Turkey is a country located in Eurasia which embraces the richness of both Europe & Asia. The main religion of Turkey is Islam. It also has a population of other religions like Hindu, Christian. It is one such place in the world that showcase the culture and heritage of two different continents. Move beyond the staid ‘east meets west’ cliche used to denote Turkey. The country is more than that, much of it owing to its fascinating geographical location and a rich history. Turkey holiday packages are your chance to explore this brilliant mix of the exotic and the well-known.
Transcontinental Turkey is an oblong peninsula that falls partly in Southeast Europe and partly in Central Asia. It shares borders with Bulgaria and Greece to the northwest, Georgia to the northeast; Black Sea to the north, Iran, Armenia and Azerbaijan to the east; the Mediterranean Sea and Syria to the south; Iraq to the southeast and the Aegean Sea to the west, with the Turks forming the nation’s majority, and Kurds the largest minority.
On a Turkey trip, you will not only explore its most glamorous city as well as the financial capital, Istanbul, but also its capital city, Ankara and other magnificent cities. Turkey’s influences from the Balkans, the Middle East, Central Asia and the Mediterranean is the reason churches here coexist with mosques and you can witness Roman theatre and temple ruins near the Hittite cities, and classical music concerts or for that matter football matches make up the social and cultural scene as much as gypsy festivals and dervish rituals.
Turkey offers something to suit every personality and temperament that ranges from cultural engagements to outdoor pursuits. In Turkey you can give reign to your wild side by signing up for active outdoor adventures such as whitewater rafting and canyoning in mountain region, windsurfing, diving, kayaking over the magnificent sunken ruins of Kekova and enjoying a cruise on the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea. Or enjoy some air-adventures such as taking a paragliding flight at Oludeniz and the most popularly pursued sailing in a hot-air balloon over the rocky Cappadocia. For a newer perspective of the Turkish scenery you can hike to the lush highland meadows or take the Lycian Way trail. Those staying for a bit longer can sign up for a culinary course given how rich and rooted in tradition Turkish cuisine is or simply soak in a hamam and later get ready and join a cultural walking tour.
Incidentally, there are culinary walking tours too.
History buffs can rejoice in a destination like Turkey which is home to Ephesus, the ancient port city as well as the breathtaking Byzantine dome of Hagia Sophia, besides a slew of world-famous monuments and ruins. This erstwhile Silk Route stopover.is where some epic historical figures and empires, from the Romans, Byzantines to Ottomans have left their imprint.
For a glimpse into the legacy, head to Istanbul’s breathtaking Topkapi Palace and see the sultan’s living quarters, his harem. To say nothing of the Mediterranean beaches that are home to some very fascinating and mysterious Lycian ruins.
The only way to get to the heart of the Turkish culture is by indulging in some sumptuous specialties, whether they be a hearty breakfast featuring season’s fresh ingredients from the kitchen garden or a posh mezze on a Mediterranean waterfront. The Turks are social and family-bound, and therefore sitting together around the table for a meal is a time-honoured ritual. For salads you can tuck into lush and juicy Aegean vegetables dressed in olive oil and proceed to enjoy the Anatolian kebaps among other traditional dishes from the various corners of Turkey. As you take a sip of the soothing cay or Turkish tea, you can wait for the showstopper dessert Baklava to be presented before you.
A STRING OF ENTICING LANDSCAPES
Turkey’s extraordinary topography ranging from the eastern steppe, the Aegean olive groves, the Asian Anatolia that affords stunning vistas of the Mediterranean coastline, Cappadocia with its undulating valleys and ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations, the glimmering, sunny beaches of 18-kilometre-long Patara, to the alpine meadows of the Kackar Mountains, only add magic to the setting of many of its great ruins.
Sip your cay and watch the tranquil waters of Lake Egirdir, the mountains surrounding it throwing their reflection in the waters. For the mountain lover, there are several stunning mountainous regions along southwest coast which has several peninsulas. But wherever you travel in Turkey, it is bound to leave a lasting impression on you.
The cultural and economic capital of Turkey and also its most flamboyant city, Istanbul straddles the two continents, Asia and Europe, the straits connecting the Marmara with the Black Sea. And it is not just this breathtaking location alone that is this ancient city’s claim to fame. It has been the capital of the successive Christian and Islamic empires, a fact that carved the place’s history for over 2500 years, leaving behind a staggering range of sites, both historical and cultural.
There is the Byzantine masterpiece, the church of Hagia Sophia, the great city walls, the ornate minarets and domes of Ottoman palaces and mosques looming over the city, creating a skyline comparable only to fairy-tales. Though Istanbul is not the capital of the country, it still forms the intellectual and cultural heart of modern-day Turkey, a busy, friendly, chaotic city that totally does justice to its east-meets-west status.
ISTANBUL’S ART AND CULTURE SCENE: The city is host to several annual cultural events that are comparable only to European cities that have a thriving art scene. There are ballet, opera and theatre shows that are subsidised by the state, making cultural evenings affordable to all, whether locals or tourists.
And you will find something on at every other night at these venues around Istanbul. Music concerts and recitals are slated mostly in the summer months and several international music events bring in eminent musicians from the world over.
BOSPHORUS CRUISE: The Strait of Istanbul also called Bosphorus is a natural strait and a significant waterway in northwestern Turkey. You can do a boat ride on the Bosphorus from one of the quays of Eminonu to the sleepy fisherman village of Anadolu Kavagi. This is an activity on the itinerary of almost every visitor to Istanbul.
The summer queues outside the cruise ticket counter can be excruciatingly long. So, you might end up taking about half an hour or more before you get in. You can even choose to buy the tickets a day or so ahead. The seats on-board are on a first-come-first-serve basis, and if you are late you may not get the best seats.
While the ferries might seem pretty obsolete they are quite comfortable and you have the option of buying snacks and drinks on-board. The length of the journey is 7 hours both ways including a lunch stop for about 2 hours 30 minutes at Anadolu Kavagi. The boat halts across several points straddling Europe and Asia before making the return journey, and you are free to de-board at any of these points to continue your exploration, or hop back on the boat to return to Istanbul.
EATING OUT IN ISTANBUL: Some of Turkey’s finest restaurants are scattered across Istanbul with a slew of restaurants focusing on the antiquated Ottoman cuisine. Fish features consistently across its menu owing to the long coastline. If you are in a mood to snack, look for spicy kebabs, light and airy pastries, a range of fast-food found across its cafes that serve comfortable and affordable to both tourists and locals.
While the restaurants around the touristy Sultanahmet tend to be more expensive, they are not comparable in quality to those found in other parts of the city.