(The display picture is downloaded from the internet and is not taken by me)
Turkey, a Mediterranean delight, breaks from the cliche of being an Islamic State and bears a strong influence of European culture. It is truly a bridge between Asia and Europe. A perfect blend of modern ideology, Turkey preserves and keeps alive with the local heritage and values.
Before our visit, we were warned about the not-so-warm attitude of the Turks and were asked to beware of the thugs. Contrary to this misjudged opinion (smell your own backyard first!), I felt that the people in Turkey were beyond warm and hospitable and went out of their way to help. We were often welcomed with free chai and backlava at random stores. I lost my passport at the airport, which the staff at the terminal helped me find, Nikhil lost his mobile at the bar and the club kept it in a safe for us, my brother in law forgot his wallet with currency in the taxi and the taxi guy drove half way back to the airport to return it! How can anyone ever complain about such nice people!
Also, I think Shahrukh Khan is partially to thank for all the niceties met out to Indians in Turkey. You would be hailed out in the street with “Marry me” proposals followed by a shahrukh dialogue, song or his signature ‘raise the hand in the air’ move!
We visited in the month of June, when the locals celebrate the festival of Ramadan, which adds more to the vibrance of the city and everybody flocks onto the streets after midnight to break their fast.
The food in Turkey is particularly salivating and I almost always had an appetite for yet another kind of kebab. Turks also appreciate their siesta time and have some amazing Turkish baths and spas to relish at. A visit to Turkey without a visit to the hamam is incomplete.
If you like to shop, carry a light bag and leave ample space to fill it with the Nazar Boncugu i.e. evil eye magnets and souvenirs, clay pottery, lamp shades, traditional tea sets, carpets, paintings and of course the spice and the baklavas. Turkish Lira is the currency but several places accept Euros also (albeit at a poor exchange rate).
The weather in the month of June was pretty warm during the day, especially in Istanbul and Bodrum but got very pleasant in the evenings. A light jacket and a scarf (which will also be useful while visiting the mosques ) are musts to carry along.
Turkey, being the seat of three former world empires, is vast and offers a wide variety of landscapes with different historical significance attached to each place. An ideal itinerary, as per me, to this beautiful crescent land would include:
- Istanbul– At least 3-4 days
- Fly to Cappadocia– 2 full days excluding travel time
- Fly to Bodrum– 2 days
- Drive to Pammukale– Enroute Izmir
- Drive to Izmir/ Ephesus– 2 days
- Fly to Antalya– 2 days
I really hope that the political unrest and disharmony comes to an end in this magnificent country and it becomes open to all to discover and relish this truly unparalleled experience!