Turkey, not Greece

Always been captivated by the allure of Greece?  Skip it, go to Turkey, and experience everything you imagine Greece will be, just better and more of it.

Far fewer tourists go to Turkey than Greece, so locals dealing with tourists aren’t tired of you, and it is still possible to have ruins all to yourself.  Like Greece, you can relax on the beach, but in Turkey you can also relax on a blue cruise or in a hammam.  Turkey has unique shopping, as it was the crossroads of the world, and you can even buy almost-antiques.  In Turkey there is an otherworldliness you can experience nowhere else on earth … underground cities, a hillside of cascading white rock pools, and flames that spontaneously ignite from the ground.  Not to mention the Turkish sense of hospitality which is also otherworldly.  The only thing you can’t get in Turkey that you can get in Greece?  Pork.

Relaxing: blue cruises and hammams

A good introduction to Turkey is on a “blue cruise” on the turquoise coast, i.e. Turkey’s southern coast.  An ideal trip is about four days, and a good base is the town of Fethiye. From here you can go north to Marmarais, or go southeast to Andriace harbour, from which you can bus inland to Olympos to see the chimera flames (see below).  Relax aboard, and tell your captain whether you feel like snorkelling, sunning, cliff diving or flying high above a beach like Ōlüdeniz, which is often cited as one of the top five beaches in the world.

Ölüdeniz

A Turkish hammam is the ultimate in relaxation.  It is easy to spot recent partakers on the street as they are scrubbed pink like a baby and have trouble keeping their eyes open.  Wrapped in a pestemal (a thin cotton towel), you first sweat in a sauna or steambath for a while.  An attendant then brings you to a warm marble plinth where s/he will lie you down and scrub you with olive oil soap that will make you look like you are covered in whipped cream, and exfoliate your skin with a kese mit.  Once you get over the shock of how much dead skin you were walking around with, you’ll relax into the massage.  It is a sort of combination of Thai and Swedish — your knots are worked out and your arms and legs bent and stretched.  You are doused with cold water on occasion (but it feels good), and will probably receive a slap on the ass.  And you will love the entire experience.  Ask your hotel for advice about where to go (say you want an authentic experience) and when to go (since many hammams have separate hours for men, women, and couples).

The Crossroads of the World

 

photo by RR Koops

Don’t forget to pick up some nazar boncugu, blue and white glass amulets meant to ward off the evil eye.  You will see them everywhere in Turkey – hanging in restaurants, hotels, taxis, even in airplanes, and personal ones on necklaces, key chains, cell phones and baby carriages.

 

 

 

Turkish Otherworldliness: Cappadoccia, Pamukkale, Olympos ….

Turkey has many sites that provoke a sense of wonder.  Cappadoccia, in the middle of the country has underground cities, several of which you can explore.  About 2000 years ago, early Christians carved tunnels and caves into the soft tufa rock, eventually forming a labyrinth of cities, going down some 13 stories underground.  People lived in the cities for months at a time when needed, figuring out how to have fresh air intake and how to stay hidden by diffusing the smoke of cooking fires.  Cities have churches, schools, morgues, kitchens, barns, bedrooms and more.  Mysteriously, the doors – a big stone wheel rolled across the entrance from inside – are from an area 400 km away, and are too big to fit inside the tunnels.  Scientists aren’t sure how they could have gotten there.  The reverse of an underground city, a castle made of a hill of rock, can also be explored.  Climb around like a little kid, but watch out for booby traps!

Photo by Ivan Gedz

The tufa rock has also been formed by wind and water into strange phallic shaped towers, called fairy chimneys in Turkish.  People have carved rooms into them, and several have been turned into hotels so you can sleep in a cave.  In the Göreme open air museum, you can wander through the caves and fairy chimneys, and see some of the earliest Christian churches in the world.  While expensive by Turkish standards, you can also take a hot air balloon ride to see the fairy chimneys from above.  The pilots are so skilled that in the right wind conditions they can lower the balloon so you can pick an apricot off a tree, and then sail up into the sky again.  Göreme is a good town in which to base yourself for all of these activities.

Pamukkale — “cotton castle” — is another Turkish wonder.  Half of a large otherwise brown hill is covered in cascading pools of bright white stone, that look almost like ice.  You can walk up the hill in your bare feet (the stone is both smooth and grippy at the same time), and see the pools up close.  The waters have been used since biblical times and are said to be healing.  Walk 500 m away from the tour buses, and you’ll find the almost empty ruins of a Roman stadium of the ancient city of Hierapolis.  They are in excellent shape (better than most you’ll find in Greece) and you’ll find them almost to yourself.  On the way over, keep your eye out for a small cave in a small indentation that is fenced off.  There are mysterious gases coming from it that kill anyone who enters it, except, according to rumour, eunuchs.  Some German tourists tried it about 20 years ago and died (I assume they were not eunuchs, so perhaps the stories are true).

Olympus is a backpacker haven, where most accommodation is in little tree houses in an orange grove, with chickens and goats snacking underneath.  There are good ruins nearby, again almost empty of tourists, and a gravel beach.  At night you can hike up the mountain, with a flashlight, to a spot where every few feet flames — the chimera — spontaneously come out of the earth.  It is worth the climb. Again, scientists are not entirely sure how or why.  Can you imagine how frightened the goat-herd was who first discovered them?!

Turkish Hospitality

Turks are lovely and generous people.  I was there for my honeymoon and when people found out, they were thrilled that we had chosen their country for such a special trip. Many insisted on giving us presents — a bottle of wine from our favourite hotel, many drinks and desserts at restaurants, spices, tiles, even a gorgeous Persian shawl (thank you Hamit Balkir, owner of  Motif Collection, Kabasakal Caddesi no. 3, Istanbul!)

We found Turks always interested in explaining something about their gorgeous country, its history, culture, politics, and, especially food (a Cappadoccian shopkeeper insisted we sample the lunch he was eating when we wandered into his shop – and we happily discovered pide, “pizza … with cheese!”, as he comically explained).

In most eateries, Turks want to separate the hospitality from the unfortunate necessity of a customer paying for food.  So, you will have to ask for the bill, and counter service means ordering, eating, and then returning to the counter to pay.

Turks also love kids, so if you are travelling with little ones, Turkey is a good place to go.

photo by RR Koops

However …. Like anywhere, there are still scams to be avoided in Turkey.  Taxi drivers from the Istanbul airport like to move decimal points on the fare, counting on tourists to still be confused by the Turkish lira (your hotel will help ensure you pay the correct amount).  Eating and shopping in the Grand Bazaar will result in serious overcharging. As a rule, do not eat in the bazaar (but the street food outside in wonderful).

Very rarely, some locals will take advantage of the fact that you know of the Turkish sense of hospitality – they’ll invite you in for tea, and then charge you for it.  It won’t be expensive, but it feels bad to be scammed, especially under these circumstances. And carpet sellers are everywhere (just smile and keep walking if you’re truly not interested, but take the opportunity to learn about carpets and have a cup of tea if you have time, you might even buy a beauty!).

Turkey is a marvelous country.  It has all the things you imagine are great about Greece, just more and better.

Please let me know about your tips about travel in Turkey!

For lots of details on how to travel in Turkey, see my field notes on Turkey which includes recommendations on what to see and do, where to eat and stay, and how to get there. Here’s why I love Turkey: 14 things you’ll get addicted to in Turkey (for Matador Network).

 


68 responses to “Turkey, not Greece

  1. It’s exactly the other way around. Other than the fact that your article is very biased and misleading, it’s also not true what you are saying. But the worst thing of all: You portray your opinion (you don’t even have statistics to atleast make up some kind of proof) as a fact, at the cost of an entire nation within all it’s facets.
    Well as many non-Turkish and non-Greeks already have said it, I will say the same as a Scandinavian traveler. Greece is consistently far more beautiful than Turkey. Again. the reason is that Greece’s geography and topography is incredibly diverse and indented. Wherever you go there are always mountains, or beaches with islands or other parts of the mainland in front of you something you don’t have in Turkey.
    From beaches of every kind of natural setting, sand type, and from stones to extremely fine sands to vastly indented coastlines. Greece that has double the coastline (16.000 km) than Turkey has (8000 km) Turkey and it’s 8000 km coastline. Turkey has beautiful beaches (on the mediterranean side. The black sea and bosporus is far less blue and less beautiful) but Greece has far more, and far more equally and more beautiful beaches than Turkey. Greece vastly has the upperhand without question.

    Both countries have great historical value and archaeological sites both from Greek civilization. Greece not only has incredible Classical Greek history which you can find also in Turkey, but Greece has a vast amount of archaeological sites from Mycenean civilization, Minoan Civilization, Greek empire of Byzantium, Helladic Period, Cycladic civilization and so on which makes Greece truly set itself apart. Whever you go, you can find in a surprisingly small travel distance many brown (cultural) street signs of cultural/biblical/historical/archaeological interests.

    Turkey is landwise bigger and has a big long flat highland field, running throughout the entire middlepart of Turkey. but that is also where I will say that Greece is much more beauty packed than Turkey in the sense that 80% is mountainous, providing breathtaking views wherever you go. Far more so than Turkey. And then Greece has 6000 islands, each unique, and breathtaking in which most of the islands history (wiki) have each a history dated to atleast 2000 BCE, all the way to islands with history/archaeology dated to 13.000 BCE and everything in between.
    The same goes for Greece’s mainland which is equally breathtaking and diverse.

    Greece next to it’s mountains has also much more forest cover (31.5%) than Turkey (15%) which makes traveling throughout the country yet again a more diverse experience than in Turkey.

    And another handsdown win is that Greece’s towns and villages are in general also far more pretty, far better preserved and maintained. It’s a no brainer. The Turkish hinterland is overflowing with poverty and poor peoples. Many of the villages look truly horrific, equal or worse than some of the poorest European eastern nations.

    And in short it’s about the natural beauty: mountains and landscapes, forests, natural beauties, sea, islands, villages and towns. And that is where Greece is far more gorgeous, wherever you go.

    And now after some statistical info a piece of personal opinion:
    Food. I don’t have great memories of my 3 vacations (1 with my girlfriend) in Turkey.
    I found the food in Istanbul and Bursa and surrounding regions to be bad or sometimes horrible. Even when I was going to one of the most expensive restaurants, I was not mind-blown. Eventually after some days of experiencing very poor hygiene, we had to eventually play it safe by eating in some of the few places that we could trust, (very rare!) like Oztantic in Istiklal.
    I had my most horrible tomato in my life (to my surprise) and far worse is that every day we came across people who want to steal and scam you. And my girl was harassed as well. E-v-e-r-y day. My girl (funny though, she’s islamic), never ever wants to go back to Turkey.

    While the food in Turkey often to be mediocre and sometimes even horrible or making you sick, we found the cuisine in Greece to be (after 9 – 10 travels to Greece) to be truly heavenly. And the moments when we where invited by Greek families where unforgettable. Nowhere have we ever eaten as good. People where incredibly hospitable and on some of our vacations we almost had every day presents from people that we hardly know or that we just met for 15 minutes. We both fell in love with Greece. And that is also why I am mind blown to see this article. Totally unfair!

    Greece is truly a heavenly country.
    And by now anno 2017 a whopping 30 million visitors and is one of the fastest growing tourism destinations in the world. If you don’t see the exceptional beauty of Greece as it is, others will.

    Like

    • That’s quite a lot of statistics Ragnar, many thanks for taking the time to share.
      What each of us looks for in a place to travel is different, and our preferences change over time. And, of course, one positive or negative experience can affect one’s opinion of an entire destination, rightly or wrongly.
      I need to get back to both Greece and Turkey and see if my opinion and preferences still hold. Thanks for the prompt!

      Like

  2. I am neither Greek nor Turkish, so I am very unbiased. And I have to say the following. By and large, the countries are essentially the same in terms of culture, food and geography. Variations are minor and don’t really change the whole picture. There are enough Gypsies, and poverty, and Asiatic ugliness (as well as charm) in both. Even the price level is now more or less equal as both have become greedy.

    General attitude towards tourists: the Turks are somehow friendlier and more sociable than the Greeks, which, again, has its pros and cons. The Turks may be somewhat more annoying at times. Greeks, however, are more likely to shamelessly rip you bare with a perfectly straight face. Pickpocketing and bag-snatching is non-existent in Turkey (my MIL’s purse was returned intact with all the cash money inside) by a street-vendor in Trabzon. In Greece, by contrast, my auntie’s purse was snatched by a stranger who just ran away with it. Go figure!

    Greece has a “thicker” veneer of the so-called Western European culture, but it’s just that – a veneer. Both countries are essentially part of the same Mediterranean type with its pros and cons. You gonna hear catcalls in both. Lots of Gypsies and poverty in Greece also. Greeks somehow appear to be much more arrogant because of their perceived EU membership, which is really hurting them.

    Like

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment. While you are, of course, completely entitled to your opinion, I believe you’re perpetuating several racial stereotypes. I won’t delete your comment, but do want to flag for others that generalizations can be dangerous and that those of us who are not experts about a country or a people, myself included, need to be careful making them.

      Like

  3. Turkey is a very cheap way to see a lot of Ancient Greek ruins, swim in the Med., and relax.

    Both are very similar in their topography if you stay along the Aegean. Differences in highly touristed areas are Greece has the Adriatic and Tukey has the Black Sea.

    Go to Turkey for an inexpensive sun trip. Go to Greece if you have more money!

    Both are fun!,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing! I’ve heard the prices are rising in Turkey and dropping in Greece. A beach visit in either country sounds very appealing though :-)

      Like

  4. I would also like to give my opinion as I have also visited both countries. I don’t agree with this article because I prefered visiting Greece over Turkey but that is based on my own opinion. Both countries have amazing things to see, both rich in culture and history. The added benefit in Turkey is that most of the historical sites are either Greek or Roman so you kind of get a 2 for deal. LOL Istanbul is a really nice city and I enjoyed visiting the historical landmarks like the Blue Mosque and enjoyed the Bosphorus very much. I loved Agia Sophia and Istanbul really is a city with a lot of history and you just notice the influences from the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans which reflect in the architecture everywhere. What other city can claim that? It was very charming. With that said though, I would also share some negatives that I did not care for, like when we ventured outside of the tourist areas, Istanbul was not so impressive and not very appealing at all. There is a lot of poverty and there was a lot of begging and the city was chaotic and dirty in many areas. But with that said I still would go back for a visit. Regarding the city of Athens I loved it very much. The Acropolis is amazing and the Acropolis museum equally so, it is one of the best museums in the world (it’s actually on most top 10 lists) so if you are in Athens make sure to visit it. The area around the Acropolis is only for pedestrians no cars allowed. You can visit the ancient hillside theaters and the ancient Agora which surrounds and is below the Acropolis. It really brings you back to what Athens must have been like in ancient times. The Plaka and Monastiraki districts are within walking distance and are good for shopping and eating. I also visited the trendy Gazi neighborhood which boasts nice cafes and bars. The night life and cuisine is tdf in Athens can’t say enough about the food. The beaches around Glyfada were also very scenic. Athens has a very urban feel to it and is very dense but it is a lovely city. It truly is wonderful and has transformed into a world class European capital (not that it wasn’t before but it’s improved a lot from what it was). Oh and the Athens Metro was so easy to use, the stations modern and beautiful and very clean and efficient. Overall, I have to say I preferred my travels through Greece the country is far more developed than Turkey and Greece is truly beautiful no matter where you go. And I must admit that I did feel safer traveling in Greece as opposed to Turkey because as we all know Turkey does have a problem with the current political climate and things are not so good there right now. Women also should not travel alone in Turkey, some men made me uncomfortable with their excessive staring and aggressive behavior.

    Like

    • Thank you for your comment, Robin. I appreciate all the tips you’ve given too. Everyone has their own preferences, which is part of the beauty of travel. Personally, I have travelled in several Muslim countries by myself, and I feel safer travelling there as a woman than I do in many other countries. Each country has different customs, and I’ve found that dressing conservatively helps prevent the stares and comments. I hope to get back to both Turkey and Greece soon, and hope that Turkey recovers quickly from the political difficulties they are having. Happy travels! Johanna

      >

      Like

  5. You are entitled to your opinions of course but you do sound extremely biased against Greece. I don’t agree with your viewpoints at all. I’ve also visited both countries and much preferred my travels throughout Greece compared to Turkey. Greece is so very beautiful and the ppl were so friendly and hospitable not to mention it’s rich in culture and history. And the food was omg delicious. I also felt safer traveling throughout Greece as a woman and it was much more developed than Turkey. I can’t wait to go back!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your views, Samantha. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Greece — looks like I’ll need to go back and see if my views have changed.
      Hope you get back there yourself soon — travelling everywhere is fabulous!
      thanks
      Johanna

      Like

  6. Really you must be delusional or something, not only is Greece more beautiful but the people are nicer. My god what a false article.

    Like

    • Well, no, it is not delusional to have a different opinion that you. Greece is a great country, I just happen to prefer Turkey. Each to their own, and every opinion is a valid one. We don’t have to agree.

      Like

      • Yeah,
        go to Turkey and see all the places Greece lost

        Like

      • Most of those places you want to go in Turkey were once part of Greece. They all have Greek names, but you wherever you go in Turkey probably belonged to Greece. Again, the real beauty in Turkey is actually Greece, so thanks.

        Like

  7. This Article is redundant and gibberish.

    As a Dutch person I have been to both Greece and Turkey many times for both vacation as business and I like both counties. But let me get some things straight and let me pick the standpoint from Greece.

    1).First of all. GREECE IS CONSISTENTLY FAR MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN TURKEY.
    Greece is everywhere far more consistently beautiful than Turkey. Yes really. There has not been a place in Greece in my 15 travels that was not beautiful.
    Even my last trip to Turkey was in April to Istanbul. And really?
    – Have you EVER seen how much filth there is?
    – The incredible amount of Gypsies?
    – Above all, we got scammed in the first 5 minutes at the airport when buying a Visa. Every day on this trip people tried to scam us multiple times.
    – The hotel room was filthy, bathroom fungus, and toilet contained poo remnants. My wife was seriously angry (which I almost never see).
    – 80% is like eastern Berlin, with mass dilapidated buildings everywhere. There are 2 districts in Istanbul that are new and might I say beautiful and modern.

    And this is not an opinion, but facts. Go travel in Turkey especially to the east and you’ll find many barren places that are in some cases gorgeous, and in some cases just really ugly. Let alone the poor villages that you find everywhere. And yes that IS 3rd world country when traveling away from the Aegean more to the east. While in Greece, there is just like Turkey an incredible amount of variation but more confined. Do not let size delude you. Greece is spread over 1200 by 1000 kilometers with a very diverse geography, diverse mainland in every way and 6000 islands with each unique characteristics you wont find anywhere else.

    ———————————————————————————-
    UNBIASED TRAVEL BLOG 1 Lizzies First travel to Greece
    Luckily there are people like traveler Lizzy who traveled to over 40 countries in the world including Turkey, and she was completely flabbergasted when she traveled her first time to Greece

    LIZZIES QUOTE:
    “I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a bold statement; every inch of Greece is beautiful – and not just your regular run of the mill beautiful, I’m talking jaw-droppingly, wow-inducing, mind-blowingly beautiful.
    How many other countries can say that?

    Of my two weeks in Greece this summer, I was not disappointed or let down once. Every single place I stopped was memorable and gorgeous.
    That being said, I’ve been a lot of places, and nowhere was as consistently pretty as Greece. Hands down.”

    Link to Lizzies Travelblog
    http://youngadventuress.com/2013/11/travel-greece-view.html
    ——————————————————————————-
    UNBIASED TRAVEL BLOG 2: Planet Bells first travel to Greece
    Another known travelers travelblog is Planet Bells who has been to over 46 countries and on his first trip to Greece in 2014 regards Greece as one of the most beautiful countries in the world where Greece stands in his top 3.
    http://planetbell.me/2014/01/27/greece-10-travel-tips/

    PLANET BELLS Quotes

    Greece is truly one of the world’s great countries. It is packed full of soaring mountains and stunning beaches, has some of the nicest people in the world and is a foodies paradise. And there might be just a little bit of history there also.

    Symi, Greece, is one of the most colorful, most photogenic places I’ve ever been

    EXPECTATION: I expect to eat my body weight in doner kebab
    Expectation: not met

    I have something important to say: I didn’t so much love doner kebabs in Turkey. This may prevent me from ever going back, as what I am about to type may get me a visa denial if the wrong person sees it, but I prefer the Greek gyro to the Turkish doner kebab. There, I said it.

    And these are “just” 2 famous travel blogs that happen to have visited over 40+ countries in the world, that happen not only to be putting Greece on the very top of the worlds most beautiful countries, but at the same time not raping another country, like you are doing with your own article.
    ————————————————————————————-

    2). Second of all. Greece has many unique places that you won’t find in Turkey nor anywhere else on the planet for that matter. Examples of these are Meteora, Athos, Cycladic Islands that are each unique to their own let alone to Turkey or other countries. and much more. Let alone other islands with breathtaking beauties and unique characteristics.
    Besides all this both Greece and Turkey have a ton of Greek history as basically both countries where Greek to begin with until 550 years ago. Greece has on top of Classical Greek time period also Mycaene 2000-1200 BC in Pelloponese and the incredibly advanced Minoan civilization (3650BC-1400BC) among others in the Aegean (Helladic and Cycladic 3300BC-1800BC), that you can find and admire on Santorini and Crete. This you won’t find anywhere else.
    If you don’t know the minoans, they just happen to be one of the most advanced civilizations on the planet of the Bronze age(5000 years ago), unparalleled with cities with 2 to 3 storey houses each with flush toilets, sewerage systems, plumbing systems,roads, 5 to 7 storey palaces and so on. A unparalled phenomenon. What the Greeks are to us is what the Minoan Greek time period was for the Classical Greek timeperiod. These are among many things unique and cannot be found anywhere else.
    There are so many other random things. Can be anything. The only place where Mastik can be found on the planet is in Chios, There are many volcano’s such as Nissyros, Santorini, there are over 7500 thermal springs (Because of the reason that Greece and its seas lies on 3 tectonic earthplates)

    3). -Greece has 16.000 km of Coastline (the longest in the Mediterranean by far), 2x longer than Turkey.
    -6000 islands, with diverse cultures, traditions, cuisine, dances, geography and are world renowned for its uniqueness.
    -80% mountains and has together with Italy the most Ultra prominent peaks in Europe.
    -20% of all the highest Ultra peaks in Europe lie in Greece. Greece has as much Ultra peaks as Switzerland and Austria Combined

    Ultra peak = All the peaks that stand out higher than 1500 meters above it’s lowest surrounding area.

    Greece(18) + Cyprus(1)
    http://www.ii.uib.no/~petter/mountains/greece.html
    Turkey(23)
    http://www.peaklist.org/WWlists/ultras/turkey.html
    Switzerland
    http://www.ii.uib.no/~petter/mountains/switzerland.html
    Austria
    http://www.ii.uib.no/~petter/mountains/austria.html

    Greece has almost as much Ultra peaks as Turkey, yet due to it’s smaller land surface size, Greece’s geography is far more diverse than that of Turkey’s, which in the east rests on plateau’s. Making Greece incredibly scenic around every corner that you come across.

    -On top of that Greece has 30% forests making sure that there is always a good mix between forests, farmlands, mountains, grasslands and more barren stone regions.

    -Turkey has 35 million tourists, while having a population of 70+ million. Greece has a world record by receiving 23 million tourists, the only country in the world having more than 2x the tourists compared to its own population.

    -While Turkey has 5 big summer destinations to go to and 5 airports along with them, Greece has over 80 airports and over a hundred big destinations to travel to.

    And I can go on an on.

    You know. I like statistics, because statistics can prove someones OPINION such as yours to be wrong.
    Traveleater, you can love Turkey for whatever reason, but expressing your love, while at the cost of Greece by your sheer lack of knowledge is but unfair. Have you ever thought that what you say might not even be true?

    If Turkey would really have everything that Greece has and more, then why are there people who’m I know (EVEN turks by the way) that love Greece more than Turkey? I have heard countless of reasons. Hygiene in Turkey is horrible and sets it self truly apart from Greece, or the men harassing women, or simply the scenery, or friendliness. A Turk in Istanbul told me, if A turk is nice to you, always think what he is hiding and why he’s nice!

    Like

    • Thanks for your comment, Doga38, and for taking the time to provide so much information. I’m glad to hear that you like Greece so much and sorry to hear your last trip to Istanbul was so disappointing. It is great how travel can inspire so much passion and so many different points of view.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. TravelEater, you are a troll, an anti-Greek (obviously, why, did you get “dumped” by Greek men??), a clear biased pro-Turkish, and I completely despise the way you paint a hateful, disrespectful, and negative image of Greece, while you praise EVERYTHING about Turkey. Trying to portray Turkey as paradise and Greece as hell will inevitably generate a significant backlash from many people that have either visited and/or lived in Greece and marveled at its natural beauty, incomparable beaches, and enormous history. Also, while you are so captivated by many “Turkish” monuments such as Agia Sophia, you are clearly ignorant for example that this particular monument was built by Byzantines (emperor Constantine I) centuries before any Turkish person was to be found in the area. And the list goes on… I have lived in Greece, went to school there, speak Greek fluently (I am NOT just an arrogant, one-sided, illiterate American), and I know its shortcomings, much better than you, I am sure of that. I have also been to Turkey, I have many wonderful Turkish friends and I very much love Turkey too and its amazing landscapes, its friendly and fun people, and the fact that most Turkish people I’ve met BY FAR are some of the nicest people I have met anywhere. Turkey, just like Greece, has been through great turmoil but just as the people of Greece, we all try to be and do the best we can with what has been handed down to us from previous generations. Yes, Turkey is bigger, much bigger, yes, it has far more landscapes to offer, yes, it’s cheaper, yes, it has unmatched natural wonders, but at the same token Greece has amazing country side and islands and monuments and enormous history to offer. In fact, the similarities between the two countries are far more than their differences. But comparing them like you do is troll-ish, blind-sided, biased, and offensive to Greece, Greeks, and its long history and culture. Keep your racism to yourself, and stop spewing anti-Greek propaganda on the internet. Greece, just like Turkey, have been created by the forces of mother earth, and whatever mother earth creates IS beautiful and can give less of a penny about your biased opinions. Before you start throwing stuff at me like how anti_turkish I am and so on, keep in mind that I am proud to have been with people that are open-minded enough to be able to raise the Greek AND Turkish flags next to each other and enjoy their Turkish (Greek also) coffee together as a symbol of unity, and the fact that we are all as humans one and the same. Congratulations to the many wonderful Greek and Turkish friends that I personally know that work together for a better future for our children and for abolishing and rejecting trolls like you that still support division, racism, and invoke negativity and hatred. Sorry if I sound harsh, but I just couldn’t take your anti-Greek sentiment any longer. -Stella

    Like

    • Wow Stella, you seem very angry.
      If you’d like to write an article for my site about why you prefer Greece over Turkey, please get in touch. I’ll ask that you keep the personal attacks aside.

      Here is every quote mentioning Greece that I’ve written on this website:

      The “Turkey, Not Greece” article on this page:
      – “Always been captivated by the allure of Greece? Skip it, go to Turkey, and experience everything you imagine Greece will be, just better and more of it.”
      – “Far fewer tourists go to Turkey than Greece, so locals dealing with tourists aren’t tired of you, and it is still possible to have ruins all to yourself”.
      – “Like Greece, you can relax on the beach, but in Turkey you can also relax on a blue cruise or in a hammam”.
      – “The only thing you can’t get in Turkey that you can get in Greece? Pork.”
      – “Walk 500 m away from the tour buses, and you’ll find the almost empty ruins of a Roman stadium of the ancient city of Hierapolis. They are in excellent shape (better than most you’ll find in Greece) and you’ll find them almost to yourself.”
      – “Turkey is a marvelous country. It has all the things you imagine are great about Greece, just more and better.”

      In the comments on this page:
      – “I love it that this post has inspired so much debate. And it is high time for me to get back to both Turkey and Greece and see if my opinions still hold.”
      – “I like your last words Kalliovi – Greece and Turkey share a lot of similarities and differences, and we should respect both countries. Both have a lot to offer the traveller, it just depends on your own preferences.”
      – “Well Petros – that’s the beauty of opinions, they are varied and everyone is entitled to them. I’m glad you enjoy Greece. Happy travels.”
      – “Well, I’m a huge fan of Turkey and everything about it!
      But I also confess to having had a few crushes on a few geeks. Not sure if they were Greek or not though :-)’

      On other pages:
      – “HERE is an overview on Turkey (and why I think it is so much nicer than Greece).”
      – “Thank you very kindly Natalia. Yes – the Turkey / Greece comparison turned up a fair amout of controversy! Thanks for taking the time to post here, I’ll investigate why WordPress wouldn’t allow additional comments on the other page. I agree – each country is unique and has its own pros and cons. It depends on what each of us is looking for in a holiday.”
      – “An overview, plus why I think Turkey, not Greece, is a better choice for a trip.”

      Like

      • Even your references to Greece that you collected here for me are offensive to Greece and the people that inhabit that country. Thank you for gathering your comments about Greece in one, convenient location. I have no problem with you liking Turkey more for whatever PERSONAL reasons, but when you proclaim things such as “Always been captivated by the allure of Greece? Skip it, go to Turkey, and experience everything you imagine Greece will be, just better and more of it.” and “The only thing you can’t get in Turkey that you can get in Greece? Pork” and “Turkey is a marvelous country. It has all the things you imagine are great about Greece, just more and better.” is not simply an opinion anymore, but an attack against an entire nation and culture. You’re drawing dangerous, misleading, incredibly biased, unfair, personal conclusions that Greece sucks while Turkey is ” simply mahvellous dahling “. Also, you either did not read what I wrote, or you just didn’t get it… Nowhere in my narrative above I proclaimed that one country is better than the other, you need to read it again. Both, Greece AND Turkey have their pros and cons. Even Turkish people will admit that their county has flaws, just as Greek people admit that their country has flaws. Many of my Turkish friends LOVE Greece and many Greeks love Turkey. You are far more biased than any Turkish or Greek person I know, and that’s what infuriated me. Preferring one place over another is a personal opinion and you are entitled to it. You could have stated the things you loved about Turkey without attacking Greece and certainly without encouraging people that always wanted to visit Greece to steer clear and go to Turkey instead, especially with your highly negative rhetoric about Greece. Besides, can you NOT see that your constant negative comments about Greece can fuel backlash and that you are almost borderline of being labeled as racist? I’m not trying to attack you as a person, but I cannot stand anyone (not just you) that will put an entire nation or culture down in favor of another one. I find comparisons like this useless, biased, idiotic, childish, and inflammatory. Thank you for reading and understanding what I am saying.
        – Stella

        Like

      • Why are you so anti-Greek? Instead of taking the easy way out and “thanking” me for my “opinions” (BTW, I stated facts), you could explain why you appear a Greek hater… Curious… I’ve never met anyone so anti-greek as you. Even more curious… Greece is the only country from what I’ve seen in your blog that you are putting down every chance you get… Why??? Judging from your oh so intelligent and intellectual responses to my “angry” narratives, you seem incapable of dealing with people challenging your offensive and inappropriate language against an entire country, and unable to backup your extreme biases with hard evidence.

        Like

      • if you plan to go to Turkey for vacation, you may find your self in a terror situation. Turks are against Americans.

        Like

  9. Turkey is more crowded and beaitiful than greece but greece is beatiful too.Santorini mykonos chios..Turkey is modern country but southeastern isnt. Rude people are not turkishs they are kurtishs.Turkishs are polite.greeks too.Turkey isnt 3. World country.Turkey is more powerfull country and turkey’s economy is better than greece but greek ıslands are very beaitiful.turkishs(not kurdishs)look likes greek. I am from EDİRNE (near the greece and bulgaria) .My village is near the MERİÇ NEHRİ(EVROS POTAMOS) my grantparent is greek and turkish.sorry my english isnt good.because ı am young.

    Like

    • Many thanks for your comment (and your English is great, certainly better than my Turkish!) Every country has its beautiful places (and less beautiful places) and lovely people (and a few individuals less so). I would add, though, that every Kurdish person I’ve met has been wonderful. There’s a good chance I’ll be back in Turkey later this year – I love it there! And I’d hope to explore more of the eastern part as well. Tashakur! :-)

      >

      Like

  10. I had visited both of countries and ı think that turkey is really huge country , you can find many various places according to your style.
    2 years ago ı went to İstanbul and Bodrum.
    I guess that istanbul the biggest city of europe. Anybody can’t compare with athens.
    Yes athens has got also many historical places but istanbul really looks like a metropolitan city , there are many human who comes from different cultures. I want to go there again.
    From the other hand turkey’s beaches is not beautiful like greece. there are many beaches who is clean however beacause of crowded greece’s sea is cleaner than turkey in general .
    İf you really want to do a beach holiday in turkey ,ı suggest to around of fethiye

    Like

  11. Sorry but are your comment : ‘Far fewer tourists go to Turkey than Greece,’ International tourist arrivals for Greece was 17.9 million and Turkey had 37.8 million people/visitors in 2013.. And Stacy says: ‘..and other than the Turkish coast there is nothing else to do.. the rest of Anatolia is poverty stricken, boring and not worth going to … Greece on the other hand i have found the whole country to be beautiful’ Well the whole country of Greece is a small percentage of Turkey- so is the population.. Turkey is massive and massive in terms of things to see and do.. When you drive for a few of hours in the country the scenery keeps changing- I have not seen this much variety in any other country in my life. Whereas Greece is like the Aegean Region of Turkey- but yes they have cleaner resorts and better architecture, but other than that it is a huge insult on Turkey.. Just get out and see it properly mate, you will not have experienced it properly in weeks, if not months.. It is such a divine spiritual experience too.. Black Sea, Marmara, Mediterranean, Aegean, even the poorer central, east and southeastern provinces- they are even more beautiful and otherworldly and far less tourists in those areas.

    Like

    • Thanks for your comment Tim. Clearly all the good things I’ve been saying about Turkey over the years have brought up their stats! Ha ha :-)
      Thanks for all the info – I’m glad you love Turkey too.

      Like

  12. Hi guys! I am from Turkey.I believe,when you come turkey,you can enjoy!Our people are really friendly.Our food are really amazing,delicious.You should try baklava,mantı,börek,turkish coffee.And more.Sooo we are Muslim,right.But we are not Islamic country.(people’s %96 is Muslim.But we have so many churcs.Our official religions is not Islam.We are officially secular.)We are really modern people.Like an American or British.Thanks for read this text.We are witing for you! :)

    Like

  13. Now Im even more excited about my trip to Turkey in September! You really inspired me! :)

    Like

    • Lucky you to be off to Turkey!
      Wish I was :-)
      Let me know how your trip was once you get back. I’d love to have your up to date recommendations.
      Johanna

      Like

      • Of course!! I will gladly share it :) seems like you really miss the place :)

        Like

  14. Pingback: Turkey | TravelEater·

  15. Let me preface by saying I’m an Italian, First, you are wrong on “Far fewer tourists go to Turkey than Greece”. About ten million visitors more go to Turkey a yr.
    Second, Ive been to both – Comparing a third world country (Turkey) and First World (Greece)., they are very different. I don’t know how Turkey can offer everything as Greece, but pork. That’s an interesting statement. I wonder from what prospective/propaganda you are coming from. (Anti-Western, Islamicist, Leftist?).
    Either way, I thought both were nice places, but Turkey was more overcrowded, and beaches, seafood and nightlife were better in Greece.
    My top Destinations in Europe are: Italy, Spain, Greece, and Portugal.
    Like I said Turkey was nice, but infrastructurally, outside Istanbul, its very old, run down and crime rates are alot worse. Walking at night as a woman – not that comfortable. Furthermore, People are too Nationalistic in Turkey, if you criticize a little they get all over you.
    Either way, appreciate the insight.

    Like

    • Hi guys

      As a half Turkish and half Greek guy from New Zealand, I agree with Johanna and strongly disagree with Angela.

      First of all, Angela, by any means, Turkey is not a third world country. It is a member of NATO, OECD, The Council of Europe and also candidate country for European Union. If you look at the country statistics on wikipedia, you can easily see that Turkey is way much better than some EU countries in terms of GDP, the quality of life, education etc… If you look at Times University Rankings top 400, Turkey has 5 universities, whereas Greece has none. So your statement about Turkey being a third world country is completely invalid. (I strongly recommend you to look at the definition of third world on wikipedia)

      Secondly, with a Greek mother and Turkish father, I think I can compare two sides better than many people. I don’t think Turkey and Greece have much difference. Furthermore, I think Greeks and Turks are pretty much same people, except religion and the language. However, please note that Greek and Turkish languages share more than 4000 words (yeah 4 thousands), thanks to living together side by side for centuries!!! Especially, the differences between Turks and Greeks evaporate when they get angry, they even use the same swear words! :)

      If we come to the comparison of Greece and Turkey travel wise, I agree with Johanna, there is almost nothing you cannot find in Turkey that you can obtain in Greece. You can even find pork – not everywhere but in some major supermarkets like in Istanbul, Izmir and some Aegean resorts. Of course, both countries have their own unique beauties and are totally worth visiting.

      To sum up, thanks Johanna for such a beautiful article. I am happy that you enjoyed your time in Turkey.

      P.S. For your future visits to Turkey, I recommend my father’s town: Alacati. It is very beautiful and well preserved. (http://metro.co.uk/2014/06/09/alacati-turkey-come-play-with-the-cool-kids-4754840/)

      P.S.2. : I prefer Greek baklava ;)

      Like

      • Many thanks for sharing your views … I can hardly wait to get back to Turkey … maybe next year? I’m glad you love it too :-)

        Like

      • Let me preface by saying I am a Greek. In response to Aegean Kiwi’s comment re Turkey in the 3rd world, I don’t know which EU countries other than Bulgaria and Romania, that Turkey has a higher GNI or GDP per Capita than. In relation to Greece, as of very recently – 2013: Greece has a GDP Per Capita at 22k in us dollars and Turkey has 10k per capita and that is after the Greek economy contracted by 27% in the last five years and Turkey Grew!!!!! Turkey is still very Behind Greece and overwhelming majority of the EU states. Also see 2014 Human Development index and Quality of Life Index and Many more. You’ll be surprised at the differences
        The reason why I say this is because to use Universities in the Top 400 as the only metric is hilarious. Also, the 2014 stat I saw showed TR w/ 5 Uni in the top 500 and GR w/3. Not 4 and 0 respectively Either way, that is a weird way of quantifying development to say the least by using an obscure stat that weighs in your favor and not the main ones the rest of the world goes by. (But then again , not surprised – See Cyprus and the rest of the Worlds acknowledgment on Turkeys stance there
        As far, as the article being labeled Turkey, Not Greece, well I respect the right of the author to put any title she likes, but at the end of the day she should understand that due to the historical animosity between the nations she has to expect a big pushback and reaction from ppl who read it.
        One country is different from the other. To say Turkey, Not Greece, makes them seem as if they are not mutually exclusive. Which again makes no sense.
        I believe in good relations between the countries. Unfortunately, due to Turkish occupation in Cyprus, I believe that will be a little hard to say the least.
        Either way, as far as travel goes, I thing Greece is a much more beautiful and established tourist destination and is a better choice to visit. I think Turkey is still nice though as I have been there and the ppl are friendly.
        To conclude, in 2014 Greece rec’d 22 million visitors including cruises. That is ALOT for a country w 10 million ppl. More than double its population. Hence, I think the Authors title is way off.
        P.s: Please dont delete my comment

        Like

      • I love it that this post has inspired so much debate. And it is high time for me to get back to both Turkey and Greece and see if my opinions still hold. Many thanks Nikos! Johanna

        >

        Like

      • Γεια σου Nikos,

        Thanks for your clarifications, I agree most of your statement. However, I need to say that first part of my answer was to clarify that Angela’s stereotypes about Turkey being a third world country is not valid. That’s why I needed to give examples where Turkey is better than many EU countries. Universities were the first that came to my mind. In many ways, Greece is more developed than Turkey, I agree with that. Also, as you said, in many ways, Turkey is more developed than Bulgaria and Romania which are EU member countries. So Angela labelling Turkey as a third world country was ridiculous. (I believe many Greeks wouldn’t like to move to a third world country, as said on BBC News: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-26714231)

        I also agree with you about Cyprus, I strongly support the unification of the island. However, Turkey is not the only actor to blame in this conflict. Rejection of UN plan in 2004 referendum by Greek Cypriots despite Turkish acceptance was literally discouraging for many supporters of United Cyprus like myself.

        Also as I said both countries have their own unique beauties and are totally worth visiting. Of course you cannot find Acropolis in Turkey, however you can find many Ancient Greek ruins in Turkey like Ephesus. Of course you cannot find Thessaloniki in Turkey but you would be awed when you realize Cordelia in Smyrni in Turkey is almost identical to the waterfront in Thessaloniki. What I am trying to say that you can feel a little bit of Greece in Turkey, which I think we all agree on that. Turkey is a huge country, I personally feel like I am in a different country when I go to Eastern Turkey. Mystical clouds over the lash green hills of Black sea region of Turkey (Pontus) makes me feel like I am in a Northern country, not a Mediterranean. So you can get a slice of Greek vibes in Western Turkey as well as other cultures in other regions. I think this diversity makes Turkey an amazing country to visit as a tourist.

        In conclusion, I am sorry if I am misunderstood, I didn’t want to mean that skip Greece and go to Turkey instead. Greece is an amazing country, with so many beautiful places, amazing food, very friendly people. Even just to eat proper souvlaki or listen to some rembetiko from Glykeria, I would fly all the way to Greece from New Zealand if I have time and $$$$ :)

        Like

  16. No, i visit Turkey once. It’s not Islamic country. As @petros Said;

    We can’t say “Ancient Turks” like “Ancient Greeks”. Because Turks was never destroyed.

    Greeks stolen Turkish foods. Like they got “cacik”. Greeks stole it and named as “tzatziki”. (Just one of them. I can count more)

    Turks have more history than Greeks. Trust me. Greeks only have their mythology.

    As you see, which one do you choose after reading my comment? Feel free to be anti-turk for no reason.

    Also, visit Cappodocia! It was amazing!

    Best regards;

    Like

    • Seriously?Do you believe what you say?If yes then I would recommend you to read some history!Its better to sustain your opinion,rather than just insult cultures and countries because of your unawareness..That would be unfair for any country.And about what you said about stollen words or food or else.Just a reminder Greek language has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records,while the Turkish have the first known written records dating back nearly 1,300 years…Those two countries are neighboors and share a lot of things but are also different in a lot others,we should respect both for who they are and their great history through the ages!
      Best regards

      Like

      • I like your last words Kalliovi – Greece and Turkey share a lot of similarities and differences, and we should respect both countries. Both have a lot to offer the traveller, it just depends on your own preferences.

        Like

    • what?!? it is turks that stole greek food and named it into turkic language in the first place…that’s like saying hagia sofia is turkish architecture when turkish stole it from greeks…greek cultures such as music, art, math and foods influenced middle east and turks….

      Like

  17. This post is pure Propaganda. You know nothing about Greece. Turkey is an ultra Islamic and conservative country, and only Istanbul is worth a visit, the rest Turkey is with no doubt inferior to Greece. Greece is a fantastic country, diverse and rich in History.

    Like

    • Well Petros – that’s the beauty of opinions, they are varied and everyone is entitled to them.
      I’m glad you enjoy Greece. Happy travels.

      Like

    • Well, I’m a huge fan of Turkey and everything about it!
      But I also confess to having had a few crushes on a few geeks. Not sure if they were Greek or not though :-)

      Like

  18. Great article I really enjoyed your blog.I want to know more about Turkey as tour operator in Turkey.

    Like

    • Turkey is a fabulous country – my favourite! I hope to be back there one day soon. You’re lucky to be able to spend time there and telling people about how wonderful it is!

      Like

  19. First of all i am not Turkish or Greek so i am going to be as fair as i can be .. I have been to both countries and i dont agree with this post. i have found Turkey to be too Islamized and backwards for European likings. Turkish men do not know how to behave when they see a beautiful woman.. and other than the Turkish coast there is nothing else to do.. the rest of Anatolia is poverty stricken, boring and not worth going to … Greece on the other hand i have found the whole country to be beautiful from the mainland to its islands.. there is not a place there that is not pretty.. it has better beaches with cleaner water and better quality services.. I do agree Turkey has more shopping options and is much cheaper, Istanbul is more beautiful than Athens and Turks are more friendly in general. However Greeks speak better English, men respect women and there is much wilder nightlife with bars and clubs everywhere. People there are much more open to sex, drugs and alcohol. Turkey is more of a family oriented vacation

    Like

    • Thanks very much for the comment. That’s one of the great things about travel – there are so many places to go and such a variety of interests and preferences. What’s your most favourite place you’ve visited?

      Like

      • Well, I have also been in both countries and love them. The Turkish people are much more friendly, so my husband and I had more wonderful moments in Turkey. We will go back to Turkey this December 2013, for that reason, they are lovely people. We have been in many cities in both countries…Brazilian and Portuguese couple.

        Like

    • I think that a county being more open to sex drugs and alcohol makes a country worse and the people there unhappy and the society less trusting and more hateful and weaker… only its better for individuals who wants to seek instant gratification and escape, but these things are ultimately self-destructive and harmful behaviors. Turkish are clearly a more relaxed and confident people who are thinking more clearly and have Clear goals they are atriving towards. Turkish is actually better than Greece in almost everyway… If your are really able to be honest with yourself I you will see this is true.

      Like

      • Well, I can’t say I agree with your logic, Zane, but thanks for sharing your opinion. Both Turkey and Greece have their merits, but also their problems, as does every country. I think it is great to have the opportunity to experience many different cultures and find the best in people.

        Like

  20. i really admire your blog, traveleater. awesome, interesting, entertaining.
    well, i plan to visit istanbul next month, so perhaps you have suggestion where to buy souvenirs, like nazar boncugu, since grand bazar tends to scam.
    secondly, any clue until which level we can make the first bargain? just worrying the seller becomes irritated.
    thanks in advance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for the kind compliment!
      I’m excited for your trip to Istanbul in June (it will be getting quite hot by then, but cherries will be in season!)
      You can find nazar boncugu almost everywhere in Istanbul, in various forms from traditional to jewellery, scarves and tiles (although unfortunately I’ve never seen cufflinks…). They’re pretty cheap too. You are right to avoid the Grand Bazaar for buying, it is better for looking! It will be easy for you to find shops wherever a tourist tends to go.
      I wouldn’t worry too much about bargaining. As a Canadian, I’m not very comfortable with it, but I stumbled upon a good technique. Express the slightest interest in something and walk away — the seller will soon start offering prices and, as you say you’re not interested, he’ll just keep lowering them! You have to be prepared to really walk away, and if you’re REALLY interested in something, try not to show it. If you like, toss out a price, and do it in a joking way if you’re truly worried about offending. I’m not a hard bargainer at all, and often just agree to one of the earlier prices offered, but then ask for 3 for that price rather than 1. For most sellers, bargaining is a bit of a game (and sometimes a display of great acting!). As long as you approach it good naturedly and with a smile, you’ll do fine. The goal is not to to get the lowest price, just a fair price for you both. Don’t worry, they won’t waste their time on you if they don’t think the bargaining will be worth it (neither will they respect you if you take the first couple prices!).
      To get a lower price, shop early in the day (first sale of the day, or season, etc is good karma for later).
      And, if you’re going anywhere else in Turkey, do your souvenir shopping there instead of Istanbul!

      I’d love to hear your tips when you return!

      Like

  21. Dear Traveleater,
    Very interesting, On Marble Street in Ephesus, a footprint was carved to display the way to the brothel. This footprint and the signal near the middle of the road in the direction of the Awesome Theatre, direct the way to the brothel. The brothel is at the conclude of the Marble Street on the left. It dates from the 4th century A. D. cautious health and wellbeing control dominated the brothel, even way more than in modern brothels. The males coming to the dwelling, primary washed and cleaned their fingers and feet before coming into a massive salon through a hallway. This dwelling, which had any form of facility for cleanliness, was committed to Venus, thus, statuettes of Venus (Aphrodite) put into use to stand in the salon, the within of which was coated with marble.
    Kindest Regards

    Like

  22. http://hagiasophiatourguide.com/the-app/

    Well if you plan to travel to Turkey don’t forget to download the iPhone application for the Museum of Hagia Sophia, a 1500 year old building holding a history of hundreds of years. The app covers the museum’s history and is packed with voice overs, images, videos, description text, photo gallery, etc…a must for every Istanbul traveler.

    Like

    • I’ll check it out – thanks! Hagia Sophia is a gorgeous museum, and knowing more about its art and history would make any visit better.

      Like

What do you think? Your comments are most welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s