Beyond the Seaside – Alternative Travel Ideas for Turkey20 December, 2010
Turkey is a country that can offer much more than the traditional summer beach holiday, although several coastal resorts have become popular with European tourists for just this kind of vacation over the last few years. During winter, when the word Turkey perhaps conjures images of large roast birds and a week of protein packed sandwiches, a visit to the city of Istanbul presents the opportunity for a widening of cultural horizons. During summer, breathtakingly alternative views of the picturesque coastline can be had through a sailing tour of the coast. Thanks to the flotilla style of supervised chartering, sailing is no longer the preserve of the elite yachting set, both in terms of nautical skill and financial resources. There are now plenty of Turkey flights, and the competition between flight providers means that the country can be easily reached on a reasonable budget.
Istanbul has seen the sometimes violent convergence of East and the West throughout a long and fascinating history. Today, Istanbul straddles the divide between Europe and Asia, both physically and culturally. The legacy of both crusading Christianity and entrenched Islamic tradition is evident in some of the finest historical buildings surviving in Europe. The Blue Mosque is an unforgettable example of Islamic architecture, which welcomes non-Muslims while still being a functional place of worship. Topkapi Palace is a monument to the former imperial splendour of the Ottoman Empire, and is situated on the same peninsula as the Blue Mosque, Seraglio Point. The Hagia Sofia is another grand building in this area, perhaps a physical symbol of the prevailing history of Istanbul in that it has functioned variously as an Orthodox Basilica, Mosque, and Roman Catholic Cathedral at various times throughout history. The Hagia Sofia is now a museum.
Saraglio Point is part of the Golden Horn area, as estuary of the Bosphorus that separates Istanbul into European west and Asian east. A boat tour of the Golden Horn area is a great way to get a panoramic view of historic Istanbul. Moving on to the summer months, when Istanbul can become oppressively hot, flotilla sailing holidays around the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey can provide a more active alternative to baking on the beach. In fact, the constant breeze generated by sailing through the water can provide much needed respite from the heat of the mid day sun, as do the plentiful opportunities to drop anchor and dive into the sea.
Flotilla holidays unsurprisingly involve touring in a small fleet, aided by the expertise of a lead boat captained by a professional skipper. Boats are chartered for the duration of the holiday, and can range in size to accommodate groups of between two, and around seven or eight people. Flotillas are grouped according to skill level, providing the chance for real novices to gain sea legs. The format for most days involves heading to a point pre-determined by the lead boat, which travels alongside the flotilla ready to provide assistance as necessary. Flotilla holidays provide an engaging way to see the coast of Turkey, and also the chance if you’re lucky to get a glimpse of dolphins, and even the occasional whale!
However if you just want to chill out, suntan while a professional crew pilots the ship – you can consider going on boat tours at Fethiye like ourselves. It is an inexpensive way to see the Mediterranean coast in a relaxing manner.