Midway through our 14 Day Best of Turkey trip we visited Sarhatli, an underground city hollowed out of volcanic rock – pretty interesting and quite cool inside. For the next two nights we stayed in Cappadocia and in the evening we went to an optional show put on by the Whirling Dervishes. They whirl around in long white robes to connect with their God. Fascinating stuff!
While in Cappadocia, we visited a Turkish carpet making school where wool and silk carpets are intricately woven with hundreds of knots per square inch. No wonder some of these carpets take years to finish! We stopped at market stalls selling local crafts and chatted with the stallholders, and later enjoyed wine tasting at a local winery. The Cappadocia area is littered with mushroom-shaped hills. In many places these hills have been hollowed out to form caves and houses.
Our next destination was Ankara where we visited the Mausoleum of Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, and we were lucky enough to see the changing of the guard ceremony. The mausoleum is quite impressive architecturally.
Then it was off to Gordian, where Alexander the Great cut the Gordian knot in 333 BC. We went along a narrow tunnel which took us into the burial mound of King Midas (the one with the golden touch) and a museum displaying ancient artefacts.
On our way to Bursa we stopped for lunch at a local restaurant. The prices are amazing in Turkey. My wife and I shared a Turkish pizza and each had an apple tea for 7 TL (about AUD3.50). We went to the Grand Mosque and the octagonal Green Tomb with its richly tiled cenotaphs of Sultan Mehmet I. And visited the Silk Markets selling every imaginable item made of silk.
Arriving by ferry in Istanbul the next day, we made our way to the Spice Markets, a colourful complex of stalls selling all kinds of spices as well as a great variety of jewellery, pottery, Turkish delight and other sweets. That afternoon, we took a cruise along the Bosphorus Strait which was a great opportunity to take photos of the many mosques and palaces of the Ottoman sultans that line the strait.
On our last full day, we went to the Blue Mosque which is one of the biggest mosques in Turkey. The cascading domes and six slender minarets dominate the skyline of Istanbul. Inside, the high ceiling is lined with 20,000 blue tiles, which is where the name comes from. We then went to the sultan’s palace – Topkapi Palace, again magnificent, especially the treasury displaying jewelled daggers, headpieces, rings, necklaces and thrones.
We visited the museum of Hagia Sophia – formally a church and mosque, it is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture, rich with mosaics and marble pillars. A walk through the Grand Bazaar capped off the day’s sightseeing, before we all got together for our farewell dinner at a restaurant overlooking the Bosphorus.
It was a great end to a fantastic trip, thanks to Trafalgar’s value-packed itinerary, our Travel Director’s excellent local knowledge and a fun group of travellers.
Nev from Brisbane, Australia
To read Nev’s full Best of Turkey travel tale, visit the Trafalgar Community Forums here.