Getting There, Getting Around and Getting Informed

A house carved out of Cappadocia’s tuff. Credit: Callan Bentley A house carved out of Cappadocia’s tuff. Credit: Callan Bentley

Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey’s capital, are both easy to fly to from the United States. Within Turkey, most travelers opt for the inexpensive but well-developed bus system, including overnight routes that take you from one part of the country to another while you sleep. (I recommend bringing earplugs and a sleep mask if you actually want to get some sleep.)

Hotels in Turkey are plentiful and run the gamut from cheap to posh. When staying in Istanbul, I recommend the Sultanahmet district, just south of the Hagia Sophia in Old Istanbul. Many hotels there have rooftop restaurants so you can eat your kebabs and drink your Efes beer while you look south to the Sea of Marmara. Wheeling gulls and pied crows will provide the soundtrack. A basic room with a private bath goes for $50 per night.

Before you head to Turkey, I recommend reading the following books to learn more about the country’s history:

“1453: The Holy War For Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West” by Roger Crowley

This gripping history describes the political, geographical and strategic circumstances that caused Constantinople to fall to the Ottoman Empire.

“Istanbul: Memories and the City” by Orhan Pamuk

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Pamuk penned this memoir as way of capturing his youth in post-Ottoman Istanbul and the feel of the city in the 1950s and 1960s.

“Strolling Through Istanbul” by Hillary Sumner and John Freely

Exhaustively researched and a thousand times more engaging than I would have predicted a guidebook to be, this superb book weaves history, architecture, theology and colorful anecdotes together in a way that greatly enriches the experience of strolling through Istanbul

Callan Bentley

Credit: Virginia Community College System.

Bentley, an EARTH contributing editor, is an assistant professor of geology at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Va. He is the 2018 recipient of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers Shea Award for exceptional contributions in earth science writing for the public and/or teachers. He also draws EARTH’s cartoons and is past president of the Geological Society of Washington. He blogs about geology at The views expressed are his own.

Monday, February 7, 2011 - 06:00