19 Days of Turkey: Part 1

16.09.16 10:59 PM By Putri

This is our first visit to Turkey and we spent 19 days in total, yep it was far from enough. The effect of this trip can be round up in one question: Why aren’t we living here?

We did a lot of readings before we figure out our trip route. Luckily Turkey is a well-known destination, there are plethora articles on the country’s tourism. But that can cause a problem too if you have such limited time; there are too much interesting places you want to visit. At the end of the day, after hours of research, mugs of coffees, and countless amount of unnecessary debates, we managed to make a solid plan for our trip.

Here is how our first 11 days went in Turkey: 

Day 1: Arrival - Istanbul, Cistern Basilica

We took a direct flight from Quebec City to Istanbul. It took us around 8 hours. However, 8 hours sitting in a cramped couch flight and doing not much was tough on our aging body, plus the 7 hours time gap between Québec and Istanbul got us a wee bit disoriented when we arrived. We decided to limit our first adventure in Turkey to minimum and planned to hit the sack early. We roamed around our hotel in Sultanahmet and ‘accidentally’ found this beautiful Basilica Cistern.

Afterward, we wanted to taste the real Turkish Donner for supper and we moronically fell into a tourist trap eatery. We found this line of semi permanent stalls with few tables and chairs out in the open near the Grand Bazaar. By the humble looking of it, I thought its one of the local’s place to have a grab. I should’ve known that it means a trap when an eatery write no price on their elaborate menu book, but we were just too tired to bother. Jetlag had dullified my logic. We ordered 2 normal Donner, a plate of fries and 2 soda cans and it costed us a bit over $70!! The Donner wasn’t even that good at all. I felt screwed. Nico told me to forget it because he was anyway the one who paid for the meal and it was our fault that we didn’t check for a price beforehand.

You see, I am a sour prick. I am easy to forget but never to forgive, even if its by my own fault. I ranted this annoying experience to every traveler I met on our trip. Whenever Nico hears me ranting about this, he rolls his eyes into another dimension and asks me to move on and stop blabbering about that. How dare he says I am a blabbermouth, but then he reminded me about my cooking blog where I blabber about my mediocre supper and this travel blabber blog, where I blabber more than travel.. 

Day 2: Istanbul -Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, Hippodrome, Topkapi Palace

If you visit Istanbul, you visit these. Period. 

Sultanahmed Mosque/Blue Mosque
Hagia Sophia at night

Ceramic shop at the Grand Bazaar
Not far from our hotel, there's the Hippodrome of Constantinople. This was the capital of the Byzantine empire. Nowadays this area is known as Sultanahmet Square. At this square, you will find majestic pieces of arts from all over the empire. The one I found so remarkable was this obelisk from Egypt. It has survived for more than 3 milleniums and it still in amazing condition. The part of how they carved it by hand, or even more; bring that solid rock all the way from Egypt blew my mind.. I dont think 3000 years ago they had electric crane..
Hippodrome of Constantinople obelisk
Still at the square, there's the iconic German fountain. This fountain was 'recent' tho when compared to the others arts placed in the square. The fountain was given by the German emperor the 2nd in 1900 as a symbol of friendship between the two empires. There's a long interesting political history behind this fountain, but I was there simply to adore the artsy part of it.
German fountain

Day 3: Istanbul – Camlica hills, Bosphorus Cruise, Suleymaniye Mosque, Spice bazaar, , night bus to Kusadasi 11 hours

We started the third day early by getting to the Asian part of Istanbul and had our morning tea at the Camlica Hill. There's not much to this hill to be honest, but if the weather is clear and no fog, you can really see Istanbul from afar, which I found quite nice. 
Foggy morning view of Istanbul from the Camlica hill
After enjoying Istanbul from the hill, we tried to enjoy it from a different angle; from the water. We took a cruise on the Bosphorus strait with a public ferry near the Spice Bazaar and enjoyed roughly 2-3 hours of windy cruising on the strait
Suleymaniye mosque view from our cruise on the Bosphorus strait
Afterward we took a long peek at the Spice Bazaar, making mental notes of what we were going to buy when we get back. Later that night we caught the bus to Ephesus from the terminal. 

Spices at the Spice Bazaar  

Day 4: Ephesus, greco-roman city of ephesus, house of virgin Mary, Artemis

The bus drive from Istanbul to Ephesus was 11 hours. The longest bus drive I have ever had in my life and I surely intend to make it my last long bus drive. Although it was comfortable and I managed to sleep along the way, I still prefer to spend my night laying on a bed without wheels. 

We arrived at Kusadasi around 7 AM. Got our breakfast at a local pastry shop and continued the day visiting some iconic place like the House of Virgin Mary, the temple of Artemis, and the Greco-Roman city of Ephesus. 

Greco-Roman city of Ephesus
We booked an hotel next to the Aegean sea in Kusadasi, it was really nice to be able to relax on a beach after a long day visiting ruins.

Sunset at Aegean Sea in Kusadasi

Day 5: Pamukkale, Hieropolis, bus to Fethiye

We took a morning bus to Fethiye and made few stops along the way. First stop was Hieropolis, a ruin of what had been a sacred city. It is believed that Hieropolis was founded by the God Apollo, another evidence that Turkey has a rich history. Adjacent to the Hieropolis, there's this amazing place called Cotton Cliff Pamukkale. Its the most famous mineral rich, hot thermal spring that flows into terracing hills. It somehow reminds me of back home; terracing paddy fields in Indonesia. I mean the part that it looks like terraces, but its white instead of green, and its made out of minerals instead of rice plants. Do you get what I meant? No? oh well.. 
Cotton cliff Pamukkale

Day 6: Fethiye - Gulet Cruise 

Once we got to Fethiye bus terminal, we took a taxi and went to Oludeniz to catch our gulet cruise and this was where my favorite part of the trip began; being on a gulet, sailing away on the Mediterranean sea. First night on the gulet was spent at the St. Nicolas bay. 

Tarkan 4, our noble chariot

Day 7: Gulet cruise stops: Kas, Firnaz bay

The gulet cruise took us to visit few fisherman villages and several beautiful (yet historical) spots. We also made few stops every now and then to have a dip in the refreshing, blue and O-gawd-is-this-even-real Mediterranean sea. 
Kas, a fishing town in the province of Antalya

Day 8: Gulet cruise stops: Sunken city Kekova

The activities for today was basically the same: cruising along the Mediterranean sea, dipping in the water, relaxing on the deck and simply zoning out while the captain of the boat took us to the next stop, Kale (Simena).

The view from Kalekoy village

Day 9: Gulet cruise last day, Olympos, Chimera 

The gulet cruise was definitely the highlight of the entire Turkey trip for me because it's a combination of sailing, sunshine, swimming, and awesome historic ruins. Anyhow, altho the cruise had been fantastic, it had to come to an end, especially my hair was in a desperate need of a good washing (we had our own shower in our cabin but the fresh water supply is limited). 

We landed at the Andriake harbor in Demre and took a local shuttle bus to Olympos where we had booked a room at a treehouse hotel. This is where I realized that I would not make a good pirate; I found myself utterly happy to find endless fresh water supply and a bed on solid ground.
At night we hiked 3 kilometers uphill at Mount Chimera to witness its eternal flames bursting out from the ground,which was kind of amazing. Its been said that the mountain has been breathing fire for the last 3000 years. 

Day 10: Relaxing at Olympos and took the evening bus to Antalya

We visited the an ancient city in Olympos, Lycia before we hit the beach and we spent the whole morning on the beach, soaking up the sun and grilling our delicate skin with its flavorful rays, ignoring the medical warning about skin cancer. 

After lunch we took an evening bus to Antalya. I felt like a piece of 'well-done' flank steak being transported in an ice box to the big city... 

What? This is it ? I am tired and this post has taken me forever to write. Leave me alone. See you on the next 9 days of the trip.