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4 top temptations to lure you to Turkey – besides archaeological gems

Even if you are not a lover of ancient history and old stones, there’s still lots to lure you to Turkey besides its archaeological treasures. Here, my two favourite travel bloggers, Mei and Kirstin, look at four other attractions, including natural wonders and delicious cuisine to tempt you to visit the south-western part of this amazing, ancient land and civilisation. MS

By Mei and Kerstin*

Turkey is an archaeological paradise – but let’s face it, archaeology is not everyone’s passion. You may hate historic sites such as Laodikeia, Hierapolis, Aphrodisias, Ephesus, Priene, Didyma or Kaunos. You may not be interested in the fact that Turkey used to belong to the Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. You may even think that we, the worshippers of the Temple of Hadrian, the fanatics of Celsus Library, are weirdos.

Guess what? You’re perfectly right. So, when asked by a friend what to do in Turkey if you are not into archaeology, we decided to turn our suggestions into a post. This is our answer to our beloved friend, and to all of you who are curious about the south-west Turkey, but not really into history.

  • Get a ride to Pamukkale
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A view of the ancient waters of Pamukkale, Turkey.

If you’re not interested in historic sites, why not discover a natural world wonder like Pamukkale?Pamukkale means “Cotton Castle”. It’s a natural thermal water source. Over time mineral deposits  have created calcium cascade terraces and snow-white stalactites. Pamukkale is recognized as UNESCO world heritage site since 1988, and truly offers a fairy-tale landscape not to be missed out on!

  • Tired of walking? Visit some yachts

To tell you the truth, we are not boat lovers. But when we were in Bodrum, we saw some dashing gullets. These are handmade wooden boats. At first we thought that these yachts belonged to private people. But then a man walked out of the cabin and asked us where we would like to go.

Are you kidding? Of course we want to hop onto a yacht, duh!

Mei and Kerstin, travel bloggers
Mei, left, and Kerstin

Next thing we know, he’s showing us around his luxurious cabin and explains us all the options: you can rent either a crewed yacht for a few hours, a day or even a week, or just a cabin by joining a group of people. You choose the destiny from an extensive list or propose your own itinerary if it’s feasible. But before accepting any deal, please make sure you have visited other boats and negotiated properly.

If you do not end up renting anything, that’s OK too. You’ll have had a fun time visiting private yachts, getting tons of sailors’ stories about the sea, the making of yachts, or even extraordinary individual life stories.

  • Pay a visit to the Aegean

Since we couldn’t afford to rent a private yacht, we headed over to the all-inclusive touristic daily boat trip. Of course, it’s far from the comfort a private yacht could offer. There are basically just wooden benches in the deck inside the boat, and a dozen cushions on the upper deck that you have to share with 10 other people. The lunch on board is rather modest, and not all drinks are free.

Aegean coast, Turkey
An idyllic shot of the Aegean Turkish coast

However, a day out there in the turquoise-emerald green Aegean is totally worth it. We enjoyed jumping in the crystal clear waters of Aquarium Bay, swimming among tiny fishes, and chilling on the upper deck… and so can you.

Are you one of those who spend your days in a box? Most of us sit in front of our computer all day long, and sometimes we forget that there’s actually a real world out there where birds fly and clouds cry. When you sit on the front deck of a boat somewhere out there in the Aegean, with your legs dangling over the edge, you are present to what’s in front of you.

What’s in front of you is the unknown, where the sea line touches the sky. That’s where you find the necessary peace to make life decisions. That’s when you realize you live inside a body, and for a moment, you close your eyes and let the sunbeam kiss your eyelids.

  • Time to eat: help us to out the Turkish cuisine – yes, it’s still hiding in the closet

After your boat trip, office hours, deadlines and all the to-do lists suddenly seem so far away. Your eyes just opened up to new sights, your nose to new perfumes, but what about your palate? Clearly it has been neglected. Time to get some local food!

In Turkey, just like in Greece, you usually start with a mezzes, or mezeler. These are a variety of little dishes, including vegetables mixed with herbs and spices. Sarma is one of them: it’s vine leaves stuffed with rice, mint, cinnamon and currant. Dolma are also vegetables, either eggplants, tomatoes or peppers, stuffed with rice, spices and sometimes also yogurt.

Turkish mezeIf you like yogurt or refreshing cold dishes, you should definitely try some cacik, a yogurt based soup with cucumbers, garlic, mint, and hot pepper.

Sac kavurma, a mixture of vegetables and meat cooked in a wok-like iron pan is another Turkish traditional dish. The flame under the pan is usually still on when they serve you this dish. If you don’t like meat, there are many kinds of grilled fishes fresh from the sea.

And to top up everything, have some fresh fruits from the market and of course a Turkish coffee is a must.

Afiyet olsun! (Turkish for bon appétit)

* This blog first appeared on the Open Up Now website. It is republished with permission from Mei and Kerstin, both Luxembourgers, from the tiny landlocked country, squeezed in between France, Belgium and Germany. Mei is an archaeologist and a historical researcher. Kerstin works in a Data Archive and Research Centre. In their spare time, they travel, discover new cultures and blog about their amazing experiences.

*Follow me on Twitter @MarikaSboros

*Subscribe to my weekly Health Matters newsletter here.

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