Let’s Talk Turkey!
Guest Blog Writer: Terry Manion
The phrase “Let’s Talk Turkey” means to discuss something directly and frankly. The origin of the phrase is widely debated.
For the purposes of this blog, the origin is not relevant, so we’ll leave that debate for others.
On this recent trip my wife Tracey and I included Istanbul, the only city on the globe that straddles two continents (Asia and Europe) and Cappadocia, one of the most unique locations we have ever experienced.
Now getting to the direct and frank part! Tourism in Turkey has suffered in recent years due to a variety of reasons, with a perception of the country being unsafe being the primary cause of hesitancy for many North Americans. Most labels like this are unfair no matter what city/country you are speaking of, and I feel strongly that Turkey has been portrayed poorly by our sensationalist press.
No country in the world can claim to be 100% safe, so we can’t say that in support of Turkey either. I can tell you that we felt extremely comfortable as we walked and explored the many unique sites and neighbourhoods of Istanbul and that we truly enjoyed our time there.
Whether we were strolling around our hotel’s neighborhood of Galata, heading to the Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar in Sultanahmet, visiting the vibrant areas near Taksim Square or enjoying the shopping and lunch options in Nisantasi we felt at ease.
This trip was a vacation, so Tracey and I opted for a smaller boutique property in the heart of the Galata district. Galata is home to the famous Galata Tower. Built in 1348 AD, the tower was erected as a watch tower and was the tallest building in Constantinople (Istanbul), at that time. It is now a museum and exhibition space. The area surrounding the tower is an eclectic mix of modern restaurants and traditional businesses.
While we stayed in this small hotel, there is no shortage of properties that can host incentive programs at varying price points. The list includes two Four Seasons properties, St. Regis, Kempinski, Ritz Carlton, Shangri-La, JW Marriott, Westin to name a few.
Another benefit of this beautiful city is that most of the historic locations can be rented and therefore Istanbul provides a wealth of interesting event options for incentives.
In addition to Istanbul, we flew one hour to the Cappadocia region, where centuries of erosion have created a spectacle unseen anywhere else in the world. The volcanic ash of the region has been transformed in to “fairy chimney’s” (minaret shaped towers of rock), and rock valleys that are wonderfully and whimsically unique. In years past churches and dwellings were carved in to the rock and many now serve as cave hotels.
We spent three nights in the area, and wished we had a few more nights to explore. Our cave hotel experience at Kayakopaki Premium Caves was nothing short of spectacular. Kayakapi Premium Caves – Cappadocia | Luxury Boutique Cave Hotel The nearby towns of Urgup and Goreme offered several great dining options.
And of course, we can’t leave Cappadocia without speaking about the hot air ballooning experience. We have been fortunate to experience hot air balloon rides in several locations in the world, (Tanzania, Scottsdale and The Loire Valley), this was by far the most spectacular. Royal Balloon – Cappadocia | Cappadocia Balloon Tours Not only is the scenery so awe inspiring, but the piloting of our balloon was also incredible, the control shown by our pilot was something I have never experienced.
While we only had time to see Istanbul and Cappadocia, we will definitely return. There is so much to see and experience throughout Turkey and so many unique regions that are tremendous stand-alone locations or great combinations for personal and incentive travel.
So let’s be frank! If you are considering a personal vacation or an incentive travel program…. Let’s Talk Turkey!