Even though our trip ended on land in Turkey I am going to start with it because it is freshest in my memory. Turkey is an amazing place filled with such history. Istanbul is very modern and has a great transportation system. You can get almost anywhere on the tram. You can walk most anywhere there too. Some places I highly recommend are the Spice Market, the Grand Bazaar and the Blue Mosque. It is worth eating dinner in and around the Grand Bazaar because its busy and happening and if you are lucky you might get into a place where you can see the Blue Mosque lit up at night.
Take the tour of the inside it is worth it.
These tiles on the walls, (below is just a small sample of some of their beauty) are worth 40-50K American Dollars a piece. There is high security inside the Mosques so these tiles are not stolen.
Turkey is 99% Muslin so be respectful when it comes to your dress, esp. as a woman. When entering the Mosque you must remove your shoes and your shoulders must be covered. So wearing a tank top or a short skirt is not advisable. Always wear something with sleeves and pants or a long skirt. In some mosques will also be asked to cover your head, so my advice is to always carry a scarf or a wrap with you when traveling to Muslim countries.
You will be allowed to take photos in most places in turkey but sometimes you will be asked NOT to use your flash. Please be respectful, don’t act like many tourist who just don’t care what they are asked to do or not do. Remember this is THEIR country and you are a visitor.
I highly recommend taking a day to walk the Spice Market. You can buy many candies, teas, spices etc. The people are very kind and you will find it quite and experience.
Also take at least a FULL day to walk the Grand Bazaar. It is covered so you wont get wet if it happens to rain. It is an amazing place. You can buy many gifts here or things for you and your home. You can barter here like in many bazaars. BUT the good thing about the Turks is that they are friendly, funny and loving! They will not push you to buy something but they will give you good prices on good items. They take much pride in their business’s and they will always offer you Turkish tea so that you can sit and get to know them and tell them about your travels and family.
Go to Turkey with an open mind, the people are some of the friendliest I have ever had the honor of meeting and spending time with. If they offer you tea say “Yes” and sit and enjoy their stories and their history.
You can buy most anything in Istanbul, rugs, personal items, etc. If you are missing something chances are you can get it here. You can buy clothes, shoes, anything. As I said it very much like NY, Hong Kong or Milan. 15 Million people now live in the City of Istanbul so you can imagine how busy it is. Be prepared for the hustle and bustle of this big city. There is much to see, bring your camera!! There are ATM’s everywhere and of course you can use your credit card for most things. Sometimes they prefer you buy things in cash and you probably will get a better deal if you pay in cash but it’s not necessary.
This is an old bible city. If you are familiar with the scriptures than you will certainly be aware of the importance of this city. They say that Mary, the mother of Christ was brought here by John and lived and died here after Jesus died. That John built her a house and you can tour this small and modest home. They also claim that the Apostle John died here and you can see his “grave”. You can also see the Wishing Wall, which is very much like the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
Only 15% of Ephesus has been excavated so there is SO much more to see in coming years.
It takes about a day to see all the old city and the cobble stones are big and rocky and its hot and dusty. DONT wear heals and I don’t recommend flip-flops or tank tops. You will want to wear a hat, clothing that is sun resistant and cool, I suggest travel pants but shorts will be fine as long as you wear sunscreen. ALWAYS carry water with you. There is much to see you want to make sure you are comfortable so wear GOOD walking shoes.
This is also a very old biblical place. There are not many ruins here but there are homes carved into the stone, the structures are very interesting to see. It is beautiful and mysterious and worth your time here as well.
WHAT TO WEAR, NOT TO WEAR AND BRING:
A scarf or wrap for your head and or shoulders
Good walking shoes for the Bazaar and Spice Market and the city in general
A light jacket or sweater it can get cold by the water or in the evenings
Dress slacks or a dress or skirt and blouse for dinners