“So, are we going to the beach or not?”
It was about 1 AM and a bunch of us were hanging around the garden at Bayram’s Treehouses, drinking beer, chain smoking, and challenging one another to riddles and brainteasers. We’d been planning on doing a night swim since hearing that afternoon that there were phosphorescent plankton in the water, but mostly we had just talked about it… and now that we’d stuffed ourselves on free dinner and gotten started with the drinking, those couches were feeling mighty comfortable and it didn’t seem like we were ever going to get up. I was laying back with my head on some cushions and my feet propped up on the discarded Backgammon board and my eyes were nearly starting to close on their own.
“Come on guys, we’re going.” Sarah, a blonde Australian who had been to the beach the night before and tipped us off to the bioluminescent phenomenon, was the de facto ringleader. She stood up and prodded all of us for a bit until we stopped grumbling and gathered up our things. I ran back to my room to drop off my bag and grab a flashlight and a towel, then we all set off.
I’m here in Olympos, on the Lycian Coast, and I’ve decided that it’s the perfect place to wind down my last few days in Turkey. This is definitely a backpacker town, and I’ve been doing little else but lounging around the guesthouse garden in a hammock, going to the beach, and if we’re really feeling adventurous, walking twenty minutes up the road for coffee and dessert. (And I have finally found a place in this country that serves real coffee! Actual, sippable drip coffee, in a decent sized mug with real milk! It has been ages since I’ve had anything but Nescafe or small but potent shots of Turkish coffee.) Continue reading
THE thing to do in Cappadocia is a hot air balloon ride. Floating effortlessly over the bizarre landscape at dawn, taking in breathtaking scenery of fairy chimneys and pigeon caves… it sounds pretty awesome, right? But still, I wasn’t sure I was going to do it. It’s quite expensive, even as far as tourist excursions go, and I just wasn’t sure it would be worth it.
However, everyone I met in Göreme had done it and raved about the experience. Absolutely no one regretted spending the money on the trip, so I figured that said something, especially since backpackers are a notoriously tight-fisted bunch. So I decided to stop grumbling and just cough up the money. And guess what? It was totally worth it. Continue reading
I’ve been here in beautiful Göreme, Cappadocia for the past few days and while high season means the area is completely overrun with tourists, it’s still even more gorgeous than I had previously imagined. The unique landscape was formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago, and while everyone calls the resulting conical peaks “fairy chimneys”… let’s face it guys, we all know what they look like. I guess “massive stone penises” would just be too crude to appeal to the Turkish Tourism Board.
But why would fairies need such large chimneys, anyway? Continue reading
After two nights in Selçuk, I took the three-hour bus ride to the small village of Pamukkale. It was even smaller than I expected, truly a one-horse town that seems to be entirely sustained by the tourism industry. Accommodation options there were rather limited: the hostel I booked had pretty good ratings but was actually kind of weird, and the bathroom door in our dorm didn’t actually close. But honestly, it’s not like anyone is really going to spend more than a night there. Continue reading
After my late arrival in Selçuk the night before, I was excited to get up and visit Ephesus, the whole reason I headed there in the first place. I had a nice breakfast at the guesthouse, then walked across the street to the bus station and caught the dolmuş (shared taxi/shuttle) to the entrance gate — it’s about a 3km drive and costs 2.50 lira. At the ticket window, I hesitated over whether to pay the extra 15TL to see the “terrace houses”, not really knowing what they were, but I decided to go for it and I’m so glad I did. They were definitely my favorite part of the whole place. Continue reading
Remember my recent post about flying by the seat of my pants? And how it sometimes bites me in the ass? Well, I totally did it again. Continue reading
Istanbul is chock full of museums and historical sites, and in an effort to see as many of the most important ones as possible, I immediately bought the Museum Pass that’s advertised all over the city. Here’s my breakdown. Continue reading
I have done absolutely no planning for Turkey. And it shows.
I boarded my plane from Tel Aviv without having done the slightest bit of research on even my first stop, Istanbul. I’d only barely managed to book a hostel — I had been about to go to bed the night before when I realized I hadn’t done that yet. Oops. Quickly searched the hostelworld app on my phone, found a dorm that still had availability on such short notice, booked it. Done.
I meant to buy a guidebook at the airport, but the only one for sale was an Istanbul-only Lonely Planet and it cost over 150 shekels. I’ll pass, thanks. My hostel had automatically emailed me directions, so I figured I’d be set to get there anyhow. Continue reading
When I was first planning this trip to the Middle East, I always intended to travel to Egypt as well. Israel-Jordan-Egypt — seems like the perfect combo trip, right? Neighboring countries, so crossing land borders would be easy and I wouldn’t have to worry about the logistics or costs of booking additional flights.
Of course, the political situation in Egypt has only been getting worse. Shortly before I left, my father and stepmother gently suggested that I drop Egypt from my itinerary and go to Greece or Turkey instead. I made no promises, but said I would consider it.
And I have been. I’ve been considering it for the whole month I’ve been traveling, and keep going back and forth. I’ve long decided that I would in fact be going to Turkey (a good friend of mine is in Russia now and will be in Istanbul at the end of August, so I plan on meeting him there), but Egypt was still pulling me as well. Continue reading