Turkey, November 2007

In November of 2007 I took my first trip to Turkey and was extremely taken with the people, the culture, the scenery and the food. As it was also my first excursion with Peregrine I wrote some feedback upon my return. One of the best things that I have found with this Australian company has been the company, so to speak; an entertaining mix of Ozzies, New Zealanders and Canadians with an occasional sprinkling of Brits. There are never more than sixteen people on the tours with this particular party being made up nearly exclusively of schoolteachers, however, any academic ambience was quickly dispelled by a cry from the direction of the outhouse: “Is it a sitter or a squatter?”

I have just got back from the trip: Treasures of Turkey, 4th to 18th November 2007 and I would like to thank you very much for a wonderful introduction to a magical country. I have decided to send you some additional feedback because the forms are always a bit rushed and, when balanced on the knees and completed with a hotel ballpoint, the handwriting can leave something to be desired.

The itinerary was excellent: combining as large a quantity of ancient monuments as could reasonably be digested in one trip with plenty of local colour, day to day life and varied landscape. I particularly appreciated the trouble that our guide and driver went to ensure that we did not miss anything in spite of the reduced daylight at the end of the season. Although we went to less of the well known sites than I’d expected (for example missing out a place like Pergamon) this was more than made up for by visits to quiet and out of the way places like Xanthos and Semine.

The accommodation was at least as good as could be expected within the price range and in many places the staff at the hotels went to extra trouble to be helpful. The rock hotel at Goreme was a marvellous experience, something that I certainly wouldn’t have expected, even in a much higher price range. The food was delicious and inexpensive, with possibly the most important factor being the complete avoidance of the kind of digestive upset which so many travellers describe. Well done! A specially organized visit to a private house in Capadoccia for a home cooked meal was a particular highlight as was the lunch prepared for us on the local boat trip in Lycia. The visits to handicraft centres were well organized and I didn’t feel pressured to buy anything – we had best draw a veil over the Ottoman style silk carpet that cost me more than the price of the trip.

I did have something of a problem with the organization of the first day in Istanbul, however. The combination of being alone, having only just arrived and the atrocious weather meant that I had difficulty with being left to my own devices for most of the day. As we were checked out of the hotel, I did not realize that it could be used as a base to dry out and get warm as some other members of the party did. I was absolutely soaked for the whole day and that may have contributed to me catching a heavy cold which eventually spread to several other members of the party. This unfortunate turn of events did not by any means spoil my trip but might have been prevented with a more detailed briefing.

I will undoubtedly be visiting Turkey again, if only to see Istanbul in slightly better weather and to visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilization in Ankara. Also, the treasures of Eastern Turkey are already beckoning to me and the 21 day “Footsteps of Xenophon” trip outlined by our guide, Bayram Tanriverdi, sounds too good to miss. If Peregrine decide to take up this idea I shall be one of the first in the queue. One of the things I enjoyed was being in such a convivial group, taking a mixed Turkish bath with a group of Australians is an experience that I will find hard to recount to my English friends but it was certainly memorable.

Postscript: These pictures have been very difficult to work on. Using film at that time of year (and probably the wrong type of film as well)  meant that whenever it rained I ended up with a lot of dark, dingy shots. And rain it did. Fortunately I came home with an extra souvenir: two Australian girls who were travelling  around Europe and looking for a bed in London. They stayed over with me for a couple of days and uploaded their digital shots onto my computer. I’ve tried to use my own photos wherever possible but I’m still grateful to Kate & Sarah for helping to brighten things up a little.

1 Comment

  • Chris says:

    Rugs or travel? Your face says it all! Until you can find a carpet that flies you around the world you’d better leave the credit card at home.

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