Turkey

Turkey is like a second home to us, living there for over four years. We traveled the country extensively and have written it up just for you. Start planning your trip to Turkey today.

Turkish Roses and Rose Oil

Turkish Roses

Living in Turkey provided us with so many cultural and once in a lifetime opportunities like swimming to a castle or watching the oil wrestling matches, and we were itching for another. The Turks love roses, anything with roses in it, and we found out that we live, breathe, and as it turns out, eat roses for a weekend. Off we went! We were heading to a tiny village outside of Isparta where we had signed up to be part of a team of rose pickers to follow the famous Turkish roses, the Rosa Damascena, through the entire harvest and rose oil process. Driving along Lake Burdur in Spring, we enjoyed the golden glow of the landscapes and watching the …

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Göbekli Tepe – The World’s First Cathedral?

Gobekli Tepe

Could the first organized religion be found on a small hill in Southern Turkey? The first time we visited Göbekli Tepe, we drove through the dust from Şanliurfa, a Muslim  pilgrimage site where Abraham was born and killed.  Even though the roads are paved, the barren landscape cannot hold back the wind, which can be very strong and carries with it plenty of dust, heat, and history. It’s only about 15 kilometers, but it’s a long, slow, almost boring 15 kilometers.   It is so deserted that we were thrilled to come upon a small band of boys riding their donkeys and tending their sheep.  We stopped and attempted a chat with them, but as boys usually do, it was more …

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What’s for Turkish Breakfast?

Turkish Breakfast

Turkish breakfast or “kahvaltı” is a great way to get your day started and it’s tasty, too! There are so many good things about Turkish breakfast. Many of the foods are staples in the Turkish kitchen: bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, yogurt, eggs, olives, honey, jam, and sometimes meat. Turkish bread is amazing. Years ago, the ekmek (bread) was a flatter loaf, almost like a pita, but not that thin. Every street had a baker very close by, and someone would walk down and buy the warm bread. Today the loaves have changed a little, they are more like a diamond-shaped, fatter loaf. It’s still delicious, but often it is made in huge factories, driven to the local vendor by vans …

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How to Get to Know the Turks in Ankara

Travel is about experience, about people.  Throw away that guidebook and follow these steps to know the friendliest, most hospitable people on earth.  The Turks have been invaded, rarely conquered, and always admired for thousands of years.  Living on land that has long been the crossroads of civilizations they have always dealt with visitors from around the globe.  Modern day tourists can’t help but trip over these remains of ancient cultures.  Famous people such as St. Paul, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and even Barack Obama have come here to conquer or court this country for its supreme position.  Ankara has been the capital of Turkey since 1923, and it is here that great people still come to meet the …

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Bursa and the Birth of the Ottoman Empire

Bursa World Heritage Site

In 2014, Bursa and Cumalikizik were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Bursa is the fourth largest city in Turkey and has for centuries been a center of trade. It was well-established on ancient trade routes trading, especially known as a center for  Chinese silk; eventually some wily tradesment conspired to acquire some silk worms, creating their own silk industry. Silk scarves are still some of the best buys you can find in Bursa. Cumalikizik is about a half-hour drive from Bursa. It was inscribed as a typical Turkish village which contributed to the wealth of the bigger city.  Today it is mostly popular with Turkish movie producers as it is quaint and colorful with village ladies selling homemade foods, embroidery, …

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How to Get Your Henna On at a Turkish Henna Party!

Living in Turkey gave us the unique opportunity to make lots of friends, mostly from work. That, in turn, afforded us a view into the daily life, personal milestones, and how they are celebrated. My friend Çakal was getting married, and of course she was going to have a bridal party. In Turkey, brides are wished good luck at her henna night. We had so much fun at our first Turkish henna party. At A Turkish Wedding – Henna Tattoos for All! In Turkey, the typical “bridal” shower is a “Kına Gecesi,” which literally means “henna evening.” Only women attend henna parties, although these days, some men sneak in towards the end of the evening when the party is in …

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A Visit to Çatalhöyük, Turkey

Educational display of life in Catalhoyuk.

For some reason, I had a hard time getting to Çatalhöyük, a newly inscribed archaeological site in Turkey.  It was located only about three hours from my house in Ankara, and yet it took me four years to get there.  I kept putting it off and putting it off. A good friend of mine moved to Turkey, and it was high on her list so she kept on about it the whole year…and we finally made it.   Once I did finally go and walk around the windswept plains, I felt kind of justified.  There isn’t much out there.  I had been meaning to get there, but soon after I arrived in Turkey there was the great hoopla over Göbeklitepe, which is …

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Camel Wrestling in Selçuk

Walking down the street through the market stalls of Selçuk on a January Saturday afternoon, a cacophony of noise erupted. Hurrying to see what was happening, we ran to the town square. There backed by a huge banner of Atatürk on one side and an ancient aqueduct on the other, was the largest camel I have ever seen.  He was frothing at the mouth and decked out in all the latest camel finery. His saddle, covered with colorful felt and sequins, made him look like he was at least twelve feet tall.  There would be no way that I wouldn’t mess around with him. What was he doing here? And why was there so much slobber being generated in that mouth? Every time he …

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Visiting Gaziantep

Gone to Gaziantep everyone!  When will we every learn?  When will we ever learn? I’m not sure Joan Baez has been here, but Gaziantep is the place to go if you want to see mosaics, eat the best baklava in Turkey, and meet the most genuine and friendly people in the world. The city used to be called just “Antep”, but after the war the name was changed to honor all Turkey’s fallen heroes.  In southeastern Turkey, it is famous for its food and most especially its baklava.  One of the best places to try this delicacy is Imam Cagdas’, located across from the spice market and up the street a little is the old copper market.  As you read …

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