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Things To Do In Turkey
Turkey, the ancient seat of the Ottoman Empire, ruled by Syrians and Persians and influenced by many a cultures, is today a force to be reckoned with. The country is partly in Asia and partly in Europe, making its culture a unique mix of the east and the west. That in itself makes Turkey such an interesting holiday destination, coupled with its wide variety of things to do on offer, including the traditional hamams or Turkish Baths, cruises along rivers and seas, beautiful and wild beaches, ruins that date back centuries, and of course, the amazing food that has evolved over many years and influenced by many cultures.
Enjoy a Turkish Bath
The Turks are known for many things, but not as well as they are for their relaxing, fragrant Hamams or Public baths. It has been a tradition long established in this culture that a communal Bath is a great way to relax, cleanse, as well as socialise. Head to Istanbul for one of these special baths followed by spas and massages straight from the Ottoman era. Some good ones to try are Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamam, Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamam and the baths and spas at the Four Seasons at the Bosphorus. Women and men have separate bathrooms to bathe. Pammukale also has some great hot spring bath opportunities, ones that are also healing in nature.
Stroll through the Bazars
The bazars of Turkey have a very exotic feeling to them, from upturned cones of spices to sacks and sacks of dried fruits, rolls of linens and carpets to hand woven woollens, there is so much to shop from the markets. The Turkish Coffee is also one very coveted thing to take back from here. Istanbul’s Grand Bazar and Spice Bazar make for great outdoor shopping, with the real exotic feel and haggling with the shopkeepers. The Grand Bazar has 61 streets and is a dizzying walk through lines of ceramic wares, silver jewellery, leather products, carpets, spices and more.
Take a Cruise
Turkey hosts many a water bodies; from the mighty Black sea that they call ‘Kara Deniz’ to the river Bosphorus. Aegean sea also touches the shore of this land. With so much water around, it becomes imminent to take to sailing and cruising among other water sports. You can take a ferry ride down Bosphorus strait in Istanbul for a sightseeing tour of Turkey’s gems, as the ferry takes you down the Dolmabahçe Palace, Rumeli Ruins, the Maiden’s Tower and the many gardens, mansions and mosques. In the Turkish Riviera city of Bodrum, you are welcome to opt for the famous Blue Cruise that takes you past ancient cities, beautiful bays, lonely coves and drops you at Antalya. On the way you are sure to dock at Patara beach and Kaputas Cove.
Indulge in Turkish Delicacies
Food in Turkey is a communal affair, very elaborate and very social, usually eaten with family and friends. When in Turkey, try some of their best treats, from the soft, freshly baked ‘ekmek’ sandwich with kofte to kebabs and shorba (a thick gravy soup). Pilaf, a Turkish version of the Indian Pulav is also very tasty with buttery chickpeas and chicken sautéed with rice, eaten with pickles and a glass of ayran or fermented buttermilk. For sweets, you should try the bakeries serving borerk (Turkish pastry), baklava and the thick, gravity-defying ice creams called dondurma. For roadside snacking, pick up simit, which is a doughnut shaped pretzel bread with sesame seeds, eaten as a snack with the traditional Turkish coffees and teas.
Feel Alive amid Ruins
Ruins signify the decay left by the past, but in the case of Turkey, the way you feel alive is by breathing in the fresh air of the ruins of this land. From the conical juttings of Cappadocia that look straight out of a fairytale landscape to the rugged yellow sandstone townships that were built centuries ago in Mardin, from the white terraces of Pamukkale to the sea caves and underground cities of Bodrum, it is the ruins of history that you will find the most satisfying.
Go for a Mosque and Palace Tour
Turkey is a modern country with development and life teeming with progress, and yet the old monuments and mosques keep the past alive. You will be delighted on going for sightseeing tours like the the tour of Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace and Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Deyrü’z-Zafaran Monastery and Sultan Isa Medresesi in Mardin, and Aladdin Mosque, Rumi’s mausoleum, Seljuk Palace ruins and Byzantine Aya Eleni church in Konya.
Unwind by the Beaches
If there is culture steeped in history and ruins here, there are also stunning beaches teeming with long sunrise walks and an irresistible nightlife. Izmir is the beach capital of sorts, kissing the shore of Aegean Sea and renowned for beach bonfires, surfing, swimming, kitsurefing etc. Bodrum is also home to seaside town-life along with caves and cliffs overlooking the sea, a truly magical experience. While Istanbul’s piers and docks are more cafe-prone and sea-side promenades, mainly used for strolls, fishing, picnicking and the likes.
Whirl around with Dervishes
Turkey was also home to Rumi, the great poet and Sufi Mewla, who started the Mewlana order of worship. Konya, being his birthplace, is also filled with these dervishes that pray and worship in a trance by dancing in a circle in white flaring robes. If you cant make it to Konya, you can also see a whirling Dervish performance in the Galata district in Istanbul, along with museums dedicated to the order too.