Planning my holiday this year was tough job with so many suggestions, choices and destinations to choose from. And after jotting plans for USA and Spain we finally decided to pack our bags and head on to our holiday to Turkey, the land of Baklava and Evil eyes and which is a blend of two continents Europe and Asia.
The trip started with the coastal town of Kusadasi which offers views of a clear blue Aegean sea, beautiful beaches and a major sea port. The sea side promenade is lined up with cobbled streets, open air cafes, sea food restaurants which is the perfect location to bring in your evenings. Kusadasi can be your base town for two or three days to visit nearby attractions like a full day trip to the ruins of ancient Ephesus, a magnificent regional capital of Imperial Rome .A must do is a day trip to Pammukale and ancient city of Hierapolis .One of the best preserved structure of the ancient city is the Amphitheatre which can still accommodate 15,000 people at a time. Pammukale is famous for its radiating white and blue pool terraces formed by naturally healing thermal waters and is nicknamed as ‘Cotton Castle’. You can choose to relax by Cleopatra’s pools or swimming in the thermal springs and healing waters.
We were excited about our stay on our next stop in Cappadocia which is best known for its natural rock formations, often called "Fairy Chimneys” and more over as we had booked our stay in the traditional Cave Hotel of Goreme village. This village is very small and is filled with quaint streets, restaurants, souvenir shops and can be easily explored on feet. Next day early morning, we experienced our First Hot Air Balloon Ride and were totally mesmerized as the balloon gracefully moved above beautiful valleys and spectacular fairy chimneys. We also enjoyed a traditional ceremony after landing with champagne cocktail, cake and chat with our pilot. Cappadocia is famous for its underground cities, pottery villages and hiking trails. After a long day visiting all the attractions one must try the local dish of Pottery Kebabs (Testi) which is served by cracking the pot with a traditional knife in front of the diners.
On the final leg of our journey we arrived in Istanbul, the bustling melting pot of cultures and a meeting point of Europe and Asia. This city has everything to offer be it fashion, cuisine, local shopping, history, architecture… you name it and it has it. We began exploring this city first by the Bosporus Cruise, the waterway lies between Europe and Asia and passes under the suspension bridges like the Golden Horn and passes by summer palaces, waterside modern villas along the European coast. Later we were awe struck by the beautiful mosaics, domes and hanging lamps of the Hagia Sophia and the mighty Blue Mosque, located in the old European side of the city. Must do in Istanbul is walking past by hundreds of shops through the narrow lanes of the bustling Grand Bazar and Spice market, selling all exotic lamps, carpets, jewelry, Evil eye key chains, pendants, bracelets, etc. and one can easily hear the shop keepers call out to you saying “Are you from India, give my regards to Shahrukh Khan and Amir Khan”. Don’t forget to bargain for the best prices in these markets.
With so much to see the trip was still not complete without tasting few of the local delicacies like Baklava (sweet pastry filled with pistachio or walnuts), Lokum -Turkish Delights (gel based sweets filled with nuts), stretchy ice-cream known as Salep Dondurma, Tavuk Gogusu (sweet chicken breast pudding), the refreshing Turkish Pomegranate Tea and the handy Doner Kebab (flat bread filled with meat and salads)
Turkey truly welcomes its guests with an open heart. We bid adieu to this lovely country with fond memories to be cherished forever.