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Presenter : Justine Shapiro

Turkey

Traveller Justine Shapiro heads for Turkey, a country sandwiched between Europe on one side and the Middle East and Asia on the other.

image: Justine Shapiro enjoys a little drinkieJustine begins her journey in Ephesus. The impressive ruins date back to around 700 BC and by Roman times it was a powerful and influential city. Nowadays it’s a popular tourist destination and during the peak season hordes of people flock to the ruins, which are renowned for their beauty.

Escaping the hordes, Justine travels south to the coastal town of Fethiye where she boards a yacht for Olympos. This part of the Mediterranean, or ‘White Sea’ as it is called by the Turks, is known as the Turquoise coast. It’s renowned for it’s secret coves and sandy beaches, but as much of the coast can only be visited by boat, hiring yacht is an ideal way to exploring the area.

Disembarking at Olympos, Justine camps out overnight in a treehouse at the well known travellers hangout Kadir’s. Kadir’s is the base for a trip up to see the mythical natural wonder Chimera – the image: Turkish ruineternal flames. Ancient people believed the flames were the fiery breath of a monster, part-lion, part-goat and part-dragon. The more scientific explanation is that methane seeps through crevices in the rock, which is ignited when it mixes with the air.

From Olympos Justine takes a bus north to the Ottoman town of Safronbolu. The town is a world heritage site, preserving the unique houses of the great and ruthless Sultans, or Ottoman Turks. Amongst the houses is a lively weekend market where Justine bargains with local traders. After a busy morning shopping Justine feels the need for the ultimate Turkish experience – a Turkish bath where her bones are cracked and muscles pummelled.

Fully relaxed after her Turkish bath, Justine takes the long bus journey south -east to Goreme, at the heart of Cappadoccia. The region was the home of one of the first Christian communities in the world. Goreme and it’s nearby villages were formed by ‘Troglodytes’, ancient people who burrowed into the rock to build their homes and churches. When danger threatened hundreds of thousands of people would retreat to vast underground cities for months at a time.

Justine is invited to a traditional wedding and before the festivities begin she joins the women in having their hands and feet ornately decorated with henna. After throwing coins to the children, the bride is whisked away while the women look on, and the men prepare to dance in celebration. Meanwhile, the women all gather at a nearby house to offer traditional good luck gifts of money and fresh honey to the bride.

image: turkish woman and childAfter the dancing the afternoon away, Justine finds a friendly carpet seller to learn the finer points of buying a quality Turkish rug. She then travels east to see the wonders ofNemrut Dag – the legacy of a pre-Roman king who placed colossal statues of himself and the gods on the mountain’s summit.

The last part of Justine’s journey takes her north to the Black Sea coast and the remote town of Artvin in the Kachar mountains. The town is celebrating its annual four-day festival, and bull-fighting plays a major part in the festival.

Places Mentioned - The Silk Road - Kashgar to Istanbul, Turkey

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