Discover Turkish Delights this Summer in Istanbul’s Bazaars and palaces.
By Max Milano
Europeans go mad for the Med in the summer. But nothing beats the eastern Mediterranean for its beauty, history and affordability (as long as you are outside of the Eurozone). So when in Europe, do as the Europeans do, and enjoy the charms of the Aegean in Turkish Liras, not Euros.
Vayama and Turkish Airways are teaming up to offer 2 free tickets to Istanbul. Visit Vayama’s Facebook page and sign up for this sweepstakes, you might just be heading to Istanbul this summer for free!
Istanbul: Getting There
Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city and its main gateway. The capital was moved to Ankara when modern Turkey was created but Istanbul is still the country’s main commercial and cultural capital, as it has been for over 2000 years. Istanbul is hot this summer, and it’s not just the weather. The city is trendy and getting trendier. Boutiques, nightclubs, lounges and fashionably dressed locals are now a staple, sharing the city with ancient Roman and Ottoman palaces and Mosques. The fact that Turkey is outside of the Eurozone has been noted by appreciative European tourist who formerly would vacation in Greece. Tourists now flock to Istanbul and the beaches of Aegean turkey to enjoy the eastern Mediterranean way of life for less. Visit Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar for that traditional Turkish shopping experience, followed by an even more traditional visit to a historical hamam (Turkish bath). Start your night in a traditional meyhane restaurant for a plate of mezze and kebabs. Istanbul’s casual eateries are part of city’s fabric of life. Join the locals sitting in the many outdoor cafés sipping small grasses of raki as they watch the world go by.
The Bosphorus straits divides Istanbul into European and Asian parts. Grand Ottoman palaces line the waterfront and the skyline of Mosque spires now competes with the glass towers of the new financial district. Don’t miss the Hagia Sophia Church/Mosque. Originally a Byzantine church, it was later turned into a Mosque with the advent of the Ottoman Empire. Hagia Sophia is now a museum showcasing the clashing empires that have shaped Istanbul thought its history.
After enjoying Istanbul’s charms, head south along the coast to Izmir. Izmir is the epicenter of Aegean Turkey. You will be forgiven to believe that the rolling hills and coves around Izmir belong to a Greek shoreline (and it used to). This part of Turkey was fully Hellenized until the advent of the Ottoman Empire and the food and beaches have a lot in common with the Greek islands just off shore. Visit the nearby Roman ruins of Ephesus, once the capital of the Roman province of Asia Minor and now the best preserved Roman ruins in Turkey. Take a day trip to Pamukkale, these petrified waterfalls have been used as a spa for centuries, where you can swim with next to Roman ruins in a large natural swimming pool. For the full Aegean experience, you can rent a traditional wooden Gulet boat and sail the coves and islands of the Aegean coast. A typical Gulet day cruise will include meals and some offer accommodations below deck.
Enjoy Istanbul and the Aegean side of Turkey this summer. You will be happy you did.
* Max Milano is the Author of “The Mechanicals of Recoleta”Available at Amazon