Crossroad of continents, cultures and epochs
A dazzling mix of the exotic and the familiar, Turkey is so much more than the cliché image of a "bridge between Asia". Invaded and established in every direction since the start of documented history, it combines influences from the Balkans, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Central Asia. Mosques accompany churches, Roman theatres and temples stand together near ancient Hittite cities, and dervish traditions and gypsy celebrations are as much a part of the cultural scene as classical music concerts or football matches. The kindness of the Turkish people makes visiting a delight; indeed you risk causing offense by rejecting invitations and find yourself making friends through the simplest of actions.
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Marmaris – Rhodoes - Fethiye (4days)
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The only city in the world that is situated in both Asia and Europe, Istanbul also balances the ancient and modern worlds. The best way to explore this old city is to wander in between visits to historical sites and museums. Rise early enough to take the famous Turkish breakfast. And sail along the shores, often. It's not just a way to get from here to there; on a boat you can rest feet exhausted from sightseeing, drink Turkish tea, or eat a grilled-cheese sandwich and take in some of the most stunning views in the world. There are several reasons why visitors repeatedly return: the setting is exceptional, right on the Sea of Marmara and astride the busy Bosporus Strait. And Istanbul's skyline is a stunning mix of domes, minarets, medieval towers, and office buildings rising over residential buildings.
Turkey's third-largest city is proudly liberal and deeply cultured. Garlanded around the azure-blue Bay of İzmir, it has been a central Aegean port since ancient times, when it was known as Smyrna and ruled by the Greeks, and its seafront Kordon (promenade) is as fetching and lively as any in the world. The city's rich and fascinating heritage reflects the fact that it has been the home of Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Levantines and Turks over the centuries. While not as multicultural these days, it still has resident Jewish and Levantine communities and its unique and delicious cuisine attests to this.
A famous resort town that swells to over a quarter-million people during summer, Marmaris is loud, bustling and in your face all over town all of the time. It's one of the few places along the coast where you might leave feeling more stressed out than when you arrived. That said, if it's the last night out, a gület cruise along the coast or off to Greece you're after, then this tourist haven is pretty much the full Monty. Bar St offers unparalleled decadence, while from the Kordon (seafront), you can sail eastward to Fethiye and beyond. Marmaris boasts a pretty harbour, crowned by a castle and lined with wood-hulled yachts and the vessels of visiting sailors. And it even has a history. It was right here that Britain's Admiral Horatio Nelson organized his fleet to attack the French at Abukir in northern Egypt in 1798.
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