I was planning a layover trip while traveling from US to India in January-2019. I looked upon lots of options including but not limited to Europe, Thailand, Taiwan and New Zealand for that sake. But either these places were expensive, cold or super crowded with travelers. I zeroed down to Turkey to spent my spare 8 days instead of other places because of these notable reasons. #fivereasons
1. Amazing geographical location and relatively warm weather
Do you know that the Republic of Turkey is one of the few countries that lies across two continents? Yes, the Istanbul city itself spans across Europe and Asia. It is a perfect getaway location for those who’d love to do a layover trip while traveling from US to India or vice versa. Also, Turkey is not as cold as Europe. Though it receives snow sometimes in some part and mercury drops below freezing point in mountainous region, the major part of Turkey can be visited in winter as well. The Mediterranean side of Turkey is pleasant throughout the year and it is one of the major vacation destination for Europeans to escape the frigid cold in winter.
Pro tip: Go for a Bosporus cruise ride in Istanbul and enjoy both European and Asian side of Istanbul city skyline.
2. The History and Culture of Turkey that dates back to few centuries BC
Though the country's major population is Muslim, the country is secular and they are welcoming towards other religions. In fact, Turkey is major pilgrimage destination for Christians because the first church was built in Turkey and the Santa Claus (St Nicholas) was born in Patara, Turkey. The Hagia Sophia museum which was originally build as the Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral, and later converted to an Ottoman imperial mosque is a perfect example of the blend of different religious culture. This museum has alluring mosaics of Christ, Virgin Mary carrying the baby Jesus, and it also hosts the largest Islamic calligraphic panes on its walls. Turkey's history dates back to few centuries BC, and places and monuments such as the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower, Topkapi Palace, the Ephesus, Goreme underground city, the Hierapolis city are all amazing heritage sites to visit. This region had been ruled under many empires from Persians, Romans, Ottomans and many more. One can experience the influence of different rulers on the culture, food, and architecture of the buildings.
Pro tip: When you visit Turkey, you should go for the Hamam or the Turkish royal bath. It's an amazing experience and I bet you don't want to miss their authentic way of bathing culture.
3. The welcoming people
The Turkish people are very patriotic and you'd see their flag hosted in lot of places such as on buildings, shops, and even on personal vehicles. But they are very welcoming towards tourist and always willing to help you out. Many of them are not fluent in English but you won't face a problem because of their good hospitality and service. They are really good at arts, crafts and trades, that means you will get a chance to explore large marketplace. They are fun loving people and ardent followers of Bollywood. Have you ever seen the video of ice-cream stall vendor kidding around the customer while handing over the ice-cream cone? or may be the Salt Bae videos? They are Turks having fun.
Pro tip: When you visit Istanbul, stay in Sultanahmet, the old center of Istanbul. You can roam around the old city, visit historical monuments, and save on travel time and expenses. I would recommend you to stay at hostel and get acquainted with the locals. You will thank me later for memorable encounters.
4. The mouth watering food
You must have heard of Baklava. But its just one of the desserts that the world is aware of among many of Turkish original sweet. There are kunefe, Turkish delight or lokum and many more last dishes you can enjoy. Not only sweets but also you can get spicy and authentic Ottoman meal or the pottery kebabs to satisfy your taste buds. The food at Turkey is diverse and had influence from different era. You can also get Turkish version of pizza or known as Turkish Pide. Tons of street food option to gulp on and if you are a non-vegetarian person, then you have found a food paradise for you.
Pro tip: Each restaurant will offer you a customary Turkish tea with the check. Turkish coffee is a must try, you'll indulge the different taste. You should try their local dishes and enjoy with nar suya (freshly squeezed pomegranate juice).
5. The spectacular natural wonders
Have you ever seen the picturesque images of Pamukkale? The white travertines, made up of carbonates deposited by water flowing slowly down the vast mountainside, looks like a snow covered mountain. They are the natural thermal springs which were even used for the healing purpose during the Roman times. Cappadocia, Pigeon Valley, the turquoise and warm beaches on Aegean and Mediterranean sea, the Bosporus river are few of the many wonderful natural sites located in Turkey. You will get to learn how earlier human settlements (200 to 600 BC) had used the available natural resources for their betterment.
Pro tip: If you are visiting the Pamukkale site, please plan to go early in the morning. It gets super crowded in the afternoon. You can visit Hierapolis first and then walk towards thermal pools.
Turkey is truly an incredible place to visit. There are many more reasons to visit this country that no article can explain. You have to experience it at first hand and fulfill your wanderlust. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and say Merhaba to Turkey!
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