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
Two weekends ago, using my friend’s visit as an excuse, I hopped on an overnight bus to Istanbul to discover this beautiful city once again. The last time I had been there properly was November 2013 (yes a very long time ago!) when I had just moved to Turkey and I’m almost ashamed to say that even after two years of living in Turkey, I have barely scratched the surface on this one. I did end up going to almost the same places I did last time; however it was quite interesting to compare my two almost similar visits which were world apart, as a first timer in Turkey and then as an almost local – we didn’t get as ripped off as we did the first time, that’s for sure.
We had chosen a hotel in the Sultanahmet area, about 5 min walk from the main sights as we knew we would be limited on time and hence it would be better to be as close as possible to the places we want to go. Istanbul however has quite a developed public transport and you can almost go anywhere using the metro, tram and ferry connections – given the traffic in Istanbul, I wouldn’t personally use the bus but you may at your own risk. I’d recommend first getting a Istanbul Kart (similar to the Oyster in London) from the airport or a main station, which would make it much more easier to get around than using this “jeton” system they implemented – which as everything else is yet another rip off. You can also get a Museum Card costing 85 TL valid for 5 days in Istanbul, which will also allow you to skip the long queues (although for a 2 day trip as this one, a museum card is not necessary as it will about to just a little bit less that buying one).
For our first day together (because yes that’s different from my first day which I spent mostly with Jen) in Budapest, PC and I decided to explore the Pest side of the city, that is the castle side. It’s to nobody’s surprise that we ended up doing just NOT that. Instead, we ended up getting lost in a cemetery and then at an alleged Chinese market, after which we thought it would just be best to take it easy and have a little-turned-into-long stroll along the banks of the Danube.