Published: August 17th 2011August 17th 2011
So was meant to have 2 hours to get ready to head to the airport but my alarm didn’t go off- luckily I woke up 10 minutes before my ride arrived and I have never been so stressed in my life! I still hadn’t finished packing and in the end took multiple bags to the airport to sort out my life there ☺
I arrived in my airport in Istanbul at 5 o’clock and the plan was to meet Alice in an hour at the blue mosque- the most iconic thing in Istanbul- this would be easy right?
I had no phone so was an adventure for sure. I landed at an airport on the Asian side of Istanbul and walked out ready to start my adventure. As soon as I stepped out of the airport there were Turkish men trying to ‘help’ and calls of hello sexy lady ☺ haha an insight into what it would be like. An hour later on a bus I hopped on a ferry and didn’t move for the next 20 minutes. It was amazing to see the city from the sea and again like I was with the plane trip I was blown away
by the amount of high rise buildings and the shere size of Istanbul!
After the ferry I summoned my inner strength and started my hike to the ‘blue mosque’ as directed by a Turkish. 30 minutes later after lugging my 30kg of luggage up small steep streets full of leering Turkish men calling out the only English I think they know, I arrived at the mosque only to find out that it was the wrong mosque and it was too far away to walk from here. I gave in and jumped in a taxi blaming my lack of strength with my bag from lack of food. The taxi was so cheap and I finally arrived at about 8/9pm after leaving my house at 8am. The taxi driver tried to drag my bags out of the car and couldn’t believe the size of them and that I could/ attempted to carry them. I ambled up the blue mosque entrance and couldn’t see Alice anywhere then a Turkish man started yelling and pointing at me- at this time after being harassed since I left the airport I tried to hide myself behind my bag and avoid his glaze then he started yelling
‘hey you with the backpack your friends been waiting for you for 3 hours… ‘ so I followed him and saw Alice. We both screamed and hugged for forever and it felt like no time had passed! So amazing to see her after 4 months! We laughed and chatted sitting outside, its ramadam at the moment so the muslims are all around the mosques at night and the city is buzzing.
Also I think about 4 times a day all the mosques in the city do their call to prayers. This means Turkish chanting/songs are played on loud speakers from each of the mosques. It is amazing to be near when this happens and you feel like are in a movie. Its just a completely different world from here.
The Turkish people are so lovely and willing to help you with anything.. probably a bit too lovely but I prefer this to the people in Barcelona. Also there seems to be a complete lack of girls in turkey so the men are very very friendly…….
We then headed to the hostel and it was amazing! The staff were so nice and funny although they kept taking the
piss out of our accents. The hostel was 4 stories and had a really homely feel about it they have a breakfast lounge where there are tables and cushions to sit and hang out looking at the view of the city. Then we noticed they also had a bar. It’s an open air rooftop bar playing reggae and everyone is hanging out together. Such a cool atmosphere. We headed out for the night to the ramadam night markets where I nearly bought ‘mans energy’ it was like a lollipop and it took me a few times to understand the guy when he said this is mans energy hahaha.
But we had an amazing dinner a mixed mezi plate with Turkish dips and apple tea the owners were so lovely and welcomed us for free apple tea whenever we like and now everytime we see them they wave and smile! I love the people here!
We headed back to our hostel only to find we had lost our keys to our locker containing all the important stuff- kinda crazy all the important stuff fits in a locker- and its just 20kg worth of crap in my backpack. I might
become Buddhist and give it all away !!
So back to the keys we had to go up to the reception and ask for bolt cutters they came with hammers and at 12pm while our roomamtes were sleeping proceeded to try and whack the lock off-mmmm not the best trechnique! Finally he opened it up though but our first blonde disaster.
We got to know the aussies in our room and American were so cool but would not stop talking!!
Next day we decided to not couchsurf because the hostel was so great. We headed into Istanbul and went to the grand bizarre a huge market selling amazing Turkish goodies! I love all the things here the glass lanterns hanging outside all the shops/ the beautiful colorful ceramic plates/ the bags and shoes I think its just all the color and character. We have decided we are going to buy a big container and send all the goodies home--- or definitely come back with an empty suitcase for a shopping trip!
We went into a Turkish delight store and had free tastings. In new Zealand I don’t normally like it but here its amazing they fill it with pistachios
and have pomegranate flavor yum! And the pastries here are the best have tried so far! Baklava is now my favorite dessert and we are on a mission to try all the different pastries and foods! All the Turkish foods I have tried here is amazing!!
Lena flew into turkey in the afternoon and it was amazing to see her after 5 months! The longest we have not seen each other for 5 years but its amazing how its feels like no time has passed. We headed out to dinner at a rooftop restaurant looking over the city and the bospherous. They lit the Turkish lamps and the atmosphere was amazing being in Istanbul with two of my best friends sitting at this restaurant eating Turkish food – it was just too surreal!
We then headed out for apple tea at the restaurant the night before then we found the best shessha place ever! We were on the second story and had a little cove all cushions and amazing music and atmosphere and the staff were soo fun! Really lovely and even got us up to do a bit of curdish dancing. They also gave us Turkish names,
I was aisho, lena lailo and alice was fatma. We found this so funny and couldn’t control our laughter for the whole night. We smoked apple and mint flavored shisha and it was so much fun and didn’t have any of the horrible burn that smoking cigarettes does. We spent a good time there and then headed back to the hostel up to the rooftop bar where we joined a group of Australian girls and English guys- dressed up in curdish costumes to drinking games- horse racing- definitely one I will be playing again. We then decided to head to Taksim square to go out to the clubs. The taxi driver was absolutely insane and was intent on racing the other taxi we passed them and then kept on going at least 120km through Istanbul- with no seat belts! We were glad to touch the ground! Town was pretty dead as it was Ramadam and the music wasn’t that good. But so fun with the group of guys and we ended up doing limbo and all sorts of crazy things,
We got back about 6 and woke up at 9 just in time for breakfast and met some lovely
Australian girls who were also on gap years. The people here are awesome!! We headed on our way to the spice markets where I bought Turkish saffron! My only souvenir so far only 5 turkish lera so about 2 euro! But its insanely expensive in new Zealand. So many great teas and of course more Turkish delights! We bought some ‘corn’ from the street venders and then realized after a few bites that it was actually maize. Haha but apparently a very typical snack. The street venders sell really healthy things like roasted chesnuts and maise and there seems to be little junk food.
That being said we decided we had to try a Turkish ice cream as they keep them in deep cylinders and fling it around trying to sell it to you, The consistency was so strange- I don’t know whether this is because they use goats milk or what but it was almost chewy and definitely did not melt in your mouth- probably designed for the heat. Won’t be trying one of these again in a hurry!
We headed back to the hostel to rest and the Australian girls were going to go to the
Turkish baths- we decided this was a thing we couldn’t miss- not knowing what to expect! We were given bikini bottoms and headed into a huge marble room with old ladies scrubbing down everybody. The room was so hot and you lay down while they scrubbed/ massages and even washed your hair! It was amazing though I did feel very lazy! We then relaxed in the baths and on the marbles occasionally cooling ourselves with the water from the fountains! All in all an amazing experience and we walked out feeling so relaxed and care free- my skin soooo soft!! We then headed out to dinner to the same shisha bar where they gave us huge discounts and a free fishbowl drink- with a type of sangria but with white whine inside- it was soo yummy! We all decided to share everything so we got to try all the Turkish cuisine on the menu and was some of the best food I have tasted! Then dessert came where the waiter tried to feed us baklava haha but it was amazing as well! The food is to good here and really cheap as well! We didn’t have time for another shisha
as we had to get back to the hostel as they were organizing a pub crawl in taksim. We got to the hostel bar and nobody was there but volcano (coolest guy working at hostel) made us free drinks and we chilled looking over the city! Later on lots of people came and we ended up playing kings cup – really hard with 20 people or so but still lots of fun!
We were all so pumped for the pub crawl and headed to the van- it was so fill with at least 30 people in a 15 seater van and was so hot as well! The traffic was insane and a 5 minute taxi ride took us 1 15 in the van where it was so hot- as they had no air conditioning or windows and the german guys were smoking.
Needless to say by the time we arrived we were pretty much over the bus so danced a while in a live music club then headed home for the night. I jus don’t think taksim has a nightlife!
This morning we met a girl from Holland and she joined us for a visit to the blue
mosque. It was so amazing, we had to take our shoes off and cover all legs and arms. Inside was absolutely beautiful it was named the blue mosque due to the thousands of blue tiles decorating the roof and it continues to blow my mind away the churches and mosques I have seen so far ! But I wish I knew more about the muslim culture and the mosques so I could fully appreciate it .
We then finally had Turkish kebabs- our first ones yet!! And headed on a ferry to the Asian side of Istanbul, Was so nice floating on the bosphorous and enjoying the sunshine. As soon as we pulled up you could definitely notice a difference in the city/ look of people. It was a lot less touristic and so many more people on the streets. We wandered around for a bit but the ferry was the best part! So we headed back. We went to the bus station to buy some bus tickets and lena realized we had lost the bus tickets meant for tonight when she mentioned this to the travel agent he was very serious and told us we had to find
them or pay for new ones. We went searching through all our things to find them in a stress and when we couldn’t find them we went back to the bus station to try and sort out what to do. He was so serious and told us that we had to buy new tickets. Then about 10 minutes into it he started laughing and said it was all a joke and it was fine!!! We were so angry but you couldn’t help but laugh cause he thought that that would be funny! Turksih sense of humor!!
We then left our hostel and got ready for our bus trip to Cappadociaw which is an 11 hour bus ride- lets hope I can sleep!!
Woke up to the most amazing scenery I have ever seen, I thought I was in a movie. There were so many hot air balloons in the sky over the valleys and town of goreme, Gooogle pictures of Cappadocia – I couldn’t capture the true scale of these mountain houses and valleys or the surreal landscape. I was totally blown away and couldn’t believe this was all real and that I was actually here!
arrived at our hostel and they were so lovely we sat and enjoyed peach tea and the owner asked us about possible tours etc that we would like to do in Cappadocia as it is almost impossible to travel around here without a tour there is no public transport systems.
We decided on a full day trip- pretty brave of us after a 11 hour bus ride. So we set out with other people from the hostel 3 teenagers from Italy and 2 from England- I love how many people you meet travelling and how easy it is to get along with everybody.
It was amazing to drive through the countryside and it felt like real turkey compared to Istanbul. Also we were so surprised to see the women in head scarves and full Muslim dress working in the fields and riding on tracters etc. We actually felt a lot more exposed in Istanbul than in the other places which was really interesting and I thought it would have been the other way around. We arrived at the first stop an underground city where we all took torches and got led through these old houses in these mountains-
it was amazing to see this and our guide was soo funny! He couldn’t speak English but would give us actions and noises about the things that used to live here/ what they used to do here – Alice’s favorite was the sheep impression ☺ We found out that they built their houses underground due to the war and also to help keep produce fresh for longer.
After this we headed to churches that had been built into the rocks on the mountains and these were amazing. From the road they just looked like the mountain and as you walked closer you could start to see the openings but it was only once you had entered that it was possible to see that it was a church. There was still a little of the original paintings left on the roof but its really sad as many people had graffiti names and pictures and as the day progressed we saw a lot of this. It was really sad because if we were in New Zealand this would all be perfectly preserved.
When we entered the church we stepped over holes where bodies were placed for the day to pay respect
to the dead and then the bodies were ferried off to be buried. So interesting learning about all the small customs in the countries.
We then walked through the countryside for half an hour to reach our place to have lunch. Its so amazing to walk off the beaten track and everywhere we looked there was caves and houses carved out of the mountain and rock sides… I could just explore here for hours and hours each one you go into is so different and looks out at the stunning scenery. They also have fruit trees all over the landscape particularly apricot and Turkish apples.
We went to a restaurant to have a traditional Turkish lunch- we welcomed the shade and rest as it is so hot here! The first dish was a soup made with rice, yoghurt and mint- not the best but we finished it. It was so funny to watch the English guys and it reminded me of how much of a picky eater I was. They would eat a spoonful – wait as If It was going to come back up again and then continue- I couldn’t help but laugh! We then had a
meatball and chickpea dish and a turksih/greek salad which was so yummy! We were so full and ended up having a siesta on the cushions.
After lunch we headed to the red valley, the fairy chimneys and to a Turkish winery for tastings- Leigh I thought of you- if only there was room in my backpack! I would have bought you back some cappadocian wine, we then headed to a pottery workshop and saw how they made the different types, they were all hand made and painted and the designs are so intricate its amazing- I have trouble coloring in the lines in a coloring book! Not the career for me. I would have also loved to buy some of this but there is no way! But when I buy a house I am definitely coming back here for all my house things.
We were absolutely exhausted by the time we got back at 6 and went and got dinner- best hummus ever and then headed to bed.
We woke up early had amazing breakfast of pancakes, yoghurt and fruit and menem a type of omelet and then headed out to go horse-riding. Just as we arrived
at the horse riding place my camera battery ran out ☹ would have been absolutely amazing photos. No words can describe Cappadocia. We started the trek me on the slowest horse which had a farting problem up the hills ☺ I found the terrain quite scary but the horses were more than capable. We went down ravines and places I didn’t think the horses could fit. The landscape was insane and we took mental photographs the whole way- it was unlike anything I had seen before. We ended up at some churches in the mountains and hopped of our horses and went for an explore. They were really beautiful and intricate and I am still blown away by all the buildings and landscape here. We enjoyed a freshly squeezed orange juice and Lena and Alice began speaking Spanish with all the French people there- they were so lovely and when Alice told them I was heading to Paris they gave me all their contact details and said to give them a call when I get there. It has amazed me the hospitality of European people.
We headed back to the stalls and dismounted the horse, enjoyed an apple tea
then spent the afternoon at the pool with the Italians. We had Turkish ravioli absolutely amazing! Then we hopped on another 10 hour overnight bus to pammakule.
After a night on the bus without sleeping we arrived at pammakule at 5am and headed to our hostel. They were lovely and let us sleep on the couch but there was one guy who was toooooo friendly and just sleazy… he wanted to cover us up with blankets and kept on saying rude and sexual comments- not something you feel like dealing with after that bus ride. But the thing is you don’t feel threatened its just a pain in the ass. We slept for 3 hours on the couch and then our room was ready we cruised for the day then headed to the markets for some fresh fruit.
We bought olives and they wouldn’t let us pay for them- saying it was a present- these are people with tiny stalls in a small poor town- we felt so bad accepting but they wouldn’t have it any other way. The Turkish people are the friendliest I have ever met and I think I am definitely going to miss it
here – it feels very homey here.
Then a lady grabbed our hands and leaded us to her house wanting to show us her headscarfes she had sewn herself. She bought out these beautiful headscarves but they were just too expensive and she didn’t speak English so was very hard.
We then finally headed to pammakule to explore the terraces- they are just like what I would imagine the pink and white terraces to have been like. Although the terraces you could swim in were replicas as the real terraces are now protected. But the real terraces were amazing, It was like a huge white mountain looked like snow with terraces all along the way and then we saw the real terraces and they were beautiful just that nature can create landscapes like here and Cappadocia is unbelievable. We then explored the ruins- again wishing we had some history knowledge and then headed back to the pool at our hostel for the afternoon. It is so hot here so needless to say we are worried about morocco in a week!
We jumped on a bus early morning and headed to marmaus a beach side town where we are
going to catch the ferry to Greece from. We were really upset, as we had to miss out Olympus and our stay in the tree houses as the ferries only go once a day early in the morning. But that’s all right I definitely want to come back to turkey!!!
After 2 marriage proposals, hundreds of Turkish delights and baklava and a fair bit of Turkish lira (whoops) I say goodbye turkey I am so sad to say this I absolutely loved my time here and everything about turkey blew me away. I will definatley be back. But onto the next adventure Santorini, Greece here I come!!
Foods to remember from turkey:
Kebabs- falafel is not Turkish ☹
Spicy red sauce with greek yoghurt over anything- amazing!
There are more photos below