During the Bayram break (Eid), I embarked on a week long journey across Turkey. The program I attended was specifically for exchange students and approximately 150 exchange students from different universities in Istanbul went on the trip.
A few days before the trip, I learned that a fellow wildcat who was studying in Amman, Jordan was coming to Istanbul for the Eid break! My excitement was followed by disappointment because I realized that since I was leaving for my trip across Turkey, I may not be able to see my friend. Luckily, the dates worked out and I was able to see my friend for a few hours before I left Istanbul. We met in Taksim and I was able to show her around Istanbul and give her tips for her visit. I ended up getting no sleep that night since I left for my trip the next day at 7 am and of course I had not packed yet!
Our first stop on the trip was Şile, a small vacation town on the black sea. It had the most beautiful beaches and the town was quite quaint. The fall weather made it impossible to swim, but my friends and I spent some time walking on the beach. When we went into town for dinner, there was a stray dog that followed us for the whole 20 minute walk back to the hotel. We joked that Şile was “dog city” since there were so many stray dogs. The local people were so welcoming, a young teenage girl stopped us on our way out of the supermarket and offered us some free chestnuts from her parents’ fruit shop. She asked us about University life and about the countries where we were from. Şile was a nice sleepy town to begin our trip and I loved how peaceful it was.
After a day and a half in Şile, we packed up and headed to Lake Abant, a large nature park where we had a barbeque and watched the sunset. Afterwards, we drove to Ankara for a Turkish bath. Taking a Turkish bath at midnight has to be one of the strangest things I have ever done. A Turkish bath consists of swimming in a warm water pool, going to the sauna, and receiving a deep body scrub. I slept about 2 hours on the bus that night before I was woken to watch the sunrise on Lake Tuz, one of the largest salt lakes in the world.
I spent two days in Cappadocia which is home to “fairy chimneys” and historical sites such as monasteries and churches from ancient Roman times. There are some local inhabitants who live in the fairy chimneys. I also explored Derinkuyu Underground City in Cappadocia.
One of my favorite destinations was Ephesus, an ancient Greek city. I had never seen Greek ruins before and it’s funny that the first time I saw Greek ruins was in Turkey. Although the ruins in Ephesus were very impressive, I definitely want to visit Greece now.
My all time favorite place is Pamukkale, which means cotton castle in Turkish. Pamukkale is a natural hot spring and the ancient Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis was built at the top of Pamukkale. Although it was around 50 degrees when I went to Pamukkale, I was still able to go swimming since it is a hot spring. The view from the top of Pamukkale is one of the most incredible I have ever seen. It looks like the rocks are covered in snow, but the color is actually due to the minerals. I am so happy that I had the opportunity to see other places in Turkey outside of Istanbul. Despite long hours on a bus and overall exhaustion, the trip was so worth it!