Turkey is magic… I haven’t used this word much since the beginning of our world tour. Magnificent, amazing, wonderful, breathtaking and supernatural are all words which come to mind to describe Turkey. We’d read about it, seen the photos and obviously couldn’t wait to visit. But we never imagined how precious our time there would be. Turkey not only met our expectations but also amazed us far beyond our wildest dreams.
The Magical Places in Turkey That You Will Never Forget
Far exceeding our wildest expectations Cappadocia is THE Wonderlust destination par excellence, and the one that Jessica and I were most excited to visit out of all those on our mad world tour. It’s hard to find the words to describe the feeling of total happiness that we experienced during the 4 days (and nights) that we stayed there. We were literally living a dream that we never wanted to wake up from, and I felt like it would be hard to find somewhere else of that calibre on this planet.
The place, and everything that comes with it, is magic. Caves have been dug into the fairy-tale rock formations and many are still inhabited. The relief of the landscapes and the purity of the scenery produce memorable sunrises and sunsets.
In addition to the caves which can be seen all around, 36 subterranean villages have been discovered, some as deep as 8 storeys, accommodating up to 20,000 people, and dating from over 4 millennia ago! Wow! Initially built by the Hittites, they were used by Christians who were fleeing Roman prosecution.
Above all, around 150 hot air balloons fill the sky every morning in an amazing display of synchronicity. What a view to start your day with and motivate you to wake up early!
And to make the most of our nights in this magical setting, we slept in caves situated in 3 different hotels, of which one was a 5-star hotel which has fetched a number of prizes.
We couldn’t leave Cappadocia without having experienced a ride in a hot air balloon for ourselves! It’s an incredible trip you have to do at least once in your life. We had to get up at 4am, but it didn’t take the kids long to get ready! Just like in the military, they were ready in less than 5 minutes, brimming with excitement to take the flight that will forever remain etched in our memories.
On the road between Goreme and Ankara, we passed by the edge of Lake Tuz (which means salt in Turkish). It’s the second biggest lake in Turkey and has the characteristic of being saline. We walked a good 10 minutes on the white sand before reaching the pink lake! The sky was clear, the weather fair, the silence deafening, the horizon imperceivable! We were therefore able to take some pretty memorable photos! I was dreaming of going to Bolivia to see the Salar de Uyini, but it was served to me on a plate of pink salt in Turkey.
As this location is practically unknown to the world of travellers, access to it is also undocumented. And as I am a kind person, I will share with you the exact coordinates of the edge of the highway from which we took this memorable photo: (38.8006189,33.6185854). It’s at the entrance of a gravel road perpendicular to the highway. You can see it on the map at the beginning of this article.
Ephesus, the town where the apostle Paul wrote his famous letter to the Ephesians, is located an hour from Izmir. Today it’s an archaeological site which attracts visitors from all horizons. Its Library of Celsus and Grand Theatre are particularly impressive! In the surrounding area you can visit the house the Virgin Mary inhabited as she died, the tomb of Jean the evangelist, as well as the vestiges of the Temple of Artemis which was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.
Pamukkale is a snow-white mountain formed from thermal waters saturated with mineral salts. Natural baths, which contain the water making its way down the mountain, are a joy to visitors who can soak their feet. The ancient city of Hierapolis is found on the same site, and is a listed UNESCO heritage site.
At the crossroads between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is split in two by the Bosphorus Strait. The city has the largest population in Europe, with 15 million inhabitants. Our hotel was on the Asiatic side, we made the return journey across the river to the European bank every day by ferry which cost only 2,00 TRY (0.25 USD) per adult for 40 minutes of bliss. The seagulls followed the boat in the hope of catching the bits of bread that Mateo and Luka threw to them. And dad, as always, captured unforgettable moments on his camera.
For a better preparation
We took a night bus from Sofia, Bulgaria, arriving in Istanbul in the early hours of the morning. We then travelled across the city in a taxi under a beautiful dawn on the way to our hotel. During our trip to Turkey we visited these destinations:
- 5 nights in Istanbul
- 2 nights in Izmir
- 1 nights in Pamukkale
- 4 nights in Cappadoce
- 2 nights in Ankara
- 2 nights in Istanbul
For those who think Turkey is a dangerous place, we never felt anything but safe and secure, both night and day. We found the Turks to be very friendly, helpful and hospitable.
We rented a Fiat Linea to eat up the 2500km of our trip/route. Turkish roads are beautiful and the driving is pleasant, although many drivers take themselves to be race car drivers.
In terms of hotels, we were very happy. Out of the 16 nights we spent in Turkey, 13 were in luxurious 5 star hotels, with room upgrade, lounge access, breakfast and impeccable service. We of course paid for these nights using our Marriott points. Using these points in Turkey was an absolute godsend, as throughout the country there are a horde of Marriott category 2 hotels, which cost very few points. Here is an outline of our stay in the hotels.
Turkish food is excellent, cheap and diverse, every region has its own specialities. We stuffed ourselves like never before, and were never disappointed.
Turkish currency experienced a huge devaluation just before we arrived. And the purchasing power of a tourist has literally doubled in 1 year. We therefore benefited from the extremely low prices during our time in Turkey, and our expenses reflect this situation.
To illustrate the extremely low prices in Turkey, our hot air balloon ride, which cost us 500 USD, represents a quarter of our expenses during these 16 days in Turkey. True, we only paid for 3 nights in a hotel, but these only cost an average of 300,00 TRY (36.80 USD) for 4 people. And they weren’t exactly youth hostels! In other words, you can find decent accommodation for a very low price!
- 12.688,00 TRY (1,556.48 USD)
- 793,00 TRY (97.28 USD) per day
- 198,00 TRY (24.29 USD) per person per day.
In detail :
|Expense Category||Amount Spent|
|Bus and Visa||1.963,00 TRY / 240.82 USD|
|Accomodation||906,00 TRY / 111.15 USD|
|Transport (including gas, toll roads and parking)||3.573,00 TRY / 438.33 USD|
|Eating out||1.601,00 TRY / 196.41 USD|
|Groceries||607,00 TRY / 74.47 USD|
|Activities||4.038,00 TRY / 495.38 USD|
|Total||12.688,00 TRY / 1,556.56 USD|
|Dates||2018-08-18 to 2018-09-03|
|Number of days||16|
|Cities we visited||Istanbul, Izmir, Pamukkale, Goreme, Ankara|
|Inbound||From Bulgaria by bus|
|Outbound||To Cyprus by plane|
|Mode of transport||Rental car, subway and ferry|
|Distance travelled (car, subway & foot)||3250 km|
|Number of photos taken||6600 (412 per day)|
|Currency||The Turkish Lira (1.00 USD = 8,15 TRY)|
Western friends, don’t be fooled by the media propaganda that is in your country. Turkey deserves to be better known as a tourist destination. Although for some time now it has experienced an exceptional boom in tourism, and we certainly hope to be able to go back there one day to explore it further.
See you in Lebanon!
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