I had visited Turkey several times in the past years and I am not done. Last time it was a week long trip with my backpack and a friend.Why not a break from university if you can? We took a flight from Newcastle airport (United Kingdom) to Antalya and we spent one day there, then we took another flight to Istanbul, spend 5 days and finally we returned to Antalya and stayed the last day in that beautiful city. The weather was warm, despite the November forecast. It reminded myself how tasty the Turkish food is, unlike British.
10 useful things I (re)discovered:
1.We arrive late at night, so we took a taxi to the hotel, which cost us 50 Turkish lira (around £13 or €18 for a 15 mins ride). Most hotels have their own car, so ask at reception for a car and you might pay less (paid 35 Turkish lira on the way back).
2. Most Turkish people don`t speak English, but they are more than willing to help. Say the name of the place you want to go and they will miss their bus twice to wait with you to make sure you get in the right bus (been there, done that).
3. Turkish tea is very strong – try to not drink it before sleep. We could not sleep more than four hours that night, although we were exhausted. On the other hand, you must try every Turkish dish you can have! Pay a visit to Patatos from Taksim Sqare, in Istanbul, and you`ll find affordable food and enjoyable atmosphere – you can find them on Instagram. For a great view over city go to the cafe from Galata Tower.
4. Make sure you have a male friend near you. Last times I was travelling with a group, so I haven`t notice the difference. This time I travelled with a female friend and there were streets with only male walking by, who kept staring at us. At no point we felt threatened, just uncomfortable.
5. There is no point to visit the most popular mosques. Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque are surely nice, but crowded and overpriced. If you don`t have a local to put a good word with the guardians, it`s not worth it. Most of the mosques are free entry. My favourite by far is Suleymanie Cami (mosque= cami). Is beautiful and peaceful (also free).
6. Don`t be afraid to get lost and discover beautiful places. We had eight hours before our flight home and some locals recommended us Kemer, a little beach in Antalya. We localised on the map and looked near, so we took a bus. On the way, we realised it`s quite far – two hours one way. But the journey was beautiful. We had seen the mountings up close, children returning from school and people selling food near the main road.
When we finally arrived in Kemer… It was a picture from postcards.
7. Invest in an Instanbulkart to travel easier on long distances in Istanbul. You can always use jetons, which costs four lira each for a one way travel with the metro. The bus ticket is usually two lira in town, but might vary.
8. Cistern Basilica is definitely a must in Istanbul! I paid 20 lira for entrance (the only place where we paid for entrance). Look out for scams, like dressing up and taking photos for only 15 lira; it`s actually just one photo and you have to pay 50 Turkish lira to get all your photos printed or on a DVD.
9. In Antalya, forget about the city centre (is just a mall, seriously). Take a walk along the sea shore and enjoy the infinite blue.
10. Don`t forget to visit Gulhane Park, the Aqarium (they accept international student cards) and Galata Bridge at sunset while in Istanbul.
Until next time, follow my steps on Metlife Stadium from New York City reviewing a Rihanna and Eminem concert – how I went for Rihanna and returned an Eminem fan.
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