What is the number-one French destination for sun and fun? It’s
probably not what you think half of Europe heads east to Turkey.
That’s right, the new European holiday resort hot spots are in
Despite hemming and hawing about letting Turkey into the
European Union, Europeans flock to five-star luxury resorts in the
Antalya Province that are pas cher (super cheap), while relaxing on
Turkey’s western Mediterranean beaches, lavishing in oriental spa
treatments and exploring prehistoric ruins located in the old
My first visit to Turkey left a deep impression on me. Following
the historical silk route through Ephesus, up to the port of
Istanbul in a gullet (Turkish yacht) and renting cars inland,
provided me with an in-depth look at this amazing country. I
experienced more courtesy and friendliness in Turkey than almost
anywhere else I’ve traveled.
In small villages, strangers would smile and offer us strong
Turkish coffee or apple tea. At makeshift tables we filled up on
kebabs, spicy okra, stuffed eggplants and peppers, pilavi (a
special rice dish), borek (stuffed meat pies) and loads of tangy
yogurts and filo-dough pastries made with pistachios and honey.
On Turkey’s west coast, the Aegean seaside ports of Bodrum,
Marmaris and Antalya have grown into some of Turkey’s major resort
areas with beautiful beaches, historical sites and 300-plus days of
sunshine a year. On my trip, I rented a van in Kusadasi, a popular
cruise ship port. It had sliding doors on both sides, which in the
July heat I left ajar, giving me an unobstructed view of the
Greece and Turkey have very similar countryside, dotted with
crumbling Greco-Roman temples and azure blue seascapes. Turkey,
being a little less touristy, felt more mysterious to me with
veiled women, polite Arabesque hospitality and an eagerness to be
accepted as European.
During my travels, I took pit stops at the Dalyan Mud Baths
(rumored to reverse aging) and the Pamukkale hot springs, before
finishing my expedition in the archaeological site of Ephesus, one
of the ancient wonders of the world.
Once again aboard the gullet, Istanbul (the capital of the
Byzantium Empire) glowed in a purple-pink sunrise with minarets
silhouetting the skyline.
The Sultans Palace, the Blue Mosque and the Archaeological
Museum which contains pieces of ancient Mesopotamia, Babylonia and
pre-Greek artifacts were stops along a daylong guided tour that
ended at a carpet store, as they all do. The famous Istanbul Spice
Market a souk (market) of sensory delight offered everything from
carved, jewelled daggers to freshly picked cardamom pods.
Turkey is surrounded by three magnificent seas, mountains,
fields of sunflowers and picturesque hay stacks reminiscent of a
Van Gogh painting. The country’s many modes of transportation are
easy to navigate. While the Orient Express no longer runs, clients
can take scenic train rides from Europe to Asia (and still be in
the same country), take a ferry to Greek Isles or a hot-air balloon
ride over Cappadocia’s moonscape of volcanic rock. Clients short on
time can opt for a quick domestic flight on Turkish Airlines.
Though Americans need a visa to enter Turkey, it’s easy to
acquire for $26 at the airport in Istanbul or ahead of time at the
As I boarded the plane for the flight home my bag stuffed with
pottery and aromatic spices, my mind filled with wonderful memories
I already had a strong craving to return some day.
Bodex Travel and Yachting Agency
Cappadocia Tours & Travel Turkey
Hot-air balloons, horseback riding, Jeep safari and archaeological
Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism
Turkish State Railways