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*This is a guest post from Emily, a friend of mine

 

I love taking a road trip. Travelling by car is, without a doubt, the only way to explore a region. It gives you the freedom to set your own path and, seeing as I’m the sort of girl who doesn’t like being shepherded around by a gaggle of tourists, it’s the only way I travel. It was nearing the middle of summer last year and, uncharacteristically, I had no plans. I was craving the wide open mouth of the road and the warm sense of unknowing that it offers. I needed to drive with the city behind me; I needed to travel, but where?

Well, I did what all modern travel-hungry girls do and I set up a Facebook group. As per usual, picking the destination was the hardest part, so I invited all of my nearest and dearest to the group and we battled it out together. As much as I wanted a short trip across America, it was way beyond everyone’s budget, as was Australia, Asia and, unfortunately, Canada.

Instead, we set our sights lower and looked a little closer to home. Wherever we went, car hire had to be cheap and, after much consideration, Turkey seemed like the best option. Saturated in culture, bordering eight countries and straddling two continents, it seemed like the ideal destination.

As soon my friends confirmed, we booked flights to Istanbul and arranged  car hire in turkey. The plan was to start the trip in Istanbul and then drive 499 miles to Fethiye. In one sitting this would have taken 11 hours, but we had two weeks to travel (and rest) to our own volition.
Istanbul

Before leaving Istanbul we spent a couple of days exploring the city. Realistically, I could have spent the whole trip there. It’s literally packed with wonder and delight. But alas, we had a driving mission to complete so I could barely touch Istanbul’s sides.

the_Blue_Mosque_at_sunset

Of what we did see, The Blue Mosque was a definite highlight. The architecture is absolutely stunning and inside, the high ceiling is lined with 20, 000 blue tiles (hence the name).Although it was stupidly busy, the Grand Bazaar (Kapaliçarsisi) is a personal must-see. It’s the world’s largest indoor market, with an incredible 3, 000 shops, and is characterised by noisy, colourful Turks selling noisy, colourful things. Lanterns hang from intricately painted ceilings; traditional Turkish clothes line the walls and all-manner of fascinating oddities beguile the cash-rich visitor. Needless to say, I parted with far too much of my frugal holiday fund in the cave-like streets of the Bazaar. I did get a few bargains though.
Ephesus  

As soon as we arrived in Ephesus I felt like I was in a Roman city. Everywhere I stepped was immersed in ancient history and I forgot, for just a moment, that anything else existed outside of these antiquated walls. Classical Greek architecture met pillars of the Roman period and age-eaten rubble told of the earthquake that had happened thousands of years ago. In comparison to the Moorish turrets of the Blue Mosque, I could easily have been in a different country.

Ephesus_turkey

On our second day we opted for a guided tour around the village of Şirince so we could soak up all the history that was around us. We arrived in Şirince in the late afternoon so we could stay for the evening. As the hordes of day-trippers were making their way back to their coaches, we were only just stretching our legs.

There were very few tourists around at that time so we had the chance to experience the true Şirince and mix with the locals.  We were able to wonder around the tiny streets, independent of crowds, and have our choice of the dinky eateries. Our tour guide introduced us to his dishy Turkish friends and that night, the food was good and the wine was plentiful. I slept like the dead, exhausted by a day behind the wheel and sated by a belly full of delicious treats.

 

Fethiye

We stayed in Şirince for longer than we anticipated. Mainly because one of my travelling companions made a companion of her own on the first night and begged us to stay for a few extra days. It was no skin off my nose, really, Şirince is such a beautiful village and, with new local mates, we tried to blend in. I have to say, it was probably one of the loveliest weeks of my life and we were grateful that we had the freedom of the car, allowing us to stay if and when we wanted.

After seven restful days we said our goodbyes and hit the road for the last time. It was a four hour drive to the seaside town of Fethiye and the whole way there we recounted our crushes and our complaints. The plan was to relax for a few days before catching a flight home from Dalaman Airport, but we could only chill out for the day because of the impromptu Şirince stopover.

Turkey_Oludeniz

Luckily, we got the time to visit Ölüdeniz, one of the world’s most photographed beaches, and revelled in the splendour of the place. It truly was exceptional and Fethiye is the perfect destination for those that are into the Mediterranean coast (who isn’t?). I, however, will be going back to Şirince next month, and who knows, I might not come home this time.

 

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