Seeing images from the caves of Cappadocia to the hot air balloons in the sky. Istanbul being a fascinating mix of both the old and new, and a city that connects two continents where East meets West, there is a certain allure to Turkey you can’t deny.

It is a place I have wondered if it is just as magical and strikingly diverse in landscape and culture as I imagine it to be. And the answer is Yes –in Real Life, it is as you imagine it to be.

So if you are contemplating whether to visit it, I want to share my Turkey experience with you through a collection of photos to tantalize your temptation to visit Turkey soon and other things  you need to know before you go.

From Istanbul’s view of the Bosphorous Strait that separates the continents of Europe and Asia

 bosphorous Strait

To the beloved Mosques and Museums

Hagia Sofia – Basilica-turned-mosque-turned-museum

Sofia

Inside Hagia Sofia 

Sofia

Inside the Blue Mosque

inside_blue_mosque

To Ankara, capital of Turkey visiting Anitkabir

ankara2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here you will learn about the history and the Founder and Father of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. I’m typically not a fan of museums but this place was impressive. It sets the foundation and understanding of the modernization of the Turkish Republic and you definitely come to appreciate and recognize why the Turkish have tremendous respect for this great leader.

Ankara

To admiring the Fairy chimneys in Cappadocia from a Hot Air Balloon Ride

cappadocia

 

To visiting Rumi’s mausoleum in Konya at the Mevlana Museum

Rumi is a famous 13th century Persian poet. I am huge fan of his insightful and spiritual words. You may have heard of some:

‘Respond to every call that excites your spirit.’

‘Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love, it will not lead you astray.’

‘Stop acting so small. You are the Universe in ecstatic motion.’

‘It’s your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you but no one can walk it for you.’

‘The art of knowing is knowing what to ignore.’

‘Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise so I am changing myself.’

‘Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan the flames.’

‘Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.’

‘You have escaped the cage. Your wings are stretched out. Now fly.’

 

Mevlana Museum_Rumi

 

To Relaxing in Antalya

A beach town off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea

 

To the cotton castle pools of Pamukkale

Go for a dip in the healing thermal pools

pamukkale

 

 

To discovering the world heritage city of Safranbolu

This city is known for it’s Saffron and well-preserved Ottoman houses. Historically, this was an important stop for traders that traveled along the main East-West trade route. This is where I had my first taste of Turkish coffee and experience my first ever literal water closet.

safranbolu

 

To marveling at the Roman ruins of Ephesus

Ephesus

 

And you can’t go to Turkey without:

Experiencing a Hammam

The Hammam is a Turkish bath.  You’ll either love it or despise it. Be prepared to be scrubbed down and then washed and massaged by a stranger on your naked body in a marble steamed room. The baths are single sex so you can breathe a sigh of relief.

Tip: Wear a bikini bottom if it makes you feel more comfortable and if you don’t want to get you hair wet, wear a shower cap.

Wandering through a bazaar and find some treasures. The Turkish lanterns are intricately beautiful.

bazaar_turkish_Lantern

 

The Turkish are inviting, friendly and hospitable.

The food, unfortunately I caught a stomach bug early on so I was on a liquid diet for most of the trip. When I was able to intake food again, I was not adventurous and stuck with old classics like kebabs which were delicious.

Is it safe to Travel to Turkey?

During the time I was in Turkey, I felt safe. But like anywhere you go, knowing a little about the country’s culture goes a long way in helping you to connect with people and blend in. So do your own research before you go, use your common sense, and take the same precautions as you would at home.

Some things to consider

What to pack: Turkey is a pre-dominantly Muslim country, and even though people in Turkey are accustomed to Western style of dress, I would recommend dressing more conservatively with shoulders, knees and neckline covered. Think – loose fitting clothes, longer skirts and capris.  Pack a scarf to cover your hair when you visit a mosque. This way you carry yourself more like a local and not attract the unnecessary attention you need when walking on the streets.

 

galata

Greeting Locals: When you meet the locals, observe and let them lead. Since Turkey is a more conservative country, it is best to act more socially reserved. Extend your hand to greet men when they initiate. Refrain from what you may be accustomed to. Hugging and greeting with kisses, can be taken the wrong way.

When I was first landed in Turkey, there were a couple of times men would greet me with hugs and kisses on the cheeks, and I was taken aback. I said to them, I thought this is inappropriate. And they replied, you are a foreigner and we are untraditional. It’s okay. My spidey senses kicked in, so I asked the receptionist at the hotel I was staying at, if they would have been greeted the same way. They said, No, not if it is the first time. They cautioned me to trudge on the more conservative side. So watch out for men who take advantage of your friendly nature, to avoid any gestures to be taken the wrong way as a sign of romantic interest and any unwanted attention.

Visa Requirements

Russians and many South Americans with an ordinary passport is not required for tourism purposes. Canadians, Australians, and British passport holders will require a visa to enter Turkey. But it is super easy to get an e-visa online and you save a bit of money ahead of time vs. applying on arrival.  For the most up to date visa requirements, check with your nearest Turkish Embassy.