Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Some first thoughts on Turkey

I put it on my list of resolutions so I figured I would start to think about this possible vacation destination Turkey. From what I've read so far is that Isanbul, being the capital, is the easiest place to start from. Finding out if there are cheap flights to Turkey was easy and its a good option since the buses and trains can be slow and have hold-ups at the border. In particular Sultanahmet where some of the city's major sights and monuments are located near each other. From the main square, the Blue Mosque and the Haghia Sophia are both a stone's throw away. There are thousands of years worth of history in this square kilometre alone, its incredible even though I live in Budapest at how much this area is saturated in politics, culture and world-changing events. You can just breathe history here. From here it is easy to explore the Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar.

I realize the more I travel that not only does the capital city not give a real representation of the country as a whole but that most of the really touristy sights also don't represent the capital city. They are mandatory to visit in my opinion, usually just to see what the hype is all about, but it is certain that tourists crowd the Blue Mosque and that they outnumber the locals at the Grand Bazaar. I like to get to know the locals when I travel and to do this I usually have to find the more outer districts of the city and lose myself in neighborhoods where English-speakers are harder to find.

Balkinology, a travel site, suggests taking a walk along the south shore of the Golden Horn from Galata Bridge. Checking out Fener and Balat will be helpful too in getting a more realistic and cultured impression of Istanbul. The city walls were built in the fifth century and it is possible to trace them along the outskirts of the city. I can't even imagine how long it took to build them and by how many men.
Another site I think is a must-see especially for art-lovers and architect admirers is the Church of Saviour in Chora which has frescoes in classic Byzantine style.Thinking about travelling again is exciting, especially to a location like Turkey which is really geographically close but can feel so exotic at the same time.