I’ve had my share of woes in Turkey, especially when it comes to bureaucracy but I have to say that that I consider myself quite lucky to have been able to experience it as an almost-local. As I take on possibly my last year here (time FLIES), it’s a good time as any other to already start making a list of reason why I should come back after leaving (IF I leave). With Turkish Airlines now serving the Istanbul-Mauritius-Antananarivo route three times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) and possibly an additional flight on Mondays as from the 8th of February 2016 it is still quite fair to assume that many Mauritians would soon be making their way towards Turkey in the near future – not that they haven’t been doing so for the past years (from what I know anyway).
So without further ado, here are my 10 reasons for you to visit Turkey this year.
1. Istanbul would be reason enough
The only city spanning two continents, Istanbul is definitely one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities I have ever visited (although I wouldn’t want to live there, the traffic is truly horrendous). With over 2500 years of history, culture and traditions, it is a city with beautiful and certainly famous landmarks representing worth of the capital that served four different empires.
2. But then, you’d miss the other historical and archeological gems Turkey offers
From Ephesus in the West to Hattusha, the Hittite Kingdom in Central Anatolia to Mount Ararat on the Turkish-Armenian border, the historical landscape of Turkey is even vaster than you could imagine. No city or town is ever the same; there’s always something new to see.
3. Even more beautiful is its natural landscape
Turkey was once sought by many empires and civilisations. Why? Its gorgeous landscape would definitely be the reason. The ruins of Hierapolis lie right next to the hot sprongs of Pamukkale, which literally means “cotton castle”. There truly s nothing better than soaking in the springs after a day of exploring the ruins.
4. With mountains higher than anything I’ve ever seen
There are mountains EVERYWHERE, pure heaven for the avid hiker. Even for the non-avid ones, it’s worth getting up at 2 am for a climb just for the amazing sunrise on Nemrut. Also, forming the border between Turkey and Armenia is Turkey’s highest peak, where it is said that Noah’s Ark landed after the great flood.
5. Many Turkish cities were once home to many prophets
Şanlıurfa is said to be the birthplace of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). Once can retrace his steps in the holy Gölbaşı area where the prophet took on Nimrod, the Assyrian King by destroying all the pagan gods that the later worship.
6. And also poets and philosophers
Resting in Konya is Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, one of the world’s most famous poets and philosophers. He also is famously known for founding the Sufi Mevlevi order, “The Whirling Dervishes”. There is a performance, one of the biggest in Turkey, every Saturday evening at 8 pm at the Mevlana Cultural Centre.
7. Have I mentioned the food yet?
Only two weeks ago, Gaziantep, a city located in southeast Turkey was added to the list of the UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network for its culinary excellence. There is something for everyone in Turkey, from baklavas to the Aegean speciality of cooking just about everything in olive oil to kebabs. There is a reason why I just cannot stop eating here, even as a vegan.
8. You can just chill along the Mediterranean.
I know I come from an island but Turkish beach towns are different from anything I’m used to. In need of a break? You have an entire coastline of beautiful beach towns to choose from. Basking in the Mediterranean sunshine without a care in the world what a better way to unwind?
9. Or you could go up north to the Black Sea?
Whilst the Mediterranean beaches may be crowded in the peak season, you are more likely to find a beach all to yourself up north. Amasra, a little port town by the Black Sea, is certainly worth a detour. It’s just a spot you can go relax by the coast, with good food and some history, without having to bother with the crowd which you would without any doubt encounter in Mediterranean and Aegean regions.
10. Last but not least, Turkish hospitality.
Turkish people are famous for their warm hospitality. I can remember going anywhere without being offered a cup of tea – sometimes even being forced upon me. Language barriers mean nothing, some will always try to help even if you don’t speak the same language. A smile goes a long way.
Anyone visiting anytime soon?