Of all the places we’ve been, Turkey has made our top five favorite places list. From the moment we arrived it was clear we were in a lively place. The drab-unhappy mood of it’s neighboring European countries dissolved into a sense of embracing-pride. It was refreshing to be greeted with a smile again. When I look back, I think the combination of the sights, food, art, people, and mystique made Turkey a favorite place.
With twelve days in Turkey we decided to split our time between Istanbul and Cappadocia. We first stayed in the heart of Istanbuls, Sultanahmet Square. Like most of our fellow tourists we spent a good 3 days wandering the iconic sights and enjoying the food, music, and markets. Although there were several vendors trying to make sales (we were once again in a bartering culture) it didn’t feel as pressured as our experience in Morroco. Actually a few times the salesmen had us laughing… we heard a few lines like, “Please let me sell you something you don’t need” or “I can tell by the way you walk you need to buy a carpet.” The only disappointing we had in Sultanahmet was with our hostel. At 6pm on our second day they told us we had to switch rooms because they needed our room for a new customer. Apparently they had three people, and some how our very tiny room could fit a cot. Of course we were not happy and made them severely discount or rate. It was seriously bad customer service… do yourself a favor and never stay at the New Backpackers Hostel!
Following our few days in Istanbul we took an overnight bus to Cappadocia. While there we toured the rock formations, cave houses, and the amazing underground city. We also took time to relax and rejuvenate at a hamams, also know as a Turkish bath. Wow what an experience! First you change into a sarong (ladies were a swim suite) and fill a bowl of water to “shower.” Then you hangout in sauna until you can’t stand it anymore or until it’s time for your scrub. With your skin all hot and moist an attendant then uses a loofah mitt to fully exfoliate your arms, legs, and back. (On a side note… 4.5 months of travel apparently makes you way dirtier than normal. I think it had to do with all the sunbathing in Brazil.) After you’re rinsed it’s time for a massage. The massage starts with a blanket of bubbles laid from your neck to your toes and the masseuse begins their magic. The massage finishes with another splash of water (this time cold) and your done or you can repeat the how process again. Both Dan and I agreed after our time at the Turkish bath we both felt cleaner than we have in weeks! If you plan to visit Cappadocia or Istanbul, a Turkish bath is a must.
We ended our trip in Turkey with a few nights in heart of modern Istanbul, Taksim Square. While there we tried to live like the locals to get a better sense of the city. Although, it seemed to still be filled with tourist. While there, “The Avengers” had just come out and lucky for us it was released in English! Dan and I enjoyed the movie in 3D. Unlike the States, in Istanbul there is no late seating once the movie has started, and half way through the movie they stopped the film for a bathroom break. We were a little confused at first, but quickly realized what was happening.
Traveling through Europe was fun, but had a lot of stressful moments. I was glad we ended it on a high note. Turkey is an awesome place. There’s no doubt that Dan and I will be back for another visit to explore the other wonders of the country we missed. Enjoy the pics!
Now to Thailand!