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Istanbul may not be the capital of Turkey, but it is the historic centre that bridges the two continents of Europe and Asia, at Galata.

Although a member of NATO, most of Turkey lies on the Asian continent, as Anatolia.

Asia Minor

Only 3 per cent of Turkey, known as Thrace Turkey, is actually in Europe. So most visitors to Turkey will cross the Bosphorus and enter Asia Minor.

Istanbul Mosque - Copyright Michel Guntern, Travel Notes.
Istanbul Mosque - � Michel, Travel Notes

Many tourists on budget airline flights to Turkey head off to the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts, with hardly a thought about Istanbul.

Sancta Sophia -- Copyright Michel Guntern, Travel Notes.
Sancta Sophia, Istanbul - � Travel Notes

Granted, there is a lot of history and pleasure around the coastal resorts, but there is also a lot more to Turkey than cruising around Antalya, Alanya, Bodrum, Izmir and Marmaris.

Mount Ararat (Agri Dagi), is mentioned in the Bible as the place where Noah's ark came to rest. It is Turkey's highest peak, at 5,122 m., and is situated in the Eastern Highlands; near the border with Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The Hittite Empire (1900-1200 BC), covered most of Asia Minor and rivaled Egypt as a Middle Eastern power, until it was destroyed by invaders known as the Sea Peoples, towards the end of the 12th century BC, along with the western Anatolian city of Troy.

Generally, the further east you go, the more you find the real Turkey; with Kurds replacing the tourists.

A Dying Baby, Northern Iraq -- Copyright Michel Guntern, Travel Notes.
A Dying Baby, Northern Iraq - � Michel, Travel Notes

Contrary to the stance by the Turkish Government, whole villages of Kurds in northern Iraq are not terrorists, but simple people trying to get on with their lives who also wish for an independent homeland, as promised by the Treaty of S�vres (1920); although this was dropped from the later Treaty of Lausanne (1923).

Getting Around Turkey

I travelled everywhere by bus in Turkey, apart from the return to Istanbul.

I caught the train from Izmir, and then took a ferry along the Bosphorus; highly recommended.

Long-distance buses stop for meal breaks, and you are offered a lemon-like cologne to freshen up your face - it works.

Often the air-condition didn't work; and while I was sweating, the Turks around me sat in pullovers and jackets and pulled on cigarette after a cigarette. A clich�, but I swear it's true.

Don't be put off by reports of terrorism in the east, the Kurds are a very friendly people, and you can learn a lot from them.

Turkey also has a Black Sea coast for those who like to bathe, away from the tourist crowds.

I hardly saw a foreigner in Trabzon.

By Michel.

Related Links

Turkey Travel Notes:
Additional Turkish links to get you on your way.

Currency Converter:
Convert your currency into Turkish Lira.

Learning Practical Turkish:
A free introduction to the Turkish Language, very professionally put together, and great for the casual visitor too! Fun things to download include ,���`���,��,��� TrueType Turkish Fonts and audio pronunciation to those tongue twisters.

Mustafa Kemal Atat�rk:
Without him, there might never have been a Republic of Turkey. Funny how many Turks still sport his bushy upper lip.

Turkish Odyssey:
A delightful guide to Turkey's past. History blends effortlessly with useful tips and places of interest.

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