Turkey may be one of the most diverse travel destinations and it is the 37th largest country in the world. It is bordered by eight different countries: Bulgaria to the northwest, Greece to the west, Georgia to the northeast, Armenia, Iran and the Azerbaijani Exclave of Nakhichevan to the east, and Iraq and Syria to the south. The country is encircled by seas on three sides: the Aegean Sea to the west, the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean to the south. Turkey also contains the Sea of Marmara in the northwest. I guess that would explain its diversity.
Its history is quite remarkable when you consider its past; you are following in the wake of some remarkable historical figures. Turkey has hosted A-list history-book figures including Julius Caesar, who famously 'came, saw and conquered'. Byzantine Christians cut cave churches into Cappadocia's fairy chimneys, and Ottoman sultans luxuriated in Istanbul, ruling an empire that stretched from Budapest to Baghdad. At other points in history, Romans coursed down the Curetes Way at Ephesus (Efes), medieval Armenians built Ani's churches, whirling dervishes gyrated with Sufi mysticism, and the Lycians left ruins on Mediterranean beaches.
Virginia Maxwell writes of Istanbul: “Why do I love this city? Let me count the ways. I love the locals, who have an endless supply of hospitality, good-humour and insightful conversation at their disposal. I love the fact that when I walk down a city street, layers of history unfold before me. I love listening to the sound of the muezzins dueling from their minarets and I love seeing the sun set over the world's most beautiful skyline. I love the restaurants, the bars and the tea gardens. But most of all, I love the fact that in Istanbul, an extraordinary cultural experience lies around every corner.”
An old Turkish saying goes: 'A cup of coffee commits one to 40 years of friendship.' This proverb nails the addictive qualities of the Turkish lifestyle, enjoyed by people who are blessed with a land of ancient bazaars and sandy beaches, magnificent ruins and soaring mountains – and who are keen to make sure visitors love it as much as they do.
The greatest surprise for first-time visitors to Turkey is the sheer diversity found between its Aegean beaches and eastern mountains. In Cappadocia, which is a geological oddity of honeycombed hills and towering boulders of otherworldly beauty and the southwestern coastlines that offer mix trekking, horse-riding and water sports and a maze of panoramic terraces, there is no surprise Turkey has attracted so many folk over the centuries. There is so much more I could say about this incredible country it would take pages upon pages to include all the information of this magical meeting place of east and west.
It could quite possibly be the vacation of a lifetime! And, like any vacation, do your research as not to miss a thing!
Author: Kathryn Hartwell
References: lonelyplanet.com, goturkey.com, wikipedia.org, and tripadvisor.com