Istanbul not Constantinople
I spent my first 2 days exploring this beautiful ancient city with my lovely tour guide, Ozlem Kar. Together we walked and talked through the amazing beauty and vast history of the Ottoman Empire and Mustafa Kamâl Atatürk, founding father of the Republic of Turkey, who served as Turkey’s first president in 1923. He was progressive and gave the women the right to vote in 1934. He’s still loved by the people and the entire country stops for 1 minute on November 10th at 9:05am every year, no matter where they are, to remember him.
Yes, the tea, coffee and Turkish delights will knock your socks off. I was introduced to something called Kunefe. OMG! It was the ultimate party in my mouth. Basically it’s like a heated baklava with cheese! What?! Yes!!!
Of course I went to the Grand Bizarre, Blue Mosque, Hagea Sophia, Galata Tower. I also had a luxurious spa day at the best Hamam in Turkey, Ayasofya.
Even the stray cats and dogs are respected and loved by the citizens. Veterinarians gather these creatures, spay/neuter, vaccinate them, and put them back out on the streets for the citizens to take care of. As an animal lover, I have to tell you, it warms my heart to know that this country (and a few others) treat these homeless animals with love. I wish the USA would follow suit.
Cappadocia – Hot Air Balloons
The best way to see amazing topography of Cappadocia is in a hot air balloon ride. See the photos below. Breathtaking and scary as hell! Will I ever do it again? Probably not. But if you’re going to do a hot air balloon ride ONCE, Cappadocia is the place to do it.
- We went to Ozkonak Underground City (one of the best preserved Underground cities)
- Goreme Open Air Museum famous for frescoes dating to 10th century describing the life of Jesus Christ and monks.
- Love Valley & Imagination Valley, where the rock formations naturally formed themselves into animal and human-like shapes. Pretty awesome!
To top that off, we stayed at the beautiful Cappadocia Hotel.
Konya – Rumi and Whirling Dervish
In Konya we saw the shrine of Rumi, (the great Sufi poet) imposing green-tiled Mausoleum of Mevlana, the mystic founder of the Islamic Sufi sect (Sufism is less an Islamic sect than a mystical way of approaching the Islamic faith. It has been defined as mystical Islamic belief and practice in which Muslims seek to find the truth of divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God).
Konya is the home of The Whirling Dervishes. Typically they spin clockwise with one hand to the sky (palm up) to receive love, and the other hand low with palm down to give love to the world.
I don’t know the name of the restaurant where we ate in Konya, but it was wonderful! I’m so grateful for that meal. The staff and food were lovely. I loved sitting with the new friends I made on this memorable trip.
TOTALLY OFF TOPIC: On this long and peaceful drive to Konya I began to listen to Bruce Springsteen’s auto-biography “Born to Run”. I highly recommend it!
Antalya – The Beach
The drive from Konya through the Taurus Mountains to Antalya is unforgettable (especially with Bruce Springsteen in my ears). Again, the rock formations are spellbinding. This country is full of beauty that will leave you speechless.
We stayed at the all-inclusive Miracle Resort. Definitely a nice place, but not really my cup of tea. I like staying at more quaint hotels. Next time I will stay at the Alp Pasa Hotel in the Old City. The food there is fantastic as well as the service and live music.
- Old City (Kaleici) is a small historic part of Antalya’s modern city. It was once the sprawling modern Roman town, then the Byzantine Empire, then Seljuks, and finally the Ottoman Turkish town.
- The Hadrian’s Gate (or The Three Gates) is a triumphal arch which was built in the name of the Roman emperor Hadrian.
- Antalya’s bizarre wonder is the Broken Minaret of the Korkut Mosque, which itself was built originally as a Roman temple in the 2nd century AD, and thus did not have a minaret at all.
ENJOY THE PHOTOS!
A special thank you to my friend Percy Sales and IADWP (Eurasia Chapter) for this magnificent conference – 8 DAY DESTINATION WEDDING EVENT & FAM TRIP
See all the photos in the post to enjoy the architecture and my other findings. Each photo really does speak more than 1000 words. Just go see this country. It’s phenomenal. My words will not be enough to describe the beauty and the kindness of the people I encountered.