T1 (what my bff and I do when we go off on tangents during an email rant … we label, prompting the reader for an unrelated but somewhat related divergent. T = tangent, the number that follows = which tangent we’re on. You’ve been warned). So for my first tangent, I’d like to give you a useless fact about myself.
Useless Fact: I keep a travel bag that is always semi-packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Toiletries, shorts, T-shirts, camera equipment… I only ever have to do minor additions based on travel destination.
Caveat - not a tangent because it’s totally related to the travel experience - I was the most comfortable traveling around Turkey compared to many other places I have visited. Being a foreigner posed no real issue, aside from language. I was very much at ease and felt extremely safe.
Three to four days average in each location did leave me quite tired, all while managing a 7 hour time difference. That’s why I saved the South for last. The beach is the best place to recoup for a beach bum. Dangle that carrot in front of my face and you can pretty much get me to hike anywhere for however long.
I decided to try something new with bookings. I was traveling with 3 other people, each with a different traveling style and comfort level. I didn’t know how I was going to make sure everyone was accommodated and comfortable throughout the stay, so I decided to try AirBnB. I had only used it once a couple years back, so I gave it a go for the entire trip. Having the APP on my phone made it so easy. Starting out in Istanbul, I rented a quaint apt in Karaköy, only a 10 minute walk from Galata Tower, and within a 30 minute walk of all other main attractions. Across the street was the metro station and around the corner, local taxis. The shopping and food options were replete. It was a great location for my first time in Istanbul. The city averages 20 million bodies, so any other location further to the center of town may have been too overwhelming. If you are in Istanbul looking for a place to stay, I suggest you look up one of Özge Bayamlioglu’s places on AirBnB. She has 6 apts in Istanbul.
I fell in love with four things in Istanbul. Kikero Falafel for food, Tola Tola for clothes, Maya Kumpir (the loaded potato you absolutely have to try), and fresh pressed juices. Pomegranates fell off of trees like they didn't even know their value. I laughed at the irony of something being so expensive when it's imported, but standing on a corner waiting for a bus and just yanking one off of a tree. I ate and drank like a goddess every day.
I closed out my few days in Istanbul, after realizing this crowd has a selfie-stick addiction.
T3 - no seriously, they sell them on every single corner all day long. And I know for a fact I’m floating around on all kinds of international social media networks hashtagged as ‘the girl who couldn’t duck her way out of a selfie shot’. It was the craziest thing I had experienced. I went from being annoyed to being amused to feeling left out. So, I snapped a few myself. I mean … when in Instanbul…
Must sees/tries in Efesus: Goat's milk ice cream. I'm not a huge fan of goat's milk, although I know it to be a good substitute for those of us with lactose intolerance. It always just seems to have a gamey flavor. The after taste is never one I want to repeat, so I was a bit hesitant to try it in ice cream. Wellllll, I have to say ... I was pleasantly surprised. There was no gaminess, nor an after taste. Not to mention, my stomach was more than pleased with my decision. DO try it.
T4- Don't get freaked out the first time you order an ice cream cone in Turkey. The vendors like to play a little game with the patron before handing them their yummy purchase. I let out a huge yelp the first time I went to grab my cone when it was snatched back in midair nearly falling to the floor. I don't know how much I like the idea of my food within inches of the ground or flying through the air for that matter, but I did enjoy watching other people go through the motions.
Also, most definitely go to one of the Turkish carpet factories and watch the crafts-women work. It's amazing. You may also be able to bargain your way into a sweet buy. My suggestion: research the patterns and know which style is your preference. Each region make them differently and utilize a variation of colors and patterns specific to their cultural ties. You may find, as was in my case, that a Kilim is more your style. And if you carry cash, you might be able to make a quick and satisfying purchase.
You already Know
The AirBnB apt in Konyaalti was just steps away from the local beach and promenade. The best part? Looking up and seeing the clouds burn off, revealing the surrounding Taurus Mountains. My way of getting to know the local neighborhood where I’m staying is lacing up for a few miles run. The promenade was perfect for just that. The beach just below my feet, the mountains just above my head, and lots and lots of sight-seeing. The Konyaalti area is decorated with plenty of restaurants and cafes. And if you just want to hear a Turkish band singing Mexican Mariachi classics, just walk down to the Crowne Plaza during the dinner buffet. Odd? For me, definitely. But just go with it.
Remember I had just visited two other cities where I had been hiking daily. I was ready for some ‘feet up’ relaxation. We asked the taksi (in Turkish) to drop us at the closest local beach. Straight to Lara. The sea was a bit rough, but it felt private and refreshing. I lounged under an umbrella with a sparking water in hand and let the sun kiss my toes. I repeated this action until I left.
One regret I have was not making it to Kas beach. I thought I knew where it was, only to find out the day before I was leaving that is was 3 hours away. I was bummed, but it is definitely slotted for my return trip. If you make it before I do, give me a holler and let me know how you loved it.
OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST:
- Blue Mosque
- Hagia Sophia
- Bosphorus Bridge
- Topkapi Palace
- Grand Bazaar
- Kas Beach