Two Weeks in Turkey
Jeffrey Hawke (2013, Engineering DPhil)
I spent two weeks in Turkey on the Roger Short travel scholarship in September 2015. I need to begin by expressing my thanks to the Short scholarship fund and Univ for this scholarship, as I wouldn’t have been able to make this trip without this support.
I planned my trip to take in as much of the country as I could within the time I had available as a DPhil student, particularly focussing on understanding the history and experiencing the natural environment. Growing up in New Zealand, my only prior understanding of Turkey as a country and culture was from learning about New Zealand’s involvement in the Gallipoli campaign against the Ottoman Empire in the First World War. Needless to say, these significant events in New Zealand’s short history form only a very, very small part of Turkey’s – after all, the first humans arrived in New Zealand around the same time Univ was founded.
“I was particularly interested in exploring some of the quieter Greco-Roman ruins along the Aegean coast, so we set off south, heading towards Prienne, Miletus and Didyma.”
As I was time constrained, I hired a rental car for a one-way trip as this was much more time efficient and meant being able to go to places which are otherwise difficult to access – particularly areas where I wanted to go hiking. I was joined on my trip by Claire.
This route went down the Aegean coast, visiting Greek and Roman ruins; then across the southern coast up to Cappadocia, ending in Ankara. All up this was a 2200km journey over nine days, followed by a final five days based in Istanbul. This was an amazing trip which gave me the opportunity to comprehensively experience Turkey’s history, culture, food, and natural beauty. I thoroughly enjoyed travelling there and I can’t wait to return at some point.
Travels Through Turkey, Central Bulgaria and Greece
Stuart Perrett (2012, PPE)
First things first, I am not much of a traveler, and even less of a travel writer. But this is my collection of pieces taken from the notes I jotted on trains and buses, or in bars and cafes. This diary represents a roughly chronological, factual account of the places I visited, the characters I met, the food and drink I consumed whilst travelling in Northern Turkey, Central Bulgaria and through Greece in September 2015. I have attempted to avoid boring any reader by eschewing the day-to-day details of my personal journal and including only those events and my thoughts and ideas about travelling more generally that have returned to me since those exploring different cities, and when recounting my travelling to family and friends. My journey began in Istanbul and ended in Athens.
One of the most impressive aspects of Istanbul becomes apparent even before you arrive: the transfer from Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen airport takes a good couple of hours to get to the centre of Istanbul. The sheer size of the place cannot be avoided, with my plane landing in Asia, and the bus taking me back into Europe through the sprawling metropolis and hasty developments of Istanbul. The neon signs and concrete buildings gave the city anonymity during that night’s bus journey.
“When walking through these winding roads, one feels crushed by the tall terraces lining either side leaning in.”
The anonymity was broken the following morning, with my first visit to Istanbul’s wealth of mosque I have ever had the pleasure of visiting was in Istanbul. The… is small , placed by a major multi-lane road, and a small grassed park where the homeless and their dogs slept. In what would become the usual routine of taking sandals off and washing ones feet, I entered a mosque for the first time… Perhaps more surprising than the tranquility provided by the mosque, was the comprehensive complex that mosques are: they are complete community units containing public baths, soup kitchens and schools.
Read the whole of Stuart’s accounts of his travels by downloading the PDF here (opens in new window.)