Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Turkey ~ Marmaris, Antalya, Cappadocia



I've done previous posts about summer holidays, but this post in particular talks about a country with people close to my heart.....Turkey!
I have visited Turkey nine or ten times now since 2010 and each visit has been a bit of a roller coaster. They've certainly had their ups and downs, but overall the last five years have been some of the best of my life, and that's all because of the people I've met and one person in particular who I still believe, even after everything that's happened between us, is and always will be the love of my life.
 I was only 16 years old when I met him, he was 18 at the time. Now I'm 22 and he's 24, we've both grown up together, been through his national service together, been through family struggles, family deaths and births, and most important of all, we've experience so many beautiful memories together, which neither of us will ever forget.



Moving on, as I said in my recent post about finishing university, since I handed in my dissertation, I've been enjoying my summer and I've been to Turkey twice already this summer. The first time I went to Marmaris and the second visit was to a place called Side, about an hour from Antalya, and then onto Cappadocia. So I thought I'd share a few of my experiences and memories from these last two trips and recommend some things to do, places to see, hotels to stay at and restaurants to eat in. This post does talk about things and contains photos from throughout the last five years on my trips to Turkey, but if I was to tell and show you everything from the last five years, this post would literally go on forever, so it's just some highlights.

~ MARMARIS ~


So the first trip this summer was to Marmaris........
I've been here four times now. The first time I went, I thought it was ok, but after that, it gets a bit samey, and it's what I call 'tourist Turkey' rather than 'real Turkey'. But Marmaris holds a lot of fond memories for me, which always come flooding back every time I go there, and I have quite a few friends there, so it's always nice to see and catch up with them. I've stayed in a few hotels in Marmaris which are:

 - Emre Beach Hotel (2010)
- Marbella Hotel (2011)
- Golden Rock Hotel (2013)
- Marbella Hotel (2015)

My favourite hotel which i've stayed in, in Marmaris has to be the Marbella Hotel. I absolutely love it and highly recommend it to anyone, it's perfect! Both times I've been, I've stayed in the same room, which is one of the biggest rooms at the front circle of the hotel which overlooks 180 degree views of the sea and beach, its beautiful! Another thing which I love, is that the front of the hotel is literally 5 steps to the beach! It's not an all-inclusive hotel, I'm not really a fan of the whole all-inclusive thing, I think it's nice to be able to go out and eat different food at different places rather than eating the same food in the hotel everyday. After all, the food is one of the best things about Turkey and it's so cheap to eat out, so you may as well take advantage of the low prices! It's also quite a small hotel compared to some of the massive all-inclusive ones which have been built in the last 5 years, but I love it!

(Front of Marbella Hotel)

(Side of Marbella Hotel)

(Pool and sea views from Marbella Hotel)

Each time I've been to Marmaris, I've found some lovely restaurants. In 2010, I found 'Faros Beach' which I loved at the time and ate there most days, sometimes twice a day. However, I went back to eat there this time round and it had gone down hill, so once was enough, I never went back, which was a shame, because in 2010 it used to be THE place to eat. The food, staff, service, and atmosphere used to be great, but not anymore!

(Faros Beach Restaurant)

Luckily, on a walk back to the hotel one night this summer, I found a new restaurant right next door to the Marbella Hotel, called 'Alibey Finedining' which is FANTASTIC! I can't recommend it enough to anyone going to Marmaris. Everything is PERFECT! The food, the staff, the service, the music, the atmosphere, the prices, everything is just great and most of all there's NO HASSLE! I ate here almost everyday, sometimes twice a day for two weeks and was never disappointed. We went to a few different restaurants during the holiday, but they were never as good as Alibey.

(Alibey Finedining Restaurant)

(Me outside Alibey Finedining)

(Me & Ferit, Manager at Alibey, he's so sweet!)


(Me singing at Alibey with the wonderful guitar player Burak)

(Me & Servet, the best waiter!)

(Me & my little Anil, he's such a cutie)

If you've been to Marmaris before, you'll know what I'm talking about when I mention being hassled. It's one of the downsides of Marmaris, and I have noticed it has become ALOT worse in the last 5 years. When I first went in 2010 it was bad enough, but now as more and more all-inclusive hotels are being built, all the bars, cafes and restaurants are fighting for customers to survive, as less people are eating out when its all included in the price they've paid for their holiday. Every single bar, restaurant and café you walk past hassles you to try and get you to come in, and I understand they are fighting to survive, especially now, but it really annoys me, especially when some of them are particularly pushy. I usually just carry on walking and ignore it, but for some people it can be very intimidating. The only times I've not been hassled is when I've been with my Turkish boyfriend at the time or Turkish friends, and then they tend to leave you alone. My advice if you're on your own though and you don't want to get involved with the hassle, is to just ignore it and carry on walking.

Things I'd recommend to do whilst in Marmaris:

Swimming with dolphins



This was one of the best experiences of my life. I've always wanted to swim with dolphins since I was little, and in the past when I've been on family holidays, we've been to the dolphin shows and there's always that time in the show where they look for a child from the audience to volunteer to swim with the dolphins and literally every time I'd always put my hand up and shout "me me me" and my family would be shouting and pointing at me to get picked, but I was never the child to be picked and I was always so sad.



Well in 2010, one of my lifelong dreams came true and it was definitely something I can tick off my bucket list. I swam with dolphins! I would highly recommend it to anyone who's always wanted to do this, its honestly one of the most amazing things I've ever done. The great thing about it was that it wasn't in a big group of people where you get like five minutes with the dolphins. There was just me, my boyfriend at the time, the dolphin trainer and the dolphins, that was it. It was a completely one-one-one, personal experience and something I will never forget. We got to spend about half an hour with the dolphins, swimming with them, playing with them, doing tricks, stroking them, it was honestly amazing.



The place that we went to was right on the beach front near to the Maris Spa & Resort hotel (i think that's what its called). There was a professional photographer taking pictures throughout the experience, so that if you didn't have anybody with you and you wanted pictures you could buy them at the end. But they also let friends and family in to watch and take pictures, my mum and friend came to watch and take pictures while we were doing it, so if you've got someone to take pictures for you, you don't need to buy any at the end. Also the dolphin trainer spoke good English, which was good, as there was a lot of instructions safety-wise and also directions for certain actions to do whilst swimming with the dolphins, so it was good to have that all in good English. I would definitely recommend it to anyone.


Markets


The first time I went to some markets near Marmaris was in 2013 and I went to Iclemer markets, which was really good. It was a huge market, with lots of tents selling all kinds of goods, from clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, jewellery, food, fruit, vegetables, spices, literally everything and anything, you could spend hours there looking at everything. Last time I got lots of really great bargains and really good stuff, so this time when I came back to Marmaris, I wanted to go again because I really enjoyed it. However, apparently it had to close, because all the shop owners in Marmaris were complaining that everyone was going to the markets to buy everything and not going to the shops in Marmaris. So this time I had to find another market. I asked around and heard there was a market in Turunc, which is about 12 miles south of Marmaris. I heard there were boats trips that could take you there, so my mum and I booked a boat trip to Turunc to go to the markets. Turunc is a former fishing village, and has been populated since ancient times as the sea offers a variety of precious resources.



Despite the region's fast development in recent years, the natural beauty Turunc has been preserved. As a resort, the village has won the Blue Flag award in recognition of its clean beach and water quality. The size of Turunc is about 1 km (0.62 mi), taking half an hour to walk from one side to the other. The waterfront features restaurants, bazaars and bars. The town was quite small, but nice. However, when we got to the actual markets, we were a bit disappointed, as compared to the Iclemer markets, they were tiny, and you could look round everything in half an hour. There wasn't as much variety, there were lots of stalls selling the same thing, and there just wasn't as much to look at or buy. It was an ok trip and for someone who hadn't been to the Iclemer markets, they would probably think the Turunc market was good. I say bring back the Iclemer markets!

Boat Trips


Like I said, my mum and I booked a boat trip to take us to the Turunc markets. We'd never booked a boat trip in Marmaris before, and on the whole it was ok. The views from the boat were beautiful and it didn't take too long, only about 30 minutes there and 30 minutes back.


Shopping


Ok, so every girl loves shopping and I think it's always great to go shopping in different countries to get a feel for the culture and what that country has to offer. One thing you'll know if you've been to Turkey before, is that there is A LOT of fake stuff sold in most of the shops. Fake clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery, anything you can think of. Another important point to make about these kinds of shops is that there are different 'grades' of fake goods. Most of the shops in Marmaris sell the lowest grade fakes, which are the cheap imitations that look instantly fake, to anyone who knows what the real items look like. However, there are a small minority of shops which sell some of the higher grade fakes, obviously they are more expensive, you can't get a bag for £10 in these shops like you can with the lower grade fakes, but it depends what you're looking for.
Aside from all the fake stuff being sold, you can find some cultural and typically Turkish items in Marmaris if you want to do that sort of shopping. There's a big shopping bazaar in the centre of Marmaris opposite the Ataturk statue, where you can find all kinds of shops selling traditional/cultural Turkish goods along with the all the fakes etc.

 ~ ANTALYA ~


I've stayed in Side, Antalya about five times, at two different apartment complex's. One called 'Oasis Apartments' and the other called 'Tropicana Apartments' both are part of the 'Kaya Homes' apartment complex's which are lovely 5* apartments varying in size and number of bedrooms and bathrooms etc. Most of the apartments are actually privately owned and either rented out or actually lived in permanently or just for a few months of the year. So there is usually a mix of families who actually own the apartments and also tourists who are renting them. I would recommend the Tropicana Apartments over the Oasis Apartments, just because I prefer that complex. It's nicer in my opinion, it's got bigger outdoor and indoor pools, lots of sunbeds, a big outdoor seating area near the pool, pool café with free wifi and lots of drinks and snacks, a gym, and it's near to local shops if you need bits and bobs.







It's also only about a 10 minute walk from a great restaurant called Kosem which is on the big roundabout opposite the lovely cake and dessert shop/cafe.  Each time I've been to Side, I've eaten at Kosem A LOT sometimes daily. It's handy because it's about a 10 minute walk from the apartments, the food is great and the prices are very reasonable. I found whenever I ate in the centre of Side, the prices were double or triple what they were at Kosem and the food definitely wasn't as good. Plus because I've been so many times now the staff are like old friends which is lovely. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but trust me you won't regret going and eating there, the food is great, and the head waiter speaks excellent English.


 Things I'd recommend to do whilst in Side:

Temple of Apollo



If you go to Side, you've got to visit the Temple of Apollo, it's so beautiful, and it obviously has it's cultural history as well. It's Side's most famous and most photographed landmark, and it is 2000 years old. The temple is dedicated to Apollo, Greek God of light, art and beauty and was apparently given as a token of Anthony's love for Cleopatra.





It's nice to visit during the day so you can see the amazing sea views and see all the detail within the ruin itself. However, I think the best time of day to go to here is at dusk, so you can watch the sun setting over the Temple and the sea, it's so beautiful.



Roman Amphitheatre



A visit to the amphitheatre is also a must in my opinion. It dates from the 2nd century and is constructed as a huge semi-circle which would have seated around 15,000 people. The first time I went to visit it, there was a musical festival happening in Side, and there was lots of different musical events on throughout the week at different locations in Side, some at the beach, some at the Temple of Apollo, some at the amphitheatre etc. So I went to listen to the world famous Viennese Orchestra, along with some world famous opera singers, and it sounded absolutely INCREDIBLE in the amphitheatre.



The acoustics of the music and the singers was amazing and it was a once in a lifetime thing to see and hear. Also all the events at this week long festival were free, which made it even better. However, you can go and visit the amphitheatre any day, not just when events are on, but if you get the chance to go when a  musical event is taking place, I'd definitely recommend going.

Manavgat Waterfalls


Manavgat waterfalls is one of my favourite places to go whenever I've been to Side. It's about 3km north of Manavgat town, which is a short journey from Side on a Dolmus bus. It's so beautiful and peaceful. I could literally go and just sit there for hours, watching the waterfall and listening to the water, it's so calming. I've been here twice now. The first time, it was quite busy with lots of people, both tourists and Turkish families, but this time when I went it was a lot quieter, with a lot less people, which made it even more calming and relaxing. There's also a few cafe's and shops where you can buy trinkets and other things to take home with you. Also the first time I went, there was one café which was literally in water. All the tables and chairs were in water and your feet were in water up to your ankles, which was a fun and different and something I've never experienced before. However, this time when I went, it was gone, which was a shame, because I thought it was really unique.


~ CAPPADOCIA ~


So during my second trip to Turkey, after spending a week in Side, Antalya, I got a flight to Kayseri airport and stayed in Kayseri with some friends of mine for a few days and then went to Nigde, to stay with some other friends. During my stay in Nigde, I went to visit Urgup and Goreme, two of the main towns in Cappadocia. This is the second time I have visited these truly beautiful and magical places. I've really never visited anywhere in the world like it.



Cappadocia is a popular tourist destination, as it has many areas with unique geological, historic and cultural features. Touristic Cappadocia includes four cities: Nevsehir, Kayseri, Aksaray and Nigde.
The most important towns and destinations in Cappadocia are Urgup, Goreme, Ihlara Valley, Selime, Guzelyurt, Uchisar, Avanos and Zelve. There are many underground cities, historic mansions and cave houses for tourists to visit and stay. Cappadocia is full of otherworldly natural sites and is most famous for it's 'fairy chimneys', tall, cone-shaped clustered rock formations. We went to see the famous 'fairy chimneys' one day and they are so unique are magical. They look like something from Harry Potter. If you're ever in Cappadocia, you have to go and see them for yourself. It's such a beautiful place and somewhere definitely not to be missed.




 Hot-air ballooning is very popular in Cappadocia and is available to do in Goreme. Both times I've been, I've really wanted to do a hot-air balloon ride, but I haven't had enough time there to do it. However, it is on my bucket list to do, so hopefully one day, i'll get the chance to go back and tick a hot-air balloon ride over Cappadocia off my bucket list.



So, that about sums up my experiences and recommendations in Marmaris, Antalya and Cappadocia.
Thank you for looking at this post and I hope you've enjoyed reading it.

LauraJadeJackson
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