Photos / Travel / Turkey / Vacation

Eceabat & Troy

I write this post from the terrace of my hotel in Fethiye. Directly in front of me is the bay, which glistens under the sun and where sailboats float along in the sapphire water. Sort of like the produce, even the vistas and landscapes in Turkey feel somehow brighter and better and more colorful. I’ve seen mountains before, and coastlines and sparkling water and quaint villages tucked away in remote valleys, but in Turkey all of these things have a genuinely special character. I find myself very much in love with so much of what I’ve seen, and my holiday isn’t even halfway over!

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I was told by many people that I would see a different Turkey when I left Istanbul, and I’ve found that there’s definitely truth to that. Even spending just a few months living in one of the largest cities in the world has kind of left me feeling a bit rough around the edges. I like the bustle, and I do find Turkish people in general to be pretty helpful and hospitable, but having seen a few other places in the country now, I can tell that a lot of city folk definitely put on a tough front to get through their day – and I can’t blame them. I’ve found that if I don’t approach the city with a certain amount of skepticism and pushiness, and if I don’t prioritize my own needs first, I would likely never get anything done and probably get walked on in the process.

So, in the sense that Istanbul has toughened me up, it’s nice to be able to visit places where I don’t have to always be so assertive. Plus, in the time since I’ve come to Turkey, I’ve never been out of the city, and so far I’m really enjoying these two weeks away.

A lot of people have been asking me how exactly I went about creating such a thorough and lengthy itinerary. Having never left Istanbul, and still not speaking much Turkish, the thought of planning a trip anywhere else was admittedly rather daunting. Plus, there was so much I wanted to see that I had no idea where to start or how to go about planning anything. In an effort to simplify and get some samples of potential itineraries, I searched for budget tours of Turkey online and came across the website of a local travel agency in Sultanahmet. They had lots of packages within my timeframe and budget, so I sent an email asking which they would most recommend. Five minutes later, I received a phone call asking me to come into their office for something customized. The agent I worked with was great and attentive, and two weeks later, I was fully booked for a 16-day western Turkey extravaganza!

Going through an agency was probably my first good decision of the trip. Everything was prepaid, and reservations for buses and hotels and tours were made in advance, so there’s been little additional cost and zero worries about whether there would be enough space to get a seat or a room, which, during this high season for tourism, has been known to be a problem. For the most part, whenever I arrive somewhere, someone has always been waiting to take me to the next stage of my trip, so a lot of the guesswork has been removed from getting to where I need to be when I need to be there. And if shit hits the fan, there is someone I can call to fix it. Having never traveled in Turkey before, and it being that I’m travling alone, it’s been wonderful to have full peace of mind.

So far it’s mostly been go, go, go, but today I’ve found myself with nothing planned and access to a pool and a gorgeous view, so it’s been a pretty leisurely one for me, and I thought I’d take some time to post some photos about the start of my trip.

Everything kicked off on Friday at 6:30am, which meant I was up even before the summer sun to get ready and make my way to the Metro station so I could meet my travel van in Sultanahmet. I was excited enough that it actually wasn’t too difficult to wake up and get going, and walking through Istanbul in the quiet morning without the heat or many other people was rather enjoyable.

My van picked me up and, with the company of about 10 other people, made the 5-hour drive to Eceabat, a small seaside town and one of the jumping-off points to Troy and Gallipoli. My schedule for the day only included Troy, but in the van were many Australians heading to Gallipoli, which hosted a World War I battle that proved disastrous for the Allies and was particularly devastating for Australians and New Zealanders, so visiting the area is sort of a cultural pilgrimage for them.

As we made our way from Istanbul, we drove along the coast, and while there were sometimes glimpses of sea out the window, the true wonder was the countless fields of sunflowers along the way. I wasn’t able to get a good photo, and many of them were pretty dried out in the August heat, but there were times when the fields spread out as far as I could see, and it was pretty fantastic. After the journey, our van dropped us in Eceabat, where we had lunch and then embarked on our respective tours.

My route: Istanbul is starred in the top right. My bus travelled along the north coast of the Sea of Marmara before stopping at Erasmus (point A).

My route: Istanbul is starred in the top right. My bus travelled along the north coast of the Sea of Marmara before stopping at Eceabat (point A). From there, it was a ferry ride and a shuttle to Troy.

There were just a few other people with me on my tour of Troy, and our guide was a young Turk who spoke about the area with a passion and interest like I’ve never seen. He was a certified guide of the place, but is apparently an aspiring archeologist, and he shared with us many of his theories about mysteries surrounding the ruins of one of civilization’s oldest known cities. His enthusiasm and the stories about the place is probably what made the trip worthwhile for me – there was very little to see of the ruins, and admittedly I didn’t find wandering around in the dust and heat all that enjoyable. I was able to learn a lot, though, so you can peruse the photos and read the captions for a little more information!

The next morning I was to depart to Selçuk, a town in similar size and style to Eceabat and from where I would take my tours of Ephesus and Pamukkale (more on those later!). My shuttle to the bus station wasn’t to arrive until 10:30 that morning, and when I found myself wide awake at 7, I decided to take a walk along the seaside. I found a little park with a monument and some displays involving the battle at Gallipoli, and even gained a fuzzy friend while I strolled. It was a lovely, relaxing morning – good preparation for the nine hours I was going to spend on the bus to Selçuk!

In summary, my vacation has been much needed and very enjoyable. I’ll return soon with some photos and tales of Ephesus and Pamukkale, but in the meantime, all my love!

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