Available worldwide in over 40 languages and in 120 currencies, HotelsCombined is a
thoroughly global company – and if you popped by our offices one day, you’d see that our employees are just as international, hailing from all four corners of the planet.
To start taking advantage of all this internal knowledge that our staff possess, we started featuring members of our diverse crew to help our users get true insight into the range of travel destinations found on our site. So far in our “Getting to Know Us” series, we’ve explored South East Asia by chatting to our Indonesian Marketing Manager Debora about Bali hot spots and to our Thai Marketing Manager Paul about his hometown of Chiang Mai.
This month, we journey to Eastern Europe to get some inside travel tips and advice from our Turkish Marketing Manager, Cemine. Here, she dishes on her favourite Turkish meals, on her picks for must-see attractions and naturally, on her preferred hotel stays:
Where in Turkey do you come from? Tell us a bit about your hometown.
I was born in Kırcaali, a town in Bulgaria, and raised in that beautiful region until I was ten years old – we then moved to Bursa, Turkey. Bursa was where I spent most of my time until I went to university in İstanbul.
Bursa is rich in Ottoman Archıtecture – it served as the first capital city of the Ottoman Empire. The mausoleums of the early Ottoman sultans are located in Bursa and the city’s main landmarks include numerous edifices built throughout the Ottoman period. Bursa is also famous for its thermal baths and silk bazaar as well as for the ski resort of Mount Uludağ.
Although it has been rapidly industrialized over the decades and has became the fourth biggest city in the country, certain suburbs still conserve their unique characteristics and provide tranquil tea gardens with Ottoman-inspired music. Bursa is also home to some of the most famous Turkish dishes such as İskender kebap, specially candied marron glacés and Turkish delight.
For first-time visitors to Turkey, what must-see spots would you recommend?
I would visit Istanbul, Cappadocia, Pamukkale and the Turquoise Cost (Southern Coast) of Turkey.
İstanbul is a must and not only because of its historical importance, but also for its diverse art, fashion, food and nightlife alternatives. The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Galata Bridge, Galata Tower, Beyoglu/Taksim, Nisantasi, cruises along the Bosphorus, an excursion to Princes’ Islands and the Istanbul Modern or Archaeology museums are the main tourist attractions.
Cappadocia is on everyone’s list of must-sees: it’s an incredible volcanic moonscape filled with lavishly decorated cave churches, homes, workshops and even cave hotels. You can even fly above the moonscape in a hot-air balloon.
Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, is recognized as a World Heritage Site and is a very popular tourist destination as well. The city contains hot springs and travertine (terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water.) People have bathed in its pools for thousands of years.
The Turquoise Coast (also known as the Turkish Riviera) is the combination of a favorable climate, a warm sea, more than a thousand kilometers of shoreline along the Aegean and Mediterranean waters and abundant natural and archeological points of interest. I would suggest doing a multi-day cruise in this area.
Culturally, what would you suggest travellers be mindful of when visiting Turkey?
When visiting a mosque, all visitors are required to remove their shoes and women must be covered completely, including their hair.
Female visitors to the country should lean towards a conservative style of dress. Beachwear is acceptable only at the beach and nude sunbathing is not permitted, though discreet topless tanning is permissible at major Mediterranean resorts. Outside of the larger cities, women should avoid exposing their arms and legs, wear loose-fitting clothing and be aware that people may stare at them.
What are the top Turkish festivals/events to take in?
National Sovereignty and Children’s Day in Turkey is one of the most unique festivals in the world that is dedicated solely to children. Political celebration is cast aside in favor of concert performances by and for kids of all nationalities. Children take seats in the Turkish Parliament and symbolically govern the country for one day, which is on 23 April.
Konya, in south central Turkey, plays host to the Mevlana Week and Whirling Dervish Ceremonies every December. The notable Turkish philosopher and poet Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi is commemorated during ten days of festivities and his life is celebrated with dance.
The magic of the Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival is set at the 2,000-year-old Roman Amphitheatre which can seat between 4,000 to 6,000 spectators and is beautifully illuminated during nighttime events.
Favourite Turkish dish?
Turkish cuisine is a mixture of Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisine and it is easy to find a great variety of mouth-watering dishes. I like the cold-served vegetable dishes which are cooked with olive oil such as wrapped vine leaves, stuffed eggplant, peppers or zucchinis. Mantı is a dish I can never say “no” to. You could think of mantı as a kind of dumpling. This excellent Turkish dish contains two main ingredients: the dough and the filling, which consists of grounded beef or lamb, onion, salt and pepper. It’s best when it’s handmade and served with yoghurt and melted butter with spices.
What are your favourite Turkish hotels?
Çırağan Palace Kempinski is the best in Istanbul – it is situated on the European shores of the Bosphorus and has spectacular views and has a beautiful outdoor pool.
The Hillside Beach Club in Fethiye is best for beach and nature holidays. It is simply “Paradise on Earth.” With 315 meter water lanes, you can even swim across the bay safely! Floating decks are just a few strokes away from shore or you can cruise along in kayaks.
Güral Sapanca Wellness Park is the third one that I can name and is especially perfect for weekend escapes from Istanbul.
The find your perfect stay in Turkey, browse through our over 12,000 Turkish accommodation options to compare rates and availability: http://www.hotelscombined.com/Place/Turkey.htm