With all the troubles that have been going on in Turkey in recent months, I had a lot of trepidation about visiting the country after I was invited by Inflow Travel & Turkish Airlines. Boy was I wrong in worrying about Turkey. It’s quickly become one of my favourite countries I’ve visited.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Turkey a couple of years ago to Fethyie. Since that visit to Turkey it has been hit by more terrorism and fighting on there southern border with ISIS. They’ve also had a failed coup and many periods of unrest within the community.
This has clearly had a devastating effect with tourism. Understandably people are very reluctant to visit the country. I will admit I was one of those people and I felt slightly nervous about visiting Turkey. My wife was also very concerned about me visiting.
I decided to go because I’ve always wanted to visit Istanbul and the city was on my list of places I’ll be visiting. I would be spending 2 days in Istanbul and then 3 days in Cappadocia with a bunch of Travel Bloggers, Floggers and fellow Instagrammers.
Watch this Turkish Airlines promotional video about Istanbul below. Video’s made by the super talented Rob Whitworth.
Lets get one thing clear, now!! Turkey is nothing like it’s portrayed on our news channels. The people are very friendly and all they want to do is help you enjoy your stay in there stunning country.
Within being in Istanbul for a few hours my nerves were more or less gone. Of course you have to be vigilant, but you need to be vigilant in most major cities where terrorism is present. We have terrorism here in the UK and we know only to well that it can happen all across Europe. We have to stay resilient to terrorism and try not to let it dictate where and when we travel. If we did, we would stay at home and never visit countries within our beautiful planet.
Istanbul & The Blue Mosque
Istanbul has been on my list of places to visit for many years. I follow so many Turkish Instagrammers that post pictures of this wonderful city on a daily basis. One thing I knew was when I visited Istanbul I had to visit the Blue Mosque. I’m not a religious person but I admire the work and detail religion puts into there buildings of prayer.
Every morning you can here the singing coming through the speakers from the mosques which lets people know it’s time for prayer. Now I don’t know what it was they were singing, but I couldn’t help but feel a calmness to it all.
The Blue Mosque was everything I expected it to be and more. The architecture was outstanding inside and out. Taking a walk around the grounds between 07:00-07:30 was so peaceful, perfect as it was just before sunrise. To me the best time to visit, peaceful and quiet. It can get very busy later in the day.
Hagia Sophia Museum
Another mosque which has the potential to be just as beautiful if not more was Hagia Sophia Museum. A lot of renovating is being done inside and out, but from what you can see of it is that it’s truly stunning and colossus in size.
We took a walk around the Hagia Sophia and it’s a truly stunning building. It was a shame they’re renovating with so much of the inside covered by scaffolding, but I’m sure it will be worth it once it’s completed.
My time had now come to an end in Istanbul. It was short but sweet. I will be visiting Istanbul again very, very soon.
Our next trip was to the region of Cappadocia. Now this is a region I was VERY excited to visit. I didn’t know much about Cappadocia before, but once I researched the region I quickly became very excited to visit.
Here is another video from Turkish Airlines about the region of Cappadocia.
A lucky few of us stayed in the stunning Kayakapi Boutique Hotel. Which overlooked the town of Urgup. The rooms were built inside the mountain and were luxurious in every way. I didn’t want to leave my room, but I knew I had things to do and see.
One of the things we were doing was to visit Goreme and the surrounding area. We visited an outdoor museum to see where the locals lived thousands of years ago and we took a tour around a local pottery factory. Cappadocia was quickly becoming an area I was falling in love with.
The sunsets here were so beautiful against the pale sandy coloured landscape that were filled with what they call “Fairy Chimneys” which are tall, thin spires of rock that protrude from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland. Remarkable shapes caused by nature.
However the best was still yet to come. Cappadocia is quickly becoming famous for it’s Air Ballooning which happens on a daily basis (weather permitting). Our group leaders surprised us with this after a night out enjoying delicious traditional Turkish food. Clearly that nights sleep was going to be minimal as I was like a kid waiting for Christmas.
It was an early start, but knowing what we were about to do, it wasn’t an issue. I’ve never been in an air balloon and it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. Our balloon company for this morning was Royal Balloon. This company was exceptional, we had a lovely breakfast before our flight and our pilot was brilliant at banter and keeping conversation going. When you do this, I highly recommend this company and the pilot Tolga.
When the balloon was filled with air and ready for take off, we all jumped in. Their was 12 of us and the pilot inside the basket. It was a tight fit but enough room to turn around or bend at the knees to brace in case of an emergency.
The weather was perfect conditions to fly the balloon. Hardly any wind and clear blue skies. It was very cold and we were all wrapped up nice and warm, we were also given Royal Balloon fleece Beanie’s, RESULT!
I didn’t know what to expect when the balloon lifted off. I felt nothing, no stomach feeling you get in a aeroplane or helicopter. It was bizarre, but in a good way. We were going so slow it was like we hadn’t even left the ground.
What makes these flights so special is that there are anywhere between 50-150 balloons that go up for sunrise at once. The landscape is already spectacular then add that amount of balloons in the air at once makes it a complete magical experience. One I will not forget in a hurry.
The flight lasted for about an hour. Tolga our pilot made sure he slowly rotated the balloon to make sure everyone inside the basket had an opportunity to shoot everything. He flew the balloon though the fairy chimneys, so close you could just about touch them. Tolga was a great pilot. He even managed to land the ballon on the back of a the trailer hooked up to a 4×4. Truly remarkable flying.
We were all buzzing after this experience. It was going to take some time to come down from this flight (no pun intended haha).
Thank you Turkey
Our time in Turkey was regrettably now coming to an end. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. The food (accept puddings), the wine, the people and the landscape literally took my breath away. I was so happy to be proven wrong on how I initially felt about the country and its safety. I cant praise Turkey enough, I urge you all to make sure you book your trip to any of these places. I strongly recommend Cappadocia for obvious reasons.
To finish our trip, Turkish Airlines gave us entry to the VIP lounge at Ataturk Airport. Wow now thats an experience I want to do again and again. I totally rocked that place haha. They had so much to eat and drink, they even had scalextric, PS4 gaming, Golf Simulator and rooms to sleep if you had a long wait. Yep that’s how the other half live 😉
Before I end this blog, I would like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone from Inflow Travel and Turkish Airlines who made this trip happen. Also to all my new friends I met on the trip who were lucky enough to enjoy this magical time with me on this amazing adventure.
And lastly but not least, a MASSIVE thank you to the Turkish people for making me feel completely safe and welcomed. You guys have great resilience to go through so much and to still stay positive. A great response from all. Let’s make Turkey a number 1 location to visit.