Backpacker in Turkey - Living on Apple Tea in Istanbul

Sitting high in cafe overlooking the Istanbul skyline, it's difficult to believe that this has been a place of such international and domestic tension. It's not a place that springs to mind when you think you need a couple of weeks away. But tourism is Turkey is burgeoning and I was about to find out why.

Turkey is the meeting point between Europe and the Middle East , taking influence from both. It is exotic and the perfect cooking pot of fascinating history matched up again a real modernisation. There, happily nestling in the crowded streets will be a McDonald's with a real bazaar next door.

I can say with utmost honesty, that the Turkish are among some of the friendliest people I have ever met. Especially being females, we could barely make it down the street without glasses of the wonderful Turkish apple tea being thrust into grasps with dinner and drinks invitations. It is worth bearing in mind as a female travelling in Turkey that although most men are not aggressive, they are persistent and may still have very Middle Eastern values when it comes to the (fairer) sex.

Food in Turkey is mouth-watering, plates of lamb and fish, shish kebabs and eggplant and delightful little honey and nut based desserts. I do have to say one of my personal favourite dishes was a roasted boar, which I think was one of the finest things to ever grace my stomach. Local beers and wines are cheap and tasty and it's definitely worth checking out the local drink Raki, though been warned! It is not for the faint hearted.

As far as delving into the history of the country, there are endless museums and dauntingly beautiful mosques. Attractions include the Topkapi Palace , home of the Ottoman Sultans for around four centuries and home to the Imperial Treasury and the fascinating Harem.It would be worth taking a good few hours out of your trip to have a look around.

We visited a belly-dancing club with two Turkish musicians, it was a late-night venue with an after hours disco and astoundingly expensive drink prices. It was a most bizarre experience to one moment, being taking in a traditional belly dance and the next, jigging around to a badly mixed Eminem song. Whether male or female you will be expected to pay the dancer a gratuity.

Also a definite on the agenda should be the Blue Mosque, there are not enough words to describe the emotions you will go through while viewing this spectacular piece of architecture. The story goes that the Sultan asked the architect for a miranet made of gold which in Turkish is 'altin', this was misunderstood and taken as 'alti', which translated, means six. The poor hapless architect set about creating six beautiful miranets, fearing for his life when he realises his mistake. Other highlights include the Grand Bazaar and the Turkish baths.

Local currency is lira (you will arrive a millionare) and you can travel on a budget for around £10.

I cam home from Istanbul with a book full of photos and memories that will last a lifetime. I have made friends I am in touch with to this day and a love for apple tea that will stay with me forever.

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