Let’s talk Turkey.
No, no… not the gobble-gobble kind. I’m talking about Türkiye, the country. You know… the vibrant, modern country of Turkey.
Uh, you don’t know?
I sure didn’t. I was expecting to see “the Turkey” I first visited 15 years ago and, wow. If no one has said, let me be the first: Bravo!! Aferin! Turkey… you’ve come a looong way, baby.
Now, you are probably asking yourself with all of the bad news coming out of Istanbul right now, why in the world I would be blogging about the place? Because… what’s happened in Taksim Square since May 31 is not a country-wide event. It isn’t even an Istanbul-wide event. Rather, what you see playing out in finely edited-for-television footage is several hundred people in a city of 13.9 million protesting the proposed development of a local park. And since, geographically speaking, Istanbul is a huge city spanning 2,000 sq. miles with the protests isolated to a few short blocks, I can only hope it won’t dissuade you from traveling to Turkey (and Istanbul) as a whole.
Now, don’t take this to mean that I support the heavy handed tactics of the government in response to what essentially started out as a peaceful protest. Rather, as an empathetic traveler coming from tourism-driven Florida, I support the millions of local citizens counting on a good “season” to carry them through to next year and beyond.
So, in the spirit of supporting the hard working, genuinely good natured locals… are you ready to talk Turkey???
To say that I am amazed by all of the changes that have taken place would be an understatement. Today’s Turkey is clean and modern, alive and flourishing with new construction, power and water and satellite dishes everywhere. Extremely energy conscious, solar powered water heaters annoint every rooftop from modern apartment buildings to mud brick homes. Hotels are in on the savings too using motion detectors in hallways and key cards to power in-room amenities. Just insert your room key into the slot and voilà, instant power. And no, I haven’t had the feeling that I’ve been left in the dark.
Prior visitors can rest assured that the aggressive street sellers, ubiquitous pickpockets and annoying louts are gone, gone, gone. In fact I am so impressed with today’s Turkey that my next visit will be self-guided road trip so that I may languish ‘til my heart’s content in truly magical places like Ephesus and Cappadocia.
What makes Turkey worth the trip? I’m so glad you asked!
Nestled within the shifting landscape are thousands of years of history to explore with (mostly) intact ruins, rare artifacts and… fairy chimneys. In fact, religious scholars believe that Turkey is the birth place of the biblical prophet Abraham and where the Virgin Mary lived until her Assumption. There are relics of century’s old Byzantine, Roman and Ottoman empires along with the 12,000 year old mini Stonehenge — Göbekli Tepe — currently under excavation.
Warm, friendly people, a fully intact infrastructure, wi-fi and cell phone service along with incredible food and hotels from the modern Four Seasons to the exquisitely restored 30-room Gamirasu Cave Hotel in Ayvali Viillage, Cappadocia to the quaint Şanlıurfa Aslan Guesthouse (The Teacher’s Place) make Turkey a perfect vacation destination.
So, seriously, when you’re sitting around planning where to go on your next trek, I hope you will give Turkey a try. You’ll be glad you did.
Read more about Gamirasu Cave Hotel here.
Helpful Hint: If you are the adventurous sort and plan to take a road trip in Turkey, I suggest getting a road map printed in country since most cities are known locally by a different name. Keep in mind, too, that although the $USD appears to be strong against the Turkish Lira, this is a fully developed country; while there are bargains to be had, you will not be paying “developing world” prices. Lastly, if you are planning to travel outside the usual (English speaking) tourist haunts, a Turkish phrase book will be a huge help.