[What to do in Turkey] Midnight Express

After seeing “Midnight Express,” possibly the furthest thing from your mind is to take a pleasant stroll through Turkey, but don’t let an intense film like this 1978 crime drama discourage you from enjoying the experience of sightseeing in Turkey, where cultures meet in such a spectacular manner. Remember that Hollywood movies are made to leave an impact, and that not everything you see in them, even if it’s based on actual events, is necessarily that way.

Billy Hayes was arrested at the Istanbul airport because he had poorly chosen the, um, souvenirs he was going to take back to the US, but beforehand, he had the opportunity to appreciate its streets, its culture and everything else the capital of Turkey has to offer. The words Constantinople or Byzantium (as the city was once called) give you an idea of what you may expect in such a passion-filled destination. It’s no coincidence that the historic center has been declared a World Heritage Site since 1985, nor is it that you have seen its marvelous Christian church, the Hagia Sophia Cathedral, in your history books. Together with the Blue Mosque and others scattered around the city, these sights guarantee a rich cultural experience.

Beaches in Turkey: Sun, Fun & Culture

But Turkey has more to offer than its fabulous religious buildings; it also has some highly recommendable beaches. Beaches where Hayes could have swum prior to committing the wild crime that landed him as the protagonist of “Midnight Express.” Beaches that would have refreshed his mind before running the risk of trying to leave the country with a package of heroin, and that would have saved him both the years in that horrible jail and the need to escape to save any semblance of sanity.

Antalya is one of those destinations in Turkey where tourists can truly appreciate how much the country has changed over the last 40 years. Its beaches have always been there, as have the old Roman ruins, vestiges of Greek culture and numerous mosques. But now it also has five star resorts and restaurants for every price range that make this region one of the primary tourist destinations in this part of the Mediterranean coast.

You can’t get to Antalya by train, as you might get to Istanbul, but there are daily flights that you will not regret having taken. If you do, we would love to hear what you think.

Photo | Midnight Express (Sony Pictures, formerly Columbia Pictures)