Ankara to Athens

Turkey and Greece are wonderful destinations. They have so much to offer tourists – breathtaking beaches, sightseeing spots, and unique cultures to learn from. Suman Nakhat and her husband recently had a lovely vacation in these two hotspots. She tells us of their travels.
Turkey is famous for its hospitality, natural beauty and historical heritage. That’s what drew us there, and we certainly weren’t sorry! We experienced unforgettable moments for exactly those reasons. Turkey is nature undiluted and breathtaking, all mingled with a rich and diverse culture. Greece, on the other hand, has a different but equally inspiring charm, including its breathtaking blue seas.
natural cave 
After deciding where to go and doing our research online, what we found was exactly what we wanted: unexploited, pollution-free beauty! I travelled with my husband and four other couples, as it’s always enjoyable to travel with friends. We had a ball of a time. The combination of great company and a host of thrilling locations made for such a memorable trip. Our trip to Turkey covered Istanbul, Cappadocia and Pamukkale, while our visit to Greece included Mykonos and Santorini. Istanbul is a gorgeous place. We got to see some lovely mosques, and even experienced the hamam, a traditional Turkish bath that is similar to those of the Romans. We visited a square, were we went shopping and travelled in a local train.
Istanbul, Cappadocia and Pamukkale 
Our next destination, Cappadocia, was right out of a book or movie. This place is so unique and interesting. Famous for its natural cave formations, Cappadocia has cave hotels and other cave structures everywhere. The hotels have staircases made in a conventional style, with no elevators. On this leg of our trip, we also went on a trek into the beautiful forest, where we saw pigeon houses that were hundreds of years old.
There was something so refreshing and soothing about the forest, and being surrounded by such natural beauty. We saw people enjoying hot air balloon rides, something else Cappadocia is famous for. To be honest, we loved it all, especially the volcanic eruption points and how natural caves come to be. While in Cappadocia, we stayed at a lovely hotel built into the natural caves. It was a whimsical and thrilling experience!
Each place is so unique and has a different aura. Next on the list was Pamukkale, which is rather different from Istanbul and Cappadocia, and is known for its hot springs. The mountains of limestone are towering structures of white that feel like a different world altogether. The water in the hot springs is full of calcium deposits, and many of these are 1,000 years old or more. It is believed that the waters have healing properties, and that a dip in them can cure disease and illness. Pamukkale has a rich culture, with several ancient historical tales of its habitants and the local sights.
We then travelled to Athens, where we saw the stunning stadium made from marble. The famous Panathenaic Stadium is a mammoth, marble marvel that hosts large events throughout the year. It can accommodate more than 60,000 people, and is the place the modern Olympics were first held in 1896. In Athens, we also saw the delightful ancient gardens of Greece. We walked around the capital and soaked up the aura of the rich, historical monuments, before heading to our next destination – Mykonos!
Mykonos is a picturesque piece of Greece, one that we have all seen in movies. This mesmerising city is a mural of white and blue, painted with people and houses. The houses are pristinely white, with eye-catching blue windows. What adds even more to this panoramic wonder is that the whole island is surrounded by surreal beaches – truly heaven on earth!
We are not very adventurous when it comes to food while travelling. We do not usually experiment with the local cuisine, so we lived off whatever Indian fare we could find, and it was pretty good! One of the most memorable moments of our trip was when we took part in an activity called ‘Save the Planet’, in Cappadocia. As part of this, we planted trees, which was a satisfying experience. Maybe someday, someone will benefit from what we did. Of everything we did and saw on our trip,
Mykonos is a picturesque piece of Greece  
Cappadocia was among the highlights. It was truly breathtaking, especially with its skies dotted with hundreds of hot air balloons of all colours and designs. What a sight it was! And in Greece, we attended a Greek wedding – yet another special moment of our trip! It was a lovely ceremony, and the couple looked pretty in their white wedding attire, something traditional in Greece.
I hope that everybody gets a chance to see these wonderful places. If you have the opportunity… grab it! Visit these beauties, and you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience, especially in Pamukkale and on the gorgeous Grecian beaches! The people of both Turkey and Greece are homely and humble, and we had friendly faces and helpful hands guiding us whenever we needed it. We came back with a host of memories and not a single regret. We didn’t feel like we missed out on anything, but we can’t wait to go back and relive the experience!

..... as told to Saloni