travel in Turkey?
huge country scattered with stunning ancient artefacts and natural wonders is
populated by friendly folk and - in season - the sun shines endlessly, flowers burst from every crevice, and transport systems work well.
Scenery ranges from dull to mind-boggling, beaches are pretty good, prices
are low and shopping is superb, especially leatherware and silks.
Driving around Turkey is surprisingly safe and pleasant, apart from Istanbul
and night driving, both of which should be avoided.
- There have been a few Islamic fundamentalist incidents though
they are rare.
- The language is a difficult Asiatic tongue and many Turks outside tourist areas don't
speak a lingua franca like English so communication can be a problem.
- The ubiquitous pine trees and profuse flowers are not going to
be enjoyed by hay fever sufferers.
- Local people are generally pleasant but can be 'economical' with the truth.
- Small sites of big interest such as Ephesus (photo at top), cannot contain
the seething herds of package tourists.
- Distances between major sights are considerable.
- Turkish wine is a disaster, though the beer is excellent and readily available.
April- June, September- October. For beaches June - September. Temperatures in the eastern part of the country can reach 45C (113F) in mid summer or -12C (10F) in mid winter. The Black Sea coast is notoriously rainy and mild.
Worst: December-March (cool and wet in the west or freezing and snowy in the east), Ramadan in some areas but not so much in beach areas (Muslim fasting month, dates depend on full moon so may differ by one day depending on location. 9 July-7 August 2013. Istanbul Weather | Cappadocia Weather
***Istanbul. A relaxed, interesting and comfortable city
bounded by water with spectacular sights, mostly in the core of old Constantinople known as Sultanahmet. See Istanbul
Travel, Istanbul Map, Istanbul Pictures.
***Cappadocia. A seriously weird and
wonderful area of fairy chimneys. Calm, pastoral, inexpensive and
spectacular, but some distance from anywhere.
**Nemrut Dagi. Mt Nemrut (aka Nimrod) is a spectacular mountain top
scattered with huge decapitated heads (in stone, need we say?), but
it's a long way east of Cappadocia, high altitude and cold so best visited during mid summer.
**Bursa. A 2,000 year old city still
in use, housing many fine Ottoman buildings, both mosques and houses and famous natural mineral hot springs.
*Pergamon. Also over 2,000 years old,
but only ruins now, in the usual Greco-Roman style. Nice and less
crowded than Ephesus, but missable unless you're that way inclined.
The same goes for Aphrodisias, Didyma and Priene.
*Pamukkale is a bit of a hike from anywhere,
and is a shadow of its former glory but being improved. Don't believe the fantastic
tour operator pictures or postcards in Istanbul.
**Ephesus is an extensive, very well-preserved
typically Roman ruin complex about 3km from the agreeable little town
of Selcuk, but VERY overcrowded.
**The Aegean/Mediterranean coast. Lots
of beaches and ruins between Izmir and Alanya, tho' package tours
are spreading like the plague. See Turkey
Beaches and Turkey
***Bodrum is crowded but still attractive,
especially the Kumbahce Bay side. Lots of pedestrian streets and good
restaurants. Good base for boat trips. Small beach, big discos.
*Dalyan, by the river, is small, relaxed
and quiet, with great views over the water to some Lycian tombs and
pleasant boat trips to Turtle beach or the nearby mud baths. Too many bugs but the birdlife is terrific.
***Olu Deniz. Great (shingle) beach, lively
town, beautiful setting but far, far too many parasols bagging the beach.
**Patara. Small town, superb sandy beach,
dunes, some old ruins.
*Kalkan. Hill/harbour town, quaint but unfocussed, unlike Kas, further
down the road. Small beach and marina.
**Kas. Uncrowded, pretty and tranquil,
with nice little beaches nearby. The coastal road there is gorgeous
and it's also a good base for boat trips.
**Antalya. On the central Mediterranean
coast, Antalya is large, historic, beautifully located and lined by large beaches even if they are a bit stony. It's not far
from the dedicated beach towns of Side and Alanya.
Thanks, but no thanks:
Ankara. Turkey's capital has nothing
much to recommend it, except perhaps the Museum of Anatolian Civilization.
*Fethiye. Good access to surrounding
beaches and ancient sites but the town is very short of character.
*Marmaris, Kusadasi. Beach
resorts of the package kind that are mainly good for bad tattoos, good
chip butties and cafés showing soccer replays, but if that's
your scene then this will do you fine.
Walking/hiking: particularly good in Cappadocia and the Kackar
Mountains near the Black Sea. A famous long distance walk is the Lycian Way,
a 312 mile (500km) walk following the coast of southern Turkey. The Way winds through ruined Lycian villages and cool pine forests, with Mediterranean views and comfortable guest houses en route.
It's clearly signposted from Olu Deniz to near Antalya with red-white piant flashes every 100m or so and can take up to a month.
Other long-distance hikes are the St Paul Trail, also 312 miles long and way-marked and a couple of Kackar Trails that are frequently snow-covered and not marked.
Mountain biking: bikes are widely for
rent, and are especially sensational in Cappadocia.
Motorcycling: scooters often for rent,
but don't hesitate to bring your own bike. There are lovely coast
and Cappadocia roads in reasonable condition, with acceptably safe
drivers - though not at night. Petrol is expensive.
Boat trips: long and short trips with
varying qualities of guide. particularly famous are the 'Blue Voyages'
sailing from ports like Bodrum, Marmaris, Alanya ++.
Watersports: skiing, scuba diving from
Marmaris, Bodrum ++.
Hangliding/Paragliding: especially at Olu Deniz. Picture
and more information
Hot Air Ballooning: especially over the magnificent pointy scenery of Cappadocia, this is one of the best commercial rides in the world, IMHO.
Seen the film Troy? Well don't make a special effort to see the site
unless you are a very keen archeologist. There's little visible
save for a pathetic replica of a wooden horse and a lot of rocks.
The adjacent site of Gallipoli strikes an emotional chord with Anzacs (Australians and New Zealanders) whose troops fought the Turkish there in the 1st World War, and, under the definitely misguided and probably moronic British command, died in their thousands. Anzac Day is April 25th and the Peninsula is likely to be crowded.
Ramadan: a religious month of daytime fasting when people and services
can be erratic. (see dates above).
Kurban Bayrami: a four day religious festival during which many
facilities will be closed and resorts crowded. Sometime between
February and April.
Kirkpinar Oiled Wrestling, mid-June, Edirne.
Istanbul International Festival of Arts, late June - mid July, world
class music, dance++
Republic Day, Oct, speeches and parades
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