Fairytale Castles & the Salt Lake

Fairytale Castles & the Salt Lake

After a couple of days in the city we were in need of fresh air. Also, if we want to reach China this year we need to keep going. Our next stop would be Cappadocia but that will take about 10 hours. We found two nice stops along the way. One would be Burj al Babas.

Burj al Babas

Burj Al Babas is a residential development located near the Turkish town of Mudurnu. The homes in the development are designed to resemble miniature chateaux.

They started construction in 2014 and was originally successful. However, sales stalled causing the developer to enter bankruptcy. As of January 2019, 587 of the planned 732 homes were started but none were finished.

We visited the sight, couldn’t enter though but did enjoy the view. And quite close to it happened to be a very nice location to stay for the night. And another night. Not planned but we felt we needed a day ‘off’.

A day to clean the van, read a book, enjoy the sweetness of doing nothing. Only one day and we felt reloaded. Reloaded for the rest of our journey East.

Tuz Gölü

The second stop on our journey to Cappadocia would be one of the most underrated tourism attractions of Turkey. At least that’s what we think. The way too it was uneventful. Some mountains, grass plains and not so good roads. We saw lot of migrant workers which was interesting. Most of them live in tents near where they work.

Anyway, after quite a few hours (6 or 7) we finally reached Tuz Gölü, also Salt Lake. It’s not only a salt lake it’s also the second biggest lake of Turkey. There are some stops next to the road but those are very crowded and touristy. We had other plans. So we continued a bit further, drove the worst Turkish road we had up to now and found our spot. Alone at the lake. The lake stretches in front of the car, everywhere we look we see White and a little bit of pink. The lake turns pink due to the algae. And the algae are eaten by no other than the pink birds of course, flamingos. We didn’t see the birds, neither did we see the lake in pink. Nonetheless it was still very impressive.

We watched an amazing sunset, a million stars and had a great nights rest.

In the morning we walked quite a while on the salt lake. Not much water in it at the moment so one can walk pretty far into the lake.


Finally we arrived in Cappadocia! Not hidden, not untouristy but a gem. 10 years ago I, Milene, graduated from university with a thesis about this magical place. My thesis was about finding a way that a cultural heritage and historically important place like Cappadocia can also hosts tourism. During my time in Cappadocia I researched it’s history, explored it’s culture and started understanding its value. Besides it being a natural and cultural place which needs to be preserved, tourism is the main economy of the area. Luckily one can live with the other and the outcome of my thesis was hopeful. Hopeful of the local community, tourism organizations and government branches work together.

In the next post we’ll see if it all worked out.

Love Milene & Yuri

Istanbul’a hoş geldiniz

Istanbul’a hoş geldiniz

It all started in 2018 when I, Milene, moved to Turkey as part of the Erasmus program. For half a year Ankara was my home and Atilim Universitesi my university. That half year turned into almost two years as i also did my internship in Turkey. My internship brought me to many places as I worked at a travel agency. I learned a bit of the language, got to know the culture and most important; got to taste all of the local cuisine. I say all but lets say; most.

Our Turkish story starts five and a half years ago. We had just met a couple of months ago. Both came back from a long journey and were ready for another adventure. That being; starting a relationship together. What better place for a first travel test as Istanbul?! For me a very well known place (eventhough I lived in Ankara ive been to Istanbul many many times) and for Yuri something new.

Five and a half year later and we find ourselves once again in the city where everything comes together. Istanbul is so much more than the Blue Mosque, the grand bazaar and the Bosporus. Its where you walk into a neighborhood where you find 1001 shoeshops and when they dont have your size? No worries, they call their friend from another shop who brings the shoe in your size. Who needs big ass brands here? Istanbul is also the city of three major football clubs; Fenerbahce, Galatasaray and Besiktas. When one becomes the champion you’ll find flags of that team everywhere! It is also the city where you can find the same food for €30,- but also for €3,-, depending on the neighborhood. It’s the city with simit (type of bread) sellers on every street corner and people running with trays of cay from one shop to the other. In Istanbul you can treat yourself to the real Turkish delights, have meze and raki in the busiest of streets surrounded by Turks and find a hamam to your likings: expensive and touristy or cheap and traditional. 

The first time we travelled to Istanbul we went to see all the highlights. From visiting Kadiköy and the Princes Islands to watching the Tünel on Istiklal Caddesi and talking to the fishermen on Galata Bridge. We ate köfte, iskender and manti. Drank kahve, cay and Efes. Got inside Topkapi Palace, Ayasofya and Sultanahmet Camii (the Blue Mosque). We saw the head of Medusa in Basilica Cistern and explored the nightlife with friends. We did all one absolutely has to do in Istanbul.

This time we had no rush to do all the touristy things. We were here to get some shopping done. It was time for new flip-flops, a Turkish simcard and after some days without showering the hamam would be a good idea. So thats what we did; shopping and scrubbing our bodies. 

Of course we visited Ayasofya as its not a museum anymore but a proper mosque. (in 1935 Mustafa Kemal Ataturk converted Ayasofya into a museum) So we joined in the prayer there. We peaked inside Sultanahmet Camii cause it is renovated at the moment. Not really worth the visit at the moment. 

We also visited four shopping malls because for Yuri there is only one pair of flip-flops and those are almost nowhere to be found. To enter the shopping malls one need a HES code. This QR code shows whether your corona status is riskless or risky. We didnt have a code so got in with our passport. Except for the last mall, they insisted on a QR code. After some discussion they got a security guy getting the code for us and we could enter. Only to be escorted out of the shopping mall in ten minutes. Apparently Yuri is risky. Luckily we got to buy his flip-flops before we were kindly requested to leave the premises. 

Our stay this time was also a bit different. We stayed at the parking lot of a football pitch in our van. We had a toilet, a shower and even a washing machine (which we didn’t use). The fun thing was also that the area was new to us both and very vibrant. Full with shops, restaurants and some hamams. Lot’s of people from Africa here which gives the are an extra vibe. 

After three nights, lots and lots of walking and eating more than the kilometers could make up for it was time to leave this wonderful city behind. Its time to explore more of Turkey. We are not heading to the beautiful coastline in the South West, but we are going East.

Cappadocia is about 10 hours drive from Istanbul so we will have two stops before reaching there. The moment of long drives through bare lands has also begun. Alright not entirely cause part of Turkey is actually very green. More on that later!

We say bye to Europe and hello to Asia!

Love, Milene & Yuri