May 29, 2010

North Berwick (22 Mar 2009)

I am taking a break from my Turkey, Greece trip to post something else on Scotland. A day trip to the seaside of Scotland, North Berwick. It was a small cozy town with practically nothing much to do except to walk along the beach and just chill out.

Photos are taken from my old point and shoot camera...

Istanbul, Turkey (9 Aug 2009)

Istanbul is often mistaken as the capital city of Turkey where in fact it was Ankara. We did not travel to Ankara as the city is out of our route. However, Istanbul is the city which is so diverse that I am confused whether I am in Asia or Europe continent.

We took a night bus from Kusadasi all the way to Istanbul. I was quite surprised with the service of the bus as it was more like being in a plane than in a bus. Food and drinks were served by a waiter in a bus!! and it was quite luxurious. We reached Istanbul about 9am in the morning after almost a 12 hour journey. We took a metro to our hostel which was very near to the Blue Mosque and the Sultanahmet area (which is the busiest and most happening area)

view from the balcony of our hostel

Product of my boreness while waiting for our beds to be readied

the breakfast area of the hostel.. I love the concept

We waited for the hostel to clean our room as we wanted to wash up before heading out to explore Istanbul. We practically had only 1 and half day to explore as we need to catch the dreading 17 hr bus from Istanbul to Bucharest, Romania. So after washing, we head to the main bus station to get our tickets. Istanbul is quite easy to get around as the metro and tram services are very convinient and easy to navigate.

We explore Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia, the former being one of the largest and most beautiful mosque in the world and the later being turned from a mosque into a museum. Both buildings were so beautiful that they almost look fake even I saw them with my own eyes. To get into the Blue Mosque, one needs to cover up and me being a Malaysian can even forget that I cant go in with short pants.Luckily, they provide cloth to cover up my legs and plastic bags to put in my shoes.
At night we ate some kebabs for dinner and loiter around the town for sunset and night views. The next day, we decided to sleep in as we need to head to the bus station at 2pm to catch the bus to Romania.

Hagia Sofea

inside Hagia Sofea

I took this shot from one of the windows inside Hagia Sofea, after which many follow what I did

The window shot. I kind of like this one. I was a bit short to take the window view and end up had to push my camera up and see through the live view. Thank God those fellas in Canon decided to include live view mode....

Another shot from the window. Refer to above

Another view

Blue Mosque at night

Hagia at night

May 22, 2010

Cotton Castle, Turkey (8 Aug 2009)

Cotton Castle also known as Pamukkale is a very famous site nearby Selcuk and considered one of the UNESCO world heritage. The site contains travetines (some sort of carbonate minerals which flows for many many years) and hot springs.

We travelled to Pamukkale via a local tour from Kusadasi with some detour to the nearby hotel for some hot spring bath and buffet lunch. Visitors to Pamukkale is not allowed to wear shoes on those travertines to prevent the site from further destroyed. The first site of Pamukkale is astounding!! The whitish of the site can be seen from afar and it does looks like a cotton castle, true to its name. It was so white until you need to wear sunglasses (ok, I am kind of over the top with the story but you get the picture). There are two more familiar sites such as Pamukkale, one in HuangLong Sichuan, China and another in the US in Yellowstone Park.

I think I have fallen in love with Turkey!!

looks like cotton but feels like rock

all barefooted

me enjoying a dip in the cold spring water

Ephesus, Turkey (6-7 Aug 2009)

So Petra
Next STOP: Turkey!

Arrive in Kusadasi from Samos island, Greece. Turkey is the only country which connects both the east and the west. In here, one could see that the country has blended in both western and eastern culture. 90% of Turkey actually lies in the Asia continent and the remaining 10 % in the European continent. Turkey in fact is a Muslim country and a very liberal too except you still need to cover up when going into the mosque.

There are plenty of food in Turkey which I tea, turkish coffee, go gaga over turkish delight (I am still angry that my mom gave half of my turkish delight away to my aunt when I hand carry all the way back to Malaysia in Sept), kebabs (which are aplenty in Turkey), their speciality yogurt milk kind of drink, Aryan (not for the faint hearted), the unique Turkish ice cream (must try) and not forgetting the Efes beer!!

Kusadasi is the first port that connects between Greece and Turkey. There were only two round of ferries from Samos island in a day, one at 830 am and another at 500 pm. We were lucky to catch the early ferry as the queue was pretty long at the custom. We were forgotten that in order to cross to Turkey, a passport is needed as Turkey no longer in the Euro zone.

the castle

sunset at Kusadasi

priceless sunset with boat afar

Kusadasi port. Took this while recuperating from my seasickness

colourful Turkish lanterns at night

Kusadasi town

Once reach Kusadasi, we freshen up and then head to the town to grab some kebabs and not forgetting Efes beer. Turkey uses Turkish lira (TL) and we need to change some of our Euros to that. The hostel that we were staying is very near to the Kusadasi port and walking distance to the town. We walked to the bus station and enquire about our ticket to Istanbul 3 days later. We got a decent bus ticket which was an overnight one and then proceed to ask on the trip to Pamukkale and Ephesus. We decided to take a day trip to Pamukkale using the local tour as the price is more a less the same and we got a bargain for the trip!

The next day, we head to Ephesus using the local bus after enquiring from the hostel, actually more like enquiring from the tourist information as the owner was a bit angry that we decided to take another tour to Pamukkale and not following his tour. We had a full Turkish breakfast with lots of bread and cheese and olives. We reached the entrance of Ephesus but was cheated by one of the taxi drivers after they telling us it's a long walk up to Ephesus wherelse it was not. We paid 10 TL for a taxi ride up and after that learnt our lesson and decide to walk back out for the bus. The weather was super super super hot!!!

Ephesus is the ancient Greek city where it was famous for the temple of Artemis. It was in fact one of the ancient seven wonders of the world and the library of Celcus does remind me a lot like Petra in Jordan.

In fact , I think Ephesus has more Greek influence that Greece herself and most of the remains here are still intact. We eavesdropped to some of the tour guides explanations while pretending to snap away for the history of the ancient city and later proceed to walk on our own. Although we reached there early in the morning, we could see a large tourist crowd gathering. We loiterred around the theater and took some funny shots before heading back out to Kusadasi. In the evening, my travelmate wanted to take the boat out for sunset and I end up having a very bad seasick..:(