Best time to visit:
In primavera (aprile e maggio) e in autunno (settembre ed ottobre), il clima è ideale ad Istanbul e sulle coste dell’ Egeo e del Mediterraneo. Da metà maggio a tutto settembre si possono frequentare le spiagge. Tenete presente che in estate la parte orientale del Paese diventa una fornace.
In a word:
Healthcare is variable. The best care is provided by private hospitals in Ankara and Istanbul, and it is expensive. Outside the main cities, small cuts and grazes are treated in the pharmacy (saglik ocagi).
At the table:
Main courses typically include meat prepared in many different ways, often as kebabs (grilled or on a spit) or kofte (meatballs). Pide, the local version of pizza, is delicious and is garnished with cheese, eggs or minced meat. Those with a sweet tooth will delight their palate with baklava, lokum (typical sweets) and dondurma (ice cream)
- It is inadvisable to travel to areas bordering Syria and Iraq.
Lose yourself in the magical alleys of old Istanbul while the muezzin sings from the minaret; Hover in flight to admire the splendor of Cappadocia from above, in a hot air balloon; Relax by soaking in the salt water pools of Pamukkale
In this great adventure we landed in one of the most exciting and intriguing cities in the world: Istanbul! The magic is breathed in the air in each of its small neighborhoods, in its alleys surmounted by a mosque, along the mythical Bosphorus! With local means we cross it far and wide; we walk into the fairy paths of Cappadocia on foot; we explore, by scooter, its most hidden villages. We enchant ourselves in epic places such as Ephesus or Hierapolis; we allow ourselves to be lulled in the salty pools of the candid Pamukkale until we discover the Ottoman sweetness of Kusadasi, the bazaars of Izmir with a bang ending in the Princess Island (Buyukada!)
We shift the clock forward an hour: we have just landed in Istanbul!
We withdraw some Turkish lira and take the last two seats on the Havatas bus, direction: Taksim!
It is not the first time that I visit this wonderful city and the desire to get lost immediately in its streets is so great, so, we leave the backpacks in the hostel and spend the evening around Istiklal Caddesi enjoying the first Turkish delights, first a simit (soft sesame tarallo), then a large kebab and finally a tasty baklava (honey and pistachio cake).
Discovering Istanbul is strolling through its true narrow streets, trying to get in touch with its people as deeply as possible, drinking apple tea among the old people who play tavla and chatting with university students about the desire to change things .
Istanbul. The name fascinates you already ... it makes you imagine stories of pasha for 1000 and one night, adventures of eastern sultans or Ottoman warriors ...
5 city names with magical charm for us?
Which are yours?
We spend the whole day in the Galata area, we try to live it our way: we close the Lonely Planet, we archive the map and let ourselves be guided by the flow…
We stop in antique shops or in old philatelic shops, drink freshly squeezed orange juice or we enchant ourselves to listen to the story of the dervishes ... from the top of the Galata Tower, we admire the frenetic life of this wonderful city of ancient Anatolia . Barcons ply the waters of the Bosphorus, fish vendors scream, "taksi" they horn to make their way ...
The Turks are an exceptional people; it surprises you when, sitting in the waiting room of the bus station, another traveler, without asking you anything brings you two hot tea, without asking you anything, almost as if it were a sacrilege for him to drink it alone.
After eleven hours by bus, in which it seemed to me that I always wander inside Istanbul, we arrive in Nevsehir: we are in the magical region of Cappadocia.
Its pinnacles from another era are bristling like the spines of an immense hedgehog ...
We are tired but the desire to dive and get lost in it is too much ...
On foot we reach the open-air museum of Goreme, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and admiring the frescoes found inside the caves, ruined by Muslim vandals, I think UNESCO should have "protected" them a little earlier ...
As we stroll enchanted among those wonders created by Mother Nature, we feel small in the presence of those majestic and severe giants ...
The day is long and still full of surprises….
We decide to follow a path of about ten km that will lead us near the "Red Valley", of that "Pink" and the so-called "Fairy Chimneys”.
I was thrilled several times when, like two little explorers, we sneaked into steep, sometimes dusty, other muddy paths topped by those majestic stone mushrooms ...
After several hours of walking we reach the outskirts of Cavusin, a small village ... we can see very modest little huts; we flank the cemetery with white gravestones just as the muezzim sings its song from the village's only minaret ...
We continue to the Kalelar (Camini delle Fate), these artistic creations of nature were formed when erosion swept away the layer of lava that covered the tuff leaving behind isolated pinnacles. Everything seems to take on magical forms, everything around us seems enchanted!
In the evening, after a hitchhiking, wandering around Goreme without a compass, we end up at the home of an old lady who shows us the inside of a real house carved into the rock! How many beautiful encounters are made around the world if the door of the heart is left open!
Riding our scooter ... First stop: Uchisar Castle, located between the "Valley of the Roses" and that of the "Pigeons". Imposing agglomeration of volcanic rock dotted with rocks and windows.
25 km further we meet Kaymakli.
We visit the underground city made up of a series of eight-story submerged galleries; here the Christians fled and hid when, in the 6th and 7th centuries, the Persian armies hunted them.
Time flies and we have to reach Mustafapasa before evening, we pass through many villages stopped in time. It is really nice to taste a little of that Cappadocia so far from tourism.
At Mustafapasa we are welcomed by its pretty little square and we treat ourselves to a romantic apple tea among its people. We stop to observe the slow flowing life, small groups of nice old people sitting chatting in the bars of the square, children chasing each other, bakers who churn out every good thing and we obviously don't hold back on their invitation and eat a delicious "pida "Turkish!
It is time to return. We reach Urgup, we pass through the beautiful and refined streets of the town to a wonderful view point.
This evening we leave for Pamukkale, we will travel all night.
We drink tea while our eyes are satisfied by the beautiful sunset on the fairy chimneys.
After a full day on the scooter and 12 hours of sleepless night travel, instead of enjoying this delightful room at the Hotel Ozturk and resting a little, let's start by exploring the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis and then the thermal baths of Pamukkale , at noon and with a sun that breaks the stones!
Hierapolis is enchanting, not so much for what it presents now but for what it was ... the ruins testify to an ancient splendor.
It is the example of an old flourishing Greco-Roman city: here is the main cobblestone street, the thermal baths, the majestic theater, the church, the necropolis, etc.
Finally here are the "white" valleys of Pamukkale with water at 36 ° ... never seen anything like this before ... what a fantasy Mother Nature has!
A few hours later we are scattered on a large Persian carpet to stuff ourselves with gozleme, pida, doner and a thousand apple teas….
The journey to the Aegean coast takes only 4 hours and is very pleasant. We cross another beautiful piece of this Turkey that day after day conquers us more and more.
The sun shines high in the clear sky ... we run towards the port through an entire neighborhood of tourist stalls ...
In the afternoon we allow ourselves a couple of hours of relaxation in the swimming pool of our hotel before diving back into the Kusadasi nightlife until late in the evening!
This morning on board a dolmus (a sort of Turkish collective), we end up, by pure chance, at Milli Park, a national park 25 km from Kusadasi.
The driver leaves us at the entrance ... the beaches are several kilometers apart ... How you do it? What does it take? Just a hitchhiking and with a couple of 60 years old we reach the furthest point of the park and the wildest beach on the border with a thick bush full of wild boars! At least we can enjoy some healthy relaxation in a postcard sea!
The adventure in the time machine begins.
We find ourselves suddenly projected, in the classical era, into the grandiose capital of a Roman region. As soon as you cross the Porta Magnesia you will find yourself in the Terme di Vario, the upper Agora, the Temple of Domitian, the Teatro Grande (which could accommodate up to 25,000 people), the Gymnasium of Vedio up to the street of the incense shops and made of silk.
We skirt the thermal baths, used as a meeting place and exchange of views.
The Library of Celsus, the third largest in the world after Alexandria and Pergamum, housed 12,000 papyrus scrolls.
This morning, with peace of mind, we woke up without having to do anything.
Just relax on one of the beaches of Kusadasi.
We rent an umbrella by the sea and enjoy the whole day while planning the visit of Istanbul. Also because tomorrow morning we leave the coast and begin the slow approach to the north.
Izmir welcomes us with a rather leaden sky ...
We are not discouraged and, leaving our backpacks in the "Turgutreis" office, we board the bus No. 44 to reach the historic center.
Lonely Planet tells us that this is a little different from other Turkish cities, it is more liberal; it is said that during Ramadan, when His Highness Istanbul stops all activities to honor religious fasting, everything goes on without problems here ...
We go down to the central square, an old Middle Eastern clock embellishes the center, the rest is framed by a tiny but delightful mosque and a series of old colonial buildings where a large pedestrian street begins: it is the entrance to the sprawling bazaar! We are soon enraptured by its colors, its smells, its people ...
We wander around to reach the Agora, the old center of the ancient city, which would have competed in Istanbul if it hadn't been for a damned earthquake that razed it to the ground in the early 1900s. Our goal is the Agora even if, in reality, we just want to get lost in its narrow streets and let ourselves be enchanted by its charm.
Only a few fragments of memory remain of this wonderful afternoon together: here we are tasting small pieces of kokoreç (grilled sheep intestine); here is Stefy chatting with two old matrons with the veil while weaving vine leaves; here we are joking with a Turkish language teacher who tries to remember words of our language; here we are drinking tea with Taco, a local hookah artist and listening to the stories of his life; here we are drinking a Turkish coffee too quickly and disgusting us for not having waited for the powder to settle on the bottom; here we are giving advice to a couple of French who have just left to travel around the world by land ...
At last Istanbul! We are staying at the Orient Hostel, a stone's throw from the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofia! Wonderful!
Despite the light drizzle we decide to reach Little Aya Sofia; but it's time for prayer and it's Friday so don't let us in!
Then we move to the Blue Mosque ... we take off our shoes, I cover my head and my eyes are filled with wonder. I got lost in admiring the decorations of the blue flowers on the white background, the grandeur of the central dome, a true architectural masterpiece.
Right in front, as if to make the place even more precious, stands sweet Aya Sofia. A church even older than the basilica of San Pietro in Rome. How many must have seen and passed! Born as a church, it is transformed into a mosque and now shows its graces as a great museum!
We walk down the tree-lined avenue and arrive at the entrance of the Topkapy Palace. We are fascinated by the stories about the harem, the dinners of the sultan, the china, the life of the eunuchs in the palace, etc ...
Inside the Egyptian bazaar (spice bazaar) we literally get lost in the scents of fruit soap, incense, a thousand colored spices, irresistible sweets. We wander everywhere, every alleyway is a surprise. A little cherries, a little coffee, a few colored lamps ready to be photographed, the scent of toasted sesame, fragrant hazelnuts, body oils.
Sitting on the terrace of the hostel we admire the other side of the Bosporus. The illuminated minarets, the seagulls that guard the lighthouse, the scent of hookahs in the air, the street lamps that slowly light up illuminating this magical city with the flavor of pistachio and cinnamon.
After an hour and a half of navigation on the Bosphorus we reach Buyukada (also called Princess Island). Gorgeous. A small island where there are no cars but only bikes and horse-drawn carts!
We do a kind of trekking to reach the top and the church of Saint George.
The 360 ° view repays the effort of the climb.
The view point is magical, romantic and will become unforgettable for us.
In absolute silence ... a "yes".
A new life starts together.
Last day in Istanbul. At 11.00 we begin to walk aimlessly until the evening. We love getting lost, without setting ourselves any stops, we follow instinct, people, perfumes.
We reach the district of Fethye with its mosques, its characteristic markets, the shops of chic wedding dresses, kebabs, butchers, bakeries. We sit in a small park next to the great Roman aqueduct and read the history of this great country.
We walk to Porto Eminou where we eat a sandwich with grilled fish and onions; we have fun taking pictures from the Galata bridge. Scent of the sea.
We return to the spice bazaar and then get lost in the most solitary alleys. Roasted corn on the cob, very large chestnuts, fragrant watermelons; we buy a lot of apple tea and sweets.
At sunset, sitting in front of the Blue Mosque. We look around, people from all over the world admire it.
We think about how beautiful the world is and all the differences that make it up.