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Trip Report 3 week trip Western Turkey

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After all the advice and info I got from reading trip reports and asking questions on this forum a trip report is coming up slowly. We travelled independently as not big on tours. However spent alot of time dodging those tours.
Itinerary: April 17/18--Vancouver to Istanbul through Amsterdam with KLM
April 18-22 Istanbul
April 22-26 Capadocia (Goreme
April 26-27 Selcuk (Ephesus)
April 28---Aphrodisias and night at Pammukale
April 29-30 Faralya
May 1-3 Kalken, Patara, Kas area
May 4 Simena/Kale
May 5 Cirali
May 6-7 Antalya
May 8-11 Istanbul
May 11-19 Paris
We flew Turkish Air domestic to Kayseri and rented car at airport. Used Autoeurope, a broker and rental was with Budget. Flew Sun Express from Kayseri to Izmir. Again rented car through Autoeurope with Europcar. Drop off in Antalya airport was $70 euros. Did have a GPS of our own and was more helpful then I expected. Seemed to pick up town names when we were in area. Flew Turkish air domestic back to Istanbul. All flights were main airport Ataturak(sp?) except Kayseri to Izmir direct. Used shuttle to airport through our hotel, 2 were included with our stay and 2 we paid for. Felt it was worth it not to lug luggage around and try and find our hotel initially and get to airport on time. No one ever weighed our carry on even tho there were weight restrictions. Maybe we were lucky but that was a concern for me.
Driving was worth it to get the the out of the way spots. Courtesy went out the window. We had a deisel car and were not driving all the time at all but got from A to B
Booked all accomodation ahead except Kale and Cirali.
Used museum pass to avoid ticket lines.
Likes: Turkish people were very helpful and friendly.
Every Hotel, the staff were exceptional.
The food most of the time. Did have a round of Turkish belly mid trip but my husband didn't.
History, markets, culture did not disappoint
Loved mix of fresh squeezed oj with pomagranite juice.
Enjoyed the lokum, pistachio and pomagranite, and I think my husband tried every kind of Baklava he could find.
Used Istanbulkart and ferries
Just wandering and seeing locals shopping and the different streets that specialize in different items from a mile and half of wedding dresses (on way to Chora Church on the bus) to household items or toys or fish in Kadakoy. People watching.
Lights at night
Selcuk market day Saturday
Dislikes---all endless tour buses. If you want to see the highlights expect the buses.
--Tour boats around Simena/Kale middle of day, coming from all directions.
-- watching constantly to avoid cars or buses. I actually got hit by a car when we were out by old city walls a few blocks from the Chora Church. There was a flea market in a field on other side of wall. I was standing near a table by the wall and a car must of come in and decided to quickly turn around and leave. My husband said the I rolled up the rounded back of the car instead of under it and was sent flying. People were yelling in Turkish but I did not pick up on it. Fortunately nothing broken, just bruised and scraped. I had a thick fleece jacket on that probably helped. The fellow who hit me was quick to leave when I said I was ok, but the people at the market got me a chair, paper towels, water and were very kind. My ribs are still sore over month later but didn't let it stop us from doing the rest of our trip.
---actually got comical with all the creative sales lines. Learned to say no thank you in different versions. Most original line was where did you buy you hat. It was hot down the coast so I have a big fun wide rim white sun hat and soon realized that was a line to start the sales pitch.

In addition:
Want to thank kja for tip about sink plugs missing. My husband brought some universal plugs along as he has contacts and it was great to be able to plug sink. As well we did some washing of small items along the way between stops. A few places had full clothes lines whcih we took full advatage of.
Will break down trip as to each stop. But this is a start.

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    Day One- arriving at the airport the line to buy our Visa for $60 US was short but for passport control was huge. Went quite quickly and spilling out into main entrance were all the signs with names on them for pick up for shuttle rides to hotels. Most hotels offer this as part of their service. First impressions were how modern Istanbul was. The tulips were still in bllom so saw boulevard displays as we drove in. We were staying at a small family run Hotel below the Blue Mosque called Tashkonak Hotel. Little one way streets that were 2 way anyway. Turkish drivers are experts at small spaces and backing up.
    Our room was small overlooking the courtyard with a glimpse of the Blue Mossque above. The room was very clean and little slippers provided for us. The Breakfast included eating area was on the roof with a great view of the water and Kadikoy across the way. We arrived around 6 pm so jet lag or not I dragged my huband for a walk up to the Blue Mosque. I carried a little head scarf with me all the time in Istanbul to wear at any Mosque we went into. We must have looked just off the boat as someone latched onto us immediately to offer help then come to his family rug shop. Often you will be told something is closed so that you might as well go with them.
    Needless to say the Blue Mosque is impressive and the stting of the big square with Obelisk and Aga Sophia is amazing. The sky was blue and as lights came on magical. Going back to our Hotel was always a bit of a maze to me but we found our way. Often went through the Arista Bazaar to avoid traffic on the the streets specially in the morning as was a main route for tour buses.
    Day 2-- Through connections we had arranged for a guide for the day. A friend's neice has lived in Istanbul for 12 years and does private tours. Some of her friends work for Istanbul Eats. Leah met us at our hotel at 10. We then walked to grand bazaar through the back streets stopping at a few places along the way. We then saw gold, silver and other workshops behind the scenes. She explained the working of the bazaar, the tea rituals,and showed us obscure little corners. She introduced us to the orange juice pomagranite mix. I wanted to buy some scarves so she helped me do that.She would have helped me buy anything I want as she knows the better shops. We went to a great place to eat in a corner of the bazaar. Eventually we left the bazaar and headed to a rooftop for a view of Istanbul. We wound our way through the local market streets down to the Spice bazaar. She gave us samples of different foods. We then went to Rustem Pasha mosque. Excuse my spelling as I don't have my guide book with me. We then walked around Galata bridge area and saw the fish shops which we ate at another day. She helped us buy our transit cards and showed us how to load them. We took the tram back to Sultanamet and walked back to our hotel. She answered a lot of questions and gave us advise on seeing other sites. She had picked up our museum passes for us.
    All in all a super day and we got our bearings.
    The restaurants close to our hotel were ok but eventually we went further afield to eat.

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    Day 3-4 Ended up with only 2 days to use the museum pass meant for using over 3. The Friday was the only day we could hook up with Leah as she was going to be away when we returned to Istanbul in May, near the end of our trip. Also we had changed our flight to Monday to Capadocia as a Holiday on the Tuesday and a lot of places closed Monday anyways. I was glad we started with Leah as gave us a lot of good insight. Basically when one does the highlight sights in Istanbul the best way is to get there early so to get the jump on the lines. The Saturday we were at the entrance to the Topkapi Palace about 15 minutes early. We chose to go directly to the Harem apartments which does open at the same time. We had the Rick Steves guide book which overall was good. We were able to take lots of photos with no other people around. I loved the beautiful tiles. On exiting we joined the throngs going through the treasury etc but moved quickly. You cannot take photos in that area anyways. Spent time in the gardens and are at back and once again tulips were in their glory. We then went to the Turkish Archaelogical museum which is very close. Enjoyed their amazing exhibit of ancient sarcophagus(sp?) Did mosaic museum which is in Arista Bazaar behind Blue Mosque and close to our hotel later in day. Chose to do the other sights next day as lines were huge. This was 3 week of April and on our return 3 weeks later the crowds were even larger. Turkey and Istanbul are definitely on the grid. That night we wandered around Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia with all the lights and and fountains going. Very impressive.
    Next day we started with Hagia Sophia, same idea early in line. Some areas were under scaffolding and seems to always be different buildings having work done. We then took tram to Eminou and caught bus to Chora Church which was definitely worth seeing. Again we tried to weave between the tour groups.
    Then we had our adventure at the wall which I mentioned earlier I had my car encounter.
    Grabbed a bus back to Eminou and had our tasty fish sandwich by Galata bridge. Wandered around people watching then headed back by tram to our hotel.

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    Tram was regular tram from Sultanahmet area(Blue Mosque tourist area) As to Map, just used Rick Steves book, tourist map from hotel and had an ipod touch that used wi-fi at Hotel. I goggled and copied a few maps before I left home, specific Chora Church area. Go to IETT website for transit info and stop info, has english section. I also read a lot of trip reports on trip advisor and asked questions there as well.

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    Day 5 Flew to Kayseri which is one of the airports for Cappadocia. At airports in Turkey you go through security twice. Just as you enter airport then at gate to flight. Very efficient so goes smoothly. We picked up rental car at airport. Gas is very expensive so helps to have a deisel car. Roads were well marked. Took about hour and half to drive to Goreme. We love to hike so were happy to have trails in every direction. We stayed at Aydinli Hotel. Talking to people we met it sounds like the hospitality in this area is equally wonderful at all the hotels. They offer to drive you everywhere. When we arrived we went to Tourist info and called the hotel as unsure where to find it and in minutes someone arrived and we followed them to our hotel.I had decided to go to Goreme open air museum in the later afternoon and this was a good choice as tour buses were clearing out. We walked back and stopped to eat at Dibek restaurant recommended by Jem from our hotel. Of course it was a cousin but was very good. Sprawling on cushions at low tables. We had not really had lunch so had an early dinner. Wonderful lentil soup and complementary mezes to start. I had downloaded the chapters from the new Lonely planet for Turquoise coast and Cappadocia in I books in my husband's i-pod and worked well. We ate at Topdeck, Seten and Dibek and all were some of best food we had in Turkey.

    Day 6---We did balloon ride with Butterfly. It was one of the first sunny days they had had in awhile. We really enjoyed our one hour+ a bit ride. In light of recent events I'm glad I don't have to make a decision to do it or not. At the time we thought it was amazing.
    We then had second breakfast back at our hotel. We then were dropped off at trailhead past open air museum and hiked Red, Rose and assorted valleys. Ended up at Cavusin at Panoramic restaurant where they called to our hotel when we ready for a ride. We had hooked up with a couple from US and 2 young women from Italy for last part of hike. We ate at the restaurant, had lots of laughs and everyone had instructions to call their hotel for a ride. Not enough room in one vehicle so we split up. We had bought nuts for 3 lira from a couple with a stand on trail. Not sure what kind of nuts as I think they said apricot but doubt that. They were good and seemed to endlessly multiply as we shared with group as well and ate them throughout our trip.

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    Thanks for the very detailed and informative trip report.

    The nuts were probably apricot kernels, smaller than almonds. They are mostly used in pastry but can be eaten roasted or raw. However, large amounts (I mean , more than a pound a day) may actually be toxic. Also, only a few types of apricots have sweet kernels. The bitter kernels are the more toxic ones.

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    Whistler,
    Was your diesel car an automatic one? I could not find details on the rental car web sites about the gas/diesel option...we have an automatic reserved.
    I am wondering if we would have the option to pick gas or diesel...or it's gas only.

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    WhistlerNorth thank you so much for the useful and interesting information in this TR. I plan to print it out as it is so chock full of good suggestions; and we are planning a very similar itinerary. Your experiences have so far been both appalling and encouraging. I really look forward to your continuing posts on this thread....well done, and, again, thanks.

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    Our car was a standard. When I looked at categories for car rentals, deisels and gasoline cars were listed at different prices. Deisel was more expensive.
    I did not let my car encounter slow me down and risk of having that happen must be small. I'm noticing my ribs more now that I'm home, was too busy to let it stop me. The Turkey belly episode is a risk and where we were staying they were surprised that we had been there over 2 weeks and I had not had a problem earlier. We had been using bottle water exclusively for drinking and brushing teeth up to that point. But this place was suppose to have amazing artesian spring water so I had some or Might have been some salad I had which is washed with water or not well enough. I'll never know but my husband was fine and no one else staying there had a problem.
    A 86 year old American lady I met later told me she had come to Turkey for first time in 1958 as her husband was teaching for a year in Istanbul at the University. The first morning she went into a local cafe for breakfast and the men were having something so she ordered it. Was tripe soup or drink. She was sick for 2 weeks, fever aching etc but has never had any problem since and comes to Turkey all the time. Figured she has immunity for life. The first time she went to Kalkan in 1959 it was boat access only so they came overland by donkey. She had her 2 small children with her. Kalkan was just a little fishing village and I took a photo of her photo of Kalkan that is on their wall.

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    Day 7-Finally used our car. We drove to Kaymakli underground city. This one was suggested because it does a loop so you don't backtrack through same route. We had programmed our Tom Tom for Guzelyurt near Ihlara valley but guess there is a street in Nevsehir with same name so ended up in area with those famous words you have reached your destination. We had to go through Nevsehir anyways but didn't realize it had picked some spot of it's own. Reprogrammed it with Nigde which is south on same road we wanted. We had been told to get there before 9:30. It actually opens at 8. It was not busy when we got there around 9:20. Remember we got lost a bit. We hired a guide at entrance and he too had lived there as a little boy until 1963 when government took over and set up as tourist site. By the time we were leaving the tour buses had arrived and it was getting very busy. I think a guide was worthwhile as he explained the set up well and took us on a few detours we would not have done on our own.
    Our next destination was to go to Ihlara valley. Went a liitle further south before turning west. Meant to turn at Derinkuyu but turned at Yesilgolcuk instead. However we saw a more rural Turkey with simpler townlife and mountains that were georgeous. The photo op I missed was an old man lying flat on a donkey carrying a load of branches along the side of the road. Didn't think it would have been appreciated to back up and take a photo. Mind's eye instead. We ended up coming into Guzelyurt from the south. Rick Steves is big on this town. We ended up driving through it and not spending time there. We went to the main entrance for the Ihlara valley north of the Ihlara village. There are 400+ steps down to the valley. Our hotel said park there have lunch at Belisirma and ask for a ride back. I said they will give you a ride? and he said yes you just paid for lunch at their restaurant so yes. Well I was too embarrassed to ask for a ride so we walked back and did the 400+ stairs. Lunch was good and we ate on a platform like a dock extending out into river. It was a pleasant walk and a sunny day. Checked out quite a few churches but they have been defaced and damaged. We should have driven to Belisirma on west side at river level, parked and walked back towards Ihlara to avoid steps. Oh well exercise is good. We then drove to Selime monastery at north end of valley. The later afternoon light was perfect and being on our own we were able to take out time here. It was a highlight for us. My husband was skeptical when I said I wanted to go here as he had seen enough churches at this point but this is huge and carved into wall. Our ticket for the valley was good here as well. From here we went to main highway to north and programmed tom tom for Goreme and seemlessly made our way through Nevsehir rush hour home. The views late afternoon from Uchisar towards Goreme were perfect despite the usual mass of tour buses at same viewpoints.
    A very good day topped off by great dinner at Topdeck restaurant. Our hotel was able to get us in as long as we were finished before 9. One of our managing staff was friend of the owner at Topdeck. Topdeck is a small family restaurant in the downstairs of a home. Reservations are advisable. We were lucky to get in. Seems everyone a cousin or a friend. Met someone who needed gluten free so they were sent to Fat Boys bar and restaurant. Said food was good. An Australian woman with glutin intolerance is married to a Turk and they have this restaurant. The husband is a cousin again of our hotel family. anyways it seems to work.

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    Day 8--- Headed out opposite direction to Soganli Valley. Went through Urgup which looked very nice as well but maybe bit bigger than Goreme. Drove through Mustafpasa which looked interesting and we stopped in on way back, more greek like. Stopped at Keslik monastery on way which had custodian who gave us some history. Was a small fee. Countryside changed quite a bit on drive and went through variety of small towns, some more affluent than others. We had been told to stop at some excavations of mosaics in Sahinefendi. We always consulted our office staff at hotel when going somewhere for advice as well. Found scenery very interesting and quite beautiful. Soganli is a village with historic churches outlying around town.Geared for tourists for the day, the women make small dolls which are unique to this village. They are set up in a square selling them. Seemed to have small mini bus tours not big tour buses. Was an enjoyable day stopping at viewpoints around Urgup on way back.

    TRAVEL GUIDE BOOKS
    I had been able to get an assortment of Turkey guide books from our local library and copied alot of info from them. So other than a few chapters from latest lonely plane on the i-pod touch I just had copied pages as did not want to have heavy guide books. Found Rough guide which was older date 2010 or 11 had alot of good detail and practical info on sights and how to getto places with road name details for access. Not maybe as up to date on restaurants and hotels but I copied alot from it. Hopefully it will have a newer edition out soon. I also had Fodor's, Frommers's, Lonely Planet,National geographic, Blue Moon to look at besides my paperback Rick Steves for Istanbul which I bought. I was able to leave a small suitcase at our hotel in Istanbul with some clothes and Istanbul guide as we had some weight restrictions with some of our smaller airlines. All the planes we were on were very modern and clean. Service was good and fed on Turkish air flight. Don't remeber getting much on Sun express but we only paid $94 Canadian for the 2 of us for flight from Kayseri to Izmir so cannot complain.


    Day 9- Our hotel gave us an early simple breakfast as we had flight just before 9 am. Gave ourselves enought time to return rental car so was early start. The gas tank was only quarter full when we picked it up so told to return same. All gas stations are full service and they clean your windshield etc. I did not want them to fill tank just put in 5 lira and I held up a ten and tried to say I wanted only 5.. There were about 3 guys and they thought this was vey funny so they put some gas in tank held up ten I gave them, indicated they were splitting it in half and laughing handed the entire ten back to me and waved goodbye. It was just enough gas to put us to the quarter tank mark. But this was just typical of the friendliness we encountered in Turkey.
    When we arrived in Izmir which is another modern airport we picked up rental car. I had a list of things to ask/do when renting car. Ask about HGS sticker for tolls which our car had and we got billed at end of trip. Was $3.91 on my credit card on returning home. We had own insurance so sign and check box to decline. Pay drop off fee of 70 euros. When we got car we were suppose to walk around car and point out dings, scratches etc which we did in Kayseri. Which had none as it was a new car. This one they were in a hurry to get us out of paid parking lot as free for only 15 minutes so we forgot completely. A few minutes later we stopped at gas station for pit stop and realized this car has tons of dings, scratches and even had been keyed scratched. However when we returned it at Antalya it was the same parking lot scenario and I said do you want to check the car and they said don't worry just get back in and we will drive you to the domestic entrance. Nothing else appeared on my credit card for that day we dropped off other rhan toll fee. So I think we dodged a bullet as couldn't believe we forgot to check car first.

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    We asked for directions when we picked up car at Izmir and they called europcar in Antalya. We were flying domestic so went to car park at domestic terminal which is in middle flanked by 2 international ones. Think there even was rental car return sign. All the car rental outfits had little offices in trailers at one end of lot. We used Autoeurope , a US company that is a broker. Had used before for Italy and France. I wanted to rent from a main player who had a actual booth at the airport. others just meet you. I'm sure we paid more. another broker is economy car rentals out of Greece which alot of people on trip advisor have used but you don't know actual car agency such as Budget or Europcar until you have paid. They use smaller local outfits as well and definitely are cheaper. I wanted a car that was in good shape to plug my GPS into cigartte lighter etc. I read a lot of variation on the trip reports of what people got for a car. Autoeurope has american and Canadian website, cheaper on website than talking directly. I still talked directly to get information then booked. I was using my credit card for part of the insurance so wanted more info. Booking direct I think you can cancel right up to before pick up while online day before. I paid a little extra and booked one directly with agent and one online. I had a 4 day rental in Cappadocia and 12 day on the coast. One was budget and one was Europcar. Both were fine.

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    Day 10-- We got caught up day before in International bike race on our way to a sight and were detoured out of town for a few hours. A bit frustrating. Wandered town eventually. We stayed 2 nights at St john Hotel, which is year old. Very nice but the street it is on has a lot of people all ages just hanging out. A little gritty but never felt unsafe. Hotel itself is lovely and great breakfast. A young couple manage it, moved to Selcuk with young daughter as felt better place to raise their daughter. The owner is always present in the background. His son Omir was very nice. The first day we arrived just after lunch and on our way out the owner's family were just starting lunch, sitting around the pool, and offered for us to join them for lunch. Was a pasta dish with fresh tomatoes, peppers and yogurt and was delicious.
    I really liked Selcuk as was a working town. Saw a lot of local life. Turkish men socialize a lot at cafes drinking chai(tea) and playing games.
    This day we went to upper entrance of Epheus shortly after 8 and were able to wander Ephesus before masses of tour buses arrived. Sorry about the tour bus theme but in popular spots it is a reality. We listened to free Rick Steves audio we had downloaded on ipod and it was great. paid extra for terrace house and felt it was worth it. Spent about 3+ hours there and took dolmus back to town. Saturday was market day and if you can hit that it was so interesting to just wander. Was huge ane went to late in day. Saw the locals with little pull carts loading up for the week. Fruit, vegetables, spices, cheese, meat etc and then clothes, household items and anything you could imagine. Visited local sites in town as well. Restaurants were good and felt very comfortable here. I don't think I have meantioned weather but from Cappadocia on it was sunny and got warmer to actually hot. Ended up in mid 30's Celcius, or high 90's F. for at least a week. Istanbul to the north was never more than 16-20 with a cool wind but great temp for sightseeing.

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    Mixed feelings about continuing my report with all that is going on at the moment in Istanbul and other areas. Hopefully this will be resovled peacefully though obviously there are serious underlying problems that need to be addressed. So in the interest of those who will choose to keep on planning I will slowly add to my report.

    Day 11---A Sunday so traffic was light as we drove regular roads through Aydin to Aprodisias.Felt no need to use toll roads. Used Tom Tom but was really just to see how well it worked as route was well signed. Lots of fruit stands all along the way. Strawberries were in season and they were the kind that are red all through and ready to eat. freeze or eat, not for long storage or travel.
    Parking for Aprodisais was across from the site with paid parking. Wait to use washrooms in site as free. Washrooms at parking lot are clean but have attendant with fee which we used as thought might be our last chance. A tractor like transit system moves you about quarter mile. I was surprised that it was quite busy as supposedly off the beaten path. It was a Sunday as well, so who knows. Well worth seeing as museum was very good. Unfortunately Selcuk Museum that complements Ephesus is closed until the fall as building being updated. Site is great and we walked it counterclockwise. Large stadium very impressive. We enjoyed this site very much as compared to Ephesus, quiet and again countryside driving there was different and interesting.

    I had been waffling about going to Pamukkale as I thought we might be disappointed. Having Aprodisias on route probably was the deciding factor to see it. We stayed at Melrose hotel and it was fine. Food was good, as we arrived late afternoon and were starving, so had late lunch and they then drove us to to upper gate. It was a sunny day and again it was a weekend Sunday so seemed busy towards pools. We hiked up to the upper ruins and these were not busy. We saw some surprisingly interesting intact odd pieces of ruins. We eventually made our way down to the white pools. This day the water was running all the way down filling numerous pools. I had old socks just in case but my feet were fine. Was a little slippery near the top where more people walk but all in all easier than it looked and I expected. Light was perfect late afternoon and I got great pictures of some pools as I was able to get shots that looked like no people around. I had talked to a couple at our hotel in Selcuk who had been here earlier in week and they said hardly any water was running. So maybe being on a weekend they run more or we were just lucky. I understand they switch around as trying to restore whiteness by letting sun bleach the stone.
    We had a good dinner back at our hotel which we walked back to from the bottom pools. Again service was great and genuine. They had told me I could arrive early if I had chosen to but glad we did Aprodisias on way.

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    Realized I spelled Aphrodisias wrong earlier missing the H. Also spelled Afrodisias some guide books. You drive through Denizli (quite big city with freeway system through it with some areas where road goes under in tunnels)to get to Pamukkale. We came from the south as we went through Tavas after Aphrodisias rather than back tracking. We did use the Tom Tom here but probably would have been ok without but it was helpful. We are new to using a GPS as we usually have found a map adequate. We had a Michelin Turkey map#758. Was more useful on coast than some areas in Cappadocia. Probably could buy map locally at gas station with more detail but i had it ahead of time and was adequate.

    Day 12,13-- Left fairly early and retraced route back through Denizli as we headed south on E87. On advice from people on trip advisor we drove route through mountains that went through Cameli. Definitely a secondary route with sections under construction but small towns and lot of rural life and scenic. Came in north of Fethiye. We stayed in Faralya which is through Fethiye and Oulendiz on coastal road. Road climbed up out of Oulendiz becoming narrow and bit rough bit still paved. Was definitely scenic. Parts of Lycian trail run through here. The Watermill had been recommended to us. Unfortunately this was where I had some stomache issue. Weather was great so my huband explored on his own. We had 2 nights here. Harder access to get to beaches but was beautiful. Watermill itself is lovely, good food, nice accomdation, pool. A favorite with the Germans and hikers. On leaving we went to KayaKoy the Greek ghosttown that was created in 1923 when Ataturk sent Greeks back to Greece.
    In hindsight I think for a first time staying closer to Fethiye might have given easier hikng and access to beaches and better choice. Oulendiz is the famous lagoon bay. Also I didn't think it was going to be warm enough for a gullet cruise but would have been fine. Most are a week long though and need to choose carefully. Some start further up coast in Bodrum and Marmaris. Also I regret not spending time in Daylan and Datca Pennisula but only had so many days and chose Pamukkale which was quite to the east away from coast and Faralya instead. As season goes on I'm sure the gullet cruises are very busy and lots of boats. Pronounced "GOULET" like Robert Goulet

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    Day 13/14/15---Our time from Cappadocia on our weather was sunny and gradually hotter. The Watermill is found under Die Wassermuhle as well, german for Watermill. We had a very nice unit with large deck shared with 2 other units. Had our own kitchen where if staying longer and organized could have had food for our dayhikes etc. Breakfast and dinner were included, with lunch available. Driving from Faralya to our next stop we could have gone a shorter route over the mountains but chose to backtrack through to Fethiye and see KayaKoy on way. We later ran into Brigitte the owner and Angelika, her manager, at Patara beach. They had a free day so decided to refamiliarize themselves with the route over the mountains and said it was lovely.
    Our next stop was at Lycia House in Islamlar 15 minutes above Kalkan. This was reccommended by a friend. A beautiful guesthouse run by an American called Peter. The house was an oasis with infinity pool ( new this year) and great views. The home and furnishings are first class. However the road up to it is curvy and potholed. Always seemd longer going up than going down. That is when we found out there is no personal tax or property tax in Turkey to be directed to local roads etc. "Benzene" or gasoline is a main tax revenue.
    We drove down to Kalkan to eat at night and did daytrips in all directions during our stay. Kalkan is very popular with Brits. Eating at Trio, we were asked where we were from as not British ( We're Canadian). Told 90% of tourists in Kalkan British. Old town was small and interesting but hillside to south up to highway all concrete condos.
    Did day trip to Patara ruins and beach. Quite liked the beach, were lazy and rented lounge and umbrella for 10 lira all in for both of us. Was a sandy beach and easy to get in and out of water. Another day we went to Kas on it's market day. Liked it better than Kalkan though I would think I would stay in old town rather than out on pennisula at the fancy resort hotels. None looked like they had easy beach access but I don't know for sure. On way back we stopped at Kaputas beach after lunch at roadside restaurant just south of Kaputas. Peter rx this to eat at as one of the brothers goes fishing in morning and fish always fresh. Struck up converstion with an American woman there with a friend. She has lived in Kalkan for the last 25 years, so thought to myself, says something if she is here. Later that evening saw her at Trio in Kalkan again. At Kaputas they wanted more than double what Patara charged us for lounge/umbrella etc so passed. We had our own beach towels. Small bay that looks gorgeous, with lot of steps down. Was small stones/pebbles not sand. Without beach shoes hard to get in and out of water.Bit more of a drop off. Later bought nice Turkish beach towels in Kalkan. Wished we had made it to Pinara ruins as Peter says he likes it alot as in natural setting but our schedule got changed when I missed some time in Faralya so did KayaKoy on our travel day instead.
    Kas would have been an option to stay in as well but worked fine being centred in Islamlar. Kas probably would have been an ok place to relax/chill out but don't think it has a great beach area. Forgot to mention the drive south of Kalkan to Kas and sections through to Antalya are absolutely beautiful with that turquoise water.

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    Day 16/17---Had left these 2 days unbooked as to see what weather was like and where we wanted to go. Decided to go to Simena Kekova/Kale for 1 or 2 nights as weather was sunny and hot. Sent email day before to Simena Pansyion and heard reply quickly. It is boat access (or trail along mainland) so we were told to drive to Ucagiz and park in square and tell them we are staying at Kale and they will call him (Yasin Can). As you approach Ucagiz you can see Kekova island /bay and ocean and is very beautiful. This was a Saturday but just barely into May so not super busy yet. The pansyion is Yasin and his wife Hatice's home as well. They have 4 rooms, modest but clean with nice decor. We were the only ones there. He also manages the family's Kale Inn. Very pretty setting but the constant drone of tour boats from late morning til around 5 in afternoon. They were very gracious hosts. We were able to swim and use lounges at the dock restaurant area at Kale inn. We went to one of the restaurants Rx in the lonely planet and we were the only customers. They wanted 100 lire for this little fish that was frozen solid. She kept saying it is fresh from fisherman yesterday. I said it is frozen solid and shes says I paid 80 lira for this fish and it is not very frozen. We declined and had some lamb shish elsewhere. We climbed up to the fortress above the town and hiked a little of the Lycian trail. Met a British couple who have retired to Samos, the Greek island. They were doing sections of the lycian trail where their luggage is moved and they just carry their needs for the day. It was 35 degrees celsius instead of around 25 for this time of year. I think it was world tours and they just pick the sections they want to do and move from accomdation to accomodation with transfers to trail head. Lycian trail is 500 km so doing a weeks worth of day hikes from select sections. Felt this section ending at Ucagiz was great as had gone through wonderful ruins in middle of nowhere with no people and had great water views. Tempting to do another time if not too hot. Yasin mentioned it goes up to 40-45 in August. We decided one night was enough and emailed ahead to Cirali to check on a place to stay. Everywhere we stayed had wi-fi so possible to email to check on booking places, as we did not have phone. More on this next leg later.

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    We had a very good breakfast and some of the best cheese of our trip in Turkey. Yasin took us out in his boat for a tour of the area before the tour boats arrived. Great swim in a little bay on Kekova. There were a few sailboats anchored just outside the bay. We paid extra for this. The Simena Pansyion has a beautiful mosaic tile floor on the lower level where we ate. I asked Yasin if his place was called the Olive Grove before. He laughed and said about 8 years ago when he was getting ready to open a woman writing a guide book was there and as he had not named it yet she called it the Olive grove however he chose the present name. The new edition of Lonely planet still has it as the Olive Grove. Yasin took us back by boat to our car. I had the impression that he has mixed feelings about the popularity of his village to the tour boats route. So much of the day they are like part of the show with very little peace and quiet. Yet it enables them to make a living. He was very easy going and accommodating to our needs.
    We then headed toward Cirali. Most of the drive was very scenic. We did stop at Myra briefly. We had decided to stay at Canada House in Cirali. We had a nice modern bungalow. This is up the road away from the beach. We drove to a parking lot at the end of the beach closest to Olympos and walked down the beach to the ruins. The beach is long and small rocks/pebbles not sand. The ruins are spread out and partially hidden throughout a forested area. This side of the pennisula is a little bit like a rain forest compared to the coast just north. We ate at the hotel around the pool and food was fine. Bungalows all have clothes lines so took advantage of that. The next morning we rode bikes through the length of Cirali village. Road was not as bad as I had read about. Bikes were not in the best of shape but we managed, quasi brakes. I had considered The Kibala hotel and noticed it had a lot of high end cars parked out front and looked nice. It was just down the road from Canada house and not on the beach either. We also thought Aida and Odile hotels looked pretty good as well and closer to beach. Arcadia was at far end of road. This area did have a 60's feel to it and I'm still looking for that elusive perfect beach. The sand at Patara was pretty close but it is a park and town of Patara at least 3/4 mile away inland.
    We then drove towards Antalya thinking we might go to the ruins at Termessos to the north. Next thing we realized we were into Antalya and not far from old town section and not really organized with food and water to go hiking. It was around 35 degrees celsius, which is very hot for us so we decided to find our Hotel. When we went through gate of old town I asked where Dogan Hotel was and a fellow walked ahead of us and basically pointed the way. The hotel parked our car up a little dead end street just up in front of the hotel. We had very nice updated room overlooking the pool courtyard. They were doing some renovations in some wings of the hotel but never bothered us. It was very quiet at night. We headed down towards the water front and had lunch at the Mermerli Restaurant overlooking water and strip of beach with lounges and umbrellas. We walked around harbour and got an offer to go out in tour boat for a very cheap price we couldn't refuse. Was a pleasant diversion and gave a different view looking back at the shoreline. To continue-----

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    Day 18/19---Day 18 evening we walked out of old town area (Kaleici)into non tourist area. Very vibrant, full of locals and lots of young people. We ate at the Parlak Restaurant just off pedestrian Kazim Ozlap Caddesi. It was full of locals and a few tourists. Was very good. Famous for charcoal chicken and mezes. This area is just adjacent to Tram line. clock tower, Kale Kapisi (Fortress Gate) square, and TI. Heading east on Tramline st are some banks with ATMs. We walked around area after dinner as shops open late. Lots of shopping going on. Headed back into Kaleici which was fairly quiet as early May and not high tourist season yet. Day 19-We wandered Kaleici area. I bought a leatherand Kilim purse. Bargained for it, young man in store phoned his boss part way through. Boss threw up his arms eventually and said you have champagne taste with wine budget. I corrected him with beer budget, all done with good humour.We eventually agreed on price. Was made by Kilim arts from Istanbul which I eventually saw a store of theirs 2 blocks from our hotel in Sultanamet. I didn't go in as I didn't want o figure out whether I got good deal or not. I do like my purse tho. We decided to catch tram and go to Antalya museum. Easy to do and road runs parallel to shoreline. Enjoyed museum. Looks like some park and beach areas down this way. We passed on driving out of city to Termessos again deciding to spend day in Antalya. It was too smoking hot for us and would take better part of day so opted for day in Antalya. We eventually went down to small beach area at Merameli using our towels bought in Kalkan. Rented lounges and umbrellas and escaped the heat for awhile. Then back to Dogan to enjoy pool there. We decided to go to Yemenli restaurant in Kaleici, new restaurant by Sabah brothers who have hostel, apartments and arrange tours. I know someone who arrived here last fall with no reservation and instead of the Sabah hostel was offered an apartment at very low price. He then did bus tour to Cappadocia and back for cheap price as well. He paid 100 euros for tour and found out later others paid 75. He made great friends with some British and Russian women who each own homes on the coast so is back now visiting them. We enjoyed our dinner here and again waiter was very friendly. I finally discovered EFES dark beer which I had for rest of trip when available. Regular size bottle but same price as their large bottle efes but I liked dark much better.

    Day 20--- Wandered around Antalya in morning. Flew back to Istanbul today. Returned car uneventfully as I hope no surprises later on my MC.Back in Sultanamet, as today was my Husbands Birthday we wandered up main street of tramline to eat at Faros. Ate inside away from smokers. Had a lovely dinner.

    Day 21 Istanbul--Staying back at Tashkonak hotel again. Paid for 2 transfers out of the four we needed as 2 were included with hotel as we were there 7 nights. Cost 25 euros but convenience worth it and they arranged everything from hotel and every pick up was on time. Wandered up and did Cistern first thing. It is not on museum pass so left for later,found quite interesting. We then just wandered back to Grand Bazaar and did a little more shopping. Found our restaurant for lunch by accident that we ate at earlier in trip. We returned to it later in day and it was good once again. Wandered over to the large Suleyman Magnificul mosque. Street we wandered down was full of Nargili pipes for sale. Was a very impressive mosque and not as busy as Blue Mosque as liitle out of the way. We then went back to Grand bazaar and had lunch as not far away. We then just wandered the streets and found our way back to Spice bazaar. My husband was sure we were lost but heading downhill and slightly west we were fine. Took lots of pictures of street vendors and life in general. We then took local ferry to Kadikoy, friendly converstion with former university Professor on his way home. This is on Asian side and locals area. Wandered up into their market pedestrian area. Fabulous fish markets that I did not see in our area. Ate a light meal at Ciya Sofrasi as we had heard so much about it and bought some more Baklava at a shop for later. Ciya was very different but good, think more Syrian. Was fun day just absorbing the energy of the city. Caught tram from Eminou back to Sultanamet after returning ferry from Kadikoy. Good views of city from ferry. Istanbulkart was handy. Found that tourist area around Blue Mosque etc was even busier than when we started mid April. Was May 9th now.
    Other restaurant we ate at near our Hotel were Buhara 93, good but basic, and Sultan Kosesi, ate here 4 times, lunch and dinner. I mentioned Faros earlier and Amedrus Cafe was excellent just down laneway from Faros. All theses are in tourist area so catering to tourists.
    Day 21--- Day was not perfect(weather in Istanbul was around 16-19 degrees celsius with cool wind so layered) but decided to do Bosphorous cruise. Mix of sun and cloud to start. We did not get to harbour Eminou as early as I wanted as we made trip back to hotel unexpectedly to leave some money from ATM in safe and grab extra layer. We managed to get seat inside fairly close to window. Once we got moving I was able to find good spots out the back to take photos as people moved around. We took trip as far as Sariyer which we almost missed getting off at as they dropped one of their stops. Saw sign in time and got off. Didn't want to spend extra time at end of route. Had a nice seafood lunch is sawiyer and wandered around a bit. Sun and blue sky came out as we went up the strait. We caught bus 25E back to Kabatas then tram back to Sultanamet. My husband opted out of funicular up to New district so missed this area. Our last night in Istanbul so packed up then wandered up to enjoy lights of blue Mosque and Sophia Hagia at night time. Our hotel was not super fancy but were super friendly and helpful, storing small bag of clothes while we travelled in Turkey the middle of our trip to lighten our load for weight restrictions flying domestic.
    Found a little sandwich place up by tram station to have lunch for later and our last baklava. We flew onto Paris mid afternoon for our next leg of 8 nights in an apartment.
    Will add a few more insights later. Have to thank all the others who have written trip reports as takes time hence why this in bits and pieces. Hope otheres will appreciate some of my advice and mistakes as much as I was helped by other reports.

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    > I actually got hit by a car .... My ribs are still sore over month later but didn't let it stop us from doing the rest of our trip.

    OMG, WhistlerNorth! Sounds like you survived with your sense of humor intact - kudos! I hope your ribs have healed and all that remains is a story worth telling.

    > Want to thank kja for tip about sink plugs missing. My husband brought some universal plugs along

    I'm glad you found the tip useful and were able to plan accordingly! I've been traveling for the last month, so just now saw this message. It made for a nice moment in that not-so-nice process of ending a vacation - thanks!

    > Turkish drivers are experts at small spaces and backing up.

    LOL - Not a statement I would have expected, given your experience!!!

    > The photo op I missed was an old man lying flat on a donkey carrying a load of branches along the side of the road.

    I have a photo of something almost just like that, taken from above - I just happened to see it while looking out of a hotel room. It was an image that really spoke to me about the differences in lives and ways of living that I feel so fortunate to experience when traveling.

    >so we walked back and did the 400+ stairs.

    Bless your hearts! I'm SO glad I avoided that.

    > I think we dodged a bullet as couldn't believe we forgot to check car first.

    FYI, I always take pictures of the car from several angles upon both pick-up and return, which can often be done quickly enough to avoid problems when staff are in a hurry. Not that it will always work....


    Sounds like you had quite a trip - thanks for posting!

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    While writing my report I have read elsewhere about taking photos of rental car. Something I will do for sure in the future and hope I'm not opening any surprise charges in next few months on my credit card statements. As to expert drivers, was more what I witnessed by the taxis, shuttle drivers in small streets around our hotel in Sultanamet. Lots of streets were marked one way but did not matter. What happened to me out by old wall near Chora was what I hope was an one off. Ribs are better for the most part now.
    Curious how was your trip to Switzerland as we spent 3 weeks there 3 years ago this fall. We did a lot of hiking but also spent time around Vevey on Lac Lehman walking vineyards and taking ferries ( Lake Geneva)
    Sorting my pictures gradually of Turkey as I took a ton and realizing how many special moments we really had.

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    > Ribs are better for the most part now.

    Glad to hear that!

    > Curious how was your trip to Switzerland

    It was wonderful! Thanks for asking. It might take me a while, but I will post some of my observations when I can.

    > Sorting my pictures gradually of Turkey as I took a ton and realizing how many special moments we really had.

    That's one of the wonderful things about going through one's pictures, isn't it?

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    Thank you for such a great, detailed report. I have all but finished the bookings for our trip in September/October and will try to be disciplined about writing reports as others' are so helpful and interesting.

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    would you be willing to share Leah's contact details? We are staying at the Hotel Tashkonak in late September 2013 and would very much like a reputable guide to take us on a day tour similar to the one you mention. We would feel more comfortable with someone recommended and you do mention she does do private tours so hoping she is looking for clients??

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    Just happened to look at forum today as have not for awhile. Our guide was Leah Mortensen who has a spot on her mother's Catherine Mortensen's website. Just google her name with Istanbul. I have her email address elsewhere if this does not work. Catherine does 2 tours a year travelling around Turkey and imports rugs and textiles. Catherine was a great help to me organizing my trip to do independently. My brother's friends are friends of Catherine's and had done a tour with her last fall. On checking her website I realized from a blog she had written that I also had worked with, and have known her sister for years. Leah, her daughter, has lived in Istanbul for over 12 years and city tours are her business and we had a great time. I know she is quite busy but not sure if recent situation in Turkey has made a difference. I know at one point early on she was helping clients who had arrived off a cruise ship, relocate hotels as their one booked through cruise was near Taksim square though reassured by cruise sources that it would not be a problem. We liked Tashkonak Hotel , modest but clean and staff are great. Do take the transfer they offer to and from airport. We had room on 3rd floor on courtyard side and did not hear any street noise, think room 309. Of course you will hear call to prayer as you would anywhere but not as early as we were there in the spring. Probably good time to go as might be less busy than when we were there in spring.
    Just curious WhistlerSue if you actually live in Whistler.

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    yes, we have lived in whistler for 20 years! Do you live in Whistler? Thanks for your comments and feedback ... will try to track down Leah through her Mom's website. Will also ask for a courtyard side room at Tashkonak Hotel ... did you have twin beds or do they have queen sized beds? Cannot sleep with my husband in a double bed, so have booked twins in most places unless they note specifically that they have queens or kings!!

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    As to bed size, don't remember not having queen size but stayed in so many places so not sure. Room was small but not much time there. Could see up to back part of Blue Mosque. Definitely remember we had twins at Dogan in Antalya. Never actually met the person at Tashkonak that we e mailed back and forth with, but they were very accommodating. Our last morning we walked down to seawalk park that is across main road below area we stayed in and went for walk. Lots of locals fishing. Just make sure you use crosswalk signal as very busy road. Actually the one you come in on probably. Was a respite from hub bub of Sultanahmet. This walk goes for miles in either direction , with lots of locals running and walking
    I live most of my time in Whistler as well. Built home in early 80's in Alpine Meadows. Quite the co-incidence. Let me know if any more questions. Are you going elsewhere besides Istanbul?

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    we land in Antalya, then head up the coast to Fethiye to catch the ferry across to Rhodes. From Rhodes we are headed back to Bodrum by ferry, then fly out to Kayseri. From Kayseri we are flying into Istanbul for 5 days before flying back to Gatwick and home. Will be in Turkey for 3 weeks.
    After living on Easy Street in Tapleys for years we downsized in our retirement to one of the Mature Action Community senior's housing units in Cheakamus Crossing. Love it love it love it!
    thanks for your tips from your travels ... have printed out your comments and will take it with us when we leave.

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    Sounds like a great trip. It is all good and you'll really like Cappadocia and their hospitality. I would be interested on hearing your island adventure. I thought maybe another time we would do a Greece Turkey combo as well. Have fun.
    On another note I have heard only positive feedback from people who have moved to Cheakamus Crossing. Might be a good option for us at some point too.

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    will keep you posted!
    Cheakamus Crossing is amazing ... any upcoming opportunities for seniors are always posted on the MAC website (if you are a member of MAC)or you can e-mail info@whistlermac.org for details anytime.
    Have not heard back from Leah Mortensen ;>( so will ask at the hotel if they have any recommendations (cousins?! family members?! etc.)who can take us touring.

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