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8 nts Turkey itinerary

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Ok. I am ready to do the final planning for 8 nights in Turkey. We (45 year old couple) arrive in Istanbul on October 16. No kids! It will be a red eye from SFO to Zurich, arriving in IST around 12:00 so we will be tired but have the day still (we are good about adjusting - that direction anyway. The way home is horrible but probably because we are going home).

Istanbul hotels? We can stay at Le Meridien on points. Is that location good? Maybe split it with a boutique hotel with some charm? We are thinking 4 nights. One day will be a guided tour of the major historical monuments. One day will be the ferry on the Bospherous, maybe to Princess Island. Realistically, can we grab gyros or other quick/cheap lunches? We have no clue about Turkish food or dinner restaurants. A realistic budget?

For the other 4 nights I don't think we will make it to Cappadacia. Ephesus is a must. We need to fly to Athens on October 24. I found a flight on Pegasus for $200 from Kusadasi. The ferries are tempting but seem slow, I cannot figure out the schedules and I don't trust anything Greek to operate reliably with a pending economic crisis in low season.

As part of our scientific travel research, we ate at a restaurant called The Bosphorous and the owner insisted we visit Antalya and the surrounding area. Should we rent a car in IST and just drive all over the place? We can stay at the Sheraton in Izmir (Cesme I think) on points. Is that a realistic home base to tour from?

We are mainly interested in the most popular tourist attractions, history oriented. We want to tour, not lay on a beach (plus it is Fall). FYI, afterwards we have 2 nights in Athens then do a cruise to some Greek islands, Croatia and Italy (so we don't have to plan or think for that segment of the trip. Just eat).

I welcome your opinions. Thanks in advance.

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