Interview: Suzanne Jones from The Travelbunny talks Turkey
Suzanne Jones is the founder of the fabulous travel blog The Travelbunny, which aims to bring you
wanderlust inspiration, culinary encounters, culture and adventure with travel guides and tips to help you make the most of every trip. We asked Suzanne to tell us a bit about her many experiences in Turkey.
Can you tell us where in Turkey you have been?
I’ve been to Istanbul twice. I think I could spend a month there and still not see and experience everything I’d like to so another visit some time is on the cards.
I’ve been to some of the more unusual places too. In central Turkey, we visited Goreme in Cappadocia home of cave dwellings, fairy chimneys and amazing volcanic rock formations.
Pamukkale, which means Cotton Castle in Turkish, is a natural spa. Mini infinity pools, filled with warm spring water loaded with minerals hug the hillside leading all the way down to the town.
The other place I’ve visited is Bodrum which is fabulous for a relaxing holiday taking in the old castle, the beach and marketplace. My favourite thing to do there was a day out on a gullet and diving into Turkey’s crystal clear turquoise seas.
Which of these destinations were your favourite, and why?
Without a doubt Goreme was my favourite destination. I love anywhere which is a bit quirky or unusual and this place is all of that. The area is made up of volcanic rock formations and some of these have been converted into cave hotels. We stayed in a fairy chimney which was very cool. A fairy chimney, also known as a hoodoo, is a tall volcanic rock formation, sort of toadstool shaped, which has been hollowed out as a dwelling. The whole town is made up of caves houses and ancient churches carved into the rock. All fascinating and totally different from anywhere I’ve been before.
How easy is it to get around in Turkey and what is the transport like generally?
For our mini-tour of Turkey we flew into Istanbul and then took another flight to Kayseri for our stay in Goreme. We then took a night bus to Pamukkale and then a day bus to Bodrum. The bus trips were easy to book and I did this online before we left the UK. The prices were reasonable and although the night bus was 8.5 hours across country it was worth it to see Pamukkale.
Was everywhere very crowded?
Istanbul is always going to be crowded but if you time things right you can avoid some of the crowds. Get to Topkapi Palace either half an hour before opening or around 3pm when the crowds have thinned a bit. You’ll need 2-3 hours to see everything. This rule stands for most of the top sights – get there early or a couple of hours before closing time. Cruise liners stop in Istanbul so be sure to visit before they offload.
What has been your most favourite day-trip in Turkey, so far?
I have so many amazing memories from Turkey but my top favourite, and one of my top travel experiences ever, was the dawn hot air balloon flight over the rock formations of Goreme. We took to the air with around 80 other balloons as the sun broke in a pink haze over the volcanic landscape. Magical.
How would you describe the food in Turkey?
The food in Turkey is fabulous. There’s a mix of influences from both the Mediterranean and the Middle East which makes for some excellent flavours. I love the mezzes where you get to have a little taste of everything!
One of my favourite dishes was ‘stew in a clay pot’. Meat and vegetables are cooked in a sealed clay pot over a fire for several hours. The flaming pot is then brought to your table and with a certain amount of theatre the sealed lid cracked open and the piping hot stew dished onto your plate. The meat is super tender and full of flavour.
Turkey does sweet treats so well. I also adore Turkish delight – the real thing is so much nicer and there are loads of variations like pistachio, almond, walnut, chocolate, ginger, clove and coconut. I’m also rather partial to baklava, that crispy pastry filled with nuts and drizzled with honey.
Is Turkey an expensive place to go on holiday?
Compared to the Mediterranean, Turkey offers great value for money. Accommodation and food is very reasonable which means you can splurge on tours and activities and really make the most of your trip to Turkey.
Would you like to go back to Turkey?
I’d go back to Turkey in a heartbeat.
What is your top piece of travel advice for someone thinking of going to Turkey?
The culture in Turkey is made up of both east and west influences. Cities and tourist towns are usually quite cosmopolitan, however, some of the more rural areas stick to old customs and traditions. It’s wise for women to be aware of proper dress etiquette and dress appropriately to avoid unwanted attention. If visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul there is usually a cover-up provided for women but a light scarf, to cover shoulders, and long trousers should ensure you’re not going to be refused admission.