Blogs from Turkey, Middle East - page 4


Middle East » Turkey » Central Anatolia » Ankara » Gündoğan October 22nd 2015

I bought the plane ticket to Ankara mainly because it was so inexpensive. $40 round-trip direct from Canakkale to Turkey's capital city. Get out of town. I think I pay that much in airport tax back in Florida. I figured I would do a solo recon mission for future reference. That was on the 7th of October. At 10 AM on October 10th Ankara suffered, what its citizens simply refer to as; The Event. Canakkale's airport terminal is a simple, square, pre-fab building. My bag was run through an X-ray machine under the watchful eyes of a dozen blue-uniformed security people because in Turkey, as it is in the States, it's all about the jobs. Inside I found a simple 3-table cafe where I had a glass of tea and a cellophane wrapped biscuit for 4 ... read more
Ataturk's Mausoleum
Art Museums in Ankara

Middle East » Turkey » Southeastern Anatolia » Şanlıurfa October 21st 2015

We arrived in Şanlıurfa (Urfa for short) after two flights from Van. The first leg from Van to Istanbul started boarding after we were due to take off so by the time we arrived in Istanbul we didn’t have long to wait before boarding our next flight from Istanbul to Urfa. After landing in Urfa we caught the shuttle bus into the city past the pistachio trees, olive groves, grape vines and cotton plants. The shuttle bus stops at a petrol station outside the old city so from there we caught a short taxi to our hotel. As soon as we entered the old city I was glad we had decided to visit Urfa despite its proximity to Syria and PKK activity in surrounding towns (Urfa itself seems to be fine at the moment). Urfa (best ... read more
View from our hotel

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul October 21st 2015

Ephesus was probably an ancient city too far. We didn't enjoy it very much – too many tour groups and too much restoration / rebuilding. So now it's on to the end of the Silk Road, Istanbul. This is a real city – crowded, vibrant, noisy, chaotic, dirty in parts, run down and renovated buildings next to each other, every colour and creed of human, a huge choice of places to stay and eat, and a few fantastic places to visit. We like it, with one exception, the awful adhan's (Muslim call to prayer) that blare from the loudspeakers of the many, many mosques – why don't they choose a muezzin with a melodic voice ffs ? Since we started planning this trip I'd decided a Turkish Bath was one of the things I wanted to ... read more
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque

Middle East » Turkey » Eastern Anatolia » Van October 18th 2015

We finally arrived at our hotel in Van at about 9pm local time, after over 24 hours of travel from Melbourne. Our first flight from Melbourne landed us in Doha with enough time between flights to go through security (after standing in a long line for a long time) and get to our gate with about 30 minutes to spare. Our second flight to Istanbul almost resulted in the murder of the morbidly obese man who snored loudly from take-off to landing. After landing in Istanbul we waited in line at immigration while listening to some woman screaming at the security staff, got our passports stamped, grabbed our bags (mine was nearly the last to hit the carousel) and waited for our prearranged transfer to Istanbul’s other airport. After an hour and a half drive (top ... read more
Breakfast Street
Breakfast Street
Breakfast Street

Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Pamukkale October 15th 2015

Like every bus journey we've made in Turkey Antalya to Denizli was an uneventful breeze – helpful people at the otogar to point us in the right direction, plenty of available seats, modern comfortable buses, smooth driving, onboard wifi - not at all what we're used to. We didn't even have to wait for the dolmuş to Pamukkale fill up as we got nearly the last two seats. All a bit too good to be true, but we'll take the smooth with the rough. It turns out the travertine’s at Pammukale have been getting drier for years – too much water being diverted for commercial uses apparently, so it was less spectacular than we'd expected. Even if we'd known this in advance we'd still have gone so it was definitely worth the visit, but lacked the ... read more
View From The Top
One Of The Few Pools With Water
More Empty Pools

Middle East » Turkey » Mediterranean » Antalya October 13th 2015

We haven't seen the sea since leaving Hong Kong at the end of June. In Xinjiang we were close to the point which is further from the sea than anywhere on earth. In Uzbekistan we'd been to where it used to be. So it was great to come around a bend on the mountain road to see the Med glittering in front of us - a bit of poetic licence taken there as it was an overcast day so it wasn't that glittery, but it was still the sea. We didn't have any particular plans for Antalya. We knew there were plenty of Greco-Roman ruins around but hadn't bothered to research which to visit, so we took the lazy option and did what we rarely do – we followed the Lonely Planet recommendation. Credit to them ... read more
Theatre, Aspendos
Theatre, Aspendos
Theatre, Aspendos

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Canakkale October 10th 2015

One Thursday morning three kids showed up at our front door. I thought it might be the neighbors asking me to turn down the music. They've never complained before but there's always a first time. So I throw on some pants and I open the door and there are three kids standing there, two boys and a little blonde girl all decked out in their Sunday best except that here it isn't Sunday best; I think that it's more of a Friday best thang and the younger boy is making a show out of hitting a nail with a hammer that he's slapped together out of a couple of twigs that looks like a crucifix quickly constructed in a Blair Witch woods to ward off a vampire, and the older boy, who's about ten years old, ... read more
Sacrificial Lambs
Canakkale Cafe
Main Street Guzelyali

Middle East » Turkey » Central Anatolia » Cappadocia October 10th 2015

We knew hot air ballooning was popular in Cappadocia so we didn't expect to have the skies to ourselves but there were dozens and dozens of balloons, probably more than 100, and this is the low season! This was a new experience for both us, and it was a fantastic one. The heat and noise when the burner was being used contrasts sharply with the cold and silence when it's not. The incredible views without windows, wings or engines getting in the way. The slow drift in whichever direction the wind takes you – of course the balloon company has a good idea which way it's blowing before take off, these are sightseeing tours. The skill and knowledge of the pilot. The bright, clear, sunny morning with mist still in the valleys. The amazing geology. Everything ... read more
A Sky Full of Balloons
A Sky Full of Balloons
A Sky Full of Balloons

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul October 9th 2015

Today, our last day, was all about "our favorites" and revisiting the sights and food (ok mostly the food) that we enjoyed the most. However, there still was one site we had yet to visit and that was the Chora Church which we made our first destination this morning. We caught a cab as it was a good 20 minute drive from the hotel and got there shortly after opening. Our museum pass has totally paid for itself, and it was the Chora Church that definitely put us over in savings, not to mention you get to skip the queue. The Chora Church was built around 400 A.D. and features what is considered to be the best examples of late-period Byzantine mosaics anywhere in the world. There was a section closed off for renovation (how large ... read more
Roasted chestnuts
Ohhh the çag
Our fav beer while here.

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Gallipoli October 7th 2015

The time we spent on the Gallipoli battlefields was so informative. I thought i knew the history but until I listened to the tour guide, and reading all the information at the various memorials I did not really have the full story. Our Turkish tour guide told the story with such emotion, he had a few of the tour group in tears. After being in Turkey for a few days and hearing about the last 4000 years of their history I would say that warfare was part of their culture. These people had been fighting for their bit of land for a long time. Their other secret weapon was their general, later to be called Mustafa Ataturk. He ... read more
Beach war cemetery
Lone Pine Memorial

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