My little trip around the world continues...
"Turkey ! What?! What for? Be careful it’s dangerous ... it’s not safe why are you going there ?! Are you sure ? ...don’t you have to cover your head and stuff?..” these are extracts of what I heard and myself I was not comfortable at first but I did not let this mess up my plan. It happened to many countries I travel solo in Africa and all have always been well- so !
For less than 3hours flight direct from home, flying with Pegasus and paying ONLY 168€ return ticket I really did not have to overthink. This is the cheapest trip I have ever done!
So just, say no to TV propaganda blocking your plans! I was more than happy to have check it out myself! Such a great experience with lovely people and worth the 5 days trip all around Turkey! From Istanbul, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Prince’s Island and back!
Scroll down and see why you should visit and explore Turkey ! check out the videos as well !
On my first evening, I meetup with a colleague from work who lives in Istanbul. A great way to start my trip, hear about the country, the politics, the good the bad and the life here for locals. Tested some great food and went for a drink in a bar together! It was 2am, I found it very safe, clean and super good mood out there, a living city!
Turkish people, are just wonderful! Super welcoming everywhere I went (men women kids...), very open, helpful and easy going... I have encountered very curious locals always wanting to know where I came from and then trying to give me some French words (most I heard was “Je t’aime” [I love you ], I was like OK.. this one is a bit strong)!
The environment outside is very nice, there is some diversity in the architecture especially if going to the old town. Lovely!
For the museums better to have the ticket before because the line is just enormous (you can easily spend hours waiting so waste of time), and of course buy the museums pass! Much better!
Next day I started my solo exploration. Early morning getting out checking all the points saved on google maps and WALK.
Thanks to my colleague who gave, me a transport card I took no taxi or Uber, only local bus, tram and trains I enjoyed... it is easy to move around and helps with the sightseeing! Best to move around and avoid traffic and useless spending’s.
I walked around for 10h more or less. At the end of the day I was so exhausted, I sat to have an apple tea in a shop that I have not planned to get it but as the guy was dragging me in to get to the rooftop view of the restaurant, I was too tired to fight it. It was so hot outside that I just got up and relaxed, few minutes later another guy came trying to sell me a tour, about Bosphorus boat trip... The price was not high but it was a 3h, which I felt, was long. Anyway, I fell for it and went on a boat cruise!
- Extraordinary affordable little trip and so rich culturally. The capital of great empire, at the crossroads between East and West, Asia and Europe. Tall mountains, tasty food, beautiful ruins of ancient empires, idyllic villages and huge cosmopolitan cities... -
Places I Visited
Tower in the wall of Constantinople
Bulgarian Orthodox Church
Dolmabahçe Palace and clock
Places I Visited
In Sultanahmet area, there are many things to see... (need 2 days)
Sultanahmet Square, TurkeySerpent Column, Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Walled Obelisk, Obelisk of Theodosius, Taş Koltuk, Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia Museum, Hagia Irene, Topkapi Palace Museum)
Many beautiful mosques to visit
Here another step in one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
I went to Izmir to go to Ephesus, it is a 1hour flight from Istanbul and stayed overnight for my next stop at Pamukkale. Ephesus is one of the Mediterranean’s best-preserved ancient cities. This was a cool tour but I hated the crowd... so I manage to get out of my group as well as much as I could (too slow for me).
I explored the ruins of Ephesus, entering the ancient site at the Magnesia Gate through the ruins of the Roman provincial capital. I have to see the [what is left] Temple of Artemis, Fountains of Trojan and The Temples of Hadrian and Domition, Checking the Odem, the Celsius Library, and the Great Theatre. Also passed by the home of the Virgin Mary, (small house in the Solmissos Mountains recognized by the Vatican as her final resting place) where I saw inside black portrait and sculptures (no Picts allowed).
The island of birds, got on an old school horse carriage around Kuşadası, cocktails on rooftop admiring the beautiful sunset, walk on the beach, and speak with locals and dinner with a new solo traveler friend! Awesome! Very cozy area and so much different from Istanbul...
Another day another plan. Checked in Pamukkale, the cotton castle, previously called Hierapolis - (much sexier)
One note, it is very easy to manage without a tour company and just having to arrange transportations from the airport to the main areas, nothing rocket science really- so could be cheaper.
It was so crowded everywhere in Pamukkale, it is better to go off break periods.
This is the cotton castle, previously called Hierapolis - (much sexier)
One note, it is very easy to manage without a tour company and just having to arrange transportation from the airport to the main areas, nothing rocket science really- so could be cheaper. It was so crowded everywhere in Pamukkale, it is better to go off break periods.
The ruins of Hierapolis are ruins. Some areas are well maintained and nice to see still... but much ruins.
The Travertines or so called terraces of Pamukkale with the great white mountains surroundings next to the village , gives a stunning contrast with the green plains, white mountain, blue sky altogether, extraordinary! (Double check prior to booking to go there that it’s not the time the water is removed for cleaning because then it will be empty and only one part of the site will be accessible and crowded (just like I experienced).
I loved the astonishing well-maintained Roman theater, which could hold 12,000 spectators, built in two stages by the emperors Hadrian and Septimius Severus is spectacular! It is amazing to see!
In this area, I also saw the octagonal Martyrium of St Philip the Apostle at Hierapolis (it was a belief that St Philip was martyr there).
Hierapolis Archaeology Museum, Necropolis that actually extends several kilometers, the so-called Gymnasium, where you can see few columns standing...but there was nothing much left from the 7th century.
Finally decided to go for Paragliding there : Best moment! Being free in the air, this sensation of flying is so deep! Amazing view of course.
I had not even let space for my mind to be scared : I just GO. Only at the moment of last jump from the hill did I look around and told myself « wth am I doing again 🤷🏾♀️🤣 » too late... I was in the sky! Just got time to Scream and it is done !
Büyükada the biggest island, where reins an atmosphere of serenity. In this place, motorized vehicles are forbidden... great!
Overpassing the Sea of Marmara by boat, and exploring the island by horse-drawn carriage is a cool way of sightseeing. From the boat we have a superb view of Istanbul big sights like Topkapi Palace and Kiz Kulesi.
While taking the ferry on the sea of Marmara and looking for the nicest place to sit at the edges of the boat ... just hope you have a jacket and scarf for the wind
Booking with a tour is worthless (all day tour actually 2h on site), so do it yourself, book Ferry ticket, spend the time you want and where you want, eat where you want and leave when you want: easy.
Shopping food and drinks
Hopefully I only had a 8kg bag that I could carry.. The amount of food you want to bring back home is crazy... so much color, tastes and smells wonderful (taste their loukoum or baclava) ... you just want a piece of everything. I ended up with things I will definitely "drink" and eat.
-End of an amazing 4 day trip-
From Prince’s Island, I went back to Istanbul city center for some shopping then started my way to the Asian side as my hotel was there. 1st May generally many streets are closed and some protestation may happen so better be close to the airport.
The taxi was 1h15 without traffic so I did not want to pay 100€ - let me take local transport. Open google maps and look up the way crosschecked with the owner of a shop and I was all good. Only 1h45min and three changes 🤣🤣 ... only.
I began my journey with a tram, easy, then train, then bus (not expected)... the bus was not following the route on my GPS but no stress I thought to myself at the end it’s bringing me closer , if at some point we are getting away from the map I get down and hire a cab for the rest. In the bus people where hopping off and on anytime. I was trying to cross check the names with what people were yelling but it just made no sense! Therefore, I gave up. I finally was solo at the bus and driver started to chat with me, it was supposed to be the terminus so he ask where am I from etc. , was super cool and I showed him my map and he basically dropped me at the corner of the street! So I had 300 meters left to walk ... Told you Turkish are super kind really!
Little note about my trip:
- Hotels, flights and organization by myself except the boat ride and ferry but you can manage yourself no need of company booking.
- Best to have a transport card tram, bus, train) to badge, cheap, super easy to move around
- Taxi cheaper than Uber , let the taxi take local transport you will save time and money!
- For my hotels I have minimum comfort, I took mainly 4/5* in Turkey and booked via Booking.com as usual.
- My international flight ticket from Basel to Istanbul was 165E with Pegasus (booked 10days before only), very nice for the price.
For my trip to Ephesus I took a flight Istanbul to Izmir then stayed in Avantgarde hotel in Kusadasi, then I went with bus group for 3h to Pamukkale and at the end of the day, fly back to Istanbul from Denizli airport. This tour guide are EXCELLENT : www.beforetravelturkey.com
My best hotel in Istanbul in the city near Taksim square was Avantgarde Hotel Taksim