On the latter end of my long haul cycle across Europe during the record cold winter 2012, I made sure I took the detour to visit Turkey before returning to Australia. What a fantastic decision that was. Having a little bit of an idea of what to expect, I was not disappointed.
Heading straight into Istanbul that spans both the European and Asian continental division, I was immediately awash with culture, gorgeous architecture, busy streets and let’s be honest – delicious food! Shacking up in the old town of Fatih, Istanbul, I was in close proximity to most of the amazing sights, including the famous blue mosque. Here I could rug up on short expeditions to explore the streets in between the snow fall that regularly smothered every surface. I won’t lie though, Istanbul does look lovely in the snow, regardless of how cold it got. -15 I think I read at one point. But just like in Greece, I took such opportunities to eat as much as possible, as the last several thousand kilometres I’d cycled had made me loose quite a lot of weight.
Over a period of a few weeks, I visited several memorable Turkish icons, however from a photographer’s perspective, you can’t go passed Cappadocia. The unearthly landmarks that dot the landscape provide such a surreal experience. Made up of solid rock, and carved by millions of years of erosion, “Fairy Chimneys” or “Hoodoos” surround you at every turn. Having this terrain blanketed in snow was an absolute treat, even if my pants did freeze solid while still on. I had such a memorable time trekking amongst these giants that can range anywhere from 2 to 45m high. Göreme itself is a gorgeous little town that lies at the bottom of a valley where these enormous chimneys concentrate. Here you can actually stay inside a chimney (which I did), and keep warm from the harsh winter outside. For such a cute and relaxing town in the middle of no-where, Göreme and the surrounding area has a long, interesting and war-torn history that goes right back to the bronze age. Learn more.
Pamukkale also being another icon that stuck out from its flat surroundings like a bizarre cotton castle (which is in fact the translation of “pamukkale”). A mountain of white, with natural heated springs that ooze from the volcanic interior, which flow down its side carving intriguing patterns the entire way down. Though standing up the top of this fluffy mountain, getting blasted by high volume winds during Europe’s coldest temperature in 40 odd years, can get a bit …painful :-) But worth it none the less.
Visiting Ephesus was also a joy. I’d seen pictures of this amazing ruins many times over the years. Being by the coast, I was lucky to escape the snow for a while and get a bit more sun. Ephesus was once an ancient Greek city that housed over 250,000 people (making it one of the largest cities in the world at the time), and housed the Temple of Artemis which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ephesus eventually was taken over from the Greeks by the Roman Republic around 150 BCE and witnessed several wars until the city and temple got destroyed in 263 CE, brinigng the end to Ephesus’s prime.
Tourists can make the journey out to wander through the cobbled streets of this ancient beauty. You’ll need a solid half a day to see it all, but it’s definitely worth it.
Finishing off in Ankara to visit a friend that’d I’d met in Mendoza, Argentina back in 2008. (Thanks once again Edwardo!) I made my final return to Istanbul before leaving to make the long journey home to Australia.
Hope you enjoy the photos!