? These men stand along the streets selling fresh mussels with a squeeze of lemon. You choose how many you want and pay 1 lira per mussel...

Dessert

When choosing an after dinner sweet, it was hard to walk past the shops selling the most incredible Baklava. Pistachio or walnut were a favorite. Rice pudding is also a popular dessert so Pete was in heaven.

Baklava and Turkish Delight in abundance...

There were quite a few desserts to choose from but we couldn't look past the Baklava...

Another delicious treat was the Turkish Delight. Many of the stores leave out samples on the counter which is always too tempting.

Hide the sample plates, we are coming in!

Hide the sample plates, we are coming in!

Drinks

Apart from the endless cups of tea we were offered one local favourite was a yogurt drink called Ayran. This yogurt is diluted with water and is supposed to be refreshing and healthy. We are pretty sure its healthy, but we didn’t find it refreshing. It tasted quite salty.

Shopping

If you are interested in some retail therapy then Turkey and particularly Istanbul is a fun place to shop and particularly in the bazaars… And bargaining is all part of the experience.

Stores are adorned with beautifully painted ceramics including small bowls, plates and cups.

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We were taken to a few Alabaster Show Rooms on various tours but can't say we are the biggest fans...

It’s also hard to walk past a carpet store without being lured in to ‘just look’ and enjoy some Apple or Cherry Tea, also referred to as Chai (apparently the Turks dont even drink these ‘teas for tourists’).

What a selection!

What a selection!

A strong pitch on the quality, a convincing chart on how the carpets are threaded and 4 cups of Apple Tea later and were were sold... We'll take it!  Our salesman also told us that these carpets appreciate in value over the years and that he would buy it back at a higher rate in 20 years as worn carpets are highly sought after. Hmmm not sure about that but we love our carpet...

A strong pitch on the quality, a convincing chart on how the carpets are threaded and 4 cups of Apple Tea later and were were sold... 'We'll take it!' Our salesman also told us that these carpets appreciate in value over the years and that he would buy it back at a higher rate in 20 years as worn carpets are highly sought after. Hmmm not sure about that but we love our carpet...

For more brand stores and boutiques, Taksim is the best place to check out. A walk from just near the Ferry Port uphill past the Clock Tower will lead you to a very long, extremely busy shopping precinct. We window shopped.

This was Taksim on a Sunday evening. We thought it was just busy because it was a weekend but when returning twice more during the week it was just as packed...

This was Taksim on a Sunday evening. We thought it was just busy because it was a weekend but when returning twice more during the week it was just as packed...

Tours

There are plenty of tours to book from Istanbul – Gallipoli and Ephesus are very popular. As we had arranged a car for a few days we decided to make our own way to Gallipoli but decided to jump on the Ferry from Istanbul to travel through the Bosphorus. The Bosphorous is is the 32 km long strait which joins the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea in Instanbul and separates the continents of Europe and Asia.

The ferry ride takes a couple of hours but the scenery along the way keeps your eyes peeled the entire time.

The busy Ferry Port on the European side of Istanbul. The Bosphorus Ferry leaves regularly each day and costs only 25 Lira per person...

The busy Ferry Port on the European side of Istanbul. The Bosphorus Ferry leaves regularly each day and costs only 25 Lira per person...

Dolmabahce Palace...

Dolmabahce Palace...

The houses along the Bosphorus Strait are really quite special...

The houses along the Bosphorus Strait are really quite special…
Can you imagine waking up here each day...

Can you imagine waking up here each day...

We got off at the last stop on the Asian side – Kavagi. This beautiful town is home to Yoros Castle which is a ruined castle at the confluence of the Bosporus and the Black Sea.

Once you step off the Ferry in Kavagi, you are welcomed by a number of amazing seafood restaurants so after a tasty lunch of Calamari, we were ready to head up the hill to the Castle...

Once you step off the Ferry in Kavagi, you are welcomed by a number of amazing seafood restaurants so after a tasty lunch of Calamari, we were ready to head up the hill to the Castle...

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The climb to Yoros Castle is not long but its very steep...

Looking down to Kavagi from the Castle...

Looking down to Kavagi from Yoros Castle...

~~~

Cappadoccia

After several days exploring Istanbul, we booked a very cheap flight to Cappaddoccia. Our main reason for going there was to experience a hot air balloon but this place offered so much more.

Although we would like to consider ourselves seasoned travellers we did make the mistake of arriving at the wrong airport to board our flight (we headed straight back to Ataturk International, when in fact we should have been at the airport on the Asisn side – Sabiha Gökçen) consequently missing it and having to pay about $50AUD extra to catch a later flight from the airport we had arrived at. So it wasn’t all that bad, just annoying.

Once arriving in Cappaddocia, our hotel had arranged a taxi transfer which was brilliant, firstly because we arrived at 1am and secondly the drive to Goreme (which is the most popular place to stay) is about an hour away.

We had two full days to explore this area so for the first one we took a huge walk through Goreme.

After spending a night in the delightful Anatolia Cave hotel, we awoke to this incredible scenery...

After spending a night in the delightful Anatolia Cave Hotel, we awoke and began our walk uphill towards Red Valley and this incredible scenery...

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Chapel in a cave...

We were walking through Red Valley feeling completed isolated and then we met this man selling dried fruits in his cave stall....

We were walking through Red Valley feeling completed isolated and then we met this man selling dried fruits in his cave stall....

Our second morning in this beautiful region was an early start to see Cappadocia from up high. The cost of a hot air balloon ride is $150AUD which is amazing value, add to that the location and scenery and its one thing we would say is a must do if you are going to Turkey. You are up at 5am, served a light breakfast of sweet breads and tea and then its ready to go.

Firing up...

Firing up...

Its amazing to think you really are just standing in a basket...

Its amazing to think you really are just standing in a basket...

Wow!

Wow!

Up and down through the valley - the morning was just beautiful particularly being able to see about 30 other balloons out there with us...

Up and down through the valley - the morning was just beautiful particularly being able to see about 30 other balloons out there with us...

What can we say...

What can we say...

We probably have a thousand photos of this ride...

We probably have a thousand photos of this ride...

Eventually it had to come to an end...

But eventually it had to come to an end...

Pop!

Pop!

Albeit finishing the morning with a lovely glass of bubbly...

A lovely finish to the morning with a glass of bubbly...

~~~

From our morning ride, we were straight back to our hotel to take a day tour to see:

Pigeon Valley which is large panorama valley.

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We were told pigeons still live in these holes today... We were more taken with the view

Underground City of Derinkuyu, the largest and the deepest Underground City in Cappadocia.We walked down 8 levels (although there are actually 11 but 3 have not been excavated) to see. The city could accommodate between 35,000 and 50,000 people and had all the usual amenities found in other underground complexes across Cappadocia, such as wine and oil presses, stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, and chapels.

There are supposedly many underground cities in Turkey, the one we saw however is the biggest...

There are supposedly many underground cities in Turkey, the one we saw however is the biggest...

Very narrow passageways. Inside it was quite chilly too...

Very narrow passageways. Inside it was quite chilly too...

Intruders were crucified in this very spot...

Intruders were crucified in this very spot...

Nar lake which lies in a crater.

We had time for just a quick snap shot...

We had time for just a quick snap shot...

Ihlara Valley which is the largest, deepest and the longest canyon in Cappadocia. The valley is like a paradise with its beautiful nature and rocks.

There are some stunning day walks that you can do through this Valley however we only had time for a leisurely stroll along the riverbank... It was really peaceful

There are some stunning day walks that you can do through this Valley however we only had time for a leisurely 3km stroll along the riverbank... It was really peaceful

Sitting among the Poppy Fields...

Sitting among the Poppy Fields...

More pigeon nests in the caves...

More pigeon nests in the caves...

Lunch at Tandirci.

Couldn't have chosen a better place...

Couldn't have chosen a better place...

This is the perfect place to spend an afternoon in the sun...

This is the perfect place to spend an afternoon in the sun but after a lunch of soup, chicken, salad and fruit we were on the move again...

Selime

After lunch we got back on the bus and headed to Selime – the place for taking pictures by the pinnacles where some of the filming of “Star wars” was located.

We didn't think too much about Star Wars here but it was a very cool place to look around...

We didn't think too much about Star Wars here but it was a very cool place to look around...

A hole lot of beautiful scenery...

A hole lot of beautiful scenery...

There are a number of rock cut churches here of which the most important is known as a Selime cathedral

There are a number of rock cut churches here of which the most important is known as a Selime cathedral

One final viewpoint before moving on...

One final viewpoint before moving on to ...

The Alabaster Showroom we have to say was not a highlight of the tour but as we have found with most tours (anywhere) one stop usually involves a sales pitch at some point. We saw how Alabaster was made and we were told we could get the very best price here but it was still a no from us.

The total cost of this tour was $44AUD per person. This included transfers, tickets into each location and a 3 course lunch at Tandirci. Well worth checking this out.

~~~

We have a large gallery of photos of Turkey which we will include in our next Post – Gallipoli and Troy

 

Hot Air Ballooning, Cappadocia

Tigers in India
MADAGASCAR VOLUNTEERING
GORILLA TREKKING
Ace Way to See Photos:Click
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