|Turkey is a country where the East meets West and our first Muslim nation. Istanbul is a vibrant city with more carpet shops than cafes, and more shopping opportunities in the Grand Bazaar than you have in the entire state of California. It is also the termination city for the Orient Express.
As you walk around everyone seems to say "Hello" followed by "Would you like to buy a carpet?". You must bargain for everything from a bus ticket to a hotel room, from souvenirs to an hour's rate in an internet cafe. The city has fantastic Mosques including the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofya Museum. Also with a walk along the Bosphorus channel you can see the largest ships in the world squeeze through a 1km wide channel going from the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea (the only way through).
Turkish food was a pleasant change from the rest of Europe with the lamb shish and baklava being fantastic. It was a place in where Shawn began to appreciate kebabs/gyros as something more than beer food.
We traveled to central Turkey on one of the infamous night buses, from the even more infamous Istanbul bus station. This place makes Heathrow Airport look like a village airport.
Cappadocia in Central Turkey is a must see place with its rock houses and underground cities. The underground cities were built by the early Christians fleeing from the Roman Army. Staying in one of the rock houses makes you feel like you are living in the Flintstones cartoon.
From there we visited the roman ruins in Ephesus on the west coast. This was a place where the Virgin Mary spent the last days of her life, also visited by St. Paul. The ruins were surprisingly intact.
While in Turkey we also experienced a Muslim nation during Ramadan, where a man with a big drum in the street wakes you up at 4am so you know to eat before sunrise and a big cannon signifies you can eat again at sunset. In between this you tend to hear the constant wailing calls to prayer from the Mosques. It is a strange, strange sound...
It was also a country where the water caught up with us in the form of "Turkey Tummy", something we later realized was probably due to the fact that they store there water in drums on top of the houses.
With all of this it was one of the most intriguing and our favorite countries