The final phase of our European trip took us to the Anatolian peninsula, and the eclectic nation that makes its home there: Turkey. The Turkey leg (which always sounds like a bad pun whenever said aloud) was for most of the trip a distant, faraway destination that would inevitably signal the start of our journey home. Perhaps because of this air of finality, I hadn’t turned my mind to the Turkey leg of the trip at all until we were jetting across Europe with London in the rear view and Bodrum straight ahead.
As I tried to hastily prepare myself for touchdown in this exotic land, I found that I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that Turkey was a majority-Muslim nation, known by Europeans as the far eastern gateway to the orient. I knew that it had applied to be a member of the European Union, but that Brussels had so far deemed the application unsatisfactory. What did this mean? Did it mean that the final leg of our European trip was in fact the sole leg of an unheralded Asian holiday tacked onto the end? Was I going to like what I found when I landed?
The truth is that I needn’t have worried. All told, Turkey was neither here nor there: it was unlike any western country I’ve visited, yet all the while entirely distinct from ‘the orient’ as I had known it previously. Culturally, Turkey blended a pinch of the cosmopolitan with a heavy dose of the traditional, all connected by slick modern infrastructure. Friendliness and helpfulness were virtues well-ingrained in the locals, and we felt welcomed in every city, town and village that we set foot in.
But of course, the warm-hearted locals were only part of Turkey’s charm, the bulk of which came from its stunning natural landscapes. In addition to Turkey’s cultural centre of Istanbul, we managed to visit the turquoise coast of the Turkish riviera, the geothermal landscapes of Pamukkale in western Anatolia, the geological wonders of the Cappadocian highlands, and the historic, beautiful Gallipoli peninsula. All of these destinations are included in the video, which can barely do justice to the experience of being there and seeing them for yourself.
The sights in this video are all easily accessible thanks to Turkey’s commendable transport links; are more affordable than much of mainland Europe’s tourism hot spots; and are presented and maintained by some of the most generous hosts we have encountered. Make sure to put Turkey on your list of countries that are well worth visiting.
– words by Andy