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Old 6th April 2011, 13:03   #1 (permalink)
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A trip to the East of Turkey

This is the second attempt at writing this today, the last took me over an hour but was lost. So here goes again…
In November I had an accident and I’d had enough of sitting at home staring at 4 walls. My husband and I decided to go and visit his relatives in Diyarbakir, which is situated in the East of Turkey.

Now I had only ever heard about Diyarbakir from my husband and waiters…a lot of seasonal workers seem to be from there. I did have some preconceptions, imagining it to be a great dusty place where everyone has their own cow and vet plot…how wrong I was.

We booked a last minute flight from East Midlands to Antalya (£590 for the 4 of us for returns and luggage). I had searched the Forum for suggestions for car hire in Antalya and booked a car (diesel Diablo for 50 lira a day)...well thanks for that recommendation folks I will tell you about that nightmare later!

We landed at Antalya and drove to Alanya where I had booked a gem of a hotel from Bookings.com. It cost us 18euros for the night and we paid a further 10 lira for our breakfasts. I love that first breakfast in Turkey. There’s something magical about the warm bread and salty olives that says life’s just got better. We sat and watched the locals setting up for the day and it’s warm even though the sun hasn’t long been up. I can never understand the tourists that stay in bed until the afternoon…they miss so much of the culture that Turkey offers.

Well I had never been to Alanya before and what first struck me was it was HUGE. Big hotels all along the beach front, some looked pure luxury and others a little tatty. I have lived in Altinkum and Marmaris so expected a smaller resort. Another thing that hit me was the street dogs, yes the other resorts have these but Alanya just seemed to have so many and they were all in packs. We decided to take the costal road as far as we could towards the east and Mersin.
Now something about Alanya that I never knew and had never heard of on the forum in Bananas…they have lots. So many in fact that I am sure it’s the second largest economy outside of tourism. I have never seen an actual banana on a tree (maybe I have had a sheltered life) but it was like a whole new Turkey and very different to any resort I have been to here.

We drove along the coast road and the scenery was amazing, the road was treacherous with lots of bends and steep drops with very few barriers. We often saw skid marks on the road and wondered what had happened to the poor souls who had made them. We made the decision not to drive back that way as there is an alternative motor way route which takes longer but would be easier to navigate.

There were lots of small shops and stalls along the way selling bananas…water and more bananas so plenty of places to stop for a break. Nobody looked twice at me which made me think the locals see a lot of foreigners here.

We carried along the coast road towards Gazipasa, I remembered from the forum that there is a new airport here and I can understand why. The surrounding area is absolutely stunning. The views are similar you would expect from an Island in the Pacific, not on our back door here in Turkey. We stopped at a small place called Gocuk (sorry I don’t have the Turkish c’s or o’s on here). All I can say is breathtaking. This area is predominantly untouched with only a few foreigners holidaying here, the others are Turkish holiday’s makers who have found this amazing place. Sadly I think in a few years more people will hear of it and it will become another tourist haven. If you can go, go now…it’s in reach of many of you who can drive. Until this part of the journey I haven’t had to use my Turkish as English has been used. There have been hotels along the route so it’s not the back of beyond and I am sure it would feel like a holiday that you’d paid a fortune for!

Well back on the road towards Mersin, we drove through Aydincik, there are lots of places with the name Aydin, I spotted another Altinkum and saw a sign for Ciftlik…its like the Turks ran out of place names so just used them over again!

We stopped at Silifke which is where I started to get a few stares (like I had 3 heads). I thought it was because they didn’t see very many foreigners here but we soon realized it was my clothes. I was wearing leggings as they were comfy but it was obvious people had thought I’d put my tights on and forgot my skirt!! I changed into jeans and still got a few stares but no more like I was standing on the corner touting for business!

On the way into Mersin we could tell we were hitting a big city as the build up of traffic was immense. We started to see a lot of freight containers and the Turkish Lorries piled high. My husband tried to explain that the port at Mersin has some sort of Tax Free haven to encourage people to use it. It’s also where most of the goods made in the East of the country is shipped so vital for the economy in Eastern Turkey. We decided not to stop there as it’s another big city and we’d rather stop at the smaller places where you remember the faces of people for years.

From Mersin we took the motorway going away from the coast, we passed through Adana, Osmaniye heading towards Urfa and Gaziantep. These are the places that I had heard of and just thought of at the back of beyond. In fact the motorway went through peoples farms. It was like the local people saw it as a main road. I picked up on the fact that we were leaving the places with money (although there are some very rich people all over Turkey). It was just the tractors were no longer in the fields, instead it was the donkeys and horses and the old people them selves. What also struck me was how clean places were. Everywhere we stopped there was no litter. The houses were the thrown together type, nothing like the new builds you see in the resorts. But although they were tatty and part built they were clean and looked amazingly inviting.

We had decided not to book anywhere to stop but coming to Gaziantep we took the decision to carry on driving. We passed Gaziantep which we could see in the distance. It looked huge and industrial…I was just gutted that this was where we seemed to stop going through anywhere with a sense of community. From now on it it was all main road, the small local service stops had gone and in there place was service stations that were modern and very similar to those we have in the Uk…the only difference was they were still cheap.

The next place that had some significance for me was a place called Siverek. Partly because it reminded me very much of Milas! It was dark now so no one was about, I didn’t see a soul! We pulled up at traffic lights and my husband put the central locking on the doors. He said that we were now in bandit country which unnerved me a little but it was more of a case of where was the population of Siverek..we drove through without spotting a single person outdoors!

My husband who is from Diyarbakir commented on how much development has happened along the route between Gaziantep and Diyarbakir in the past few years. He hadn’t driven here for a couple of years, instead he flew but it felt like it was getting ready for the big times!

We arrived at my mother in laws house just passed midnight. Considering we had been sat on the veranda of that hotel in Alanya at 7 am that morning I think we did ok.

I’m going to post again on the thread about Diyarbakir and the places we visited around there, particularly Egul and the Tigris River. Also the eventful journey back… I just wanted to show that there is a lot more of Turkey for you to see and I feel there are many places you could see even if you don’t speak Turkish and just do a little planning.

I hope I haven’t bored you too much, thanks for reading x
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Old 6th April 2011, 13:20   #2 (permalink)
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Re: A trip to the East of Turkey

brilliant! ( posted on your other thread)
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Old 6th April 2011, 13:24   #3 (permalink)
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Smile Re: A trip to the East of Turkey

Lovely post, really enjoyed reading about your travels. We have not seen many places in Turkey and would love to get the chance to travel to many different places. Hopefully one day we will when we manage to spend more time in Turkey. Looking forward to the next post, so much more interesting than reading about what people have for dinner and which bars and to use and avoid. Really enjoyed.
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Old 6th April 2011, 13:34   #4 (permalink)
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Re: A trip to the East of Turkey

Great read and look forward to reading about the next part of your trip.
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Old 6th April 2011, 14:02   #5 (permalink)
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Re: A trip to the East of Turkey

Great Rachel..one leeetle comment however..why didnt you let me know you were in Alanya and i would have put you up..cramped but manageable ..never mind next time xx
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Old 6th April 2011, 14:15   #6 (permalink)
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Re: A trip to the East of Turkey

Super thread and post. Shows that there is life beyond ones local bar.
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Old 6th April 2011, 14:15   #7 (permalink)
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Re: A trip to the East of Turkey

Lovely, looking forward to reading more. We would love to travel, but all the cats and dogs have got in the way!!!
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Old 6th April 2011, 14:18   #8 (permalink)
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Re: A trip to the East of Turkey

Great read Rachel. When we did our trip last year we were thinking of going from Urfa to Gaziantep, I wanted to see the mosaics. We are advised the city had little to offer and so we went to Mardin instead. Looks like we were given the right advice from your impression of the city too.
Thank you for taking the time to write this ans I look forward to the next installment
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Old 6th April 2011, 14:56   #9 (permalink)
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Re: A trip to the East of Turkey

Thoroughly enjoyed this first instalment and looking forward to the next, any pics to share with us too. Look forward to the time when we have longer stays and can travel further through this vast country to experience the culture of all the diffferent areas.
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Old 6th April 2011, 15:00   #10 (permalink)
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Re: A trip to the East of Turkey

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunny Seasider View Post
Thoroughly enjoyed this first instalment and looking forward to the next, any pics to share with us too. Look forward to the time when we have longer stays and can travel further through this vast country to experience the culture of all the diffferent areas.
We are thinking of hiring a minibus and driver sometime in the future to do the tour in our time and where we want to go, spending as much time at various places as we want for maybe 10-12 persons.
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