Turkey on GoNOMAD
Squish, squish went my shoes as I hurried along Divanyoglu, the thoroughfare of Istanbul’s historical Sultanahmed district, trying to escape a sudden November afternoon downpour.
Flying into Turkey, I expected a diverse population, a unique trip, and a cultural adventure. Turkey not only surpassed all of my expectations, but also lifted the bar in every way. Future trips beware; the standards have been redefined.
After landing in the airport and taking a taxi ride to the Constantine Hotel, I was able to wander around the surrounding area. To my delight I found that the Constantine is located right in the heart of Istanbul and mere blocks away from the Hagia Sofia and the Sultan Ahmed (Blue) Mosque.
Cappadocia is a spectacular area in central Turkey, dotted with fantasy pyramids, pitted with troglodyte dwellings and heir to centuries of human wrangling over territory, trade and souls. In ancient Persian it was called Katpatuka, or ‘Land of the Beautiful Horses’ but you do not have to be a geologist or history buff to be blown away by the landscape. A week’s hiking followed by a hot air balloon trip will do it for anyone.
My trip was hosted by Alan Turizm, a family run business based out of Urgup in the center of Cappadocia. When the transfer bus deposited me outside the Surban Hotel, I gaped openly at the yellow cliff face that rose above me, riddled with hundreds of dark cave entrances carved into the rock.
“The old village,” explained manager Halil Elalan. “Some people still live in the caves. But you’re only here for a few days. We must get started immediately.” I was whisked off to dinner with his family, apologies being offered for the unashamedly touristic dining venue. As dervishes whirled in the Yemeni cave restaurant, Halil filled me in on the crazy geology that shaped the area.
Praise where praise is due: I have to thank Turkish Airline’s excellent in-flight magazine for the inspiration to visit Mardin, Urfa and Hasankeyf in the extreme southeast of Turkey, close to the border with Syria. The article and pictures reminded me that a great part of Mesopotamia, often referred to as ‘the cradle of civilization’ as well as the sources of the emblematic rivers Tigris and Euphrates are actually in Turkey. I didn’t need any more incentive and the next thing you know, I was back in Didim on Turkey’s Aegean coast where I live part of the year, figuring out the best way to get to the biblical land.
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