A guide to Turkey

By Marion Smith Time of article published May 17, 2017

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EXPLORE the Unesco World Heritage Site of Safronbolou.

This town was first discovered for its source of the precious spice saffron. Now the cobbled streets and winding ally ways are filled with boutique hotels. All the buildings have been well preserved with red tiled roofs, wooden floors and carved ceilings and doors.

The Hamam is a must, and the people who work at the local tourist office speak good English.

Eat as much Turkish food as you can. Breakfast should start with menemen (Turkish omelet); this filling dish, served with bread to soak up the juices, is a good start to any tourist or local’s day.

Lunch offers numerous options ranging from street food, such as a simit (bagel-type bread) doner sandwiches and lahmacun (Turkish pizza) to something a bit different such as the çi köfte (raw meatballs) - a very deceptive vegetarian dish which is actually made with bulgur wheat rice, not raw meat. A personal favourite for supper is the iskender Kebab, which originates in north-western Turkey.

It consists of thin slices of lamb or beef in a tomato sauce, served over pide (pita) bread with yoghurt and grilled veggies.

SHOP at the world-renowned Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world, with over 4 000 shops selling everything from ceramics, lamps to handbags and clothes.

Not far is the 350-year-old Egyptian Spice Bazaar.

The vivid colours of the spices that tickle your nose, exotic teas, fragrant oils that glisten in their glass bottles, chunky soaps filled with herbs and infusions, dried fruits and nuts, and the tasty lokum (Turkish delight) make you want to walk for hours and test and buy as much as you can.

This bazaar was the final stop for camel caravans completing the Silk Route from far-off lands in its heyday.

VISIT the Maiden’s Castle 60km west of Mersin. Located in the bay, this sea castle protected the port of Korykos.

Legend has it that there was a king who had a beautiful daughter, but a prophecy predicted she would die from a snake bite.

To keep her from harm, the king built a castle in the sea so his daughter would be be safe.

She had fresh fruit brought to her every day and somehow a snake landed in a basket one day, and the prophecy was fulfilled.

The seaside town of Kizkalesi is a small holiday spot with street cafés, shops and hotels.

Spoil yourself to a day on the secluded pebbled beach on a lounger, or visit the castle.

Whatever you do the unwavering beauty is worth the visit.

STAY at Upper House Boutique Hotel in Kas (which means eyebrow). This is one of the most beautiful little towns on the Turkish Mediterranean coast.

The town is located directly opposite the Greek Island of Meis. The hotel has 31 rooms, and offers comfort and luxury.

The big pink chairs outside caught my eye on arrival, and it was a hustle between me and the local cats that eventually ended with me sitting on a chair and a cat on my lap.

A walk of just 100m takes one to the beautiful pier and cafés.

The town has Blue Flag beaches, and has somehow managed to elude mass tourism. This has allowed it to maintain its charisma and appeal.

FLYING with Turkish Airlines is still the best way to get to Istanbul.

With direct flights leaving every night from JHB, it comes highly recommended.

I have flown on various airlines using various stopovers, with some trips involving a stop of a total of four countries in 24 hours.

It’s not worth the small amount you save in the air ticket price.

For comfort, time saving and good food, it’s worth the price

Don’t forget that South African passport holders apply online for an e-visa which takes only three minutes to obtain, and we can stay in Turkey for a month and a maximum of three months within an 180-day period free of charge.

If you want to find out how East meets West, hop on a plane and embark on an adventure of a lifetime. 

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