The impact of Turkey begins with me in Istanbul, caught in the middle of clogged up traffic! Based on official estimates, the city has over 15 million inhabitants but according to those who live there the total probably rises to more than 20 million, almost as much as an entire nation … while trying to move around in the traffic, you quickly realise that everyone is motorised. Since I was staying in Istanbul for 3 days I took the opportunity to tour around the city. On my first evening, I visited the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, which, in my opinion, is a little overrated when compared to our basilicas around the world … my day ends with a dinner made up of typical Turkish dishes.

The following morning I visit the Basilica Cistern and am fascinated by the construction but especially the atmosphere that resonates inside this impressive building.

The next morning I leave early for Çanakkale to visit the ruins of Troy, the latter are not particularly impressive, however, ignoring the searing heat, the tranquility of the place is particularly relaxing. I found the replica of the famous Trojan Horse to be very interesting. As recounted by Homer, it was cunningly placed in front of the city walls by the Greeks.

The next day I visit two very important sites; that of Hierapolis, located in the town of Pammukkale and that of the house of the Virgin Mary. The first being famous for the presence of hot natural springs that create limestone concretions, giving life to a unique and fascinating environment that is very difficult to describe in words; the second is a sacred place for both Christians and Muslims and is said to have been the house where Mary lived until her demise. A must-see for anyone visiting Turkey.

My next destination is Göreme, in Cappadocia, a small town located between the typical Earth Pyramids or “Camini delle Fate” (so were called the characteristic promontories that make this landscape unique) because I had booked a wonderful hot air balloon trip for the following day to see the sun rise … an absolutely unmissable experience for those visiting this magical destination.

On arrival at the departure point, I climb into the basket attached to the balloon and slowly the basket rises and the flight begins until unknowingly I find myself amongst dozens of other hot air balloons, a breathtaking and spectacular view generating truly unique emotions.

I quickly set-off again back to the border with lran, covering 1000 kilometers on poor roads until I arrive at my so called “hotel” as to call it such would be an overstatement, but at least I had a bed in which to sleep and a roof over my head that sheltered me from the elements. On my arrival at the border, the bureaucracy is slow and inefficient and under the scorching sun dressed in my bike gear, it is agony. After a few hours I was able to cross the border and finally at the last gate, a sign saying WELCOME TO IRAN made me regain my smile.

 

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