by Harriet Bond
(San Francisco, CA, USA)
Turkey as a holiday destination is probably not on everyone’s list as the ideal travel destination. However, countries off the beaten tourist track very often provide some of the most exciting, unusual and memorable vacations. For the adventurous at heart, Turkey offers many exciting experiences just waiting to be explored.
A Boat Ride on the Bosphorous
Perhaps one of the best known tourist attractions in Turkey is a cruise along the Bosphorous. Where else can you hop from one continent (Asia), to another continent (Europe) in a mere 25 minutes – and for the meager sum of just a few Turkish liras?
The Bosphorous connects the old trade routes from East to West and still holds a magnetic allure for travelers today. The very names…. Bosphorous, Istanbul, Turkey, Asia, Europe… conjure up specters of a romantic and dangerously adventurous part.
A cruise along the Bosphorous can be as short (25 minutes) or as long – several hours, or a day-long cruise – as you care to make it. The day trip spans the 32 kilometer Bosphorous strait which connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea on the northern side of Istanbul.
The cruise is highlighted by cool breezes off the Black Sea, and on the banks of the Bosphorous a tapestry of stately wooden mansions, grand domes, minarets and fortresses of the Old Istanbul glide by, reminders of the illustrious past of the Ottoman Empire.
Relax in a Thermal Pool
Turkey is renowned for its open-air spas and none is more prominent that the Sacred Pool of Hierapolis at Pamukkale. Warm, calcium-laced waters rise up from the earth and flow into the thermal pool. The overflow is siphoned off through channels that spill over the cliff. Here you swim amid the ruins of the ancient Romans. It is a curious, almost surreal experience, infused with an acute sense of history, and the hot, prickly sensation of sulfur-laded waters against your skin.
Cruise Along the Turquoise Coast
The utter magic of cruising the Turquoise Coast in a gulet, (a traditional wooden Turkish boat) almost defies description. How do you explain drifting past imposing mountains, ancient ruins, dense pine forest, on waters that are so impossibly, glitteringly sapphire blue in color that it hurts your eyes and takes your breath away.
Anchor off shore in a sheltered pine forested inlet and dive overboard into the cool, azure embrace of the water. And when the sun finally sets and you watch it go with reluctance, you are filled with a bittersweet melancholy that such a perfect day as this had to come to an end.
At last you understand the magic of Turkey!.