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I am sure that anyone who has ever visited Turkey wants to return to it. In this post I will talk about the summer of 2020 which was out of the ordinary and it was definitely not easy to travel then.
If you look at my older posts, you’ll see that I already wrote about general information related to Turkey and Istanbul. Turkey was open to tourists in the summer of 2020 (without any restrictions related to the pandemic) and Turkish Airlines had a sale on tickets from Zagreb to Istanbul for 99 euros. Consequently, I didn’t think too long about it and I started planning our trip to Turkey.
We didn’t stay in Istanbul for too long because we’ve already been there a couple of times, so instead we rented a car and headed to the south of the country. The final price of the car we rented for 6 days was 250 euros (with tolls and insurance included) and we also had to pay for gas (1L of petrol=6 kn).
Before we rented the car, I read a lot about people’s experiences with it and most of them said it was really stressful to drive around Turkey in a car. However, we didn’t experience it in that way. We were driving from Istanbul to Izmir for 6 hours (500 km). The highway is wide and clear so everything went smoothly.
We made our first stop in Bursa – the former capital of the Ottoman Kingdom. This city is known for its rich culture but it’s also known as „Yeşil Bursa“ or „Green Bursa“ because of the amount of gardens and green spaces it has to offer. Bursa was the first Turkish city I visited besides Istanbul and that was the first time I ever got the chance to really feel the Turkish vibe. It’s important to mention that very few people speak English because tourism isn’t very developed there. We mostly met locals and the prices were a lot lower compared to Istanbul.
The whole old part of the city center is actually one huge endless market so it’s very easy to get lost. Once upon a time, the “Silk Road” was located here, so many fashion designers buy fabrics for their creations right here at the famous silk market “Koza Han”.
I wanted to buy only one dress there, but I quickly realised that I couldn’t because they sell their clothes by kilo and not by piece. We stayed in Bursa for couple of hours which was enough to get to know the city, walk around the main square, eat lunch in a local restaurant and get inspired. The trip to Bursa can be organized extremely easy if you are in Istanbul. The trip takes about 2 hours (154km) and believe me it is worth seeing a completely different, in fact a native Turkish city that differs in many ways from tourist Istanbul.
We continued to drive from Bursa to Izmir and we finally arrived in the evening. After we put our bags in the hotel, we headed to the city center where the famous „Konak Pier“ is located. Konak Pier is the work of Gustave Eiffel, the architect who designed the world-famous Eiffel Tower in Paris. It is located along a beautiful promenade that offers many luxury restaurants. I personally think that Izmir is a modern Turkish city suitable for living with access to the Aegean Sea.
EPHESUS – EFES najočuvaniji antički grad Mediterana
The city of Ephesus is believed to date from the 12th century p.n. e. Today, this place is an unavoidable tourist attraction on the west coast of Turkey and is worth a visit because it is one of the best preserved ancient cities. It is located 50km south of Izmir. We arrived in Ephesus in the morning so we thought it would be a good idea to try their breakfast. Just like I mentioned before, almost no one speaks English or any other foreign language for that matter. Due to the difficult communication, we ordered our breakfast not knowing what would arrive on the table. Surprisingly, the hosts served us a real Turkish breakfast spread across several courses, and the price of the breakfast for two people was only 55 TL (roughly 50 kn). After that, we went to the antique part of the city. The ticket price is 100 TL. Next to Cappadocia and Pamukkale, Ephesus is a must see place in Turkey. That day was really hot with the temperature of 35 degrees, but it was absolutely worth it.
What is preserved?
Large amphitheater: built in Hellenistic times, in the 4th century p. N. e., its capacity reached the number of 25,000 visitors
Celsius Library – the third largest ancient library which is a beautiful place for taking photos
Without a doubt, this is one of the most colourful and warmest places I’ve ever visited. Alcati is a small town on the coast of Aegean Sea. A large number of Greeks have lived in this part of Turkey throughout history, which has left its mark on architecture. At one point I wasn’t even sure if I was in Greece or Turkey. A perfect blend of traditional Greek culture and modern Turkish architecture is definitely visible. We stayed in a beautiful traditional house which had an amazing garden, terrace and pool. Peninsula Cesme is known as a luxury holiday destination so the prices were quite high. This town is filled with outstanding restaurants and it offers every possible cuisine, with fish being the most served food. If you are not a fan of public beaches, beach clubs will be perfect for you because they offer deck chair, parasol and towel for only 100 kn per person (one good example is Kafe Pi Beach Club). We spent 4 days on the coastline and then we headed back to Istanbul.
On our way back, we stopped in Bursa’s shopping centers. Additionaly, when you enter Istanbul you can see an enormous shopping outlet store which is definitely worth a visit (http://www.viaport.com.tr/en/).
My goal with this travelogue is to inspire you to travel and to help you organise and plan a very exciting trip. I love trips which allow me to experience a lot of things because that’s how I grow as a person. This type of travel requires a lot of preparation and patience because you need to pay attention to plenty of details. This was our first time renting a car in Turkey and I would kindly recommend it because that way you can manage your own time and you can be flexible about changing your plans.
Airplane tickets: 100 euros per person (Zagreb – Istanbul)
Rent a car : 350 euros (with gas)
Accommodation: 50 – 100 euros per night for 2 people
Travel insurance: 30 euros for 2 people
Other expenses (food, shopping, excursions) – depends on what you want to experience
This trip is yet another example which shows that travelling doesn’t have to be expensive. We experienced so much in these 9 days in Turkey and we only spent around 500 euros (per person) so to me it was definitely worth it.
Once you visit Turkey, you’ll always want to go back. I’m sure of it.
Travel period: July 2020
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Thank you for reading.