Exploring Turkiye Solo on a Group Tour: Fascinating & Beautiful

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while discovering turkiye solo, king admired the interior of the hagia sophia
Admiring the superb inside of the Hagia Sophia

What a candy time I had on my pleasant Turkish journey! Visiting Turkiye solo on a bunch tour was a gorgeous expertise.

Bordering Europe and Asia, Turkiye (previously Turkey) sits in a novel spot between east and west. I believed I used to be educated about Turkiye earlier than I arrived, however as soon as there I spotted that I knew little or no about this lovely and historic nation. I used to be glad for the chance to fill this information hole in my mind.

My First Impressions of Istanbul

Istanbul is extra trendy in look than I had anticipated for a metropolis with such an extended historical past. Most giant historic cities, like those present in Western Europe, normally have a clearer separation between the traditional and the fashionable.

In Istanbul, I really feel they’ve discovered a solution to combine trendy and historical collectively so effectively that you simply don’t even discover that an historical monument is subsequent to a contemporary construction. I really feel this aesthetic can be mirrored within the common inhabitants on a regular basis. As you discover Turkiye solo, you’ll see these wearing very conventional apparel subsequent to those that appear to be they’ve simply stepped off a runway in Paris, however neither seems to be misplaced on the streets of Istanbul.

Tour guides George Kourounis and Semih Eser
Our tour guides George Kourounis (left) and Semih Eser

Meeting Our Guides

I used to be very lucky to be hosted by Exodus Travels throughout my keep in Turkiye on their premium tour of Istanbul and Cappadocia. As at all times, their premium excursions embrace a named professional native information. For this tour we have been fortunate to have Semih Eser–who has over 30 years of expertise designing and guiding excursions in Turkiye–as our major information. 

We have been fortunate to even have a bonus information on our tour as we have been joined by famend National Geographic explorer, filmmaker, photographer, and Chapter Chair of the Explorers Club, George Kourounis. In addition to his unimaginable insights, it was reassuring to have somebody like George alongside who’s equally snug whereas surrounded by nice white sharks or standing on the crater’s fringe of an exploding volcano. Who wants Bear Grylls when one has George Kourounis?

cistern basilica
Cistern Basilica

Put on Your Walking Shoes to Explore the Sights of Turkiye Solo

Our first day didn’t embrace any nice white sharks or energetic volcanoes as we strolled by way of the traditional streets of Istanbul, however it did embrace many historic monuments that I’ve solely discovered about on-line or in widespread tradition. 

Visitors to this nice metropolis ought to observe that there’s a good motive why Istanbul known as the City on Seven Hills, so make sure you put on snug footwear when exploring on foot. Walking and public transit are the very best methods to discover town as site visitors can change into fairly congested through the day. 

The Hagia Sophia was initially constructed as a Christian Church within the sixth century, however over time it was transformed right into a mosque, then a museum, and is now a mosque once more. It was an necessary monument for each the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. During your go to, remember to lookup and admire the dome which is second in dimension solely to the Pantheon in Rome. 

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, extra generally often known as the Blue Mosque, will get its title not due to the blue dome on the outside, however due to the blue tiles that encircle its inside partitions. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, and was constructed between 1609 and 1616. Unfortunately, throughout my go to it was largely lined in scaffolding attributable to renovations, however what I did see was fairly gorgeous, so I can’t wait to return once more after the renovations are full.

Beneath the streets of Istanbul is the Basilica Cistern. Built in 523 it has lovely columns that make it look cathedral-like, and whilst you might not have visited in particular person, any followers of James Bond will acknowledge it from the movie From Russia with Love.

During your go to to the Basilica Cistern, look out for the column that has the upside-down head of Medusa at its base. I don’t know if anybody actually is aware of the rationale for this, please inform me in the event you do, however I used to be informed the generally accepted principle was that they have been merely reusing constructing supplies from a earlier mission to construct this one. That is sensible to me because the chamber would have been crammed with water and never meant as a vacationer attraction on the time it was constructed. 

entrance of the grand bzaar
The entrance of the Grand Bazaar

The Best Exchange Rates in Istanbul

Starting in 1455, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is among the oldest procuring malls on the earth and one of many largest with over 4,000 shops! Visiting is a enjoyable journey, particularly for shopaholics as you’ll discover absolutely anything right here. You ought to undoubtedly discount with the retailers to essentially get into the spirit of issues.

Surprisingly, I discovered that the forex exchanges within the Grand Bazaar had the very best charges I’d seen in Istanbul. Unlike most different forex exchanges, those within the Grand Bazaar typically had charges similar to what I’d discover on-line and there was no extra service cost for the transaction.

on his trip to turkiye solo, king took a cooking class
Cooking in Cappadocia below the professional eye of Grandma

Enjoying Home Cooking in a Village House in Cappadocia 

A fast flight from Istanbul to Kayseri settled us into the center of Cappadocia the place Exodus organized for us to affix a neighborhood household for a cooking lesson and a house cooked meal. We have been warmly welcomed into the household’s house, which had been renovated to accommodate a cooking college and restaurant for guests. 

It was superb to have the ability to get to know this household and to get firsthand instruction on put together conventional Turkish delicacies reminiscent of börek, dolma, manti, and so many extra! I can’t emphasize how a lot I loved this expertise and the way pretty it was to satisfy this lovely household.

I’m glad Exodus organized this chance for us to immediately assist a neighborhood household enterprise right here in Turkiye. This is an instance of a possibility that’s extra simply accessed on a small group tour than when touring independently.

I particularly felt like a member of the household when grandma anointed me with the Turkish title “Kamil” in order that she may extra simply name me out after I was making culinary missteps. I promise my cooking expertise are higher than what was on show in Cappadocia. If you are touring in Turkiye solo, however don’t have time for a full cooking lesson, simply swing by Cappadocia Home Cooking for a meal to expertise some genuine and scrumptious Turkish consolation meals.

King took in Views of Istanbul over the Bosphorus Strait while discovering Turkiye solo
Views of Istanbul over the Bosphorus Strait

Quick Tips for Enjoying Turkiye Solo

I’ll share extra about my adventures in my subsequent submit. For now, listed below are just a few fast ideas that can make your journey to Turkiye go extra easily. 

  • Don’t drink the faucet water. While you should use it to clean your palms or bathe, you’ll wish to get bottled water for consuming. 
  • Don’t settle for the primary worth that you simply’re given on the Bazaar or any store the place costs aren’t marked. 
  • If you see somebody drop one thing, simply inform them that they’ve dropped one thing and don’t choose it up and return it to them. Unfortunately, there are various individuals trying to make the most of vacationers, and these synthetic conditions created to have interaction vacationers typically end in you being pressured to supply a donation. 
  • It’s frequent in Istanbul for international males to be focused by locals within the evenings, close to areas with nightlife. Scammers will try and befriend you and invite you to affix them for drinks at a bar or membership. Whatever you do, don’t be part of them for this drink, as you’ll probably end up out tons of or hundreds of {dollars} once they go away you with the invoice. The invoice may also be accompanied by a number of giant individuals who shall be there to encourage you to pay. 

Those on an organized tour–just like the one I used to be on with Exodus Travels–will keep away from the extra severe points I discussed above because the scammers don’t strategy individuals with an expert tour information. Your information may also be certain to tell you of any security considerations must you determine to discover by yourself. 

Even on a self-guided tour, Turkiye is secure for international vacationers so long as you do the correct analysis and train the identical precautions you’d in any metropolis.

Stay tuned for extra enjoyable as I share tales from this superb journey!

Thank you to Exodus Travels for sponsoring my journey on their Walking the Ancient Trails of Cappadocia – Premium Adventure. All experiences and impressions are my very own, and Solo Traveler maintains full editorial management over all content material.

Have you traveled to Turkiye solo? Please share your expertise with fellow vacationers in our Discussion Forum.

Last up to date: twenty first September, 2022

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