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Travelogue- Turkey June 2013

Thursday, June 5, 2014



Turkey. As I mentioned, this trip was a year ago. I really procrastinated on this one, no? 

Turkey was amazing. I was 4 months pregnant when we went, which was a perfect time to travel. I had a relatively easy pregnancy anyway, but at that time, I was past the overly tired phase and to the cute little belly phase. Also, they let pregnant ladies take water through security at the airport. Pregnant ladies, take note!

We arrived in Istanbul, and had a few days to spend in the old part of the city. We stayed at an adorable hotel attached to an ancient cistern. The Empress Zoe. It had a gorgeous little garden (next to the cistern) and a delicious breakfast. The room was nice and spacious… We highly recommend it.


We had three days to explore the city. A whirlwind pace. You definitely need more time to see everything, so we had to pick a few highlights. Also, it was HOT! So, our walking pace and stopping for cold drinks and ice cream slowed us down a bit.


The Blue Mosque. This is across from the Hagia Sophia, and was a gorgeous building. We went inside and were shown around by a very kind man who was also a rug dealer. He was a very gracious tour guide and asked that we not pay him, but come look at some rugs (doh!). You haven't visited Turkey, unless you are somehow convinced to go see some rugs at a rug shop. Or are we the only ones? The rugs were GORGEOUS, however, they were also EXPENSIVE. I fell in love with a simple kilim, but it was about $2000 over our budget. Alas, after drinking our tea, we bashfully scurried away and continued seeing the sights. 


The walkway to the Topkapi Palace. This is where the Sultans used to live with their family and royal court. Woah, it was pretty. Lush gardens, fountains, shaded courtyards and beautiful tiles as far as the eye could see.


The Harem, where all the ladies lived, was especially pretty.


Iznik tiles everywhere. All the pattern almost became a neutral as it was everywhere. I was in pattern heaven...


Domes. Everywhere. 


A lovely shaded courtyard.


Inlaid doors, with shell and tortoise were also heavily featured.


Um… No words. Let's take a closer look:


People lived here! Our senses were overwhelmed and our minds boggled by the beauty and excess.


The next day, we visited the Hagia Sophia. I have wanted to visit this place ever since I learned about it in my community college Art History class. A former Byzantine church, built in the 6th century, it then became a mosque after Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire. Now it is a secular museum, and is still being restored. It did not disappoint.


Mosaics and painted stucco everywhere. A lot of the Byzantine artwork was actually better preserved when it became a mosque and was plastered over. Now, they are slowly uncovering and restoring. 


The mosaics were out of control. And the amount of stuff to see was overwhelming. I could have easily spent another day here to really take it all in and see everything. If you go, get the audio tour. It was worth it, as the history is fascinating and there is so much to see.






A view of the Blue Mosque from the Hagia Sophia. 


Stunning.


Next up, a wonderful place to cool down. The Basilica Cistern. This used to supply water for the ancient Roman city. It was very cool and a lovely respite from the heat.


Our time in Istanbul was up, so it was off on an overnight bus to Selcuk. A small town outside of Ephesus. This was the view from our hotel. 


Ephesus used to be on the water, now it is a few miles from the beach. After hopping a local bus down to the shore, I was one happy lady. Umbrellas on the beach and warm, crystal waters.  Why am I not back there right now?!



Our tour of Ephesus with No Frills was quite good. It was supposed to be a group tour, but our fellow tourists cancelled, so it was just us, on our own private tour. We're fancy like that.





                                                        "Friends, Romans, Countrymen…"



The library at Ephesus. Massive and so pretty.


The mosaic floors were also stunning.


And the painted walls.







Next we were off to Bodrum for some relaxation. 

Backpacks are the way to go.


Merhaba, Bodrum!


This public beach was my favorite place to hang out while we were here.





Again, with the umbrellas! Why is this not a thing here? There was also a handy little refreshment shack just a few steps behind us.





Essentially just fast food kababs, but they were delicious. We ate a LOT of kebabs (Did I mention I was pregnant?).


Next, we decided to take a ferry to Kos, Greece for the day.


 There are many Greek islands that are really close by, just a short ferry ride away. In fact, these used to belong to Turkey, and at other times the Greek empire used to extend all the way into Turkey, so these two countries seem to have a lot of culture in common. Along the Aegean coast anyway.


There were just random ruins along the side of the road. It was so cool! 


And by random, I mean, they weren't marked as a tourist site, and off limits.  You could pretty much climb around on them as you wished. Including walking on these gorgeous mosaic floors! I tried to sidestep them. They were just so pretty and so old.

After our few days in Bodrum, next we traveled to Oludeniz. Another little beach town further along the Mediterranean. It was gorgeous, but touristy. Oh, was it touristy. So many British tourists, and a little town that catered to them. But the beach… 


No wonder tourists come here.




We stayed at a little resort on a protected bay, called The Sugar Beach Club. It was pretty, but not right on the ocean as I was hoping for. And there were many overly tanned British tourists (Are we sensing a theme in this town?). But, it was inexpensive and our little shack, was adequate. Also, they had a fun show that happens in the restaurant. I'm not sure how describe it (choreographed dancing, men in sumo suits, breakdancing, etc.), but it was entertaining.


Sadly, after this our trip was coming to an end and we were off to Antalya for one last day in Turkey. Over the mountains on their very convenient bus system we went. 



Hadrian's Gate in Antalya. 



One last view of the coast.


Turkey, we loved you! What a beautiful, amazing country. The people especially were so kind (apart from a certain nut vendor), and we had the best time.  I'm always amazed that we can travel to a place where we don't know the language and yet people are so welcoming and ready to help. Tea and directions were freely given on many occasions, and even though the country was going through a difficult time with protests, we never felt unsafe. We would go back again in a heartbeat. There is so much of the country that we didn't get to explore! We can't wait to go back again, next time to share it with Violet. 

2 comments :

  1. Amazing! Those places are so rich in history and how inspiring was it to see all those awesome patterns!? Looks like you had a great baby moon!

    ReplyDelete
  2. It was so amazing. I'm sure you would love it too, Lauren!

    ReplyDelete

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