Another side of Turkey
You want to visit Turkey, but without a million sun-burned tourists and another million carpet salesmen. Consider the southeast. Here are three spots to get you thinking.
Diyarbakır: Famous walls, vibrant feel
Walk on top of the huge basalt walls, apparently the second biggest after the Great Wall of China. Hear Kurdish spoken on the street and see it on official signs (unlike almost everywhere else in Turkey). Ideally, visit here after Şanlıurfa, another big city just two hours away, but with a totally different vibe: I love Şanlıurfa, but there is a much lighter, more vibrant feel in Diyarbakır.
Hasankeyf: Charming, at risk
Visit this little town on a cliff soon, in case the resistance movement fails and the Turkish government decides to go ahead and raise the water level to fill a reservoir. Stand on the new bridge and look across to the original stone bridge, built almost 900 years ago. Bonus points if you successfully navigate the back streets and private gardens to the local beer garden.
Mardin: beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
This is everybody’s favourite, for good reason. The old city, constructed mostly of warm yellow stone, spills down a hill overlooking the plains leading to Syria. Sit on a terrace and consider the Silk Road. Buy sugared almonds or locally made silver jewelry. Whatever you do, you will come away talking about how beautiful it is.