A Travellerspoint blog

Izmir

the place with character

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So who are better, girls from Istanbul or girls from Izmir?

This is a question which needs unbiased answers without any blood letting or cat fights and during my time in Izmir I was not able to come to any definite conclusions and probably because I wanted to leave Turkey safe and sound!! Point of information: both girls have their own plus points but Izmir ones are much prettier! Ooh, did I say it??

Aside from the lighter side my experience in both these cities though short by local standards and other standards was Istanbul is more individualistic whereas Izmir is more family/friendship oriented.
the amusement park

There is a great shopping mall culture here whereas in Istanbul there is a better coffee culture and other eclectic pursuits.

I stayed in the central area of izmir city near the foyer•a very big public park with its an amusement park with some very good high performance rides including roller coasters and the 360 degree drop one. The main shopping areas are around 10 minute walk from the foyer. Besides one should also go to the souks near the BOERSE because clothes and accessories there are much cheaper than those at the shopping malls.

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Other places of interest would be the ferry terminal I forgot what they call this area locally. At sunset this place rocks as most of the young people descend in droves from the ferries to spend their time. This is also a hangout place for the teenagers and very peaceful.

The most famous shopping malls in Izmir is Forum Bornova and the area where one would find a lot of shopping accesories is called Alsancak. . .

This place is populated by people of all ages and they have a lot of varied pleasures where one can immerse oneself. The bowling alley and the games area were the places where I spent my time on the Sunday night as most of the shops closed early. The clientele here is the young and hip. These people are very amiable and on my asking they gladly played these games with me to provide me company.

Since it was late on the Sunday meaning more than 12 0 clock, I couldn’t get any public transportation to go to the central area. The taxis charge exorbitant rates in excess of 25 ytl and thus I couldn’t do much but to start walking the more than 20 km journey back to my pension. On my way I took some hitch hikes on police cars but it took me more than 2 hours of hitchhikes and walking to come back to my pension clearly exhausted. Though I saved 25 ytl!!

Izmir is a city which doesn’t have the same nightlife as Istanbul’s but still I feel there is a lot heart and character in the city and its people especially women! Lolz.

It has a whole different experience from what you would find in Istanbul and I recommend it highly for all those social animals. The city still doesn’t have the same coffee culture but I think it makes up in other areas.

The next day I woke up tired from the previous night’s adventures and then had a look around the central area for one more time before I took the bus to Istanbul.

Posted by sulemaniya 24.08.2008 03:07 Archived in Turkey Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

ALANYA

THE BEACH

-17 °C

Staying in alanya for one and a half day was enough. The beach in alanya is good but it is populated to a great degree I am speaking of the areas which have free entrance. What more can you expect?

Alanya is famous for Russian tourists making it a second home because it is close to Russia and its cheap as well when seen in the Russian context and one can find a lot of Russian girls married to the local Casanova boys. With nothing to do in the morning next day I booked a tour to the rafting centre which is very far from the main centre of alanya.

White water rafting is a fun sport and I had loads of fun at the rafting centre but these people at the centre rip you off by selling photos for 15 euros and make videos for the entire trip for like 40 euros. But one cant blame them its business!

Anyways the water table was low so we didn’t get huge undulations in the raft but still our guide in the raft was a jolly guy and he used to throw occasionally people in the freezing water. This was the best part of the whole exercise and once what we people did was gang up against him and threw him in the water. Furthermore near the end of the rafting trail there is a high diving point where people have to climb like 20 stairs and then make a dive in the running water. Boy I wont forget that!! Ouch I got my ear closed in it!!

We came back in the evening and then that is the time( though people come at night) when the fun begins at alanya especially near the bar street. The best places to hangout for free are Havana and other bars near about but before going there one can indulge in some shopping though the shops sell their wares at steep prices. Anyways the night passes fairly quickly!!!

Posted by sulemaniya 26.07.2007 01:07 Archived in Turkey Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

CAPPADOCIA--GOREME IN PARTICULAR

THE ECLECTIC

semi-overcast -17 °C

Cappadocia has a lot to offer contrary to what people think. As I came to the bus station I first went to the information office in goreme which is the place where all the tourists usually stay. I stayed at KOSE pension which is a good enough place besides being easily accessible from the main road. The place charged me I think 15 ytl per day for a dorm room and since this was the off season it was only me in the room. Besides its also got a swimming pool and free wi fi access. What more does one want?

Goreme can be easily traveled on foot although for going to avanos and other far areas one needs to take a taxi or better still rent a bike or car. The museum in goreme which has a lot of history behind it is a place worth going to. Its got a lot of fairy mountains which had been used by the Christians and also has a lot of frescoes though some of them had been removed. The museum got a bit boring for me once I saw a few of the places since a lot of stuff was monotonous and I am not much of a historical junkie of the museum kind. No offence meant to any one!

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The night scene in Goreme is laid back with a few clubs but not a lot of people although PACHA BAR is a place worth going to and there is one near the museum I forgot its name. most of the places usually close by 8 pm but still since Goreme is a hilly place one can enjoy the air. Besides at evenings the best thing one can do is watch the sunset from the hills where one can also view the colorful background of the land below. Bikers can have a good time climbing the hills as it sure is one exercise but those people who go on foot its not that difficult you just need a 10 minute sprint!lolz. ooh cmon get that tummy inside and start running!!

This was how I spent my first day in goreme. The next day was packed with action as I booked a tour of three places I think for 50 ytl including transfers, entrance and guide. The tour takes you to: underground city, pigeon valley and Selime cathedral. I think one has to book this tour because you cant get it cheaper than that and the distances between the places are large.

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The underground city was a treat to watch. Its got nine levels beneath the ground with its ingenious exhaust systems, food storage places and ventilation spots. These were made by the people as a means of defence. The levels when they go beneath the ground become narrower in width as you go deeper which is the testament to the people’s ability to secure themselves through any mass attack besides the height of any level is around 5 feet thereabout which makes it extremely difficult for attackers to be present in large numbers. Who were these people? They were better than the recent architects!! Besides there are lots of ways inside so anyone not familiar with the place could easily become lost and die probably of claustrophobia.furthermore people who are claustrophobic shouldn’t go inside because if you get an attack then there is no doctor for miles! So the multitude of different passages were meant to hoodwink the enemy. The place also has a well and numerous ventilation ducts some are hidden to the naked eye whereas others can be seen because it protected people inside in a siege from the outside when the ventilation ducts were closed. The kitchen and the storage chambers are also worth looking at and besides the place in totality in dark is amazing! We need Scooby doo here!!

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After the underground city we went to a gorge although I seem to forget its name. the terrain in the gorge was rocky and we ,I mean the group I was traveling with , were expected to make a 10 km journey around the gorge. Some of the rock formations were simply enthralling to see in the backdrop of the shadows created by the sun. we had lunch in one of the restaurants which was included in the price of the tour but I would classify the serving as small. After lunch we got to the bus on the way to Selime Cathedral.

Selime cathedral for all those people who have been to the open air museum and fairy mountains is nothing new atleast that’s my opinion. Although in some instances the visit was a learning exercise.

Furthermore after selime we went to the pigeon valley which is this amazing place where one can see a lot of pigeons. This valley also has red colored hills which at the time of sunset looks extra terrestrial. The place also has a craftsmen workshop where people can buy souvenirs but I didn’t buy any. Pls note you can also bargain here and you must I think start with 1/3 rd of what they ask and you could get something good.

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The last day in goreme I rented a motorbike and traveled around the rose valley , avanos and some other places. The roads at some of the far off places are pot holed so its better to drive slowly but anyways it sure was a good exercise getting the wind into my eyes !! the rose valley and surroundings should be visited in the evening partly because of the unrelenting sun at noon time and also the best views can be had in the evening because the place is made of red hills which change color at sunset. avanos is a city where the locals are in big numbers and one can find a lot of carper weavers in it and a lot of workshops as well as restaurants.

Thus my trip to cappadocia came to an end and I had to catch night bus to alanya

Posted by sulemaniya 26.07.2007 00:51 Archived in Turkey Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

BURSA

THE HIKING PLACE

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I took a ferry from the ferry terminal in Istanbul to land in bursa- the winter skiing capital of Turkey but this was only summers. Arriving on Saturday evening I didn’t think of it as a good decision but anyhow what’s done was done. The place I stayed was the old centre of the city though I seem to forget its name. The city of Bursa has a few monuments when seen in context with Istanbul but then the reason why I had come to it was to pump some adrenaline and that meant one thing only; conquering ULUDAG.

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Although the mountain is not that difficult to climb but one should not begin climbing unless there is some local guide or someone who has gone on the top because the trails are not properly marked. Thus on the Sunday morning I went to this place having no idea of what was in store for me. In the cable car I met a group of mountain conservationists who had come to spend the day on the mountain and who would be descending on foot and going to the top in the cable car. They openly welcomed me to join and knowing me how can I say no to Turkish hospitality! The descent for me was not very tiresome infact I enjoyed the views as well as the fact that we had a camp fire with cooked food. Now that’s what I call getting into the right place at the right time. The descent was although long with the meals and the rest which the others wanted to take but I think it was only for 6 YTL ,the cost of the cable car, is a good enough exercise for the day. So do you concur?

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[http://www.travbuddy.com/travel-blogs/7515/photos/view/2/5]

After the climb I went to the other monuments around the old city including some mosques and the surrounding areas. There is this place called Tophane which is built like a fort where one can get a bird’s eye view of Bursa at night and the best time to see would be at 8 pm since the people around bursa sleep early. Thus that was Bursa and now it was time to move on and the next place on my list was Cappadocia.
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Birds eye view of Bursa
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Posted by sulemaniya 26.07.2007 00:47 Archived in Turkey Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

ISTANBUL

THE MAGICAL ONE

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The city which divides Asia and Europe is truly a place which has a lot of culture, tradition, the new meeting the old and history and a lot more perhaps.

Arriving in Istanbul airport and taking the metro to sultan ahmet I was just overwhelmed by looking at this city for the first time and not certainly the last one. Being the first time to turkey I think it is a good idea to stay over in sultan ahmet area since this is the heart of where the backpackers stay and this area could be classified as the centre of the city as most of the monuments in Istanbul can be reached over walking distance or easily through the transport network.

The grand bazaar,blue mosque, top kapi palace, aya sofia mosque and the area around the grand bazaar can easily be done on foot and perhaps as I realized its much better as this is how you come into contact with more people and see more.

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Inside the Blue Mosque
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I stayed at Cordial House which is a moderately priced hostel at 15 ytl a night for a dorm bed and the staff is pretty friendly besides the area where it is located is generally safe even at 2 am at night although its better to take precautions by taking as little cash or valuables with oneself.

I befriended a lot of locals and they took me to a lot of places.

The open air theatre is a place to go to. Its near the Hilton. I went there to see the laila majnu folklore and although its in Turkish but one can easily understand whats happening if you have a local along to do some translation. Besides the place being open has a great ambience for shows of this nature and with some slight drizzle you wouldn’t mind feeling romantic! Lolz

Any trip to Istanbul would be incomplete withought going to Taksim and Beyoglu. These are the areas which are famous for being the heart of Istanbul nightlife and these places rock at night. Firstly passing through Taksim with its different souks and the performers and jugglers showing there skills or sharpening them is a treat especially since we don’t need to pay. Furthermore the small streets unwind into great coffee places and the party area but the clubs are mostly empty on regular days and only fill up on weekends. The coffee places generally are full. The Turks love hanging out especially the young turks with their multitude of friends. Besides in this area you would find people of all ages and all classes so its very cosmopolitan but be careful after 12 am because the public transport stops and you need to hire a regular taxi not a Dolmush to take you and the taxis at this time are very expensive. So bring a tent over or party the whole night!!!

Taksim Streets

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The Open Air Theatre near the Hilton
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Grand Bazaar(Kapali Carsi)
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The area around Istanbul university is also a place to pay a visit and this is the place where you can find a lot of young people honing their skills of English so if you speak English you can get first hand information from these students but be prepared to be patient if they don’t understand what you mean.

The area around the Bosphorous is a treat especially if you if book a ferry ride from the local companies on the terminal and this is cheap. I feel there is no need to take a guided tour. Once on the ferry one can easily savor the different architecture of the Anatolian and the European side and how Istanbul is such a great city because of the enmeshing of these two cultures and how it could not be Istanbul if one of the cultures is removed. The bridge over the Bosphorous is also a great landmark.

Bosphorous Bridge
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Once you are finished with the ferry trip you can easily go around the area where there are lots of small clothing stores and electronic outlets as well as restaurants. The food tastes great and so does the Turkish desserts like baklawa and other ones I just tried them for free. The Turks also love their ice creams and one can easily observe the ubiquitous ice cream stalls although it could leave a hole in your pocket if you are on a tight budget in indulging in all these pleasures but then life doesn’t come more than once so just go for it.

The TopKapi palace is a big landmark to visit. The articles on display are simply amazing and mind boggling. Most of the articles on display are off limits to taking pictures which is why I believe they are full of mystery and opulence. If the sultans lived in such times they would have been the most ingenuous and crafty people to say the least and the fact that these have been preserved very well is testament to the Turks ability to take care about their legacy.

Istanbul is truly a place which has a lot of culture, tradition, the new meeting the old and history and a lot more perhaps.

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Posted by sulemaniya 26.07.2007 00:42 Archived in Turkey Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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