Travel is a powerful instrument, and Shama Sikander loves it. She believes it to be the best way of opening minds and broadening horizons. With how much there is to see and learn, an amount she finds staggering, you can’t help but agree. Shama’s friend in Turkey kept telling her how wonderful the country is, so when she got a few days off, she packed her bags and took off. This was her holiday.
Travelling is such an important aspect of life. We give so much importance to work, but there’s more to do than that. Travelling is one of my passions; I’ve made friends all over the world. But I don’t need a companion to travel because I love my own company. Travelling allows you to explore people and places – it is a different kind of high to learn something that was unknown for so many years.
I’d been to Istanbul before, but the way my friend spoke about Turkey, I knew more of the country was waiting to be explored. I’m very spontaneous; most of my plans are impromptu. When I saw an opening for my Turkish holiday, I was on the next flight out. The best part about travelling is the Turkish visa, which you can get online in two minutes!
My friend lives in Izmir, so I landed there to the most beautiful sunset. I was spellbound by its magnificence, and so envious of the locals who get to see it every day! Playgrounds and roads by the beach make the place is so stunning that you don’t mind being stuck in traffic for hours. There’s just so much to see!
Cappadocia was our next stop. It’s strange that most people are unaware of this extraordinary place, a place so exquisite that I can’t comprehend how it’s not one of the world wonders. The whole city is a series of caves, and it amazes me that the people there don’t live in conventional houses. In fact, most hotel rooms are made to resemble caves. And the views... gorgeous! The valleys of white, brown and pink are a sight to behold. We were supposed to stay in Cappadocia for two nights, but we extended that; the hotel we put up at was one of the better ones. One of the valleys, Rose Valley, gets is name because as the sun sets, everything turns a stunning shade of pink. The food and carpets in Cappadocia are delightful; you get the best antique rugs, and I came back to India carrying a lot of them.
One morning, I woke at 6 am and opened my window to see a host of hot air balloons dotting the sky. I didn’t care how cold it was. I grabbed my camera and tried to get a shot of the view. We extended our stay another day... I simply had to go hot air ballooning! And what a delight it was. We watched the sun rise and had breakfast in mid-air. I felt so close to the sun; it was so romantic, and I fell in love with myself.
Our tryst with Cappadocia came to an end as we travelled to Pamukkale in Denizli, sometimes referred to as the eighth wonder of the world. The healing water here is a natural wonder; it is so full of minerals and is believed to have healing powers. The hill is so white that it seems like snow, but it is actually the mineral-rich sand that makes it so. We experienced the water and walked up the hill, heading to our next destination, Bodrum, Turkey’s answer to Goa.
After Bodrum, we headed to Istanbul, a place I love and find charming. The nightlife is wonderful, and some of the biggest and best nightclubs can be found here. The people of Turkey love to party! One club here has a 360° view of Istanbul and is always packed. This was my first time travelling with a girl, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! We had a ball, feeling like college students and returning with dozens of stories – and my nine-day vacation ended up being 19!
My advice to travellers to Turkey is try to have someone who knows the place and the language, as it is easy for locals to dupe foreigners, much as it is in India. It’s easier to get around if you have someone who is familiar with the surroundings. But Turkey is lovely place to visit, steeped in beautiful culture and history, European in many ways but with a distinct and delightful Islamic touch. I can’t wait to head back!
– as told to Saloni