Many moons ago while living and working in London , I had visited Istanbul twice with my friend. We had planned short breaks to the city and managed to see and do a few touristy things. So earlier this year when Mum suggested we plan trip abroad Turkey seemed to be on her radar after watching countless TV shows on the country. My love for Turkey was further helped along after my visit to The Turkish Mosque in Johannesburg and eating at the only Turkish eatery in Durban Sofra Istanbul.
Turkey should be on every travellers bucket list especially South Africans for a few reasons :
- Direct flights on Turkish Airlines from Durban to Istanbul.
- The exchange rate is not too harsh on our South African pockets.
- The visa application process is a simple online process and is FREE.
TOP REASONS FOR VISITING TURKEY :
- For a foodie like me the food of n is a huge draw card. Freshly prepared mountains of salads and desserts make each meal a new taste journey not forgetting the traditional Doner Kebab. The food is all freshly prepared and lightly spiced with fragrant spices which are found in all SPICE bazaar. A visit to the spice bazaar is an intoxication experience the SPICEGODDESS was definitely in her element here. Besides the vast array of spices the markets also sell a large selection of teas and yes I am officially hooked on drinking Turkish Apple Tea.I know I have not even mentioned Turkish Delight yet but every spot you turn to there are mounds of Turkish delight been offered for you to sample.
- There are the most beautiful Mosques every side you look even in the most remote places.Every mosque is so unique with its own characteristics.Istanbul is also home to the famous Blue Mosque.And we in South Africa are lucky to have our own Turkish Mosque here.The majority of the Turkish people are Muslim so it is expected to see Mosques of all shapes,sizes and designs in every corner of Turkey.
- Cappaddocia or Kappadoccia as the locals call this place is a place of magic.With the unusual rock formations,cave hotels and underground cities Cappaddocia is one place every person should add to their Bucket List.An usual place who thrive on Tourists and is very eco-friendly with the solar panels and windmills to power the street lights.But the ultimate highlight of the fairytale place was the Sunrise Hot Air Balloon experience.
- Friendly locals are always on hand to help you even with their limited English.Every shop you visit one is offered Turkish Tea ,water and Turkish Delight.The Turkish are very hospitable and also understand the value of tourists to their economy.
- Turkish Delight ,as a lover of this sweet treat the Turkish Delight that is produced all over the world is nothing in comparison to the original and authentic Turkish Delight found in Turkey.Speciality sweet shops can be found around the country with Turkish delight in delicious flavours made with exotic ingredients. Besides the famous Turkish Delight , Turkey has extremely good quality chocolate and there are loads of speciality shops around the city as well as in the Bazaars. The store assistants are always wanting you to try out their sweet treats before buying and boy oh boy did I get a sugar high.
- Bazaars around the Turkey are a shoppers paradise but be warned of buying fake/knock off products and always remember to haggle on the original prices.My favourite Bazaars are The Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar.Both of these bazaars are visited by tourists and locals and are always busy and buzzing. Anything and everything can be found here but beware that not all are original products. Like all markets make sure you remember which entrances you used to enter as the bazaars have many exits and they all look the same.
- Shopping in Turkey is bountiful on every corner with traditional items like the evil eye ornaments ,handbags,dried fruit,spices,chocolates ,ceramics and so much more.The store owners are open to haggling.There are several large malls with all the usual brands but for me when I travel I want to buy local and authentic products not something I can find back home. All the spices are vacuumed sealed for freshness and labelled which makes it much easier to travel with back home.
- History of Turkey is very fascinating especially with the country been in both Asia and Europe.Remanents of the past can be found very visibly in Istanbul and still pays tribute to the rich heritage of the country.The buildings of historical importance like Topkapi Palace ,Aya Sophia and The Blue Mosque are all beautifully restored or going through restoration works.Each of the monuments pay homage to the past and present.The paintings of the structures are well-preserved and maintained and the Ottomam architectural designs are very visible.Once upon a time Turkey was called Constantinople
- Hammans or Turkish Baths can be found all over Turkey.It is best describe as a form of public bathing with practices from the Ottoman Era. It is quiet the experience as you get a full body wash , scrub and massage while you lay on a slab of marble. No I was not brave enough to do this.
- Every photo is Instagram worthy in Turkey with beautiful sites along every street corner from food carts, to purses to dogs roaming the city.
Now if I have not yet convinced you to visit Turkey check out these awesome facts about this land filled of mystery ,history and sweet treats.
Facts about Turkey :
- It has one of the world’oldest and biggest malls which is the Grand Bazaar.It has 3000 shops .
- Turkey has 13 UNESCO heritage sites found around the country.
- Turkey is responsible for 80% of the world’s Hazelnut exports.
- The first ever Christian Church was built in Antioch.
- Santa Claus originates from Turkey and was born in Patara.
- Turkey was the birthplace of Homer and Aesop.
- Turkey’s Istanbul Tunel is the world’s second oldest underground railway it became operational in 1875.
- Ankara is the capital of Turkey and not Istanbul.
- Istanbul is the world’s only city spanning two continents and only 3% of Turkey is in Europe.
- Tulips were introduced to Europe in the 16th century by Turkish traders.
- Turkey has the 3rd highest number of Facebook users in the world after the US and UK.
- The legendary city of Troy is located on the Aegean coast of Turkey.
- Turkey has 82 693 mosques.
- Julius Ceasar said his famous words “Veni ,Vidi,Vici” in Turkey when he defeated Pontus a kingdom of the Black Sea region of Turkey.
- Most Turks drink 10 or more cups of tea a day.Turkey ranks in the Top 5 tea producers in the world.
- Turkey has has more than 25 major earthquakes since 1939.
- Turkey has been producing wine since 4000BC.
- The most valuable silk carpet in the world is found in the Mevlana Museum in Konya.
- The country has two places which are part of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World which are the Temple of Artemis and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.
- In Turkey you will find a desert made out of chicken called Tavukgogsu.
Over the next few weeks I will be sharing my various experiences Mum and I had in the beautiful country of Turkey.We were on a group tour which was a first for us.My only regret is not staying in Turkey longer and getting to explore a few more cities and ofcourse eat more Turkish Delight.
Be Inspired !