The Turkish Affair
I recently travelled to Turkey for 8 days. My itinerary was fairly brisk as I wished to see as much of the country as possible. The trip was as follows:
Antalya (1 day) → Olympus (2 days) → Izmir (1 night) → Sulçuk/Ephus (2 days) → Istanbul (3 days)
There were a couple of reasons I wanted to visit Turkey. I had previously read and heard great things about Turkey and I wished to see it to examine its potential as part of European Union. Prior to going, my opinion in relation to the EU was that it was too different, namely too Islamic, to be in the EU. The third motivation was to go more ‘east’ than my friends; Eastern Europe has become as backpacker friendly as Western Europe, and there remain few sites not crammed with Canadians, Aussies and Americans.
I was hoping to find some remnants of isolation in Turkey, though I did not have my hopes too high. In reality, the places I visited are on the top of the tourist hit-list and as such, were full of tourists – though more Aussies than I expected, largely, they come to visit the battlefields of Gallipoli. The Australians suffered massive casualties during the WWII battle of Gallipoli, which then acted as a catalyst for Australian independence, not unlike Dieppe for Canada. The presence of all these tourists may have impeded my visitation of ‘real’ turkey, but to be fair, not speaking Turkish and going for eigh days was not going to permit me to penetrate the Turkish society.
Antalya was a nice port city with little culture, but no lack of nightlife. While in Antalya, I took a day trip to Perge (45 min outside Antalya), an ancient Greco-Roman city, which was very impressive as a first site. The site, was very open and you could walk throughout the ruins with no security control. I then travelled south to Olympus, where the use of concrete has been banned. As such, all the houses are treehouses made of wood. The description of the town as, “an Ewok Village” was what motivated me to visit, the addition of bars and beaches was the cherry on the cake. While there, I visited the flames of Olympus, naturally occurring flames that are the source of The Olympic flame. I partied in an open roof club, surrounded by 100 m cliffs and jumped off 12 m rocks into the warm Mediterranean.
I then travelled to Izmir for a brief 6 hour stay before making my way to Ephus, Turkey’s most famous archaeological site. The town of Ephus is remarkably intact and is an amazing demonstration of what a 100 000 person Greek town looked like at its peak. After Selcuk and Ephus (same town really), I took an overnight bus to Istanbul. Istanbul was everything I had hoped for, a great blend of the Islamic and European world. Though three days were not enough, the mosques, churches and food were amazing. A little bit of partying in the newer, more European centre on the other side of the Bosphorous and then I caught a flight back to Paris to meet my father and board our sailboat.
My trip to turkey led me to two independent conclusions, which I wish to set on paper: Why Turkey may become a EU member and Why it is time to hang up the back-pack. Turkey was an amazing trip and I will definitely return; there remains so much history and culture, I could easily spend months travelling the country. You can see my photos here: Turkish Affair Photos