There are so very many reasons you must visit Turkey. If you’re a tourist interested in interesting tourist things that will demonstrate Turkey as a place where ancient meets modern, East meets West, Turkey has many of them. Istanbul’s Sultanahme
(Old Istanbul)
district itself is chock full of them–the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia and the Byzantine Hippodrome just to name a few–and other sites in Istanbul, such as the
Grand Bazaar
, are no less grand. Venture outside of Istanbul and you can visit Ephesus,
a former Roman city that has ruins aplenty, explore the unique rock formations of Cappadocia, where the earliest Christians and many others before and after them lived in caves and in underground rock cities, and even plant yourself for a while on the insanely gorgeous “blue lagoon” beach at Ölüdeniz. On the other hand, if you’re a
traveler interested in truly connecting with the complexity of the East-meets-West-ness of today’s Turkey, while you should still visit all the places listed above and more, ditch the guidebook every once in a while and just let yourself be. Stroll slowly down the very modern Istiklal pedestrian and shopping street, watching Turks and tourists alike shop, eat at fine restaurants and otherwise engage in contemporary commerce. Wander around the Grand Bazaar and note not just the many tourists getting hoodwinked into paying too much for too little carpet, but the Turks who shop not only inside the bazaar but at
the stalls on the market’s periphery. (Observe how the shopping experiences are so diametrically different, yet how they both appear to make sense in modern Istanbul.) Or, better yet, to really have a chance at becoming familiar with the real nuances of real Turks’ lives, get out of Istanbul, go to a town that’s not even listed in your guidebook, get off the “slow yet silent” intercity bus, go to the local street food stand and just talk with people
about the ins and outs of living at the crossroads of the continents. Even better yet, have
those talks with the people in Turkish. (Note: To follow this suggestion you may have to learn to speak Turkish.)

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