Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.
- Oscar Wilde.
Work work work work and at a stage we could not take it anymore, my team and I decided it was finally time to break free from our work tensions and have a vacation to Turkey and was it worth it? oooohhh you will know at the end of this blog..
I know, I know there are many questions popping in your head right now.1. What's the visa procedure like?.
2. What were the travel dates, what is the best time to travel?
3. Which are the places covered in the itinerary.
4. Finally the most important question of them all......WHAT is the cost incurred on the whole trip?
Well guess what?? we will answer all your questions in this blog, making it super easy for you to explore Turkey.
So, when the name TURKEY pops up in the head the notion which obviously comes up would be that it might be not that safe considering the fact the fact that their neighbouring country is at war right now. Well, sorry to prove your notions wrong, but when we were there we felt safer than ever. People are super friendly and the people of Turkey most often speak Turkish and the majority of the people do not speak English. Yuppp you read that right, No English!. Now now, calm down will you, even if they do not converse in English, they will surely help you out with your queries by sign language or using a translator, either ways you will surely be rescued.
Turkey as a whole for us was an out of the shell experience. Now why did I say that?..Once you finish reading the whole blog, you will surely understand why we made that statement and I guarantee that Turkey will surely make you love with her.
Pssst would you prefer free advice? then we will surely recommend you to purchase the Turkey museum card which costs about 450 Turkish Liras, with this pass our life was a whole lot easier as we did not waste our time standing in the long queues for tickets. This covers up for the major attractions and museums in Turkey as its a one time payment for unlimited entries to most of the museums in Turkey, we ended up saving money too.
Now with the question answer sessions to get your visit to Turkey underway.
1. What is the visa procedure?
Currently, there is no visa on arrival for Indians. Well, if you do have a Schengen visa you can directly apply for an e-visa from the website https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/ . If you do not have an Schengen visa, you may go to your nearest VFS centre, fill out the visa form and submit your passport along with all the necessary documents. Once the documents are verified the VFS centre will take about 12 to 14 working days to return your passport with a stamp on it.
Or You may drop a text to us with regard to the documentation of the visa application, we will be glad to assist you further.
2. What were the travel dates, what is the best time to travel?
So, our travel dates were from February 1 2020 to Feb 10 2020. As we are backpackers, we prefer the off season to visit places so that we can avoid the crowd and experience what the country has to offer to its fullest, besides its so much cheaper. But, if you wish to travel during the prime season, we would suggest you to travel to Turkey anywhere from April to mid June.However, mid-September through October is second best with mostly mild weather, but the days are shorter, and rain may begin again in October. This, too, is high season for Istanbul and Cappadocia, with many boutique hotels heavily booked at their highest prices. At beach resorts, the water is still warm, crowds are smaller, and prices lower.
3. The Itinerary!!!!!.
A lot of time went into the planning of the Itinerary, because it forms the important part of the trip..............................................................................obvious isn't it hmm.
So DAY 1 it is then.
Our flight was from Bengaluru to Istanbul via Kuwait (layover of 1 hour 30 mins) at 5 AM in the morning IST and we reached Istanbul at 2 PM Turkish time. The total time taken to reach Istanbul was of approximately 8 hours....... Sigh! that's a long flight isn't it?
Let me pause for a moment and tell you that the whole of Turkey has well versed transport lines, be it the Metro line, the Tram line, the Bus lines. You will never find it difficult to roam around your favourite spots without having to spend a dime. Ok lets get back to the trip.
As soon as you reach Istanbul, if you do not wish to splurge all of your money to Taxi, we suggest you to grab a bus and go the city. PS the city is quite far from the airport, so do not have any plans of walking to the city.
The bus takes about an hour to reach Sultanmhet square, which is like the centre of the city on the Asia side and they charged us about 18 Turkish Liras. Oh wait, did I mention that the Turkey is a country which is present both on European side as well as the Asia side!!!. Super cool isn't it?. We got down at Sultanmhet square as our Hostel was about 5 min walk from the stop and from the hostel, it is about 5 min walk to the all beloved Hagia Sophia and the Blue mosque.
We reached the hostel around 5 and by that time we freshened up, most of the museums and the major attractions were closed. Is that a bad news? you ask? well not really, I mean the city never sleeps and the Bosphorous sea is at a walking distance,so we decided to take a stroll for as long as 4 kms along the sea shore and found the city under lights which was a sight no less than an aurora. As we lost track of time we finally came back to our senses to find some brilliant street food, it was shawarma!! and some brilliant fish burgers!!.
The all beautiful Hagia SophiaThe serine Blue Mosque
We started the day early to capture the most of Istanbul. First we went to the all famous Hagia Sophia and God did we make the right choice? oooh you bet!. Hagia sophia,if you did not know the facts behind it, here they are. Hagia Sophia was a Greek Cathedral until the year 1453 and was changed to Ottoman mosque in the year 1453, in the year 1935 it was finally declared as a museum. Now, the interesting part is not of the change of churches to mosques, but the secular status given to the other religion. Even though, the cathedral was converted to a mosque, till date you will find paintings of Mother Mary and Jesus and the writings inscribed on the walls of the great structure. Hmmmm I wish the modern world was as secular as them. Also, do not miss out on the findings at the museum, why I am specifying this? because, each wall tells a different story in itself.
The next on the list was the Blue mosque or the Sultan Ahmed mosque. If you have played the game called Prince of Persia, you will definitely know this location. The Hand-painted blue tiles adorn the mosque's interior walls, and at night the mosque is bathed in blue as lights frame the mosque's five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes. The blue mosque is right opposite to the Hagia Sophia and there is no way you will miss out on the history what these beautiful structures have to offer.
The Topkapi Palace- The first thing that you will notice are the huge Imperial gates which dates back to the 1450's era, to enter the palace. The history says, this palace was one of the first palaces built by the Ottomans and later the palace lost its importance as the Ottoman rulers lost interest for they had many other palaces along the sea line to spend time at. But, the beauty of the palace still lies strong till date for its four magnifique courtyards, which sheds the limelight on the administrative offices and the life which the rulers lived upon.
The Galata Tower - The galata tower is a Roman medieval style rock tower, currently, on top lies a restaurant and it is home to one of the most car fanatics, also one of the most popular destinations for Public proposals. The Galata tower is on the European side, so you will surely notice the European influence with regard to the love for art on the walls and streets of this part of town. The view from the top will surely give you goosebumps as it has a panoramic view of the most part of Istanbul, but in order to reach there you will have to make prior reservations with the restaurant Or you will have to wait forever to get a peek into the 9 storied masterpiece.
If you have time, we would definitely suggest the Dolmabahche Palace and include the Basilica Cistern too
At the end of Day 2 we decided to move to the all magical Pamukkale. Like they say all good things take time, we took about 8 hours to reach Pamukkale. We suggest you to catch the night buses, like we did so that you can save on time and cost as well.
She is definitely awestruck!
DAY 3 Pamukkale.
There are very few buses directly to Pamukkale, however there are buses to Denezili and it hardly takes about 15 minutes to Pamukkale from Denezili. There are mini buses operating from Denezili to Pamukkale, we recommend the buses and other public transport all over Turkey as the cabs charge a bomb. But, if you are feeling lucky, do feel free to spend your money on the cabs.
So what's so special about Pamukkale? eh?Pamukkale - Hierapolis has a rich heritage on the Roman inscriptions. Hierapolis was a holy city. Like the name suggests, during the Roman era, there was a whole city present, where even till date there are ruins present of the ancient city and Pamukkale has cistern Taverns, commonly called as the cotton castle. The legend says the cotton castle was formed by solidified cotton, which was the principal crop at that point of time. But, legend apart these are formed by the limestone deposits which arise from the hot springs.
If you do believe in magic then this is the place to be, go ahead and take a dip in the mineral rich hot springs and enjoy the view from the natural pools. If you by chance get bored and are looking for some adventure, you can have a small trek right behind Pamukkale to reach the Gladiator ring of the Hierapolis. Psssst, I call it the gladiator ring, but the inscriptions present there says it was used to display a magical array of aquatic sports. We would also suggest you to check with your hotels as there are paragliding and Hot air balloon services at your request.
Behoooldddddd the Cotton Castle!Roman ruins anyone?Hierapolis!!Athena?? is that you without the head!!!
DAY 4 Marmaris.
Marmaris is officially considered the beach town and a party place. You will have to take the minibus back from Pamukkale to Denezili and from there you can catch a bus to Marmaris. The first thing you notice when you head to the beach side is the place looks like a setting taken directly out of the Malibu club area from Vice city. If you are a party bloke, do spend a day or two partying hard, pulling some Turkish hookah and sipping on some Turkish tea or some Turkish coffee. There are a lot of cafes and Clubs around, so if you are of the pub hopping generation, this place will surely soothen your party senses.
DAY 5 and 6 Antalya.
Catch a bus from Marmaris and reach the city of Antalya.We would term Antalya as the hidden gem in the whole of Turkey. Have you ever seen a city hidden within a city? sounds out of the world?, that is exactly what Antalya is all about. Within Antalya, there is a city called Perge which hails directly from the Roman empire. The whole city although in ruins right now and is bound to send your thoughts to dream the whole city in its full endeavour. We suggest, you take a guide to let her/him explain the brilliance of the kingdom. I would definitely keep this one a secret without letting you know about it much. Trust us! you will experience a whole movie like atmosphere when you are here. Be informed, that this might take upto half a day, so plan your day accordingly.
From the city of Perge, you may now make way to the the gladiator throne called Aspendos.Aspendos is all about the Gladiator ring, this ring is extremely well preserved and you get to explore every nook and corner of it.
From Aspendos, we made our way back to the hotel and after a small break we head out to see the Roman gate called the Hadrians Gate, this is small gate which was used during the Roman era and it is right in the middle of the city and you will not it difficult at all to find it. Also, there are many heritage structures around Hadrians gate, we recommend you visit and explore them all.
DAY 7 Cappadocia
What can we say about Cappadocia!, this was the best part of the whole trip. If you do believe in aliens and the conspiracies, then this is the place for you my friend.For us, this was the coldest of them whole lot, probably because there was snowfall. But, that just made the whole journey even more special. If you did check the Instagram for the hashtag Cappadocia, all you can see are the hot air balloons in the background in the picture. Sigh! we were a little unlucky in that regard, as it was heavily snowing, the climate was not suitable for the Hot air balloons to fly.
We suggest you to check with your hotel or the tour operator with regard to the different types of tour lines present in Cappadocia. There is the Red line tour, The blue line tour and the green line tour.
We were there for a short while, because of which we had to take the Green line tour which covers the following:
GOREME PANAROMA- Goreme means hidden village, rightly indeed, these fairy chimneys which are formed from the hardened volcanic ash are now homes and hotels in the region. This point also gives you a chance to see highest volcanic mountain of the region (Mount Argeus 3917 meters).
DERINKUYU UNDERGROUND CITY
Here, you will actually be wondering, if aliens exist but according to the locals there all of the Cappadocian region was subject to frequent raids by many and varied conquering tribes and nations throughout the ages and for the most part it was the Christians who were subject to persecution so they went underground because the terrain was so easy to tunnel through. Here they built complete cities that sheltered the people and their animals for centuries. Derinkuyu is the largest and deepest of these cities with at 8 floors and at a depth of 65metres. Well this is only 10% of the whole underground city, the rest part is closed as its deemed dangerous for the public to visit. But, if you look at it, these caves were present from the AD's and how did they manage to build such sophisticated city with all the planning in place and notch it all up, there are no written evidences that, these were actually used for protection, the theories are just archaeologists depictions. Hmmmmmm conspiracy isn't it?
Ihlara Valley is the largest, deepest and longest canyon in Cappadocia. Its beauty is breathtaking and you will be surely amazed as there will be a hike approximately 3 km along the river into the valley. On either side of the trek you will surely see some 1000s of caves and why is this present? the legend goes something like this, ahem ahem so there were priests who dug these caves to meditate and protect themselves from war. Now the question? how did they manage to cave in at such heights? hmm hmm conspiracy theory again?. Ok aliens apart, Once you reach the end of the valley, you will be given time for some lip smacking authentic Turkish lunch.
Selime monastry was so much more than a monastery, this volcanic rock was cut to about 8 floors and is considered one of the most complex structres in the whole of cappadocia. Selime was uses as a monastery first, then for sometime it was used as a shelter, then as a watchtower and then as a Caravanserai in other words as a hotel to the traders who were travelling to Istanbul or Constantinople as it was called previously.
Our girl Rachel thinks she's a poser. what can I say?The view from the highway.
For the people of Cappadocia, pegions played an important role in the field of communication as they used pegions to deliver letters, the egg white of the pigeons eggs was used to preserve art and lastly as the region was of volcanic ash, pigeon poop was used as a fertilizer to grow their crops.
At night, we suggest you take up the Turkish nights to witness the authentic Turkish dancers dance their heart out. Ahem! if you seem delighted with the thought of unlimted food, unlimited alcohol and the BELLY DANCERS!!,then this is just for you-- jeeeez drools allover.
DAY 8 Ankara
Its such a disgrace when you come to Turkey and not visit its capital!. I will be damned, if you are googling the capital of Turkey right now? haha nope its not Istanbul. We would suggest you get your shopping boots at Antalya. There are lot of funky art stores where you can binge on without having to spend a bomb from your pocket. There is nothing much to see in Ankara, expect for shopping, nightlife, Anitkabir- which is a mausoleum for the former Turkish president. But, if you are a fan of history like us, you may want to visit the various museums present around the city.
DAY 9 Istanbul
Hop on a bus from Ankara at noon and you will reach Istanbul by evening. This time we had our stay on the European side and what a beautiful decision that was. You can stroll the streets and meet some new people along the streets or go tram hopping from one location to another or do some sweet meat shopping for Bakalava and the Turkish delight. Trust me these sweets are too good to be true!.
All aboard the Hog... oh wait the Taksim express!
You come to Istanbul and you don't go the Grand Bazaar, what a pity!. We went to the Grand bazaar and on the way you will find the Sulaimanye mosque, do go there and experience the story which it has to offer about a Ottoman princess and finally the Grand Bazaar. Make sure you bargain your way out for your favourite things and souveniers. Once the shopping was done, we had our flight scheduled at 3 15 PM and so we rushed and reached the airport to board the flight back home.On the whole, Turkey was beeeeeeautfil. the people there are super friendly, just make sure you do not get scammed by the scam artists there. Also, all the places in Turkey are extremely well connected in terms of transport lines which will make it super easier to explore different parts of Turkey.
Lights, Chandeliers aaaand The Grand Bazaar!
SO whats the cost Incurred you ask?
Well you can visit my blog at theindianbanjara.in for details, but on a short breakup of costs, find them below.
Please note: All the below costs are calculated in INR for per person for the exchange rate of 13 INR for 1 Turkish Lira.
Overall expenditure:Flights- 24500
Museum card Turkey- 5800
Food- 5000 approx, if you are not splurging in all the pricey restaurants that is.
Sim card- 2600
Istanbul to Pamukkale bus- 1430
Pamukkale to Marmaris bus- 494
Marmaris to Antalya- 780
Antalya to Cappadocia- 1300
Cappadocia to Ankara- 910
Ankara to Istanbul- 910
Istanbul to Pamukkale- 6 Hours
Pamukkale to Marmaris- 4 Hours
Marmaris to Antalya - 6 Hours
Antalya to Cappadocia - 9 Hours
Cappadocia to Ankara - 6 hours
Ankara to Istanbul - 7 Hours
Have fun travelling!. Oh and if you have any queries, feel free to reach out to us via this blog or on instagram @the_indian_banjara