We so often think of ancient Rome, the famous sights of Athens, the Pyramids and wonders of Egypt to be the highlights of western antiquity. Another country, Turkey, bridges the lands between east and west and holds a wealth of civilisation and history with vast treasures just waiting to be rediscovered by the more intrepid traveller.
Tourists visiting Turkey may coo at the Hagia Sophia or the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, they may rave at the natural wonders of Pamukkale or Cappadocia; however, far too often a trip to Turkey is undertaken as a whistle-stop tick the boxes type of tour and given the vast size of the country it seems, at the least, to do a vast disservice to both host country and visitor alike.
It is tempting if one only has a short break or a tight budget to try to cram as much in as possible. I would suggest that visitors could get “more bang for their buck” by concentrating on a couple of regions and endeavouring to spend less time travelling on long distance buses and more of their valuable vacation actually in situ.
Continue reading Selçuk, Turkey and the riches of Anatolia
The sixties and seventies were arguably the golden age of travel for backpacking vagabonds, hippies and soul searchers. I can remember stories about the overland trail to Kathmandu that fascinated me with their richness and mystery. Istanbul was spoken of in hushed tones by the knowledgeable and the Magic Bus seemed truly ……well magic.
As a teenager I thumbed through an old travel agents guide, ABC I think it was called, that resembled the CIA fact book that we see online now. I had planned my round the world trip several times over and was already, in my imagination, sipping tea in some far flung destination watching the day unfold over my copy of Le Monde.
The Far East was truly the ends of the Earth; India, as a Brit, seemed more accessible but remained undeniably enticing. I was still too young to travel and soon the world would move to make some of these romantically ideal places off limits and change the game and the innocence we once had.
Continue reading Look at them now – How iconic hippie hangouts have changed
When the rain is falling in Western Europe and the drizzle is backed up the Thames River I think of Turkey sitting there with iridescent blue waters, ancient ruins, endless summer nights and plenty of cold beer.
Hold on tight for a quick run down of my six favourite places in Turkey.
One could write pages and pages about this wonderful city but let’s stick to the basics. Get in by plane from the UK, as cheap as chips if you can swing that deal with EasyJet, or come down the long way from Budapest by the old “Stamboul Train” route passing through Bucharest and the crumbling Romania and Bulgaria.
Stay in Sultanahmet, the semi sleazy backpacking area near the main sights, some of the hostels here have been around for years as have some of the residents! The views of the Bosphorus from the obligatory rooftop terraces are perfect for cold beers and watching the sun go down.
Eat a fresh grilled fish sandwich from one of the boats near the old Galata Bridge and watch the ferryboats as they rush madly across the river or shop in the Grand Bazaar, possibly the most famous market in Europe.
Continue reading 6 Hotspots of Turkish Delight
Now this is obviously very subjective and, of course, I haven’t been everywhere however I love beaches and prefer sand over shingle or rocks and I have been very fortunate to have seen quite a few great ones in my travels. The list below are my favourites so far although by the time you read this I may have found an even better one, I am always looking!
What makes a great beach?
The first thing I think of is clean sand, nothing is worse than rubbish piled up on a terrific beach. Fine sand is, for me, the best with powder white coming right at the top but soft golden sand will work just as well.
Next is the water; clean, clear water with at most a little surf is ideal. Being able to laze in the water and relax is much more preferable than being pounded by surf and churned up like a washing machine, surfers would of course disagree. I don’t surf!
What about beach facilities? Well it’s nice to be able to get a cold beer and a bite to eat but apart from that I am not too worried. A nice sunset bar is a plus though and beach chairs with shade can sometimes come in handy.
Location is awkward, too close to town and the beach can get busy but if the beach is far away transportation can become an issue. Some beaches are really remote and that can be great as well but getting back to your room or hotel after being in the sun all day can be a bit of a slog.
Okay, I have outlined my main preferences so let’s get to the contentious issue of the beaches themselves, in reverse order of course!
Continue reading My Top Five Beaches In The World