Turkey, a Land of Light and Shadow

Turkey is a land of contrasts–modern and ancient, Eastern and Western, light and shadow.

Everywhere we went, people welcomed us warmly.

We saw ancient churches and mosques, and magnificent palaces.

Cappadocia, in Central Turkey, was the home of the Hittites, nearly two thousand years B.C.E.

Uncle Mustafa guided us through an underground city there.  The ancient Hittites had carved eight levels of tunnels in the soft volcanic rock.

The city served as a shelter in case of attack, with stores of food and water to feed 5,000 people for three months.

Then we saw Cappadocia from above, in a hot air balloon…

We swam in the Mediterranean off the coast near Antalya, and ate fish caught from the back of the boat for lunch.

Near Konya we visited Tinaztepe Magaralari, a cave with underground lakes.

At Hieropolis, we soaked our feet in the hot springs where Cleopatra and Marc Antony honeymooned.

In Istanbul we visited the Byzantine Cistern, built by Emperor Justinius in the 6th century.  It’s a huge underground stone forest built with recycled Roman columns.  It was the size of two football fields, and held 57 million gallons of water.

A cruise on the Bosphorus took us past this fortress.

The Bosphorus divides Istanbul, a city of 17 million.  One side is in Eurupe, and the other in Asia.  This bridge joins one continent to the other.

Kusadasi was a lovely harbor town, where we could watch the sun set from our balcony each evening.

They say the beaches of Gallipoli are haunted by ghosts from the disastrous war between the British and the Turks in 1915.  Many New Zealanders and Australians were called in to fight for the British.  Nearly everyone we met there was either a Kiwi or an Aussie.

After a tragic waste of human life on both sides, the British and their allies withdrew.  Eli and I visited British and Turkish cemeteries; both were heartbreaking.  A few years ago, one of the few survivors of the 57th Turkish Battalion returned to the site at the age of 108, with his great granddaughter.  This statue commemorates their visit.

I don’t know when I will see the sun set over Turkey again, but I am already looking forward to the day.

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette.


    1. Dear Lee,
      Thank you for your visit. I hardly knew what to expect. I knew it would be exotic, and full of wonders. What I had not anticipated was the warmth of the people there, and the incredible diversity.

    1. Thank you, Nia. It is easy to take beautiful photographs in such a beautiful city. Are you in Istanbul? Or in a village close by? I have always enjoyed the photographs you post on your wonderful blog, and now I can put them in context.

  1. very beautiful … I’ve been to Turkey and remember feeling as if I had stepped back in time …. I was in Istanbul and the whole Bosporus area (Troy etc)

    1. Hi ad, you make me smile! Yes, you caught that right away. I knew when I posted this that I had to do so using only silhouettes, so that I could post it as a part of the Weekly Photo Challenge. There are many other pictures taken in the bright light of day that I incorporate into another post some time. For now, it is a bit of the flavor of Turkey.

      Thanks so much for your visit, and your lovely comment.

    1. Hi Carol, it is my pleasure. I wasn’t sure I could convey the light and color of Turkey using only silhouettes, but it turned out not to be difficult with so many wonderful photographic opportunities. I appreciate your visit.

  2. Lovely. Lovely. What wonderful shots you caught and thanks for posting them. Turkey is an enduring interest. Such history, among other things. I bet the food was good too.

    1. Hi Jamie,
      Thank you for your visit, and for sharing your comments. It was full of surprises and not what I unexpected, but I learned so much. The history was fascinating. Eli is really interested in cooking, so we took a cooking class and spent half a day making a five course meal. I’m kind of a klutz in the kitchen, but it was fun, and we have made all the dishes since coming home. It’s funny, Jamie, I am still dreaming about Turkey every night–something that has never happened to me before.

  3. Turkey is gorgeous, isn’t it? i thoroughly enjoyed it, and it looks like you did too! Would go back in a flash.
    By the way, there were rather a lot of Australians and New Zealanders killed at Gallipoli, not just Brits. To the extent that our Prime Minister attends the dawn service there on Anzac Day.

    1. Hi Kasia,
      Thank you for sharing that. I understood how meaningful Gallipoli is to Australians and New Zealanders–everyone we met there was a Kiwi or an Aussie, and many of them were there to see the grave of a great uncle or a grandfather who fell and was buried there. I should have made a distinction between the British and their Anzac allies. I have edited the piece to include this information. Thank you so much for stopping by.

      When were you in Turkey? What stands out most for you about it?

      1. Thanks Naomi! Probably Gallipoli and Sir Donald Bradman are the only two subjects we’re rather touchy about as a nation.
        I visited Turkey in 2009. We travelled from the Syrian border (when it was a lovely, safe country), up to Mt Nemrut, through Cappodocia and the Lake District, then spent three days on a gulet (yatch) in the south, before coming back up the western coast. Rather ironically, we missed Gallipoli! My partner saw it the first him he went on his own in 1992. It’s a fabulous place – so many good memories, and I’d go back like a shot. Best bits? Mt Nemrut at dawn (although bitterly cold); Cappodocia full of wildflowers; the boat which came out to the yatches serving fresh pancakes (gozleme); and the diversity of Instanbul itself.

      2. Hi Kasia,

        YOur trip sounds really amazing! Thank you for sharing the story of your travels. (From this and other writings, I know you have covered your miles and seen much of the world.) I loved the diversity of Istanbul as well.

        I wanted to share this quote by Ataturk that was on the ANZAC Memorial that we visited. I found it very moving:

        Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours… you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well.

    1. Dear Pablo, what a really thoughtful comment! One of the amazing things about a camera is its ability to share a viewpoint as well as a view. A relatively new discovery for me is that photography can also be a form of storytelling.

  4. Such a sampling, Naomi – you saw so many interesting sites and did so many things – did you have all this planned out before you went? Were you on an organized tour or on your own. It looks fabulous – hope we will hear some anecdotes from you … 🙂

    1. Hi Lynne,
      My son Eli and I went to Istanbul for a few days before joining a Rick Steves tour. You have to be able to walk two to eight miles a day, and keep up a very fast pace. I missed traveling at a more leisurely pace, but it is well worth it, because his group was small–only 19 on this trip, and all very nice people–and he incorporates such a wide range of experiences into the tour. After that tour was over, Eli really wanted to go to Gallipoli, so we arranged to do that, and then we spent another four days in Istanbul, exploring the city at our own pace, visiting the cistern, another museum or two, and taking Turkish cooking lessons. I will write more about that in the near future.

      Thank you so much for your interest, Lynne.

      1. Well you’ve really incorporated a lot into this trip and kudos to you for keeping up the pace 🙂 I keep hearing that Istanbul is fabulous – I’ll add it to my list 😉

      2. HI Lynne,
        A seasoned traveler like you would breeze through it. The artist in you would revel in it. Rick Steves has a great book that specializes on Istanbul, emphasizing its culture and history. You should definitely add it to your list!

    1. Thanks so much. I thought of you, dear 4AM writer, on this, my first full day home. I woke up at 4am exactly, and will use the wee hours of the morning, as I adjust to my own time zone, to catch up on my writing. I am SO far behind!

      1. I really do enjoy the quiet. Almost every day in Turkey, I would get up at 4AM too, and thought of you. I hope I can keep it up and get some good work done in that lovely quiet zone.

  5. What a beautiful, enchanting, powerfully captivating entry. Fantastic images and wonderful words, I felt as though I was really there. One of me closest chums is from Turkey (she now abides in Paris), her family lives in Istanbul. She has described Turkey to me many times, how I so long to visit there. What a fascinating entry. Very doleful and affecting near the end, when you mention the cemetaries….and what a gorgeous sunset. Absolutely stunning, and beautifully intriguing and informative, post, well done!!

    Autumn Jade

    1. Dear Autumn Jade,
      First of all, I wish my folks had named ME Autumn Jade. What a beautiful name! Secondly, thank you for sharing your very kind comments and stories! I appreciate hearing your thoughts, and I really really hope you get to Turkey one day soon. You already know someone there, which is a great advantage, and with a very close friend from Turkey, you already have the inside story, which is what most of us are seeking when we travel.

      1. Ah but Naomi is a beautiful name indeed! I do admit, Autumn Jade is a pretty fabulous moniker, me mum was a bit of a poet, and me dad rather is as well. I am almost certain I shall get there, I am determined. My friend, her name is Seda, and I have already begun dreaming up such a trip. I am sure it will indeed come to be. I love your words there- “With a very close friend from Turkey, you already have the inside story, which is what most of us are seeking when we travel.” SO true. That is the very quiddity of travel, indeed! Enchanted with your blog, so looking forward to discovering more. Cheers to you,

        Autumn Jade

    1. Thank you, Madhu. That is my son Eli. Bea is in school until winter break, and Eli is home until March, so we decided to take this trip, so we wouldn’t miss Bea as much in her first month away. You were right about Turkey. It was really fascinating.

  6. I’ve never been to Turkey (although I did once date a geeky Turkish mathmetician). My daughter went on a history/religious education school trip there, and, I remember her being awe-struck by Ephesus, which is described in the guide books as the best preserved classical city in the Eastern Mediterranean.

    Your photos always manage to capture the light and shade peculiar to each country visited–and all this, further enhanced by your well-chosen words 🙂

    1. Thank you! That was a beautiful place to stay. We were right across from the harbor, and the light was always changing, especially in the late afternoon and early evening.
      I appreciate your visit, and taking the time to comment.

  7. If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.
    Alphonse de Lamartine

    and I couldn’t agree more. Just a fantastic post Naomi. I spent 27 days freely roaming Turkey and can hardly wait to return. I see you feel the same. Did you get to Sirence? (near Selcuk, Kusadasi) If not then it is clear you MUST return 🙂

    1. Hi Sueann,
      It was really interesting, and full of the unexpected–much better than I had even hoped for. Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to share a comment. I appreciate your kind words.

    1. Hi Tess,
      Thanks so much. I LOVE my camera! It is my favorite toy! It was a really interesting trip–I have been home for almost two weeks, and I am still dreaming about it!

    1. Hi George,
      I still can’t believe that the trip came and went already! I just found a couple of camera cards from that trip that I haven’t even seen yet. When I get a chance to look at them in the next couple of days, it will be like going on a mini trip. Thank you for your really kind comments, George. It is so nice to hear from you!

  8. What beautiful country and stunning pics! Well done! And thanks for sharing your journey with the rest of us! So nice to be new to this blog and I’m looking forward to seeing and reading more from you! xoJulia

  9. What a spectacular view of Turkey. Thanks for sharing these. 🙂 That statue is so poignant. Got me teary eyed.

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