Travellers Nuzlie Nolan and friends
Dates 2 – 12 May 2014
Reasons for visiting this destination
I’ve always wanted to visit the famous Blue Mosque in Istanbul and Ephesus (the Roman remains of the city where Julius Caesar once ruled). This trip to Turkey was a work incentive.
Our Little Black Book
The best place to shop
Istanbul is the best place to shop, especially if you’re looking for clothes and shoes with brand names. Along the tour, you’ll find lots of souvenirs to bring home, which are quite cheap. I brought home beaded bracelets (with the protective evil eye, which the Turkish people believe protects them from all evil), beaded compact mirrors, bookmarks, and place mats, which were all under 25TRY (Turkish lira) equivalent to less than R100.
The best place to stay
We stayed at the Grand Halec, the Crystal Hotel, the Iris Hotel, the Tatlises Hotel and the Colossae spa hotel on our tour.
The best place for food
Our package included food, but the few times we ate anywhere other than at the hotels, we played it safe with Mcdonalds, KFC and the walk-in cafés that served home-cooked meals. We stopped along the tour route at one great restaurant called Adamar, and got to meet the chef.
If you want to feel like a local you should
Just be yourself. Don’t refuse an offer for drinks or food, the locals will be offended. (I was offered dessert on the house, declined, and was told to accept in order not to offend the restaurant owner.) Dress code is holiday mode all round, nothing special.
Don’t leave without
A hot-air balloon ride, h0memade ice cream and a sunset river cruise. Our carpet factory tour was also great. Turkey is well known all over the world for its hand-woven carpets, both woollen and pure silk carpets. If you purchase a carpet anywhere in the world, and see that it comes from Turkey, you’ll know it’s top quality. But this trade is dying out, and the women who hand-weave these carpets are hard to find. The ladies sit for four hours daily weaving non-stop. The government is promoting and offering the trade course free to unemployed youngsters, in order to keep the trade alive.
When choosing a tour, choose the one where the hotels include breakfast and dinner, as food is quite expensive. In order to really enjoy the historical sights, read up on and Google the places you are going to visit, so that you have some idea of what the tour-guide is talking about, otherwise you will feel a bit overwhelmed. Don’t bother taking too many clothes with you, I came home with most of my clothes unworn.