Chany's Trip to Turkey (& Paris) 2019

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Turkey (& Paris) Trip - Purpose
The following were the "purposes" for this trip:
  • Learn about Turkey
  • Visit ancient ruins
  • Try Turkish food
This was a 29 day trip, with 23 days in Turkey, 4 days in Paris (France), and 2 days travelling. Originally, this was supposed to be a trip to Turkey only, but I found I would save on airfare by booking a round trip flight to Paris, and booking a separate round trip flight from Paris to İstanbul on a discount airline. As I was travelling solo, I primarily stayed in hostels and used public transportation such as buses, dolmus, local transit, and I also did a lot of walking.





Turkey Map - Cities Visited



Click on map to see my travel route
This map shows the cities (chronologically) in Turkey that I visited:
  • İstanbul: 2019 Sep 26 - Oct 1 (5 days)
  • Ankara: 2019 Oct 1 - Oct 4 (3 days)
  • Cappadocia: 2019 Oct 4 - Oct 7 (3.5 days)
  • Antalya: 2019 Oct 8 - Oct 11 (3.5 days)
  • Pamukkale: 2019 Oct 11 - Oct 14 (3 days)
  • Izmir: 2019 Oct 14 - Oct 17 (3 days)
  • İstanbul: 2019 Oct 17 - Oct 19 (2 days)

Click here for a calendar view of my trip itinerary.



İstanbul




İstanbul, by population, is the largest city in Turkey, with approximately 15 million people. Formerly known as Byzantium, Constantinople, and New Rome, it is the country's economic, cultural and historic center. İstanbul straddles the continents of Europe and Asia, with the Bosphorus River being the divider.



Located in the Sultanahmet district of İstanbul, the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya), whose name means “holy wisdom,” is a domed monument originally built as a Byzantine cathedral in Constantinople (now İstanbul, Turkey) in the sixth century CE. It was converted into a mosque in 1453, and then converted into a museum in 1935.



From the inside, the Hagia Sophia is spacious with an impressive dome of 33 meters in diameter and 55 meters above the ground. There are 40 windows in the dome. This was quite the experience standing below the dome in this vast space.



The large marble jars on the main floor of the Hagia Sophia were brought to Hagia Sophia from Pergamon, during the reign of Murat III (1574 – 1595). Each jar was carved from a single block of marble.





The Omphalion is a marble section of the floor located in the south-east quarter of the main square beneath the dome, exactly in the middle of the square at Hagia Sophia. It was thought this was the spot where Byzantine emperors were crowned during the coronation ceremony.



The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii), also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, was constructed between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. It has five main domes, six minarets, and eight secondary domes.



When I visited the Blue Mosque, the main dome was under extensive renovations and was covered by tarps and scaffolding. I had to settle for looking at one of the secondary domes. Because of the renovations, the Blue Mosque was a bit of a disappointment.





It is known as the Blue Mosque due to the hand-painted blue tiles that adorn the mosque’s interior walls.



Located east of the Blue Mosque is the Hippodrome, site of an arena for chariot races during the time of the Byzantine. Here is the German Fountain, constructed in 1898 and located at the north end of the Hippodrome.



At the southern side of the Hippodrome is the Walled Obelisk (Örme Dikilitaş), or the Column of Constantine Porphyrogenitus. This 32 meter high obelisk is assembled by roughly cut stones. The obelisk's original construction date is unknown, but it was repaired by Constantine VII in the tenth century.





The Obelisk of Theodosius (Theodosius Dikilitaş) is the oldest monument of Constantinople. This was the ancient Egyptian obelisk of Pharaoh Thutmose III (1479–1425 BCE), and was relocated to the Hippodrome by the Roman emperor Theodosius I in 390 CE.





Located between the Walled Obelisk and the Obelisk of Theodosius in the Hippodrome is the Serpent Column (Yılanlı Sütun). Made of bronze, there were originally three serpent heads atop this 8 meter high column until the end of the 17th century. Originally erected in Delphi (Greece) in 478 BCE, it was relocated to the Hippodrome in 324 CE by Constantine the Great.



The Topkapı Palace (Topkapı Sarayı) was main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th century to the 9th century. It was contructed between 1466 and 1478 by the sultan Mehmet II on top of a hill in a small peninsula, dominating the Golden Horn to the north, the Sea of Marmara to the south, and the Bosphorus strait to the north east, with great views of the Asian side as well.





Unlike European palaces, which typically consists of a single monumental structure, Topkapi Palace consists of multiple entities such as kiosks, pavilions, and gardens throughout the site. Here is the interior of the Revan Kiosk.







The Grand Bazaar (Büyük Çarşı) is one of the largest and oldest covered bazaars in the world, at 30,700 square meters with over 60 streets and alleys and 4,000 shops. You can find almost anything here; it was colourful and had a lot of atmosphere. The jewelry shops stood out to me with the brilliance of the merchandise on display. The carpet sellers were the most aggressive here in the bazaar. Be prepared to haggle.



The Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıcı) is a subterranean structure commissioned by Emperor Justinian and built in 532 CE to store and provide water for the palace. Constructed using 336 columns, it had a storage capacity of 80,000,000 litres of water.





The 9 meter tall columns of granite and marble in the Basilica Cistern were scavenged from various old pagan temples and the spoils of war. One of the columns, known as the Crying Column, is one of the few that actually have some decoration to it. It is believed that this column, which is always wet, is adorned with weeping eyes and is dedicated to the memory of the hundreds of slaves who died building the cistern.





The Valens Aqueduct is situated in the Fatih quarter of İstanbul and joins the two sides of the valley that cuts through the district. It was completed in 368 CE by Roman Emperor Valens and was the major water-providing system for the Eastern Roman capital of Constantinople.





The Bosphorus is a strait that straddles the city of İstanbul and is also the continental boundary between Europe and Asia. I took a 2 hour boat tour of the Bosphorus, which provided nice views of İstanbul from the perspective of the water, and view of the bridges that join the continents of Europe to Asia.





I took in a Whirling Dervish ceremony at the Galata Mevlevihanesi Müzesi. Whirling dervishes perform a dance called the sema, which is a form of physically active meditation which originated among Sufis, and which is still practiced by the Sufi Dervishes of the Mevlevi order. It originated in Turkey, in the Islamic sect of Sufism, which was founded by Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi. The spinning of one's body in repetitive circles has been seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun. In this picture the sheikh stands in the middle, representing the sun.

I made sure I got to the ceremony early, to get a front row seat. It was spiritual. #spiritual



Located in the Galata quarter of Instabul, the current Galata Tower is a 66.9 meter tall medieval stone tower completed in 1348 CE. The tower has an external diameter of 16.45 meters and walls that are 3.75 m thick. It was the city's tallest structure when it was built in 1348.

It was 45 minutes in line for me to get into this popular tourist attraction. The reward for waiting in the long lineup were great views of İstanbul and the Bosphorus.



The observation deck at the Galata Tower is 52 meters above the base, which provides great views of the İstanbul area. Here is a view looking north east, with the Bosphorus Strait and the Bosphorus Bridge (15 July Martyrs Bridge) in the distance.





Looking south west from Galata Tower provides a view of the Golden Horn waterway (Haliç), with the Atatürk Bridge (Unkapanı Bridge) and the Golden Horn Metro Bridge (Haliç Metro Köprüsü) providing a crossing. The Suleymaniye Mosque (Süleymaniye Camii) can be seen in the distance.





Ankara




Located in the north west part of Turkey is Ankara, formerly known as Angora and now the capital of Turkey. The population is approximately 4.5 million. It is Turkey's second most populous city.



The Ankara Citadel is located on high ground in the oldest part of Ankara. Here is the entry to the old city with the outer castle walls.





Because the Ankara Citadel is located on high ground means that there are great views of Ankara from atop the Citadel walls.



The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara contains artefacts dating from 8000 BCE to 700 BCE found in western Turkey (Anatolia). The exhibit hall is housed in what was formerly a Bedesten (covered market), was constructed around 1470 CE, and turned into a museum starting in 1943.



The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations houses many reliefs from the Neo-Hittite period (1200-700 BCE). This is a basalt relief depicting Yariris' Speech, circa 900-700 BCE. Yariris was the king of Kargamiş.



There is a collection of large jars outside on the museum grounds. There was just not enough room inside the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations for all the jars.





The Ethnography Museum of Ankara is dedicated to the cultures of Turkic civilizations. The museum temporarily hosted the sarcophagus of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk from 1938 to 1953, during the period of the construction of Anıtkabir, its final resting place. In front of the museum is a statue of Atatürk on a horse.





The Column of Julianus was built in 362 CE to honour Roman Emperor Julianus' visit to Ankara. At 15 meters tall, it was constructed by placing flat cylindrical bricks on top of each other.





Located in Ulus Square is the Victory Monument. It depicts Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on a horse, two soldiers, and a woman carrying a cannonball. This monument was erected in 1927 in what was the main square in Ankara before the 1950s.



Anıtkabir is the mausoleum in Ankara that houses the remains of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the leader of the Turkish War of Independence and the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey. Anitkabir took 9 years to construct and was completed in 1953. The construction of Anıtkabir is a prime example of mid 20th Century Turkish architecture, which was mostly monumental, symmetry oriented, cut stone clad buildings.



There are Honour Gaurds posted throughout Anıtkabir. The different divisions of the Turkish Armed Forces are represented and distinguished by the colour of the uniform. The guards goose step throughout Anıtkabir as they change the guard.





In the Hall of Honour at Anıtkabir is the ceremonial sarcophagus of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The actual tomb is located in the basement directly below the ceremonial sarcophagus, which is made of a solid 40 ton block of red marble.





Cappadocia




Göreme was the town that I was based in for my exploration of the Cappadocia region. It has a population of 2,000 people, but it seemed like it was mostly tourists. This picture of Göreme is the classic image of the town, with "fairy chimney" rock formations and hot air balloons. It is believed the area was first inhabited between 1800 and 1200 BCE.

The Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



Uçhisar, a town located on the edge of Göreme National Park and situated at the highest point in Cappadocia, is marked by a 60 meter high castle cut into a mountain in the center of town.



Uçhisar Castle is fortress cut into the rock mountain at the top of the town of Uçhisar, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are great views of the Cappadocia area from the top of the castle.



This is the view looking north east from atop Uçhisar Castle



This is the view looking west from atop Uçhisar Castle. The city of Nevşehir can be seen in the distance.



This is the view looking at the town of Göreme from atop Uçhisar Castle.





This is the view looking south at Uçhisar and Pigeon Valley, from atop Uçhisar Castle.









Pigeon Valley is a valley that begins near Uçhisar and end at Göreme. It is named as such because of the many pigeon houses carved into the rocks and cliffs. Since ancient times, the locals used the pigeons for food and utilized the droppings for fertilizer.

It was a refreshing 6 km hike through the valley. I began at Uçhisar and descended into the valley and headed towards Göreme. There were apples growing on the trees which provided a nice snack along th way. All along the trail, one can see cave houses and pigeon houses cut into the cliff face.

A little past half way through the trail, there is a detour where you need to hike out of the valley to get around some cliffs, so to continue down the valley. There didn't seem to be any signage indicating this, so I continued on and ended up on the side of a cliff, deciding if I should continue on a trail that appeared to be 6 cm wide. I turned back and found the detour! I am pretty sure I made the right decision, as it was a long drop down.



Located in the Zemi Valley, south east of Göreme, is El Nazar Kilise (Church of the Evil Eye). This conical rock formation houses a 10th century Byzantine era church.



Inside El Nazar Kilise, the church has a dome carved into the ceiling with a fresco painting of what is believed to be The Ascension. There is also a window cut into the dome.









There are also archways inside El Nazar Kilise adorned with fresco paintings depicting Christ and the Apostles. For such a small space, it was amazing what was done to make it "feel" like a church inside this rock.



Another valley in Cappadocia with interesting rock formations is Love Valley. Located north of Göreme, these phallic shaped rock formations draw quite a crowd to the observation area on the plateau above to view them.





I rode my rental bike down into the Love Valley for a close up look at the phallic rock formations. It is oddly amusing looking at these rocks. #phallic




One of the signature tourist activities of Cappadocia is to take a hot air balloon ride. I didn't realize how big this really was until I went out before sunrise and saw all these balloons in the sky above Göreme. My first reaction was, "wow!".











From Sunrise Point in Göreme, it was quite the site to see hundreds of hot air balloons, silently hovering around the Cappadocia area as the sun rose. It was quite the spectacle to observe, and the pictures do not capture what it's like to see it in person.

It is quite expensive to go for a balloon ride. A woman, staying at the hostel I was at, was going to pay €300 for a ride, but was outbid by another tourist who was willing to pay €450 for the ride. Interestingly enough, the balloon fares were quoted in Euros. I was hoping to do a last minute thing and pay at most €100 .... not even close!





Antalya


Located on Turkey's southwest coast, Antalya is the largest Turkish city on the Mediterranean coast with over one million people in its metropolitan area. Antalya was first settled around 200 BCE, and became part of the Roman Empire around 133 BCE.





Antalya Old Town (Antalya Kaleiçi) is where Antalya began, then as the ancient city of Attalia founded during the Hellenistic period. Originally, Attalia was a walled city, with the Old Town Clock Tower (Saat Kulesi) forming part of the wall. Today, it marks the entrance to the old town.



The Antalya Archeological Museum (Antalya Müzesi) contains a large collection of archeological treasures found in the region. The museum has been in it's modern location since 1972.



The museum's featured items were it's large collection of artifacts from the nearby ancient Roman site of Perge. Here are examples from the Statuary Hall, which contains statues of mythological figures dating from the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, Roman period, found at Perge.





In the museum's Hall of Imperial Statues, there was a collection of statues portraying emperors, empresses and other personages from the Roman period, found at Perge.



Aspendos was an ancient Greco-Roman city, located 40 km east of the modern city of Antalya. It is believed that Aspendos was founded by Greeks in aproximately 1000 BCE. The city changed hands many times, as the Persians took it in 411 BCE, then Alexander the Great took it in 333 BCE. The Romans took over the city in 190 BCE.

Aspendos is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since application in 2015. Despite being relatively close to Antalya, it was not crowded with tourists.



This is the Basilica at Aspendos. A public city building, it was used as a political venue and a court. This is a view from the south of the Basilica.



Located north east of the acropolis hill of Aspendos are the remains of the Stadium. Built in the second century CE, the stadium is U-shaped and its dimensions are 220 meters in length and 30 meters in width. It is estimated the stadium could host 8,000 spectators. This picture is of the north east corner of the stadium, which is very much in ruins.



The showpiece of Aspendos is the Ampitheatre. Built in the second century CE, it is one of the best preserved theatre of antiquity. This is a picture of the view from the vomitorium into the theatre; from here, I can tell this was going to be special.





This is a view of the Aspendos Ampitheatre from the upper gallery seats. This is quite a spectacular view of the theatre; very impressive. The theatre can hold up to 7,000 spectators.



Perge began as an ancient Greek city, but changed hands between Persians and Greeks and Alexander the Great, before the Romans took over. It is located 15 km east of modern day Antalya.

Perge is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since application in 2009. Despite being relatively close to Antalya, it was not crowded with tourists (like Aspendos).







The Southern Bath at Perge is one of the better preserved Roman Bath in Turkey. One can see the apodyterium (changing room), the frigidarium (cold water room), the tepidarium (warm water room), and the caldarium (hot water room). The heating system below the floor is exposed in a couple of the rooms. Construction of the southern Baths date back to the first and second centuries CE. The first picture shows the swimming pool in the frigidarium. The second picture shows me standing outside the tepidarium. The third picture shows the exposed water channels below the floor in the tepidarium that was used to heat the floor and room.



This is a view looking north on the Columned Main Street of Perge. In the distance is the Arch Of Demetrios And Apollonius. In the middle of the road is a canal that supplied water for the fountains and baths in the city. Shops lined both sides of the street in ancient times.



The well preserved Stadium at Perge is 234 meters long and 34 meters wide, making it one of the largest of its kind. Built in the 2nd century CE, it could accommodate 12,000 people. The picture is of the north closed end of the stadium; Roman stadiums tend to be open at one end.





The Perge Ampitheatre was built around 120 CE, and combines Greek and Roman features. The theatre could accommodate 15,000 people.



The ancient city of Termessos is located 32 km north west of Antalya, and is located in the mountains at an elevation of 1000 meters ASL. To get to this site, I took a dolmuş from Antalya that dropped me off on the side of the highway at the entrance to the park. The site was still 9 km away via a mountain road.

So, I began the 9 km hike up from the park entrance to Termessos. Luckily for me, after 4 km into the hike, I was able to hitch a ride with a sympathetic Czech family (who probably felt sorry for me). For what its worth, for the return trip after visiting Termessos, I hiked the whole 9 km down from the site to the highway.



By hiking the road to Termessos, one tends to see things that one may miss when taking a vehicle. Interestingly enough, on the side of the road, a few km from Termessos, were some ancient sarcophagi remains. If I wasn't so tired from all the walking this day, I would have climbed up to investigate. There were other ancient ruins along the side of the road. #TooTired



There is a great view of the valley and the highway below from the upper city wall of the ancient city of Termessos.



The Southwest Necropolis is a twenty minute hike through the forest up the side of the mountain from the main part of Termessos. Once there, one will encounter many large stone sarcophagi scattered all about the side of the mountain, many seemingly tumbled down from the slopes above.

The site had been plundered in antiquity; however, I still had some hesitation looking into a sarcophagus with its lid ajar, for the possibility of seeing remains (there weren't any in any of the sarcophagi I looked into).



Much of Termessos' structures are unrestored, and thus in ruins. The Gymnasium, however, is in pretty good shape. This is one of the first structures encountered once you pass the inner city gate.







The crowning piece of Termessos is the Ampitheatre (Tiyatro). Situated on the side of the mountain, it offers a view of another mountain in the background behind the stage. This theatre can seat approximately 5,000 people.

I sat in the stands, taking in the spectacular scenery and serenity offered by the ampitheatre. The architects of this theatre knew what they were doing! #serenity





Pamukkale


Pamukkale, which means "cotton castle" in Turkish, is a town 16 km north of Denizli. The town is best known for the white travertine terraces formed by mineral rich hot springs depositing calcium carbonate. Pamukkale is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This picture shows the travertine terraces with the town of Pamukkale below.





The travertine terraces are basically off limits for tourists, so to help keep them white. The exception is a path up from town to the top of the terraces, where the ancient city of Hierapolis is located. Tourist are only allowed to walk up this section barefoot; the first picture shows the many tourists along the path. The second picture is of the travertine itself, looking like snow.

My left foot was blistered from my hike a couple of days before (to and from Termessos), so walking barefoot on the calcium carbonate was quite painful, as the travertine was rough and sharp. I had to modify my walking style when barefoot on the travertine. #ouch



The Travertine Terraces were a very beautiful sight to see. These ones were located west of the Medieval Fortress of Hierapolis.





The Antique Pool, also known as Cleopatra's Pool, is a man made pool in Hierapolis with the water sourced from the hot springs in the area. This pool was used therapeutically over 2000 years ago. Of note are ancient columns from the Temple of Apollo that toppled into the pool in the 7th century CE during an earthquake.

Needing a therapeutic treatment, I soaked in the Antique Pool for a couple of hours! #SpaDay



Hierapolis is the ancient Roman city that sits above the travertine terraces of Pamukkale. In ancient times, people came from afar to Hierapolis to soak in the mineral rich geothermal waters found here. Entry to the city was via the monumental entrance, the Frontinus Gate.



The North Byzantine Gate forms part of a fortification system built at Hierapolis at the end of the fourth century CE, and is the monumental entrance to the early Byzantine city.



During excavations at Hierapolis in 2011, a new church with three naves, the Church Of The Sepulchre, was uncovered. This church was built in the fourth or fifth century CE.



It is believed St Philip, one of the 12 Apostles, was buried here; thus this is referred to as the Tomb of St Philip. The tomb is located in the Church Of The Sepulchre and was found during the excavation of the church. While I was there, there were Christians making a pilgrimage there to see the ancient tomb and church.



The Hierapolis' North Necropolis was large, with many sarcophagi along the main road north of the ancient city. As many ill people who came to Hierapolis for the healing powers of the mineral rich hot springs, many also saw their final days here, thus resulting in the large necropolis.



A common adornment found on an ancient sarcophagus is a carving featuring the head of Medusa. This was done in the hopes of scaring away grave robbers; it obviously didn't work.





The Hierapolis Ampitheatre has been the object of major restoration work between 2004 and 2014. This theatre was though to have been built in 60 CE by Roman Emperor Hadrian. There are 50 rows of seats, capable of seating 15,000 people.




Located 8 km north of Pamukkale is the village of Karahayit. This village is known for its iron and calcium rich hot springs, and thus luxury spas and hotels were contructed here.





Located in the northern part of Karahayit is Red Springs. Here, there are travertine terraces formed by the hot springs, but a mini version of what is found at Pamukkale. There are many people here soaking their legs in the warm pools of water, and covering their skin with the mud found in the pools. It is called Red Springs because of the reddish tinge of the iron rich mineral deposits produced.

The locals also brought bottles and bags to capture the water that was being produced by the mineral rich hot springs. It is believed the spring water around here provides a cure against asthma and rheumatism.



Located in the center of Karahayit village is a roundabout that has a hot spring in the middle. The water coming out of it was quite hot!





One thing that caught my eye in the Karahayit village market was the many people selling soap (sabun). The soap was very colourful.





İzmir


İzmir (İzmir) is a port city located on the western part of Turkey. It is the third most populous city (approx 3,000,000 people) in Turkey, after İstanbul and Ankara. In antiquity, the city was known as Smyrna.





Located in Konak Square is the İzmir Clock Tower. It was built in 1901 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Abdülhamid II's accession to the throne. Decorated in an elaborate Ottoman architecture style, the clock tower is 25 meters high.

Note in the background, to the left of the clock tower, is the Yalı Mosque. Built in 1755, it is small and octagonal in shape.



Ephesus (Efes) was an ancient Greek city, located 3 km south west of the present day town of Selçuk, and 75 km south of İzmir. It was designated a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2015.



One of the main streets in Ephesus is Curetes Street, running from the Hercules Gate to the Celsus Library. In ancient times, the street was lined with columns, fountains, monuments, statues, and shops. Today, it is full of tourists!



The Temple Of Hadrian at Ephesus on Curetes Street was built around 138 CE and was dedicated to the Emperor Hadrian, who came to visit the city from Athens in 128 CE. The facade of the temple has four Corinthian columns supporting a curved arch, in the middle of which contains a relief of Tyche, goddess of victory.



The Terrace Houses were the luxury residential villas of Ephesus, located across the street from the Temple Of Hadrian. The homes were adorned with frescos and mosaics. In an effort to preserve the Terrace Houses, a roofed structure has been built around the houses to preserve and protect them from the elements.



The Great Theatre of Ephesus was huge; it can accommodate 24,000 people in its 66 rows of seats. The construction of the theater began in Hellenistic times. In Roman times, during the reign of Emperor Claudius (41-54 CE), the theater was enlarged.

Here I am, in the cheap seats, imagining I'm watching a performance 2,000 years ago.



The Bouleuterion was the place where some 1400 people could attend the meetings of Ephesus' city council. This structure was also used as a music concert hall.



The Library Of Celsus is the showpiece of Ephesus. Built around 110 CE as a funerary monument for Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the Library of Celsus was the third-largest library in the Roman world, behind only Alexandria and Pergamum.





Of course, the people in ancient times had the same bodily functions that we have today. The Romans built public latrines, as depicted here.



The ancient Smyrna Agora, located in modern day İzmir, dates back to the fourth century BCE





What makes the Smyrna Agora different from other agoras is that it consists of 3 levels. Here we are in the basement of the west portico of the agora. The arches once supported a floor above. There is spring water sourced at the far end of the hallway and flowing down the channel in the middle.





Paris (France)




Originally, this was purely a Turkey trip, but in an effort to get economical airfares, I booked a round trip flight from Vancouver to Paris, and a separate round trip flight from Paris to İstanbul. Thus, I decided to book the flights such that it allowed me 4 days (2019 Oct 19 - 23) in Paris, France.



It was a rainy day, so it was going to be a museum day. So it was going to be a visit to Musée du Louvre. The Louvre is the world's largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris.

There was a long lineup just to get in the Louvre; I was in line for 45 minutes in the rain. By the time I got in, the lineup outside had grown significantly.



The Louvre has a large collection of Egyptian artifacts, with over 50,000 pieces. Napoleon's expedition to Egypt in 1798 provided a lot of pieces in the collection. Here is a Sphynx made of granite.



One of the featured pieces in the Louvre is the Venus de Milo. This Greek statue, found in 1820 with the arms missing, was created sometme between 130 and 100 BCE and is a depiction of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. However, the staue is named after Aphrodite's Roman name, Venus, and the island it was found on, Milos (Greece).




The Louvre has more than 7500 paintings in its collection. The largest crowds were around Leonardo da Vinci's painting, the Mona Lisa. It was painted between 1503 and 1506, and thought to be a painting of the Italian noblewoman Lisa Gherardini.



One of the icons of Paris is the Arc de Triomphe. This monument originally honoured those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars; it now honours all those who died in conflicts involving France.

The Arc de Triomphe has an overall height of 50 metres (164 ft), width of 45 m (148 ft) and depth of 22 m (72 ft), while its large vault is 29.19 m (95.8 ft) high and 14.62 m (48.0 ft) wide.



To get to the observation deck of the Arc de Triomphe, one has to climb the 284 steps of a spiral staircase. Here's what it looks like, looking down the staircase. It was a bit of a workout climbing the stairs.





The Arc de Triomphe is located at western end of the Champs-Élysées. Here is the view, looking east down the Champs-Élysées. The views of Paris are very good from the observation deck on top of the Arc.



Housed in a former train station, the Musée D'Orsay has the largest collection of impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh.



In this corner of Musée D'Orsay are several works from impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir. His paintings were of "nice" things, and he seemed to excel at displaying the the sensuality and beauty of the female subjects in his paintings.

There is a softness and positiveness that he brings out in the paintings of his subjects that I enjoy, and that's why he is my favourite of the impressionists.



There's a sizeable crowd around Renoir's 1876 masterpiece, Bal du Moulin de la Galette. The painting depicts a typical Sunday afternoon at the original Moulin de la Galette in the district of Montmartre in Paris.





Impressionist painter Claude Monet is best known for painting various nature themed landscapes in different light and seasons, such as with his series with Water Lilies. However, here are a couple of paintings with human subjects known as the "Women with a Parasol" series. It was nice to see something other than water lilies!



The Musée de L'Orangerie, located in a building built in 1852 to store the citrus trees of the Tuileries garden from the cold in the winter, is now an art gallery that displays impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, and houses the famous eight large Water Lilies murals by Claude Monet.





Monet's Water Lilies murals were prominently displayed in two large oval shaped rooms at the Musée de L'Orangerie. The largest crowds were to be found lingering around these two rooms. On the left is "Water Lilies: Morning", and on the right is "Water Lilies: Setting Sun". I think I have overdosed on Water Lilies!



The Musée Rodin in Paris host many works from the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The museum, a former hotel (Hôtel Biron), has a collection of 6,600 sculptures. The gardens around the former hotel many of Rodin's most famous sculptures in a natural setting.



The bronze sculpture, The Thinker (Le Penseur), is Rodin's most famous piece and is this work is recognized and referenced in popular culture. To me, The Gates of Hell depicted the chaos and desperation of humans.





I found Rodin's piece, The Gates of Hell (La Porte de l'Enfer) to be strangely interesting. This sculpture depicts a scene from Dante's Inferno. The work is 6 metres high, 4 metres wide and 1 metre deep, and contains 180 figures.





Food



A few hostels I stayed at included breakfast (kahvaltı) as part of the accommodations. I noticed that, from what I was served, that there was a typical Turkish Breakfast. It typically consists of tea with some bread with spread such as butter or Nutella, slices of cucumbers and tomatos, olives, cheese, sausage slices, and a hard boiled egg.




A Döner Kebap is seasoned meat that is stacked in the shape of an inverted cone and cooked on a slowly turning rotisserie. Thin slices of meat are shaved off and served in bread or wraps. The meat on the döner typically consists of chicken (tavuk) or beef (sığır) or lamb (kuzu).




Testi Kebap is a stew, cooked in a personal sized sealed clay pot, consisting of meat chunks that can be chicken or beef or lamb, with onions, mushrooms, tomatos, peppers, and potatoes. Literally translating as "pottery kebab", the clay pot is cracked open in front of you and the stew inside is poured out onto a plate. It seemed a bit gimmicky that they have to crack the clay pot open, as it is only sealed with foil.




Kiymali Pide consists of Turkish flatbread (pita bread) with minced meat on top.




There were food carts serving mısır (corn) that came in two styles: közde mısır (roasted corn) or süt mısır (boiled corn). They would typically give you some corn husks to hold the corn.




Lokum (Turkish Delight) is a sweet confectionary, consisting of small, fragrant cubes of jelly, traditionally flavoured with rosewater, orange flower water or lemon juice and dusted with icing sugar. Premium varieties consist largely of chopped dates, pistachios, and hazelnuts or walnuts bound by the gel. Mmmm!





I could not help but notice the size of the nar (pomegranates) in Turkey. I've never seen such large pomegranates before (the picture does not really convey how big they are). There were many stands that would freshly squeeze "nar suyu" (pomegranate juice).





Transportation



My travel from Vancouver to Turkey was via plane, consisting of two round trip flights booked using different providers. The first round trip was Vancouver to Paris on Air Transat, and the second round trip was Paris to İstanbul on Atlas Global. By booking two separate round trips, I was able to reduce my airfare by several hundred dollars.




I took the high speed train from İstanbul (Söğütlüçeşme Station) to Ankara. This line first started operating in 2009, and is designed to reach speeds of up to 250 km/hr. The first half of the ride was through mountainous territory and I was wondering why this was called a"high speed train". However, once out onto the flatlands, the train eventually did begin to move at "high speed" and actually did move at 250 km/hr at times (they had a display on board showing the current velocity).




Turkey has a network on inter city trains. Pictured here is the train I took from Denizli to Izmir. The trains were clean and seemed like an efficient and comfortable way to travel.




The intercity bus (şehirlerarası otobüs) is the workhorse of intercity travel. There are many bus lines providing frequent service between cities and towns. The buses were actually pretty nice, and they usually have an attendant on board to serve a drink and snack. This was the bus I took from Ankara to Nevşehir (pictured during a bio break stop).




İstanbul is a city that straddles the Bosphorus. There is an extensive ferry system to get people around across the water. For my Bosphorus boat tour, the most economical one was really just a ferry that did a loop around the Bosphorus.




The Metro, or subway system, is usually the quickest way to get around, as it has it doesn't get stuck in traffic jams and the trains run frequently. I rode the metro in İstanbul and Ankara. Yes, they tend to be packed with people too, but it moves faster than the cars.




I used the tram, or streetcar as it is known in North America, in İstanbul and Antalya to get around. The trams in service are quite modern can move a lot of people around and seem to be popular, as they were usually packed when I rode them.

Pictured is the Heritage (antique) Taksim - Tünel Tram, which is both a tourist attraction and a means of transport in Beyoğlu‘s main shopping district.




The workhorse of local travel in Turkey is the dolmuş. Literally translating to English as "filled", this shared public taxi usually doesn't leave until it has a good number of passengers in it. Typically, the fare is pretty cheap and is based on how far you ride it. The fare is usually paid at the end of the ride, and the driver seems to remember where you got on and charges you based on where you get off. There are no official stops on the route; you wave to flag it down, and inform the driver when you want to get off.

To get back to Antalya from Termessos, I had to catch a dolmuş from the side of the highway. It was tricky, as traffic was moving fast and I had to keep an eye out for the dolmuş. When I spotted one, I waved, it flashed it's headlights and, because it was moving fast, finally came to a stop 100 meters past me, and I was able to get back to town!




For one of the days while I was in Göreme, I rented a bicycle so I could explore the Cappadocia area more efficiently, as a lot of the sites and rock formations were spread all over the place. The bike I rented was a piece of crap, but it did help me explore a lot more territory than if I had walked.




I did a lot of walking on this trip. Besides it's low cost, it allows one to see things in between where you are going.





Miscellaneous



There are street markets in all cities and towns in Turkey, where you can buy food and everyday goods. This is a street market in the village of Karahayit.




For my visit to the Ethnography Museum of Ankara, there was an event that was to take place there that evening, so they had this bomb sniffing dog clear the venue of possible explosives. There were Turkish security forces around in major cities (such as İstanbul and Ankara) that looked ready to deploy in the event of unrest.







Tortoises are basically land dwelling turtles. I encountered a couple of tortoises on this trip. The first one pictured was wandering among the ruins at Perge. The second one pictured was crossing the road that lead to Termessos. Tortoises are the longest living land animal in the world. They are herbivores, feeding on grasses, weeds, leafy greens, flowers, and some fruits.




Something I noticed when i was in Turkey was the strange blue glass amulet that many stores and vendors were selling. Apparently, is was the nazar, or the evil eye. Actually, the nazar is a talisman to ward off the evil eye. The evil eye is a curse or legend believed to be cast by a malevolent glare, usually given to a person when they are unaware.

This tree, located at a cafe in Pigeon Valley (Cappadocia), is full of the nazar charms.

I've placed a couple of these nazar around my desk at the office!




As a solo traveler, the most economic accommodation (not counting sleeping outside) is usually in a hostel, in a dormitory. Typically, a dorm consists of bunk beds, and they'll cram as many bunk beds as they can into a room. There certainly is a lot less privacy when staying in a dorm, but you do get to meet a lot of people! Pictured here is my dorm room in Pamukkale; the bottom bunk in the middle of the picture was my bed. Tip: The bottom bunk is best as ingress and egress from your bed is easy, and your backpack is nearby on the floor.





Turkey (& Paris) Trip - Prologue

This was another great trip for me. Turkey is a very interesting place to visit. The weather in Turkey while I was there was warm and mostly sunny. There is so much history there to see, the food was great, and the people were friendly. Despite the fact that I spoke or read almost no Turkish, I was still able to get around and didn't starve (I'm good at miming and pointing at things). I am glad I made this trip, and would recommend it as a vacation destination.
This is now the third trip in a row I've done with carry on luggage only. Travelling light has worked for me, as it forces you to only take what you need. It certainly increases one's mobility when travelling around. Here I am pictured with what I packed for the trip. I'd recommend people try it.

It was generally cold and wet for my visit to Paris. Luckily, Paris has a lot of world class museums that one can visit. There is much culture there.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments about this trip or travelling in general!


Check out my Tweets during the trip


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