Once you’ve traveled to a place that touches you, you’ve never really left. Close your eyes, imagine yourself being back there, breathing in the particular scent of the place, and there it is.
A few weeks after my trip to Turkey, these are what remain in my memories.
I couldn’t get enough of Pamukkale when I was there. I still can’t get enough. Turkey’s “Cotton Castle” is truly a wonder of nature. I imagine myself back in the beauty of the snow-like white stalactites, standing knee-deep in one of the shallow pools filled with warm, chalky blue water, my hands feeling the cool surface of the limestone walls, feeling the healing power of the water trickling down the wall.
Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia
Nature and men have sculpted one masterpiece after another in Cappadocia (Kapadokya). Kapadokya’s out of this world strangeness is due to the thick layers of soft volcanic stone that is easily shaped, resulting in a dramatic, fairy-tale landscape that’s been called the best place in the world to ride in a hot air balloon. The cost is not cheap at 325 TL (about USD 215) for a 45-minute ride, but the experience of flying over these fairy chimneys and rock cones as the sun rises is more than worth the price. Follow up with a hike through the Rose Valley and a visit to the Goreme Open Air Museum for more grounded viewings of this bizarre wonderland.
Efes – the Turkish name of Ephesus – is truly a city of the Gods and Goddesses. Dedicated to the cult of Artemis, goddess of the hunt (also known as Cybele, goddess of fertility, and Diana), Efes’ well-preserved Roman ruins still exude the grandeur that made it one of the most opulent ancient cities in the Mediterranean. Alexander the Great, St. Paul, St. John and Cleopatra are among the many historic figures who walked along the main street of Curetes during the glory days of Ephesus.
Floating in the Turquoise Riviera
I’d love to return to Turkey once a year just to cruise around the Mediterranean for a week. A road trip along the Lycian coast – the heart of the Turquoise Riviera, from Fethiye to Antalya, is breathtaking. Sailing and swimming in the soft turquoise water is spectacular and addictive. Kas, a charming village in the Lycian coast, makes for a good base. For a sublime view of the sea, climb atop the castle in Simena village on Kekova Island.
Hidden museums of the Bosphorus
Escape from the maddening crowd of Istanbul by visiting the quaint suburbs along the Bosphorus. Büyükdere is a charming town on the European shore with pleasant cafes and the Sadberk Hanim Muzesi. Owned by the wealthy Koç family and named after the wife of the late billionaire Vehbi Koç, the Sadberk Hanim features small but stunning collections of Iznik tiles, Ottoman costumes and jewelry. In Emirgan, the Sakib Sabanci Museum is owned by the Sabanci family, another one of Turkey’s wealthiest. Once the family villa, the museum also holds space for concerts.
Mevlâna Museum in Konya
The ultra conservative town of Konya is the site of Mevlâna Museum, the burial place of 13th century poet Celâleddin Rumi, founder of the Whirling Dervishes. Turks refer to Rumi as “Mevlâna”. Rumi’s sarcophagus, covered with his poetry, is right underneath the famous green dome that’s become a landmark of Konya. Called the “Dome of the Pole”, it is gorgeously covered in geometric stars. In this sacred space I closed my eyes to feel the energy of the enlightened mystic.