After finishing my exams on 15th of March 2012, I went to Turkey with my parents. The trip was simply enthralling and I thought of sharing my experience with IIK readers as it is marvelous place to see.
Turkey is located in Western Asia and bordered by eight countries : Bulgaria to the northwest; Greece to the west; Georgia to the northeast; Armenia, Azerbaijan (the exclave of Nakhchivan) and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the southeast. The Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles (which together form the Turkish Straits) and separates Two continents Europe and Asia. The population of Turkey is about 75 Millions (2011) and its capital is Ankara and the largest City is Istanbul.
We started our trip on 23rd of March'12 by Turkish Airlines, after about 4 hours of flying from Kuwait, we arrived in Istanbul Ataturk Airport. Before travelling to Turkey, we have organized our 9 days (8 nights) Trip through TURSA approved Travel Agency ( M/s Jasmine Tours). As soon as we landed in the second capital of Turkey,- Istanbul, our tourist company representatives met us and we got transferred us to Yusufpasa Konagi Hotel in Istanbul. The hotel is located in an area called Sultanhmet in Istanbul, which is Centre of attraction for many tourists. This is a 19 century Ottoman style Turkish Hotel situated in the heart of the ancient city is an embodiment of the authentic culture and history.
The travel representative briefed our travel plans and provided detailed itinerary for whole tour duration. After our re-freshing and quick lunch, we took the Istanbul by City Tours (HoHo Bus) Hop on-Hop.
The HoHo Trip covers the major attractions of Istanbul and you can get down at any place of your interest and take another HoHo Bus after spending some time in that area. Istabnbul, the largest city of Turkey, located in the northwest of the country, it lies on the Bosphorus strait and encompasses the natural harbour known as the Golden Horn. Extending both on the European and Asia sides of the strait, Istanbul is the only city in the world situated on two continents.
Then after finishing our HoHo city tour in a open deluxe bus we got dropped off
near our hotel and went to some window shopping in Sultanahmet Area.
The next day on 24th of March'12, after we had our break fast we got picked up from our hotel at about 08.30 AM (remember, we need to stick to time as per itinerary) for the full day regular Byzantine & Ottoman Relics Tour to visit the Hagia Sophia a 5th century church, once the greatest in the world. The next stop is at the Blue Mosque renowned for its striking blue Iznik tiled interior. Afterwards, we visited the ancient Roman Hippodrome and Grand Bazaar. Following a lunch break in the old town, visit Imperial Palace of Topkapi from which Ottoman Sultans ruled their grand empire for over 400 years until Abdulmecid built the Dolmabahce Palace.
It is worth seeing palace, unlike the European palaces, Topkapi is not a single monumental structure but a more organic complex made up of various kiosks, gardens and areas spread over. In its hey-days, there were between 8-10 thousand people living in the palace. It was turned into a museum in 1924 and has become one of the most attractive palace-museums in the world. The most attractive exhibition halls of the palace are: treasury, Islamic holly relics, costumes of the sultans, divan, harem, kitchens, Chinese porcelains and several kiosks such as the Baghdad, Revan, Sofa and Mecidiye. There are appealing eating and resting facilities for visitors on the palace grounds with a great view. The tour finished around 5pm and got transferred back to our hotel in a mini bus and we took some rest and had again gone out for having our dinner in Dubb Indian Restaurent in Sultanahmet Area. It is a very good choice for vegetarians and non-vegetarians of Indian origin.
As per itinerary, On march 25 th we have got transferred to Ijmir by Flight from Istanbul by Atlas Jet Airlines. After 45 minutes flying, we arrived in Ijmir airport and the Tourist representative took us for a full day regular Ephesus Tour. It is an hour journey by road and you will see wonderful greenery along your way with peach plants and other cash crops. The Ephesus tour began by visiting the remains of the Artemis Temple, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Afterwards, it proceeded to the spectacular main site of Ephesus, undoubtedly the most superbly preserved Greco-Roman city. Unmistakable highlights surviving among the ruins are the Celsius Library, Agora, Theater, Odeon, Trajan Fountain, Domitianus Temple and Roman Latrines. Around, 1pm we had our lunch break and had a visit to the House of Virgin Mary; this was a place where she spent her final days of her life. The tour got over by 6pm and they transferred us back to Kusadasi at Palm Hotel . Kusadasi is a glorious ancient city, meaning "bird island", is set in a superb gulf in the Aegean region of Turkey and is known for its sparkling water of the Sea, broad sandy beaches, bright sun and large marina . We also did some shopping around the city.
On march 26th they picked us from the hotel at 8am for the full day regular Pamukkale & Hierapolis Tour to visit Pamukkale and the ancient city of Hierapolis with the Temple of Apollo, the breathtaking Theater, the fascinating Necropolis and the last the great baths of Hierapolis antique city, where St. Philip was martyred. St. Philip is connected with the early church in Hierapolis and played an important role in Pamukkale the history of the city. Finally we visited the calcium terraces and pools.
Pamukkale is one of Turkey's top attractions and a precious in the world with its cotton-look terraces. The underground water once gave life to the ancient city of Hierapolis now helps Pamukkale be one of the most important thermal centers of Turkey.
Many tourists and locals visit Pamukkale and Hierapolis frequently not only for its extraordinary look and its ancient history but also for wellness. Scientifically proven to cure many diseases, the waters attract people and there are many thermal hotels in the area that serve 12 months a year
Our Professional Guide was very knowledgeable about history and he explained that there was a young girl who was unmarried and ugly. As no one wanted to marry her, she decided to commit suicide and she threw herself off the travertine and fell into a natural pool but did not die. Because of the water in the natural pool she turned into a very beautiful girl and caught the attraction of the lord of Denizli while he was passing by. At that moment, the lord fell in love with this young and beautiful girl and they soon got married.
So, in addition to the curing effects of the water, people also believe in the beautifying power of the water. As the water is useful, this land has been a place where people visit periodically for beauty and health since the ancient times. So the reason for Pamukkale to be an attractive place is not only the natural travertine, but also the healing waters.
It is believed that the mineral water of Pamukkale helps recovering the high blood pressure, kidney stones, stroke, rheumatism, nervous and physical exhaustion, eye and skin diseases, circulatory problems, digestive maladies, nutritional disorders and chronic disorders. Pamukkale became a spa resort today and the center of a pagan cult in antiquity. We enjoyed walking in the terraces and took some beautiful pirctures. The tour got over around 6:00pm and they transferred back to our hotel in Kusadasi.
On March 27, we got transferred to Izmir airport from hotel at 04:45am for our flight to Kayseri by Pegasus Airlines.
Kayseri lies on West of Cappadocia, over the mountains in central Anatolia, of Central Turkey also known as Caesarea in Roman times. The city spreads out at the foot of the extinct volcano Mt. Erciyes (3,916 meters).
Upon our arrival in Kayseri airport at 08:20am our tourist representative received us at the airport and took us for the full day regular Cappadocia tour. Cappadocia is Turkey's most visually striking region, especially the "moonscape" area around the towns of Ürgüp, Göreme etc, where erosion has formed caves, clefts, "fairy chimneys" and sensuous folds in the soft volcanic rock. Although the volcanic landscape can appear inhospitable, the mineral-rich soil is excellent for growing nuts and fruits, making Cappadocia a rich agricultural region. Cappadocia has always been one of Anatolia's prime grape-growing areas, and still boasts many productive vineyards and wineries.
We first visited Devrent Valley, one of the most impressive monastery complexes in the area. Next, we visited Pasabag (also known as Monk's Valley), followed by a short drive to Avanos, a village situated on the banks of Kizilirmak River, famous for its clay pottery. I participated in Pottery making and got some wonderful gifts from the pottery work shop in Avanos. After lunch we proceeded us to the Goreme Open Air Museum, featuring the most impressive of all rock-carved churches in ( historic painted cave churches) of the many monastic valleys Cappadocia. The last stop was at Uchisar Village, located next to a natural Citadel. The tour finished at around 6:00pm and got transferred to our hotel. We spend the night in Cappadocia at Cappadocia Palace Hotel in cave style triple bed room. We were told that for more than a millennium, people have carved dwellings from the soft volcanic rock of Cappadocia. Even to this day many local people live in homes with at least a few cave rooms. Our Hotel was having few Cave rooms which costs about 20-30% extra than normal rooms. It was different experience of staying in a Caved room but all depends on individual tastes / likings.
On March 28 th, our tour started very early in the morning around 04.30 hrs for a Hot air balloon take-off site. It was enthralling to see the sunrise over the fairy chimneys from the Hot air balloon. I count my Cappadocia hot-air balloon flight as one of life's great thrills and important aspect of this trip. After a chilly dawn launch, we floated silently above the Cappadocian moonscape dotted with villages, vineyards and fruit orchards for about 45 minutes, coming down in a farmer's field. The crew successfully completed the ride, then breaks out the bubbly for a traditional champagne toast to a successful aeronautical adventure and distributed a certificate of Flying for every tourist. We returned to back to our hotel at around 07:30am with millions of happy feelings.
At around 09:00am they picked from our Hotel for the full day regular Day 2 Cappadocia tour to visit Red Valley. We had an wonderful experience of hiking through orchards and vineyards, between fairy chimneys and rock-carved houses. We continued our walk in Rose Valley for two hours or so. It is worth mentioning that you need to wear good sports shoes and needs to be physically fit. Even during our hiking thorugh Rose valley on steep mountains, we could enjoy the chilled juice provided by a local vendor. Afterwards, we visited the old Christian Village of Cavusin. then we had our lunch then we visited Pigeon Valley, so named after the hundreds of little windows carved into the rocks to attract nesting pigeons. Then we visited Kaymakli Underground City of three floors below ground level. You need to have a perfect physique to pass through little tunnels below ground level. The tour finishesed at around 6:00pm and they transferred back to our hotel in Cappadocia palace.then at 8pm we went to Turkish night where we saw all famous dances of turkey like the sufi dance,belly dance etc….. Dancers, including the bride and groom, perform the traditional way in which a girl gets married in Turkey. The bride dressed in a beautiful red dress dances in the middle and the groom arrives to put on different shows for her. He first shows how handsome he is, and then how strong he is and finally how rich he is. After rejecting all these shows one by one, the bride accepts to get married with him when the groom tells that his heart beats for her. While they are starting their wedding dance,all the guests are invited to dance with them, as well. After a couple of other folk dances from different parts of Turkey, the highlight of the night comes: Belly Dancer! She makes her breath-taking dance and then goes around all the tables to take one person from each table. We all had a great time while participants were learning the secrets of belly-dancing with some basic movements.
On March 29th we had free morning in Cappadocia and did some shopping in the Cappadocia market. Tourist representative transferred us from our Hotel to Kayseri airport at around 12:30pm for our flight to Istanbul by Turkish Airlines. Upon our arrival in Istanbul Ataturk Airport at 5.00pm, we got transferred back to Yusufpasa Konagi Hotel. We spend our night in Istanbul at Yusufpasa Konagi Hotel.
On March 30th, they picked us from Yusufpasa Konagi Hotel for the full day regular Princes Islands Tour Cruise in Marmara Sea to Princes' Islands by public ferry, we stopped at Buyukada, the popular summer resort with sandy beaches and pinewood scenary, once in the pleasure island of Byzantine Princes. we had a tour of the island with horse-drawn carriages before lunch at a fish restaurant. We returned in the evening to Istanbul after an hour ride on the Ferry. They transferred us back to our hotel and we had our dinner in Dubb Indian restaurant in Istanbul, the food was really very delicious over there and we enjoyed it.
On March 31st we went to Dolmabahçe palace, it was built in neo-baroque style between 1843-1856 in the rapidly growing northern section of the city, at the Marmara outlet of the Bosporus, to replace the Topkapi Palace which was out fashioned. The architect was Karabet Balyan, head architect of Sultan Abdulmecit. It has 3 floors including the basement with a symmetric design, with 285 rooms, 43 halls, 6 Turkish baths. The pier is 600 meters long and the palace has two beautifully decorated monumental gates giving access to its courtyard. The huge ballroom has a 4.5 tons crystal chandelier hanging from its 36 meters high ceiling. Dolmabahce palace housed sultans and their families before the Republic, and it was then used by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk during his visits to Istanbul. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881 - 1938) was the founder and the first President of the Republic of Turkey. Turkey Atatürk died here in the Dolmabalache Palace on the 10th of November, 1938. The palace now serves as a museum and a guest-house used for receptions for important foreign statesmen during their official visits. It is open daily between 9:00-4:00 p.m. except on Mondays & Thursdays.
In the afternoon of 31st March'12, we did some last minute shopping. Our Tourist Representative transferred us from our Hotel at 5.30pm to Istanbul Ataturk Airport for our Turkish Airlines flight to Kuwait. Our Turkey Trip went on very well and really had awesome time with wonderful memories. It was really an unforgettable experience and I hope to visit it in future again………….
||Sindhuja Garlapati: I am Sindhuja Garlapati,a class 11th student in Fahaheel Al Wataniah Indian Private School,Kuwait.I am the school champion of inter school (Council of CBSE Affiliated Schools in the Gulf,Kuwait chapter)for the year 2010-11,2011-12.I also finished my Arengatram (Bharathnatyam).My aim in the life is to become a good citizen and like to support social causes.