Turkey, the First Country to Begin with
01 September 2014 09:52 Meilia No Comments!
This is about a journey, not a long one, of course. Having been in my mind for more than 2 years, Turkey has been one of my dream destinations. It is not a perfect country to visit, as many people will most probably choose Europe, America, or maybe the most happening country that bombs Indonesia with its K-pop culture, South Korea. Nevertheless, an individual has her/his own choice that differs from others, in this case, I have my own dream places to grab and Turkey is one of them. Lots of you might question why, like why not France? The country titled the most romantic place in the world? Why not England? The country that has various elegant unique English accents? Well, the answer is quite simple. At first, I swore to myself to visit one of countries in the world before my time in the world passes. Then I questioned where to go first? As I live in a tropical place, I would like to visit a country that is different in term of weather and location from Indonesia. After meditating for a quite long time, I thought about Italy because I am a fan of Italian football league, Serie-A, with AC Milan as my favorite football club ever. But, again another thought came across my mind.How could I get a lot of money to make visa and for living there while traveling? A tough thought. I grabbed my map and figured out which country to go that lies different from Indonesia. That's not enough, though. I also searched and googled about it. There it was! Turkey. The internet stated that it lies between 2 continents, with Muslim as the majority of population, and whose the people are gifted with white complexion, just like a Caucasian in Europe. Before I was really happy finding out the place, I was also fascinated that no visa application in the embassy is needed for Indonesian people to visit there and they use Turkish Lira (TL) of which exchange rate to Rupiah is cheaper than European countries, Rp6,000 in average per 1 TL. What a nice discovery! Two years was what I needed to realize my dream. I know it was such a long time to make it happen because I was also challenged by life's rollercoaster.But, hey, this is the art. Facing the reality and remaining to pursue a dream just add the adventure of my life. Thus, when the time came for me to hug the Bosphorus Bridge, I am here to tell you my trip. Not always magnificent ones, but I hope this journey would give you, readers, some descriptions of how I completed my endeavors. Have a nice reading and fasten your seatbelt.
What Flight? How Much?
Before starting everything, I realized that I am not rich, my family is not rich and of course I did not want to spend a lot of money in the journey. But I was not a backpacker either. Thus, I told to myself to play safe. How? Again, googling. I searched various flights that offered different price, starting from direct flights and indirect flights. At first, I thought indirect flights would be much cheaper than direct flights. To my surprise, it was not really so. An indirect flight offered by one of affordable airlines Qatar Airways in which the journey from Jakarta to Istanbul, Turkey has one stop in Dubai for more than 7 hours was available for more than Rp10, 500,000. Not for me. Some other airlines such as Emirates and Singapore Airlines offered even more expensive rate, around Rp12 million-14 million. I was almost giving up until one day I found a nice rate from Malaysia Airlines with a stop in Kuala Lumpur just for 3 hours. So Malaysia Airlines it was. How much did I have to pay? Rp9 million-ish. To check the availability and fares offered, we can just jump to the airlines websites directly, www.turkishairlines.com, www.qatarairways.com, www.flyemirates.com and www.qatarairways.com, www.malaysiaairlines.com. Or, we can compare the fares of all airlines available through some traveling sites named www.wego.com, www.skyscanner.com, and www.expedia.com.
Just be aware that we can easily come to some places only with a passport especially in some Southeast Asian countries. However, a visa is needed sometimes when we travel to European countries, America, or some other Asian countries. To make sure, we are in the right path and be early in preparation, have yourself a little help by checking some useful sites or blogs such as here. When I traveled to Turkey, I only needed to make an e-visa for my stay which was not longer than 30 days, costing US$45 by credit card. It is truly the cheapest and easiest way of making a visa compared to those that require us coming to embassies and wondering if our visa is accepted or rejected. One tip in making an online visa, make sure you fill out everything correctly, because if you find that one of the information you provided is wrong, while you already saved and printed it, you need to make a new one and pay again. What a waste of money.
An example of Turkish E-Visa
1.Taksim , Istiklal Street and Galata Tower
Posing at Taksim Park
Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue) is the heart in the more modern district in Istanbul. The city's most popular street is lined with boutiques, consulates, galleries, cinemas and banks, with residential apartments above. The avenue begins at the hub of modern Istanbul, Taksim Square. Taksim is for me the most interesting place to visit while I was in Istanbul, I even went there twice! I found lots of tourists, shops, and some attractions like musical performance and clowns. In the first day I came there, I just strolled in the street and took some photos. While in the second day, I got on the tramway that runs almost 3km length of Istiklal Street in which it begins in Taksim Square and ends in Tunel.
Besides, I was also fascinated by a famous tower called Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi), the city's most striking landmarks with its cone-capped cylinder shape that makes it look stunning, just when I had finished eating my lunch in one of cafes in Istiklal Street. The tower with its nine stories and conical roof stands at almost 70 meters tall in which there are 2 elevators inside it to take the visitors to the top where they can enjoy great views of the city. So marvelous!
The Galata Tower
City View from the top of Galata Tower
2. Bosphorus Tour
Strolling in the Eminonu Street to catch the metro, I was stopped by a huge boat, or I might say a tour ship that would take people enjoying the view along the Bosphorus Sea. It said "Bosphorus Tour 10TL Everyday" on the body of the ship. Being curious about the view offered, I got on the ship after paying 10TL to a man who was the ticket department officer. I was sitting on a chair; there were a lot of chairs there available for the visitors who wanted to enjoy view on the edge of the ship. I could not describe the tour more but one word: Exquisite!
The Tour Ship
The Bosphorus Bridge Captured when in Tour Ship
3. Sultanahmet Mosque
Sultanahmet Mosque is one of mosques in the world that I have always been intending to visit. It is also called Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles surrounding the walls of interior design. Besides being a tourist attraction, it is actually an active mosque where it is closed to non worshippers for half an hour during the five daily prayers. I got there at around 2 PM and I had to wait a bit as the mosque was still used for praying. Before we went inside, we had to queue and took off our shoes and put them in a plastic bag in which later we had to carry it along until we reached the exit. Women were obliged to cover their heads too with fabric cover, scarf, or pashmina. For those who wore shorts and tank top, they had to cover their body with long clothes available in the mosque. While inside the building, visitors were asked to not use flash and avoid starring and taking picture of those who were praying. This is Sultanahmet: Glorious, huge, and stunning mosque.
Sultanahmet Mosque and the Park
Inside Sultanahmet Mosque
Posing at the exit of Sultanahmet
4. Hagia Sophia
Well, what comes after Sultanahmet? Most people will answer another picturesque building in front of it, which is also a museum (musezi), Hagia Sophia. According to some sources I read, it was used as a church for 916 years, but following the conquest of Istanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmed, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque for 482 years. Under the order of Ataturk and the decision of the Council of Ministers, Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum in 1935. So, basically, it is one of the oldest superb buildings ever found in the world. However, it was so unfortunate that I did not finally enter the inside of the building because of long queue and imperfect time.
Hagia Sophia from the Park
5. Gulhane Park and Topkapi Palace
Before I came to Topkapi Palace, I visited Gulhane Park located not too far away from the museum. It is a historical urban park in the Eminonu district that houses plenty of flowers in which it underwent a major renovation in recent years. I just spent 1 hour in this park as it was so huge with long paths which enable visitors to take at least 2 hours to complete the journey. So then, I decided to just go to the Topkapi Palace that is situated 500 m from the park. Topkapi Palace is the first museum ever established in the Republic of Turkey of which the building has four courtyards and passages between them. The first courtyard I recalled is Hagia-Irene Church used as Armory, the second courtyard is Divan Square (Square of Justice) that is also a ceremonial courtyard, the third courtyard is Inner Palace that is formed by the dormitories and its structures belong to Sultan, the last courtyard is Imperial Sofa which hosts to the Kiosks and gardens. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to capture a lot of things in the exhibition halls in which contains objects.
At Gulhane Park
Some of Sultan's Weapons Displayed in Topkapi Palace
The Entrance Gate of Topkapi Palace
6. Grand Bazaar
I am that kind of person who does not like to go to shopping centers generally, but when in Turkey I spent almost 3 hours just to stroll around the Grand Bazaar (Capalicarsi), one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world housing over 3000 shops, that is more than just a sightseeing spot. Shops in the place offer both high quality products and, to be honest, put lesser quality items. It is well known for its jewelry, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroideries, spices and antique shops. It has four main gates situated at the ends of its two major streets which intersect near the southwestern corner of the bazaar. This, to me, the largest, longest, most exhausting markets I have ever visited and walked in the world. I did not do shopping much in this place, frankly, because I did not want to spend money on things I could purchase with cheaper price outside the markets. Win-win solution worked.
The Entrance Gate of Grand Bazaar
Posting in the Grand Bazaar
Spices Sold in the Grand Bazaar
Spending 6 days in total in Istanbul is not enough for a Turkey fanatic like me as I had to miss some more splendid cities and places such as Cappadocia and Selcuk. Nevertheless, I put a saying in my mind "The person attempting to travel two roads at once will get nowhere"-Xun Zi. To me, the free translation will be: if I want to go there again, I will go there again. No fixed rules should be made for traveling as when we take the journey, most probably, we will not comply with the schedules we have ever created before we depart. So, Turkey, if I am meant to be there, I'll grab you again.
The journey continues...