On the 31st of August we celebrated a month since we left our homes in London and ventured East with all our belongings on our backs. Having sold many valuables and worked hard several months we put together a small budget and crossed our fingers it would last us some while. As the date of departure approached money wasn’t the main worry; Unfortunately violent outbreaks and political instability were on the rise in South eastern Turkey were on the rise and the British government only recommended essential travel to these areas. We were ready to take the risk though, as naive as it may seem. And here we are today, in Mardin overlooking the plains of Mesopotamia, feeling as safe and happy as ever!
We have thoroughly enjoyed every second spent here in Turkey. Every province and city has been a unique experience and delight. In each city or town has its own history and story to tell, and a variety of cultural influences. South Eastern Turkey is so rich in history, we are constantly taken back by the architecture and ruins we come across.
We began our journey volunteering in Cirali, along the Turquoise coast and a section of the ancient Lycian way. We spent our days by the beach soaking in the sun and helping protect local wildlife, the Caretta Caretta turtle. Although an easy introduction to Turkey, it was our experience volunteering on an organic farm in rural Mersin that really gave us an insight into authentic Turkish lifestyle and the impact of the Syrian war on everyday people’s lives.
It is Hatay however who gave us our first real taste of middle eastern culture; stealing our hearts with its shabby yet gorgeous old town and culinary delights. Gaziantep’s pistachios and in particular the ‘Atom’ pistachio smoothie left us craving for more, whilst Urfa and Mardin took us back in time and provided an in-depth insight into Islamic culture and history.
Living out of a bag, the sweltering heat and constant worries associated with our tight budget haven’t always been easy, but the Turkish hospitality has really helped overcome any difficulties so far. We have met so many wonderful people and new friends, and have found the Turkish to be unbelievably welcoming and helpful. Bus drivers have changed their routes for us, people have opened up their homes to us, and strangers have picked us up from the side of the road. Not once, despite a massive language barrier, have we felt lost or alone, people’s generosity and kindness exceeding our expectations every time.
An additional bonus to travelling in south eastern Turkey has been the costs of living. Transport, accommodation and eating out are all real bargains. We noticed a significant drop in prices after Antalya. In total, a month backpacking in South Eastern Turkey has cost us an average of £6 per person per day, without too much restrictions. By volunteering and Couuchsurfing we have managed to keep our costs to a minimum all the whilst increasing our enjoyment and cultural experiences. We haven’t yet blown our budget, and have still been able to travel, pig out on local delicacies and visit numerous sites.
All in all our month in Turkey has been spectacular and time has flown by. We have experienced a whirlwind of cultures, religions and lifestyles in such a short period of time. We will miss the Turkish hospitality and delicious cuisine, yet we are now ready to move on towards the next part of our adventure: Georgia! Keep an eye out for new posts and pictures as we set about exploring this beautiful country!