Tantalising Turkish Delights
Turkey is a country of surprises. Whether you’re a backpacker, ‘normal tourist’ or family package holidaymaker; interested in history, geological sites or simply relaxing on the beach – Turkey has something to offer every type of traveller.
Capital of one of the world’s greatest empires for over 1,500 years, Istanbul today is a buzzing, cosmopolitan modern city. Istanbul’s diminutive but magnificent heart around Sultanahmet, Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar beats to the glories of ancient Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire.
A day spent shivering inside the great dome of the Aya Sofia and gawping at the ridiculous wealth of the Sultans at the Topkapi palace (with diamonds the size of hen’s eggs, gem and gold encrusted thrones so gaudy they look like kids’ toys) will convince you to start shopping early. Old, new, exotic, mundane, antique, kitsch— shopping in Istanbul is all these things and more.
Turkey plays host to some of the most significant historical sites in the world. One of these is the ruins of Ephesus, which can be found along the centre of the Aegean Cost.
Ephesus was not only the former home of philosophers, merchants, sportsmen, musicians and immortals, but also some of the most significant figureheads in the Christian religion such as St. John, St. Paul and the Virgin Mary. Ephesus is one of the best-preserved ruins in the world, and has also played host to some of history’s most important events. The ruins of Ephesus will no doubt leave you with very strong memories and thoughts of how ‘they’ used to live.
One of the most amazing sites you will visit in Turkey is the calcium pools of Pamukkale in Western Turkey. This natural phenomenon is said to have existed for over 2500 years. The main attraction is a vast white cliff side with scallop-shaped basins of water and frozen waterfalls. It looks as if it is made out of snow or cotton balls, hence the Turkish translation – ‘Cotton Castles’.
It is said that three major kinds of cuisine exist in the world: Turkish, Chinese, and French. Fully justifying its reputation, Turkish Cuisine is always a pleasant surprise for the visitor. Kebabs are dishes of plain or marinated meat either stewed or grilled. Mezes are mixed appetizers designed to arouse the appetite before the main course, and are often found at meals accompanied by wine or raki. Turkish sweets are famous throughout the world, and many, such as “sutlac”, “tavuk gogsu”, “kazandibi”, “helva” and “asure” have milk as the basic ingredient. Best known are “baklava” and “kadayif” pastries.
Cappadocia is famed for its eerie lunar landscape, astounding underground cities and spectacular rock churches – their walls decorated with vivid Byzantine frescoes. Cappadocia seems like a lost world to the arriving traveller. It took until the 20th century – and perhaps the invention of photography – to make people appreciate this extraordinary region.
No visit to Turkey is complete without experiencing a traditional Hamam – a Turkish bath. Romans were the first to use this style of bath, which was adopted by the Byzantines then the Ottomans. The Hamam will open on different days for male and female or have separate facilities. Although you may find, in more touristy areas, that they will have mixed baths.
Raki is the official national drink of Turkey, and is traditionally consumed either straight with chilled water on the side, or partly mixed with chilled water. Drinking Raki in Turkey involves a ceremony, some traditions, and a good amount of pleasure. It is always done with friends and lots of good food. While sipping raki and nibbling meze, there’s good conversation, much humour, and many toast to your companion’s health (Afiyet olsun!) and prosperity (Serefinize!).
All Fez Travel’s tours give you some or all of the above Turkish Delights. Check out their website at www.feztravel.com