We chose to go to Turkey after a long season in Asia and it was the very beginning of the summer, that is pleasantly high temperatures and beautiful scenery and long days.
Istanbul, the capital
We begin our journey through Istanbul, which was kind of chaotic at first because the taxi drivers are kind of lost. We left the Sabiha airport, which is not the main of Istanbul and we caught a bus which costs 5 euros and took us to the Taxim Square. From there, we tried twice to get a taxi, but they wanted to charge a fixed price and we found a metered one, but he was so much lost in the city that came out about the same price. The neighborhood we chose to stay was Sultanahmet, which is the closest neighborhood of the tourist attractions of Istanbul such as the Blue Mosque.
Turkey is a Muslim country, so the large number of mosques. In Istanbul, it is common to see women fully covered with heavy coats (even in summer) or black outfits, but even arriving at the Ramadan time, period of fasting and prayer for Muslims, it is fairly easy for tourists.
Some places, especially at lunchtime, are empty, but they are always open. Even with the matter of religion, you just need to avoid showing shoulders and knees in mosques, while allowing tourists to use short or low-cut clothing to face the heat wave.
In addition , walking from Sultanahmet, you can still go to the Grand Bazaar, which as the name implies is a large market for all kinds of things. The main things in this market are the spices, local crafts, leather and Turkish delights.
We also visited the downtown which has several cafes, restaurants and sweet shops. Another must-see is the “Strait”, where Turkey is divided between Asia and Europe. Very worth knowing and maybe even catch the boat and cross to the other side.
Goreme, na Capadócia
Continuing our journey in Turkey, we decided to go to Goreme town in Cappadocia, which is about 10 hours by bus, with excellent roads, coming straight from Istanbul.
In Goreme, you will get very close to the Open Air Museum, which is a museum that you can see and even enter the buildings built on the rock. It’s a walk that can be done on foot and on their own, our choice.
We walked from our hotel about 30 minutes and paid TL20 ($7) to get in. We chose to go without a guide, but it’s still fascinating to know the caves, churches, tombs and rock formations that are part of the museum. In fact , you can even stay in a cave, which was our case, the Cave Hotel Saksagan, with good prices and excellent service manager!
Another tourist attraction is the balloon flight, which is almost mandatory. We managed to negotiate a good price and we paid 120 euros per person for the ride. It needs to wake up early because the balloons take you to see the sun rising, so by 4:20 am, a van passed our hotel and took us to where all balloons depart.
You are welcomed with a brief breakfast and brought to the balloon. In our case, the balloon behaved 16 people and the pilot was Rodrigo, a very nice Portuguese. Needless to say too much because the pictures speak for themselves.
We were more than 1 hour in the air and we didn’t not feel the time passing. The tour ends with a champagne toast and you go back to the hotel in time to sleep, around 7:30 in the morning and can still have a stronger breakfast! This is one of the most common scripts and most loved of the beautiful Turkey.
Turkey is a very affordable country, the Turkish lira worth roughly R$ 1,10 (June 2015), but you can eat a plate of rice, salad and meat for TL12, ie a R$ 13,00. In addition, the roads are great and the bus rides are quite comfortable with individual screens and even “road service”, who are employees who serve you coffee, tea, water and juice and some cookies during the entire trip.
Pamukkale and the almost unbelievable scenario
Starting from Cappadocia, in about 6 or 7 hours you are in Pamukkale, a small town that is home to a great place that are the natural pools, considered a world heritage site by UNESCO.
You can go to the park alone and walk for about 1 hour and go to the pools that are released to the public, but not all are fairly accessible to preserve the fragile environment of “Cotton Castles”, which is the translation of Pamukkale.
We chose to do a combined tour where you can drive to near the pools, then it only needs to walk a little. We began by Travertinas or Travertine Pools, which are smaller and less full of tourists, with more local people. The sulphurous waters and alternating between very hot and cold are beneficial to health.
We went out, and went to Hierapolis, which is a ruined city that shows what life was like in ancient times. You still can see several tombs, a theater and several buildings from that time. Walking for about 40 minutes, you will reach the beautiful pool of Cleopatra, who legend says that she has attended at least once the site.
To the other side, there are the famous natural pools of Pamukkale, with blue water and shrouded in white clouds of limestone. The site is well filled and care must be taken because it is very slippery, but worth visiting. The water is a little cool, but still face many tourists bathing in the natural pools.
Antalya and beaches
Continuing the trip through Turkey, we decided to explore Antalya, which is about 3 hours from Pamukkale. Antalya is not so famous in Brazil, but it’s worth the visit. With several hotels and apartments that can be rented by Airbnb, this town is full of Russian and Scandinavian tourists.
The beach is quite different from what we have in Brazil as it is formed by boulders of all sizes. The sea is deep blue, cold at first, but refreshing for hot summer days. The town is very quiet and safe and you can rent a car or a motorcycle (some electric or with two wheels at the back) and explore further afield the city.
Bodrum, on the border with Greece
Antalya to Bodrum are approximately 8 hours of a trip through incredible roads, affordable stops, a meal is about $8 and you leave well satisfied.
Bodrum is very similar to some cities of Greece, just by proximity, since you can go to the neighboring country by ferry in less than 1 hour. The town of Turgutreis, where we were staying, is about 20 kilometers from Bodrum bus terminal.
Stay tuned, as there are public transport options to all areas and, despite some difficulties in communication, you can save precious Turkish lira. The Turgutreis region chosen for us is good, but the sand is not that extensive, lounge chairs filled and umbrellas where you need to consume something to stay, but the view is worth it.
In addition, this part of town is full of small restaurants, cafes, craft shops, clothing and entertainment of all kinds . There are also day trips to several islands in Turkey itself or even the closest Greek islands.
Do you like the post? Leave us a comment!! 😀