Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’

Homestretch

many trains stations along the homestretch

We are on the homestretch now. Our path is very quickly taking us back to Canada for our due date of October 9th. This is no small task as there are still thousands of kilometres to cover overland. It’s a beeline with a few stops en-route to keep us sane, or make us go crazy — we’re not sure which yet.

Our next destination after Istanbul was Budapest. To get to Budapest we had to take a train. We had two options: via Bucharest or via Belgrade. Both were 32 hour journeys with a transfer and two nights sleeping on trains. Initially we had wanted to go via Bucharest and spend a day there, but we decided to change our plans and skip Bucharest so we could spend an extra day in Budapest. In the end we chose the route that went via Belgrade for the simple fact that it was cheaper. We stocked up on snacks and drinks and prepared ourselves for what was to be our longest train journey yet.

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A tale of two buildings

Istanbul's Blue Mosque

The overnight bus to Istanbul was long and uncomfortable, but as we pulled into the multi-level bus station — where there were at least four hundred million other buses, I swear — and the sun climbed into the sky, we peered from under our sleepy eyelids into the sprawling city around us with excitement. Istanbul’s reputation as a magical city where east meets west preceded it, and as we made our way through the streets to our hostel, we truly felt as though we’d arrived back in Europe. Many of Meg’s reflections on Turkey in this post hold especially true in Istanbul, so I won’t dwell on them too much here. Rather, I want to write specifically about two famous buildings in Istanbul that were the highlights of our visit: the Blue Mosque, and Hagia Sophia.

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Turkey: East or West?

Any tourist literature on Turkey will say it has one foot in the West and one in the East. We spent only a week in Turkey, so I’m no expert, but I’d say it has two feet in the West and a pinky finger in the East. Here’s why:

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Strange landscapes in Cappadocia

The fairytale landscape of Cappadocia

We left Aleppo at 5:00 a.m. to begin our marathon trip to the Cappadocia region of Turkey. Three buses, one border, and 14.5 hours later, we arrived in the town of Gor√∂me just as the sun sank below the horizon. We were truly feeling the time crunch now — with only 16 days left to go before our ship sails for home from Southampton in the UK, we’d decided to visit Cappadocia instead of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. I guess we’ll save that for next time! The Cappadocia region was just too much of a draw for us. The pictures looked otherworldly, and it sounded more than anything like a very relaxing destination. Cappadocia is famous for it’s rock-tower landscape, which really has to be seen to be believed. Hundreds of spires of stone stand defiantly against the sky in every direction, and many of them are carved out with old cave dwellings or rock churches. We checked and re-checked our schedule, and decided we could afford two nights in Gor√∂me. We checked into Flintstone’s Hostel, which (like many of the hotels and hostels in the town) had several of it’s rooms built into caves. Our cosy cave had a window, which was nice, but more importantly it had a large, comfortable, clean bed. We collapsed into it and didn’t move again until morning.

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