Bergama Theatre Bergama Trajan Temple Dalyan Lycian Tombs Kaprulu Kanyon Afrodisias Tetrapylon Demre Beach Ortahisar Volcanic Plug Goreme Sunset View Yoruk Turquoise Treasures and Volcanic Vistas draw Travellers to Turkey
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Friday, 25 April 2014

Merhaba to Turkey

Wow, we finally got to Turkey!

This site is about Turkey, about their people and their culture, what are best places to visit, and why you should visit those places.  It tries to make connections between what you see there and how it is relevant to you or your travels to other countries.  That is because Turkey has played a pivotal role in both the history and culture of our world.

Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sofia was a famous Byzantine Church

Next Post: Topkapi Palace Paradise (Day 2)

Merhaba – Welcome to our Turkey Blog

Mt. Edith Cavell, Jasper National Park
Mt. Edith Cavell, Jasper National Park
Our passion for travel started with doing our first ten-month trip to Europe and then moving to the gorgeous turquoise lakes of Rocky Mountains, our weekend playground.  The travel bug took root very firmly.   Then we did a three-year Round The World (RTW) trip and worked seven years in Europe.

We missed out Turkey during our three-year round-the-world (RTW) trip and we wanted to see if it lived up to expectations.  During our RTW trip travellers overwhelmingly said Turkey and Ireland were their favourite countries in Europe and that the people are so friendly (hmm, must be related).  Plus there is a lot to see and do from archaeological sites to turquoise waters and beaches. But what makes a trip most memorable is talking with the people and learning about their culture. We met so many kind and helpful people during our trip.

Turkey is a Big Country With Lots to See

So if you haven't gone to Turkey then make it your next destination.  Needless to say a lot of pre-trip planning helped make this trip a success.  Some practical suggestions can be found in the Getting Started page.  It is always difficult to choose which places to see.  Even though we had 31 days, there are always choices to be made.  See our Itinerary page for suggestions as well as our actual itinerary.  For additional places we considered during our preliminary planning (some of it was three years ago) have a look at the More Places page.  For recommended reading see Books & Links
Note that Turkey is a very large country: it is 12.5% bigger than the Texas; 70% of the size of the province of British Columbia, or virtually the same size as France and Great Britain combined.  It is essential to manage your expectations and limit the number of places to visit and especially avoid travel to many distant places (in the same trip at least).  
Note that we have added captions to the nine photos at the top of the home page.  This will provide additional information about the photo when you place your mouse over a photo.  When you click these photos it will (eventually) bring you to the relevant web page.  But when you click on a photo in a post, it starts a slide show of the photos in that post.  The main advantage is that the photos are shown much larger.


Sirkeci Mansion Host: Ceyda
Sirkeci Mansion
Host, Ceyda
Day 1: Our plane arrived 35 minutes late and it seemed like so did 10,000 people who were waiting to go through passport control.  We learned that 14 million people live in Istanbul – the fourth-largest city in the world!!  It took an hour to drive 22 km to our hotel in the Sultanahmet area. 

Hotel Ilkay & Sirkeci Mansion

Once at Hotel Ilkay, we sipped delicious apple tea while listening to an orientation from Ceyda (pronounced Jay-da).  Now this is a novel idea – having several "tourist facilitators" who orient you, answer your questions, give directions, and even provide maps, public transit passes, et al.  Who needs the tourist office?
Sirkeci Mansion Bedroom
Sirkeci Mansion Bedroom

Ceyda showed us our room in Hotel Ilkay and offered an upgrade to their sister hotel, Sirkeci Konak (Mansion) at no extra charge.  Originally we had said no but once we saw Sirkeci we realized we would get a much larger and prettier room in a fancier hotel. 

Sirkeci Mansion Host: Damla
Sirkeci Mansion
Host, Damla

Ah, the joys of travelling off-season.  Trip Advisor says Sirkeci costs in Turkish Lira (TRY) 464 (or EUR 157, CAD 240) in high season!!  We helped ourselves to a small serving tray of Turkish Delight that awaited us on our bed above.  

At Sirkeci, we had another long chat, apple tea included, with Damla (meaning “water drop”) and other tourist facilitators in the “living room” (see left) decorated with gorgeous stained glass and pottery pieces.  It was like a museum.  We talked about all kinds of topics until it was well past supper time.

We finally left for the Anatolia Restaurant near the Blue Mosque.  Good food and another great discussion with the waiter, who turned out to be a part owner.  His in-laws live in Seattle WA and he travelled there as well as Victoria BC on a recent trip.


Wow, no one told us how beautiful it was to walk in Sultanahmet at night.  There were food stalls and lots of people in the central park with views of all three mosques and the fountain beautifully lit up.  I could not hold the camera for a time exposure shot (no tripod) but the tablet did an ok job.  Then I remembered I had a video capability so I took a movie with my new Nikon D7100 – wow, great feature.  It was 23:30 h by time we got back.  Another typical day for the travelling duo. 

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