Turkey

Planning : 

1. Why Turkey?

Honestly, I’ve always wanted to go to Turkey. When I watched Taken2, i was fascinated by the culture, people and also the Bosphorus. Imagine, you can get to Europe or Asia in a just a few mins by just riding the ferry boat! How amazing! Isn’t it?

2. How did I save for my trip? 
Just like in my other trips, I usually schedule/ book it on a month where i expect salary adjustment, increase, bonus, etc. Also, I would check the holidays a year ahead to make sure that i’ll be spending my VLs (vacation leaves) wisely.

3. Visa application 

In this case, Philippine passport holders are required to secure a visa so I had to check the requirements first before making any booking/reservation.

Upon checking the requirements, I noticed that if the applicant has a valid Schengen or US visa, The process is easier. The applicant may apply for an E-visa.

Luckily, I have a valid US Visa which made the process easier, cheaper and less hassle. I applied for an e-visa which cost about 20 USD.

A few mins after filling up the online form and paying the fee, I received a confirmation/email stating that my E-visa has been granted.

Now that I already have a visa, it’s time to check the airlines, confirm my accommodation, and plan the itinerary and of course, the daily budget.

Preparations :

What Where and When

I was thinking of these things : What, Where, When?
What are the things to do? Where are the places to visit? and When is the best time to go? Some things are already running through my mind but of course I need to do some planning since it’s my first time to travel somewhere i’ve never been to and i don’t know anyone from that place. I also don’t know how to speak their language. All i know is Merhaba which means Hello.

I then realized that maybe, I could book on June, it’s summer plus we’ll be receiving our 14th month on June. such a clever idea! Then, I checked the holidays for the month of June. Tadaaa!!! There are 2 holidays for the month of June. I will only use 4 VLs. yay!!!

I checked the dates and airfare for the RT ticket of MNL-IST-MNL but it’s so expensive. I decided to purchase my RT ticket of MNL-KL-MNL from a Local Airline and then KL-IST-KL from another website. Aha! way cheaper!

so I checked the visa requirements, applied for visa and when I got the approval, I immediately booked my plane tickets. After a month, I booked my accommodations and started canvasing and budgeting for the trip.

Since i’ll be traveling alone, I decided to just pack light. Hahaha! Is this really me? I Even told myself, no shopping for this trip, Michelle! no souvenirs! please! hahaha
So I packed my clothes, toiletries, medicine box, camera, tripod, powerbanks (yes! with S coz I brought 2) just in case!
and im ready to go!

Highlights of the Trip

1. Food

I love eating! Who does not?
Turkish food is flavorful. I love the freshness of their fruits which mostly are organic by the way. Their meat and seafood is also amazing, you could even catch fish from the Galata Bridge! Yay!!! Also, try the turkish tea, apple tea or coffee, they’ll give you a relaxing feeling.

2. People

God! they’re so good looking! 🙈Turkish people are warm, welcoming and generous. They always wear a smile on their face, some of them would even ask you to stop for a while and offer you tea or coffee or snacks, some would even ask if you could take their picture and post it on your blog or social media account or atleast recommend their shop to your friend who’s planning to visit Turkey.

3. Sights
Bosphorus- The water is so clear. Use your istanbul card, From Eminonu station, ride your way to the ferry and experience the Bosphorus tour. Watch the sunset from the European or Asian side and fall in love.

Galata/Karakoy- Galata and Karakoy are worth checking for. There are hundred of shops to choose from if you’d wanna go shopping. There are also localbars, pubs, etc. I suggest, go to Galata in the afternoon, watch the local performers, take photos of the cats, dine at the local bars/restaurants, see the view of bosphorus and golden horn from the tower or at the rooftop of a cafe/restaurant.

Sultanahmet- Sultanahmet is the touristy area. Most of the mosques are located there. There are also souvenir shops in the area. Visit the blue mosque and hagia sophia, see the Meduza at the Basilica, Try Hammam Massage but make sure to schedule your appointment, Go to the Spice Bazaar/Grand Bazaar. Buy lamps, turkish delight, souvenirs, etc

Cappadocia- From Istanbul, you may ride a bus to Cappadocia or you could book a RT ticket from IST (Ataturk or Sabiha Gocken-Asian Side) to Kayseri or Nevsehir. Make sure to book your hot air balloon ride when going to Goreme. Kindly ask the tour company if they provide free airport pick up. If yes, expect them to meet you at the arrivals area of the airport and they’ll be driving you to your hotel. Speaking of hotel, where would you wanna stay? a cave hotel? or an ordinary hotel? Of course! A cave hotel! check out the cave hotels in Goreme. Also, please try to wake up early to be able to watch the sunrise from the rooftop of your hotel. It’s worth it! Trust me.

Budget and Itinerary
Since I still have trips lines up this year, I had to make sure to stick to my budget.
My flight is Saturday noon MNL-KL then KL-IST and will be arriving on Sunday morning. However, upon checking the flights going to Goreme (which was the initial plan) I noticed that the flights from Ataturk to Goreme are mostly late afternoon or around 6-7pm. So the question running through my head was : What are you going to do from 5am to 6pm? plus if you take that flight, you will still need to do a land transfer for almost an hour. So, I decided to stay in IST for a night so I could also explore some places in IST and get some rest. For my first night, I decided to stay in a hostel in Taksim. I booked 1 bed in a bunk bed room for girls. So, from Ataturk airport, I rode the bus to Taksim and from the bus station, I walked to my hostel for about 5mins. I did early check-in, walked around Galata and slept early. The next day, I checked-out early, around 6am to catch the bus to Ataturk since my flight is at 9am. Upon arriving at Kayseri Airport, the tour company met me at the arrivals area and drove me to the Cave Hotel. I paid in cash coz they give discount for solo traveler plus if you py in cash, you get additional discount. I walked around the city and again, I decided to sleep early The next morning, around 4am, the driver from the hot air balloon company picked me up at the hotel reception and brought me to their office. We were offered a breakfast buffet before going to the site. I had fresh fruits, pastries, etc. and when i’m about to pay, they saud I could just settle my bill in my hotel and if I pay in cash, I will also get a discount so I paid in cash. From Goreme to IST, I decided to use my points since i’ll be staying in Sultanahment which is a touristy area. So from almost 3k in peso, I was able to book my place for only 700 3D2N w breakfast. Good deal, right?

Is it safe to travel to Turkey as a female solo traveler?

YES! 
1. People- warm, welcoming and generous.
2. transportation- easy to understand.
3. Language- Most of them knows how to speak english or tries to speak english

TIPS:
1. Dress appropriately! Please respect/ observe their culture especially if you’re going inside a mosque.
2. Get a pocket wifi. It will make your life easier. Trust me! I booked my pocket wifi online and it was delivered to me at the airport. I left it at the lobby of my hotel before going back to the airport.
3. Get a travel insurance!
4. For solo travelers- don’t forget to bring your tripod
5. Just take it slow- walk around, grab some drink, interact with the locals, watch the people, live in the moment and breathe.
6. Always follow your instinct.

Must Try Food
I guess I enjoyed the food so much that I had to carry almost 20 kilos of sweets back to Manila. Imagine, I was carrying hand carry going to Ist but on my way back to MNL, I had to carry 28 kilos of baggage. I bought Turkish Delights, Chocolates, Baklava, Cheese, teas, coffee, etc.

Turkish delights- there’s so much to choose from. Don’t be shy to ask for free taste. They’d be more than willing to assist you or let you try the delights. I personally love the pomegranate with pistachio, chocolate on chocolate, mixed berries and nougat with almond.

Baklava- There are different kinds/flavors or baklava. Most of the stores would allow you to choose assorted baklava to take home.

Kebab- i love kebab! try the mixed kebab with yogurt and tomatoes. Yum!

Fresh fruits/fresh juices

seafood- Their seafood is fresh! There are even food stalls near the ferry station selling fish sandwich for 10 TRY.

Where is the best place to take photo?
☀️Everywhere in Turkey is insta-worthy.

.

 

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