Don't worry guys, this won't be a history lesson where I will be going on and on about this place. This is effectively my first ever article about anything but guess I am more excited to share my experience visiting Turkey than frightened by the fact that I am putting myself out there.
To tell you a bit about me, my name is Mouhamadou Ndiaye, and am from Senegal - got used to the nickname Nouche for so long that even I often confuse it with my real name. The main reason why I set out to travel is that I am very very very curious about the world out there, embark myself (and hopefully some of you out there), on a journey to discover these countries and cities that I always heard of and have been dreaming about.
Well, I can't really say for sure, although it was very high on my list, it was not really the top but as with most countries I have had the chance to visit, it's the opportunity that really drives me towards it (i.e. tickets, annual leave, peak/low season, etc.).
I think with little research, a lot can be gathered about a country but make sure you take the comments of other people who have been there before with a pinch of salt. No two experiences in about anything are similar ( I have a friend who has had a very bad experience in Brazil when it is known for vibrant music, beaches and nice people - Drifting a bit here...)
My choice for Turkey was largely influenced by the fact that it is exactly where East meets West. A city that embraces the culture from two continents, you simply can't go wrong.
Alongside that, the landmarks and views you get from either side of the river can keep you gobsmacked for a while.
It all starts with checking the pre-requisites for visiting the country be it, passport, visa requirements, etc.
My habit with traveling is always avoiding to make a thorough plan, I just start with a list of things I would like to do and landmarks I would like to see. Planning to the minute simply takes away the fun in getting lost in the middle of nowhere and finding your way back and discovering a new thing - You just have to let your inner adventurer take the reins.
First of all, pick the right time (March-May and September-November), then you avoid both large crowds and adverse weather. I personally have learned from websites like Jack's flight club to browse and compare flights. The first tip is never ever to look for flights using your browser, incognito is your friend when browsing for a ticket.
PS: Never forget to clear your browser or at least delete the cookies from the airline websites. That way, no history of the search for a particular ticket will be stored and a price hike won't
The usual question "hotels vs Airbnb?". Well, there isn't a good or bad answer to that question as it solely depends on what you're there for. Personally, I like the be close to the cultural side of a country by staying with the locals but love the features offered by certain hotels in certain countries. i.e. Some hotels provide a Turkish bath and sauna.
Places & Landmarks
There is an endless list of amazing places to visit in Istanbul but some will guarantee you a wowing moment. I will just mention 2-3 from the two cities I have had the chance to visit but am certain there are zillions of them still untouched.
Istanbul is not the capital of Turkey but definitely one of the most talked-about cities in the country. You just can't go to Turkey without stopping, even for a couple of days in Istanbul
The Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque):
This edifice was built in 1616 and to-date still is one of the most impressive buildings in the world (to my perspective). Also there numerous things to do around the mosque, from the local shops to the tea chap at the gate.
"You must grab yourself one of these treats if you have a chance to visit the blue mosque"
The Grand Bazaar
The right place for all your shopping, from souvenir to home decoration, even food can be bought at the Bazaar. You simply need to clear a whole day in your schedule because that's how long it may take you, if lucky to see almost everything this place has to offer.
"Stop by the tea shop near the Bazaar mosque for a cup (glass) of Turkish after a long walk around the market, you just won't regret it"
This restaurant is one of my favourites places, the view is just breath-taking, sitting by the river and see the bridge reach the other side of the bank. They offer fresh seafood in a large variety to select the most demanding customer's taste buds.
"Seafood with a sea view!"
There are different stories around where the name really came from but all opinions agree that Cappadocia is another not-to-miss place that sits right at the heart of Turkey.
The Dalton Brothers Ranch
Here, you will get to experience your best horseback riding from Göreme, around the beautiful valley of Nevşehir. The best time is to go late in the afternoon so you can catch a sunset.
The Green Tour
This is one of the most sought (and potentially most exciting) activities to do around Cappadocia. It allows you to travel both physically and in time around what this region is really about. From the cave properties in Selime to the amazing Ihlara Valley (where you can rest your feet in the water after a 5km walk). The underground cities as well give you a glimpse into the level of genius that this place was blessed with as early as the Byzantine era.
This is the face I made when I was asked what was my favourite part of the tour...
Cappadocia is not the 3rd best place to do hot air balloons in the world for no reason. It is certainly a must-do activity even if you are afraid of heights. The views that the valley has to offer will be remembered forever (and I mean it)
Now that you have read my very own experience of Turkey, I hope that you will start dreaming about all the nice things you could be doing, and hopefully start looking for tickets ( Just so you can end up with the chap in the photo...)
On a serious note though, your experience with any country will be very specific to you so go out there and make the best of it.
Until you read me again, I wish to have a brilliant time!