We almost didn’t go. What, with five terrorist attacks in the last year, and that time Liam Neeson was taken as victim of a family vendetta, Turkey didn’t seem all that appealing. The plan was to continue from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan, and then onwards into Europe. Well I guess it was a negative-turned-positive that both Uzbekistan and Russia have iron-clad visa requirements, because that shunted our itinerary away from the north and into the only other route to Europe. I can’t believe we almost didn’t go. Turkey is the ultimate travel destination. Big call. Heres why:
1. It’s easy to travel in turkey
Perhaps it is because we came from fairly under developed countries, but Turkey was a piece of pasta (pasta means cake in Turkish… not really selling the whole ‘easy’ thing am I?). The whole country is so well connected by buses, trains and planes. There is proper signage, plenty of instructional information on the internet, and it is affordable. Compare this with China where the public transport system changes every month, and there are scammers left right and centre trying to coax you into their ‘free candy’ vans. And because most people speak at least some English, help is never too far away.
2. There’s something for everyone
How old are you? What are your hobbies? I’ll give you something to do in Turkey. Are you a history nerd like me? Then why wouldn’t you want to visit the crossroad of Eastern and Western civilisation; a melting pot of Ottoman and Byzantine culture, architecture. Nature lovers can hike their way through Cappadocia. To appreciate the turquoise coast, hike the Lycian Way. Can’t be bothered walking? Then swim, hot air balloon, cruise, or simply sleep instead. Once you have finished sleeping, sleep again in a traditional Turkish hamam while you are bathed just like Mum did when you were three years old. Adrenaline junkies will find some of the most beautiful backdrops for their death-defying idea of fun. We paid $87 AUD to paraglide over the blue lagoon at Oludeniz beach. Even our unemployed backpacking hip pockets weren’t hurt by that.
3. The food. masha’allah the food.
Oh the food. Oh thank you Turkey for blessing my tastebuds with your delightful cuisine. Where do I start? Try all the desserts: baklava, turkish delight the list goes on. Doner and Tavuk (Chicken) Kebap. For the budget traveller, most restaurants serve unlimited bread, and additional sides on the house. Ayran is the national yoghurt drink. It’s saltiness was confronting, but it grew on us over time. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Lamahcun (thin crust pizza/rolled up taco thing)
- Kofte (meatballs)
- Balik ekmek (fish sandwich)
- Salep (a traditional warm beverage of starchy, cinnamony goodness).
4. It’s CHEAP
As we are travelling unemployed for a whole year, money is scarce. Turkey is easy on the budget. A budget traveller can feed themselves for $3 AUD a meal, or can treat themselves for $10 AUD a meal (we never went TOO fancy). As previously mentioned, expensive experiences like paragliding will cost $80-90 AUD. Intercity travel is as cheap as $10 AUD to some places. Hostels have costed $10-15 AUD for a bed, and we’ve scored some fairly decent guesthouses for as little as $40 AUD per night.
The average we spent per day: $63 AUD/pp (including paragliding, massages, medium priced meals)
What started as a ‘Plan B’ has now become one of my favourite destinations. I wrote this post specifically to convince my parents that Turkey is a safe and easy place to travel. Hopefully I’ve convinced you too.