Linking Europe and the Middle East; Turkey retains a balance of both east and west, creating an eclectic cultural experience. Modern city boutiques, exotic bazaars and Roman ruins all remind us that there is surely no shortage of things to do. Kristen Sarah from Hopscotch the Globe shares her top 5 tips of what to see and do in the beautiful country of Turkey:
Visit the Fairy Chimneys
Feel like a kid again in your very own fairytale! A trip to Turkey is not complete without witnessing the Hoodoo Rocks (also known as Fairy Chimneys) near Göreme, in Cappadocia. It’s one thing to see pictures of these rock formations, but a completely unique experience to see them in person. The hoodoos have been formed as the result of the erosion of a type of limestone called tufa, which has been sculpted by wind, and flood water running down the slopes of the valleys. The beautiful natural formations can grow to be anywhere from 5ft to 150ft tall. Some even resemble mushrooms and are made up of tufa as the base and a more resistant rock called lahar or ignimbrite.
Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
Experience Cappadocia, Turkey from a bird’s eye view. Soar 1000 meters above sea level as the sun rises over the peaks of the fairy chimneys below. Hear nothing but the sounds of the wind and the birds chirping as they glide past you along with the other many hot air balloons that paint the sky.
Each balloon can hold up to 20 people, so bring a friend or two to enjoy this magical experience with you. Your hour in the air will feel surreal, so be sure to take it in as much as possible.
Once your land safety and softly back on the ground, you will be handed a glad of champagne and flying certificate to celebrate your first hot air balloon experience.
Shop at the Grand Bazaar
Get a good nights rest and don’t forget to put your bargaining shoes on before stepping into the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul! Whether you’re looking for gifts to bring back home for family and friends or a nice keepsake for yourself, the Grand Bazaar is guaranteed to have every Turkish delight you can dream of…and more! Even if you don’t want to spend a cent, walking through the bazaar is an experience you don’t want to miss.
If you have a shopping partner, be sure to establish a meeting place before heading into the bazaar, as it’s not difficult to separate and get lost. Also be sure to practice your best patience, as many aggressive merchants will attempt to sell you something left, right and center. Lately, be sure to keep your valuables in front of you at all times, as theft is common but easily avoided.
Visit the Underground Cities
Don’t judge a place by what lies on the surface. Sometimes you need to dig a little deeper; and doing so in Cappadoccia has never been so much fun!
There are 36 underground cities in Cappadocia. The deepest being Derinkuyu underground city, and the widest being Kaymakli Underground City. It is said that the underground cities were built not for permanent dwelling but to support large numbers of people and their animals for an extended period of time during an attack.
Located in the town of Derinkuyu is the Derinkuyu Underderground city. The underground city was opened to visitors in 1965, but only half of it can be visited today. There are approximately 600 hidden outside doors to the city, which is about 85 metres deep. In the city you will find rooms such as stables, churches, storage rooms, wine cellars, etc. There is even a missionary school and study rooms. There is a 55 metre deep ventilation shaft that was also used as a well and at least 15,000 ventilation ducts that provided fresh air to the underground city. Most importantly, there are also carefully balanced moving stone doors devised to quickly block the corridors in the event of an attack.
Built under the hill known as the Citadel of Kaymakil, is Kaymakil Underground City. Made up of 8 floors, 4 of which have been open to the public since 1964, Kaymakil Underground City is said to have had up to 3500 people in there at once. The first floor of the city is the stable, while the second is a church and living area. The most important of the floors is the 3rd, which is made up of storage places, wineries and kitchen. The 4th floor is made up of wineries and a ventilation shaft.
Witness the Whirling Dervishes
What exactly are dervishes and why are they whirling? A dervish is someone who practices Sufism, which is a 700-year old mystical Mevlevi sect of Islam based on love and compassion for the divine. Dervishes believe that through chanting, meditation, music and dance, spiritual enlightenment can be achieved. During their ceremonies, the devotees whirl around and around in a trance-like state, in order to get closer to God with their movements.
If you are interested in witnessing the whirling dervishes, you will need a reservation since many like to watch and they only perform at certain times of the month.
Ready to experience Turkey for yourself? Contact a Flight Centre Travel Consultant by connecting with us online, visiting your closest store or calling 1-877-967-5302