turkey Tag

basilica cistern, istanbul, turkey, underground water tank, istanbul underground site (1)
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Why an Istanbul site reminded me of Harry Potter

Basilica Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey I couldn’t help it, you know. Think about Harry Potter, that is. The books are set in England – I shouldn’t really have been finding associations here in Turkey, in a city like Istanbul with its influences of Eastern Europe and Asia. But there was no denying it… it was all I could think about as I walked between the large stone columns. You see, it was all about the name. I was under the streets of Istanbul, in an enormous dark and cavernous vault and I had flashes in my mind of a snake. A large snake. Do you remember the enormous creature that is released in The Chamber of Secrets? No? That’s fine. I’ll remind you quickly. It is a huge serpent, with a mouth large enough for a man (or a boy wizard), which emerges from a hole in an underground labyrinth and slithers through tunnels...

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12 November
saklikent gorge canyon near fethiye turkey (3)
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Through the river to the canyon

Saklikent Gorge, Turkey Crashing through the water, fighting the strong current of the river, I hold on tight to my bag. My shoes are soaking, my shorts are getting wetter by the second and the chill in my legs is creeping up to a point where it could become very uncomfortable. But this is an unavoidable discomfort. My path is blocked by the streaming waters and the only way through is to walk – or scramble, really – over the rocks through the river. I’m at Saklikent Gorge, a natural beauty about 50 kilometres from the Turkish city of Fethiye. I had jumped on one of the minibuses that serve as public transportation in the area and an hour later arrived at what turned out to be a very popular spot for families on a hot summer Saturday afternoon. After paying the entrance fee, I had walked along a narrow pathway along the...

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04 October
how to make gozleme, turkey, turkish food, turkish pancake, gozleme (3)
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Making Turkish gozleme

The Turkish pancake cooked on the street The woman sits on the ground smiling at me… she knows I have already made up my mind. The man keeps talking loudly and fast… he’s too preoccupied with his spiel to notice that I’ve taken a step forward. It’s hard to resist the lure of the gozleme in Turkey. It’s cheap, it’s quick and it’s tasty. It might even be good for you – I’m not sure, I tried not to think about that as I moved closer to have my second of the day. She reaches towards her ingredients, the woman on the ground, as I nod and ask for a gozleme with spinach and cheese. The scattering of flour across the table and her clothes shows she's a professional. Only someone comfortable with their work would leave their studio in such a state. She chats with her friends, all also sitting cross-legged on the...

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02 October
grand bazaar, istanbul, turkey, turkish markets, istanbul market, bazaar, shopping (1)
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Inside the Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul The lamps hang from the ceiling of the stall, glowing like a constellation. Different shapes, varied sizes, a range of colours. Each on their own is a work of art – together they become a gallery of light. Such is the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. At the centre of the old city, undercover and along ancient alleyways, it was once the heart of the city’s trade. In fact, it was at the heart of much of the world’s economy for decades – the bridge between Europe and Asia culturally and commercially. These days it’s more about tourism than trade… but more on that in a second. A carpet store hangs its designs at the entrance while the owner drinks his tea on a stool. A few metres away a man is trying to call visitors into his clothes store where shirts are stacked in coloured towers. From another stall,...

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27 September
xanthos letoon turkey, visiting lycian ruins, getting to xanthos, lycian, turkey, fethiye (9)
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The mysterious Lycians

The Lycians Who were the Lycians? It’s a good question… and not one with an easy answer. The records of these ancient people aren’t as detailed or numerous as their contemporaries. There are a lot of assumptions that need to be made when putting together a clear picture of the Lycians. It’s a question worth asking as a visitor to Turkey, though. The ruins of their civilisation are spread out across a significant part of the country and the sites are an important part of any historical tour of the region. What we do know is that they lived in the area which is now central Turkey, stretched between Antalya and Fethiye from at least 1500 BC (although probably from much earlier) until about the 6th century AD. Their location put them right at the nexus of Greece and the Eastern world – and this meant they picked up influences from both sides. Unlike...

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15 September
haircut in istanbul, shave in instanbul, turkish shave and haircut, turkey, barber (5)
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A close shave

A haircut in Istanbul There's something quite scary about a man lunging at you with a blade. Even if you've willingly sat down in his chair and he means you no harm, it's an unnerving experience. The man's name is Senol and he's one of the hundreds of barbers in Istanbul. Young, good-looking and friendly, he smiles and tries to make me feel comfortable. This is more than just a simple haircut and a shave. In Turkey, this is a cultural adventure. Senol had been recommended to me by the owner of my hotel. When I arrive at the shop it is locked, but Senol's father is sitting outside on a stool smoking a cigarette. He gestures that he will just make a quick phone call and I should wait. Senol arrives a few minutes later. I sit down and using a mixture of broken English and broken sign language explain that I'd like...

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14 September
fethiye tombs turkey, lycian tombs, things to do in fethiye (2)
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Tombs of Fethiye

Fethiye, Turkey "Its not the same as it used to be," the woman tells me as she sucks on a cigarette. She takes a sip of her raki, the traditional Turkish spirit, and continues. "I've been here for 25 years now and Fethiye has changed," she pauses, "...

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11 September
Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, turkey, turkish shipwrecks, things to do in bodrum, museums (4)
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Discovering sunken treasure

The Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology Who doesn’t love the idea of discovering sunken treasure? I’m sure I remember it being a dream of mine as a young boy. Sailing off a ship (pirate or otherwise), following a map to find the spot where x marks, and then opening up those chests full of gold. “Ah ha me maties, we’ll share this bullion and have a few rums to celebrate.” Or something like that. I’m not sure about the rum part of things – I was just a kid, after all. Well, finally my dream came true in Turkey when I found the spot, I found x, I found sunken treasure. True, archaeologists and professional divers had already retrieved everything from the water and put it all in one location, but it was still worthy of some celebrational rum later that evening. The treasure trove is called the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology....

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06 September
hierapolis pamukkale turkey, white cliffs, pools, visiting pamukkale, calcium travertines (1)
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Turkish travertines

Pamukkale, Turkey "Shoes off," the guard at Pamukkale instructs me. I look ahead - a long and wide white pathway lies before me, filled with visitors with their shoes in the hands. I take mine off and step onto the strange-looking surface. I know from my research that it's calcium, washed down in the water and hardened over the centuries. It feels solid to touch and, as I start to walk along, a soft flow of water splashes over my feet. I make my way up the path, which is leading towards the top of the cliffs. Large pools of water have formed in terraces along the side and, if you dared walk amongst the young children playing in them, you would find softer deposits of calcium that your feet would sink into slightly. At the top of the cliffs (where I’m allowed to put my shoes back on) is a track that leads...

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04 September