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Trip Report Trip Report: Windstar Istanbuhl to Athens

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Just returned yesterday from an amazing trip on the Windstar from Istanbuhl to Athens.
I will try to briefly outline the trip - but feel free to email me for more details.
Thursday, Sept 24th. Arrived Istanbuhl.
- Stood in long line to get a Visa (20 turkish lira) and then stood in another long line for passports.
- Windstar representatives (Sea Song) picked us up promptly at gate and took us in nice van to Istanbuhl Hilton.
* We did the pre-cruise trip but I would say a better option would be to stay in Old part of the city. The Hilton was wonderful with great view of Harbor but it was a long taxi ride to go anywhere and there was nothing to see in the hotel area.
- Had dinner a short walk from hotel - recommended by Sea Song representative - but not very good. It was next to a park in a garden - pretty - but food was just okay and cats kept jumping over the wall into the restaurant.
**Cats are all over Istanbuhl**

Friday
Met Haluk our guide in lobby and went to Old Part of City - about 45 minute drive. Visited the Cistern, Haggia Sophia (Catholic church taken over by Muslims and now is a museum), Blue Mosque, Obelisk, Palace. Had lunch in a great little place called "Green House" (have to check spelling because it was in Turkish). Went to Grand Bazaar and haggled. Carpet tour obligatory with guided tour - but if I could, I would find a way to skip unless you want to buy a carpet. We didn't.
Our traveling companions flew in Friday and we went to their hotel and had dinner nearby at "Portofino's" It was much better than Thursday night. And the area near their hotel - Best Western - was much more fun than our area although just about a ten minute walk from our hotel. We felt safe walking at night.

Saturday
Took our friends on a quick reprise of our trip - not much to add except CAUTION - ask taxi driver HOW MUCH before you get in cab.
We took another cab to port and got on Windstar. This was our fourth Windstar cruise, but the first one on this ship, the Windstar. We have always been on the Windsurf and I liked the smaller size. We met alot more people - and the only downside was the gym was small and the cardio equipment needs to be replaced. But the food, the service, the amenities were all great - and I would choose Windstar ship over Windsurf.

Sunday
Day at Sea.

Monday
Ephesus. Pulled into Kusadasi and we meet our guide Bulent from Samelyi Travel. (GREAT tip I got on Fodors) He was a former archeologist and had so much knowledge to share. We saw Mary's House, Ephesus ruins and St. John's Basilica. Would skip the Leather factory tour and the carpet store tour (yet again!). The town of Kusadasi very touristy, we just drove through and didn't walk around.

--- Will write more later. Got to do shopping for the week (where are my waiters from the ship?) and do wash!
Email with any questions.

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