Turkey’s Magical Charm
Category: Forbes Life By : Erza S.T. Read : 317 Date : Monday, September 04, 2017 - 13:57:47




As a world traveler, I love the word “destination.” Many countries around the world are opening up now as “destinations”—in Africa, Eastern Europe and even Cuba. With so many new choices, what about the traditional destinations—do they still have enough charm to attract seasoned traveler? I decided to find out by revisiting Turkey for the second time in a decade.

Great Turkish cities such as Istanbul, Cappadocia and Bodrum have been popular for literally centuries—they have been “destinations” since the time of Roman Empire. Nevertheless, Turkey is such a large country with many great hidden treasures, including historical sites, culture, artisans and cuisine. Even cities such as Istanbul and Cappadocia can still offer the jaded world traveler more than the usual tourist 101. It is still a thrill to visit the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia while in Istanbul, or take a balloon ride in Cappadocia; but there are many other attractions outside the well-trodden tourist trails that you can enjoy and experience there. As an example, over a three-week visit, I journeyed to Pamukkale, Ephesus and Sirince. I found Turkey can still hold its own against trendier travel destinations, you only have to be willing to go a little bit outside the best-known destinations in Turkey.

The Other Face of Istanbul

Let’s start with Istanbul. One of the world’s most renowned cities, Istanbul has many great attractions little visited by the masses. During my visit, I decided to go local. I started at Pierre Loti hill on the European side of the Bosphorus for some Turkish breakfast while adoring the spectacular view of the Golden Horn. French writer Julien Viaud also fell in love with this place, and decided to create a café called Pierre Loti, which eventually was the name taken for the hill itself.

Istanbul Modern’s contemporary art is also worth a look—both the permanent collection and ongoing exhibitions are world-class and sophisticated. In the Beyoglu district, you can also visit the Museum of Innocence. This hidden little museum is dedicated to the Nobel-laureate Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk’s book and displays a collection of everyday life and culture of Istanbul of the time the novel is set. Even if you haven’t read the book, you can still enjoy this museum—it was in fact nominated as the Museum of the Year in 2014 by the European Museum Forum. In the same neighborhood is also the lavish Baroque-Rococo Dolmabahce palace, still used by the president. Be prepared to be awed by the amazing interior design and luxurious ornate object de arts—Istanbul at its most lavish.

With rooftop bars all the rage, Istanbul offers a few places to enjoy a panoramic city view. One favorite is Cachi Lokanta Bar in the enchanting Adahan boutique hotel in the popular Galata district. The building itself is a restored grand apartment building that was built in 1874. Cachi Lokanta, on the top floor, has not only provides a wonderful Istanbul city view but also delicious local cuisine.

The bar is a popular site for local hipsters, and, if you’re lucky, the bar will be hosting one of its occasional mini-concerts. In the same district of Adahan, one must try the restaurant Antiochia Concept. Specializing in Antakya dishes, this charming restaurant has many delicious regional foods. Make sure to try its famous kunefe dessert with cheese, it is really out of this world and a perfect ending to your day in Istanbul. 

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