Turkey: The Land of the Beautiful

I think when people think of the Mediterranean, they generally imagine the Greek Islands and the coasts of Italy with their blue waters and scenic vistas, yet stopping there would be a mistake. I have spent time in both Greece and Italy, and yes, they are beautiful places, but the southern coast of Turkey is absolutely majestic.

It has everything you could want from a Mediterranean vacation spot; beaches with sparkling turquoise waters, mountains full of lush greenery and great hiking trails, and within them all, epic ruins from the ancient eras waiting to be explored.

SAM_0801For my spring break, my flat mate Sarah and I decided to spend ten days traveling along the southwestern coast of Turkey. From couch surfing and hitch hiking to night hikes and long swims in the Aegean Sea, it was an absolutely awesome trip. It goes without saying that we met lots of fun, interesting people who were all so friendly and eager to share their lives and help each other out.

SAM_0789I don’t want to be a bore and take you all day by day through my trip. Instead, I will share a few highlights. One of my favorite moments of the trip was hiking to the Chimerea Flames to enjoy the natural wonder of ever burning fire. The Chimerea Flames are an attraction of natural gas coming up from the ground that reacts with the oxygen in the air and creates flames that never go out, even when you pour water on them.

Sarah and I decided it would be best to see them at night and planned to walk there after dinner. Our idea of a nice nighttime stroll turned into a long ten-mile hike, which included two river crossings and getting lost in the darkness. Nonetheless, it was completely worth it as the flames were really cool.

11173377_10206785290890806_2454058756008878264_nAnother epic afternoon, we decided to go paragliding, an experience I will not soon forget. As we rode along in the van taking us to the top of the mountain, our ears were popping and we had butterflies in our stomachs as we realized just how high up we were going. In the end it was actually a quite peaceful experience as you float through the air, enjoying the scenery of mountains meeting the ocean. However, there is something about running towards an edge of a cliff hoping wind will fill your parachute that definitely gets the adrenaline pumping.

Yet another first for me was hitch hiking from city to city. When I first heard my Erasmus friends talking about how they had all hitch hiked around Turkey to see the sites I thought they were crazy, but after hearing all their wonderful stories, I was itching to try in for myself. Of course hitch hiking has its risks and one should always be on guard, but Sarah and I had a great time and met so many genuinely good people. It just proved to me yet again that I am living in a country full of some of the most welcoming and caring people I have ever met.

SAM_0752The rest of our trip consisted of hanging out with new people we met, locals and foreigners alike, and spending a substantial amount of time lounging at the beach. Overall, it was all the fun I hoped for in my spring break. I hope you all enjoy the pictures and that my experiences inspire you to consider Turkey for your next vacation.

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