June 28, 2011 1

2 weeks in Turkey (Part 2)

By in Travel

It was nice to take a break from the buzzling Istanbul and see the more rural side of Turkey.

Southeastern Turkey:
Mt NemrutIMG_2122

Mt Nemrut: It was definitely worth waking up very early in the morning to climb to the top of a mountain to see scattered giant ancient stone heads against sunrise. The climb to the summit was quite intense and there was still a bit of snow there. The heads were larger than I expected (they’re taller than me). You can’t touch the heads anymore because too many people damage them, but they’re still quite impressive from a distance. Afterward we went to the Arsameia ruins which is also from the Commagene Kingdom. It was nice to hike in the nature and see the ruins right there in the open (instead of in a museum).

Urfa: The birthplace of Prophet Abraham is a pilgrim destination. The vibe here is definitely very different, it felt more middle eastern here: more women wore hijab and men wore keffiyehs, and you see a lot more Arabic and Kurdish writing in signage. The cafe and restaurants in the city don’t serve alcohol. We met lots of friendly and curious locals. I was approached couple times by young women who wanted to take pictures with me. Lots of little kids followed us and kept saying “hello” and told us their names. We also had a bit of an adventure when we got lost in the labyrinth-like market.

Harran Beehive house
Harran: a city right next to the border of Turkey and Syria, you can literally see Syria in the distance while driving there. Harran means “hot” in Arabic and they mean it. Harran is also another pilgrim destination as it was mentioned in Genesis that Abraham and his family stayed there. It is known for these traditional mud brick “beehive” houses. They’re very cool inside due to the way they’re designed. The ones we visited were obivously constructed for us tourists but if you venture out to see the local villages, many people do live in these beehive houses.


Uchisar CastleLove ValleyGoreme open air museum
We had some of the most relax and enjoyable time at Cappadocia, a region in central Turkey. It’s filled with weird volcanic rock formations and strange moon-like landscape. A lot of the volcanic rocks were carved into cave churches and underground cities where people used to live and hide. Some of the caves have amazing well-preserved fresco paintings. We went on couple different hikes and small tours. The Uchisar rock castle (top pix) and the dark church at the Goreme open air museum (lower right pix) are not to be miss!

Hot air balloon rideHot air balloon ride
Besides hiking, hot air balloon ride are THE thing to do there. Unfortunately it was a cloudy day so the scenery wasn’t as dramatic, but it was still quite spectacular.

Kelebek hotelIMG_4814
Cave hotels: Some of the caves and rock formations were converted into boutique hotels, we stayed at this place call the Kelebek Cave Hotel and it was so cozy and wonderful. Some of the best time were spent in just chilling at the hotel to read a book and drink a glass of wine. We spent 3 days 4 nights there and wish we stayed longer. On the last morning we were to leave for Ephesus, the wind blew all the hot air balloons right on top of our hotel, it was quite a magical moment.


Temple of ArtemisEphesus
EphesusEphesus: an ancient Greek/Roman city situated at the west coast of Turkey, is the ONE place where most tourists go to  (especially the big cruise ship crowd), hence it’s notorious for being extremely overcrowded. So we went there at 8:30 am as soon as it’s opened. We managed to beat the crowd and had the famous Library of Celsus all to ourselves for a little bit. The ruins were very stunning indeed. Don’t miss the Temple of Artemis too even though only one column is left, it’s indeed one of the 7 ancient wonders of the world.

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One Response to “2 weeks in Turkey (Part 2)”

  1. […] to be continue in part 2… […]