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Planning stages for Turkey/Greece trip, and could use some help

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We’re in the planning stages of our second trip to Turkey and Greece (we went for 6 weeks, 2 years ago). We’ve got a (very) rough itinerary, and many questions that we’re hoping you might answer. We’ve already seen many of the “must see” sites on our first trip, so we’ll give most of those a pass this time.

We generally have no time constraints, but would like to start the trip in mid-April and finish by the end of May. This was the time frame for our previous trip, and we found that to be very pleasant, but we’re flexible both for the length of the trip and the start/finish dates.

Here are our initial thoughts for an itinerary (specific questions to follow):

First week in Istanbul.

From Istanbul, the next part of the trip would be the Black Sea area. Specifically, would like to see Sefranbolu , Sumela monastery (via Trabzon?), and any places worth seeing along the way. We’re not beach people (not particularly interested in beach resorts), but we do like historical/archeological and particularly scenic sites).

Next, we want to explore the Aegean and Turquoise coastal areas. Specifically, the Cesme, Bodrum, and Datca peninsulas, Fethiye, and perhaps as far as Antalya (which we’ve already seen, and found very pleasant).

We’ll finish the Turkish part of our trip (and the subject of this post) by taking a ferry to Kos, and wending our way to Athens via Patmos, Samos, Chios, and Lesbos. After a short stopover in Athens (again, we’ve seen it fairly well on our first trip), well rent a car and explore the northeast part of Greece (the part we missed on our first trip). Then back to Athens for our flight home.

As you can see, our itinerary and schedule are fairly unstructured, which is generally how we like it. Your answers to our questions would go a long way toward determining our start and ending dates (which of course we’ll need to book our flights).

So here they are:

Istanbul:
Does it make sense to rent an apartment for the week, rather than a hotel? We’ve rented an apartment before, in Paris, but that was for a month and it made sense financially, but also involved a lot of research and legwork. I’m wondering if the effort would be worth it for only a week in Istanbul. A preliminary search indicates that it would be much easier to find a suitable hotel in our area of choice (the Sultanahmet area) than it would a suitable apartment. Open to recommendations here.

Black Sea:
Would it be better to rent a car in Istanbul for this part of the trip, as opposed to hiring a car and driver/guide? How long is the driving time (one way) from Istanbul to Trabzon, and where would be a good place (places) to overnight along the way (“good place” meaning a reasonably nice hotel and choice of restaurants)?
Also, would it be possible to return the rental car in Trabzon and fly to Bodrum to start the next phase of our trip? Otherwise, we’d have to return the car in Istanbul and fly to Bodrum from there.
Another option would be to take the coastal ferries, and hire a taxi or car and driver from the nearest local town to see the specific sites we’re interested in. Is this practical?
Also, are there any important or interesting places to see along the coast, other than those mentioned above?
And finally, what kind of weather could we expect at that time of year? I understand that the Black Sea area gets a fair amount of rain, but I’m not sure what that means. If it’s too incessant or unpleasant, we could scrub that entire part of the trip.

Aegean and Turquoise coasts:
We’d like to start this trip via rental car from Bodrum. Hopefully we can fly to Bodrum from Trabzon, but if we have to return the first rental car in Istanbul, then we’ll fly from there.
How much time should we allocate to see the places we mentioned above?
Also, would Chios be worth more than a day trip from Cesme? If so, we’d plan a stopover there on the Greek part of our trip.

Also, we would not be averse to taking a tour tailored to meet our needs. We don’t like to travel with large groups (generally, we prefer a car, driver, and guide for just the two of us). We booked a tour for our first trip (because we weren’t sure what to expect in Turkey), but because the Icelandic volcanic eruption caused most flights to Istanbul from the U.S. to be cancelled, only 5 people (those of us who made independent flight arrangements) actually arrived for the tour. The tour company (Go Ahead Tours) graciously arranged to run the original tour (which had been cancelled) with just the 5 of us, a guide, and driver, in a cozy 12-passenger Mercedes van. It was an amazing trip, although I’m sure that it wasn’t particularly profitable for the company. So if a small tour (no more than 10 people), could be arranged for all or part of the trip in Turkey, that would be a very nice option. If you know of any companies that provide such tours, we’d appreciate your input.

Sorry that this post is so long. Any information that you provide would be very helpful. Thanks in advance.

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    Hello, since you haven't tagged your thread with Greece, you won't receive any answers regarding the greek part of your trip..

    As for Chios, it is a very beautiful island with lots to see, i think you should spend 3 days there, plus it is convenient located on your way to Lesbos. :)

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    clausar, thanks for the reply.
    I tagged my thread with Turkey, because I'm pretty familiar with Greece and intend to drive when I'm there (except for the islands, of course). Our plans for Greek part of the trip will be to go wherever our interests take us, with no planning other than our Athens stay (which will only be for the purpose of renting a car and flying home).
    But it sounds like Chios deserves more than a day trip.
    Thanks.

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    I will respond to your questions after we come back from the philosophy conference at Assos.

    In the meantime, you may wish to read the following trip report and any others which may interest you among those I posted, since most cover areas you are planning to visit :

    http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/western-black-sea-region-of-turkey.cfm

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    otherchelebi, thank you so much for your reply. I've printed your trip report so that my wife and I can read it. Also looked at your pictures.
    I'm looking forward to your comments when you return from the conference.

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    otherchelebi, glad you enjoyed the conference.
    Now I'm looking forward to your reply to this post (as you can see, I've had no others), as your information and opinions would be very helpful to me in planning my itinerary.
    Thank you.

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    Les, A lazy hot and humid Sunday and the living room A/C down, meaning I can write a bit.

    - It may be a better idea to start your trip on the Aegean and Mediterranean and keep the Black Sea to the end, not only because of the cooler and wetter weather but melting snow from the mountains at the Black Sea coast can cause landslides and flooding may also lead to highway closures.

    - the Black Sea region is almost always wetter than other areas but it is also very beautiful with its similarities to the Swiss Alps and even with some Himalayan sights. Dense forests, especially to the East, lots of streams and waterfalls, small lovely lakes, tea plantations, hazelnut groves, wooden houses scattered on the slopes, high pastures with terrific honey, interesting high mountains with former glacier debris (Ovit mountain), canyons, some castles and ruins of small Georgian churches (There was a small Georgian kingdom which survived for 800 years in the mountains of Eastern Turkey and western Georgia until the early 1800s).

    - Safranbolu is OK but not so interesting anymore since it became too touristy. The city of Kastamonu is more interesting. We like even the small towns Mudurnu and Goynuk, closer to Istanbul more than Safranbolu.

    - April 15-May 30 is terrific for sightseeing, watching the awakening and florishing of nature and the different shades of green, as well as photographing wild flowers, returning or passing of the migratory birds and eating wild salad greens.

    - You have enough time for me to be artistic and philosophical with itinerary advice. Consider taking parts and pieces of the suggestions below to form into a more comprehensive whole :

    - Rent car in Istanbul (with OGS device or KGS card)
    - Drive to Abant lake, Bolu for one night
    - Drive through Mudurnu and Goynuk to Iznik (Nicea) for Second night. (do not miss Sunnet Lake)
    - Drive to Bergama (Pergamom) for third night.
    - Drive to Assos for 4th night.
    - Drive through Salihli and Sardis to Bozdag or Golcuk or Birgi for 5th night.
    - Drive to Alacati-Cesme for 6th and 7th nights. Rest, enjoy the good hotels and restaurants. (DW and DD stayed at small boutique hotel a few weeks ago at Alacati which they liked)
    - Drive through Seferihisar, visiting Teos ruins to Kusadasi. to Selcuk if you have not visited Ephesus, or further to Herakleia on lake Bafa for 8th night. (Alacati, cesme and Selcuk restaurants have the best wild salad greens)
    - Drive through Milas to Bodrum for 9th night and to visit the castle and museum and some of the beautiful bays.
    - If you are lucky and the ferry is working to Datca, take the ferry to Datca. Consider staying at Chateau Triopia, a B&B at Hayit Buku or at Datca town to visit Cnidos and the bays. Definitely buy some sage honey from villages, and maybe some fresh green baby almonds to be eaten for the outer green part (not the pit or with the pit or even whole if really small).
    - If the ferry is not working enjoy the drive from Bodrum to Datca. The highway is almost two hours faster and almost as scenic as the secondary road from Bodrum peninsula to Gokova.
    - Drive to Bozburun for the 10th night.
    - Drive to Fethiye for the 11th and 12th nights. Stay at Fethiye town, (possibly Ece Saray), at Kaya Koy (possibly at Villa Rhapsody, Jean will help with sightseeing and restaurant suggestions))
    - drive to Kas visiting Tlos, Saklikent, Xanthos and Letoon on the way, for nights 13, 14 and 15.
    - Visit Patara, Myra, saint Nicholas, Kekova from Kas or from Uchisar.
    - Drive to Cirali, visiting Arycanda on the way for 16th and 17th nights. Do Olympos, Chimera, Goynuk sights and rest. (consider Canada hotel, Carrie will provide great info on how, when and where)
    - Drive through Antalya since you've already been there, all the way to Anamur, the banana capital of Turkey, for 18th and 19th nights at Anamur. Visit Anemurium and possibly drive up to Ermenek and back.
    - Drive through Aydincik (do not miss terrific mosaic of the old port) to Tasucu, Silifke to stay either one of those locations or at Kiz Kalesi, for 20th and 21st nights.
    - Visit Heaven and Hell sink holes, asthma caverns, Olba ruins, the castles. Eat the yoghurt Silifke seems to be famous for.
    - Drive up to Ankara throgh North of Mersin, if you have already been to Cappadocia. Otherwise drive to Cappadocia through either Nigde (slower but more scenic) or Aksaray, staying near Ihlara canyon.

    - If you by-pass Cappadocia, you can get to Bogazkale (Hattusas) and Yazilikaya for your 22nd night, visiting those two sites and Alacahoyuk the next day.
    - Continue to Amasya from your sightseeing, buying roasted chick peas on the highway to stay the night at a restored old mansion (I forgot the name but it could be Pasa Konagi where we stayed some years ago and was OK) 23rd and 24th nights.
    - Visit Borabaty mountain lake and alparslan village museum on the route towards Tokat in addition to the sights and museum of Amasya on the 24th.

    - Drive through Samsun to Trabzon for 25th night.
    - Visit Sumela 26th and continue to Rize for 27th night. Weather permitting, drive up to Ikizdere or Uzungol the same day if you have time.
    - Drive to Uzungol and then up to Borcka, visit Kara Gol and continue to Camili village (on the Georgian border) in Macahel area for nights 28 and 29. Stay at Tema foundation guest house.
    - drive up to Savsat possibly to stay at Laset Hotel. Visit castle and lake, savour the scenery. See Hell Stream canyon and Ferhatli castle and any Georgian churches which strike your fancy on the way. (John Freely's book lists them) 30th night.
    - Drive to Kars to stay at Kar's Hotel for 31st and 32nd nights. Visit ani that afternoon if you can or the city and the castle
    - Drive to Dogu Beyazit early 32nd day to see Mount Ararat and visit Ishak Pasa Palace and drive back the same day. Lots of military presence on this route with check points.
    - Visit ani on day 33 morning if you could not before. return car at airport if you so arranged it, or drive to Trabzon using the same route you came, for the evening flight back to Istanbul, if you arranged for Trabzon return.

    - Either Avis or Hertz definitely has a Trabzon licensee or franchise and one or the other may also have a Kars office.

    we have a large number of photographs at the following webshots site, and also other trip reports on datca, kekova, sardis, etc. As well as our first blog from many years ago :

    http://community.webshots.com/user/esercelebiler

    http://www.fodors.com/community/fodorite-lounge/fumbling-family-fearlessly-attempt-to-meet-lykians.cfm?39

    http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/october-datca-trip-fumbling-family-fights-the-bees.cfm?8

    http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/daytrip-from-istanbul-iznik-nicea.cfm?9

    http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/to-carine-to-cnidos-with-a-brief-visit-to-magnesia-ending-in-phrygia.cfm?8

    http://www.fodors.com/community/fodorite-lounge/carine-to-cnidos-dining-and-wining-without-fear.cfm?14

    http://www.fodors.com/community/fodorite-lounge/a-trip-in-place-time-and-mind-annals-of-philosophy-and-travel.cfm?33

    http://eserahmetcelebilerblackseatrip1.blogspot.com/
    (there are four parts to this blog, all of which you can reach through the profile)

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    Wow! Lots to digest here, otherchelebi. Thank you.
    I've just printed it out, and will get back after we study it and modify our itinerary.
    Just to be clear, the April 15 to May 30 time frame is for Turkey AND Greece, split 50/50. This is, of course, preliminary, and can be modified as necessary. Time is not a problem (I'm retired), so we can add or subtract time as necessary. That's why it's so important to firm up our itinerary now, so that we can book appropriate flights. Once that happens, our starting/ending dates will be fixed.
    Thanks again, gotta go do some reading and planning.

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    otherchelebi,
    After some additional research, and reviewing information that you’ve provided, we’ve revised our proposed itinerary to better fit our initial schedule (3 weeks in Turkey followed by 3 weeks in Greece, give or take a week on either end). We’ve found from experience that after about 6 weeks, travel tends to become more tiresome than charming, and we’ve decided to save the Black Sea part of our itinerary for a future trip.

    We’ve put more detail into the Turkish part of our trip (the Aegean and Turquoise coasts), which we hope can be accomplished in about 3 weeks.

    Let me begin by listing the things that we’ve already seen on a previous trip, and don’t want to repeat on this trip:
    Canakkale, Troy, Ephesus, Sirince, Miletus, Pergamom, Didyma, Pamukkale, Myra, Phaselis, Antalya, and Cappadocia.

    The first week of the trip will be spent in Istanbul (roughly from April 15 to April 22). We’ll be looking for a hotel in the Sultanahmet area, and there appears to be a number of threads on this site from which we can get suggestions. From Istanbul, we’ll fly to either Izmir or Bodrum (to be decided based upon your recommendations), where we’ll rent a car for the remainder of our trip.

    These are the sites/areas (roughly from north to south) that we’re hoping to see (please forgive the spelling – I have no way to add the appropriate accent marks on my U.S. keyboard):
    Cesme (generally exploring the peninsula);
    Priene;
    Aphrodisias;
    Bodrum (generally exploring the peninsula):
    Golturkbuku, Gumusluk, Yalikarak, Gelibolu;
    Datca peninsula (again, just general exploration);
    Dalaman;
    Dalyan;
    Fethiye;
    Oludeniz:
    Tlos, Salikent;
    Pinara;
    Xanthos;
    Patara;
    Letoon;
    Kalkan;
    Kas;
    Ucagiz;
    Kalekoy (Simena):
    Kekova Island, Aperlai, Apollonia;
    Arycanda;
    Olympos.

    We want to end the Turkish part of our trip in Bodrum on approximately April 30, where we’ll drop off the car and take a ferry to Kos for the Greek part of our trip.

    Now for the inevitable questions:

    Can this itinerary be accomplished in the time allotted? Based on the mileage, this looks like it can be easily done, but at our age (late 60’s), we prefer a more leisurely trip rather than a tight schedule. We can adjust the time as necessary.

    Would it be better to pick up and leave the car in Bodrum, or to pick up the car in Izmir and drop it off in Bodrum (taking into account the cost of the flight from Istanbul, and the penalty for returning the car to a different location)?

    Recommended car rental companies and airlines?

    There will obviously have to be some backtracking to accomplish this itinerary and end up back in Bodrum. Can you recommend a route back to Bodrum that would minimize retracing our exact steps?

    We are particularly interested in the Lycian sites. We’ve already seen Myra, and there are a few on our proposed itinerary, but if you can recommend others along the way, it would be appreciated.

    That’s all I can think of at the moment. I’m looking forward to your response.

    Let me thank you again for the obvious time and effort that you’ve expended in your reply.

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    I am also in my late 60s, but I want my obit to read, "he died very young" even if i die at 110.

    Some more on what you have written :

    - Cesme peninsula has some scenic areas and a few historic sites but nothing exceptional. However it has excellent upscale boutique hotels and restaurants at Alacati, the former and now well-restored greek village.
    - I am not sure if cesme and Priene are enough of an attraction to start your car rental at Izmir airport.
    - The one place you did not mention but I will recommend, Herakleia on lake Bafa is close to Bodrum airport.
    - The Bodrum peninsula has some scenic locations but also some overly built touristic area. (Gelibolu is across from Canakkale and not anywhere near Bodrum by the way). Golturkbuku is the vert plush expensive resort where one small Turkish pizza (lahmacun) and a soft drink costs over $30 at for example Maca Kizi hotel. We have one a free night and a $20 off dinner coupon at Divan Palmyra and are still worried that it will be too costly to spend even two nights there. Yalikavak is somewhat cheaper but not a budget area. Bitez, Gumbet, Turgutreis, Torba, Guvercinlik are the more reasonably priced areas. I cannot see you spending more than 2 nights at Bodrum. If it were me, I would do it before boarding the ferry to the islands.
    - Datca peninsula is superbly beautiful. Only two historic sites from the Greeks but you may get a vision of our delight and dreams from the three times we visited the area. A decent exploration will require three full days. Do not miss the coastal area between Bozburun and Turunc.
    - Your next two bases should be Fethiye and Kas.
    Both of them fun themselves with decent restaurants, seasides and allthe sites you listed within reach by car and/or by boat.

    So you should consider three, four or five hubs. I would probably go for only three, Datca, Fethiye and Kas with a final night or two in Bodrum. This should mean, flying to Dalaman airport and returning the rental car in Bodrum. Some of the major rental agencies may not even charge you extra or not too much if they are both owned operations. Try Avis, national, hertz, Budget. This may be a time when they have some major discounts on their Turkish web sites.

    For internal flights, Pegasus seems to be a good airline but may have a 15 kilo baggage limit. You should check that. THY has 20 kg. and serves free soft drinks, sandwiches and salad on internal flights.

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    OC, sorry I took so long to reply, but we're in the throes of finalizing our itinerary. We're almost settled on the Turkey part of the itinerary. What we want to see remains as stated in my last post, and we will take your advice and operate out of several hubs (not clear yet how many - to be decided as the trip progresses). We haven't decided whether to drive back to Bodrum for our trip to Greece, or to drop the car in Antalya and fly back to Bodrum. I could use your advice on the approximate driving times and total time required to leisurely complete our Turkish itinerary.

    Our problem now concerns the Greek part of our trip (specifically the islands).
    As clausar suggested (in his reply above), I should also have tagged this thread for Greece, as well as Turkey. I would do that now, but I can't figure out how to add a second tag, so I may have to re-post this part of the thread with a Greece tag if I get no responses.

    We're planning to go from Bodrum to Kos via ferry, then move on to Patmos, Samos, Chios, and Syros, in that order (staying at each as long as holds our interest) before arriving in Athens. The problem is that we can't find an easy way to get to Syros from Chios. It appears that all the islands we want to see except Syros are in the Dodecanese or northeastern Aegean (with fairly easy ferry access between them), but Syros is in the Cyclades, and not readily accessible from Chios. We would like to avoid a day-long ferry ride, if possible, and would consider a stopover on Mykonos on the way, if necessary (although we've already been there and would prefer to avoid re-visiting places). The problem we're having is that ferry schedules aren't posted yet for the May 2013 time period, and I'm also having trouble finding flights that don't go through Athens.
    We would consider changing the order that we see the islands prior to arriving in Syros if it would facilitate transportation, but without proper ferry and flight schedules, we're having a tough time with the logistics.
    Any advice (including where to get ferry schedules for the May 2013 time period) would be greatly appreciated.

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    Les, you better post the Greek part of the question on Greek forum. Just start a new post.
    I will share with the little I know...
    I experienced lots of frustration when i was trying to figure the ferry schedule for my May 2012 travel in Greece. I read all the post on this forum, trip advisor, LP.........You will get some good guess but nobody knows for sure.
    Everything turned out OK though. I didn't go to those places you mentioned so I could not comment on the ferries that go to those islands.
    I took ferry from Paleochora to Loutro, then to Skafia; from Iraklio to Santorini, blue star ferry to Rodos, then fast boat to Marmaris. The written schedule meant nothing because they were adding more ferries every day by the hour. You pretty much have to go with the flow, have faith, relax, be flexible, have a good time anyway.
    We carried a laptop so we can book hotel on line. Booking.com has good deals for for Greece & Turkey. Hope this helps.

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    Thank you, Mohan.
    Concerning your reply, our trip is generally as you've suggested (very loosely structured). However, we would need a few hard points to firm up our flights and car reservations. Specifically, we'll need a firm start and end date for the trip, (which we'll determine when we figure out how long the trip needs to be to see what we want), so that we can reserve our flights from Denver. We'll also need to know what date we arrive in Athens so that we can reserve a car in advance, as well as a hotel.
    Given that, while we're currently free to pick and choose the islands that we want to see, I'd like to be sure that I'm in control of the day that we arrive in Athens, and that requires at least some pre-planning regarding transportation between the islands. Hence the questions.

    As you and clausar recommended, I've started a thread on the Greece forum (entitled, oddly enough, "Planning stages for Greece trip, and could use some help" to try to resolve these issues.
    I will leave this thread active for additional replies on the Turkish part of my trip.

    Thank you again for your reply.

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    Hi. Now that I've completed my intervening trips since my last post in July, I'm resurrecting this thread again, because I've made most of what I think I need advanced reservations for (which is very little, since most of the trip will be off the cuff), and would like a little additional advice prior to making my remaining reservations.

    So far, I've reserved my international flights (arriving in Istanbul from Denver on April 16, 2013, and returning to Denver from Athens on June 4, 2013). I've also reserved my hotel in Istanbul (arriving April 16 and departing for Bodrum on April 24, 2013).

    I still need to reserve flights from Istanbul to Bodrum on April 24, and arrange arrange for a rental car for the remainder of the Turkey part of my trip (April 24 to May 4, 2013).

    Here are my immediate questions:

    otherchelebi, in your previous post above, you suggested that
    I might try Pegasus or THY for my flights to Bodrum. Are these still the airlines you would recommend? I suspect that I would be limited to THY because of the 15 kilo weight limit on Pegasus, but I would like to know if there are other options.

    As far as my car rental is concerned, I will probably go with one of the 4 that you mentioned (Avis, National, Hertz, Budget). I just need to decide when to return the car to Bodrum and leave for Greece (by ferry to Kos).

    As I said above, my tentative car rental dates will be from April 24 (this is probably a firm date) to May 4 (this is a flexible date). In that time period, I'd like to see the following:
    Bodrum, Cesme and the peninsula, Datca, Fethye, Kas, boat
    trip to Kekova Island (just a day trip), Antalya, return
    to Bodrum.
    I plan to take the ferry to Kos on April 25)
    The order that I see these places is flexible (we'll play it by ear). My particular question is, have I allowed adequate time to accomplish this? I'm planning on 2 nights in Fethye and 2 nights in Kas (to allow for the Kekova Island boat trip).
    The dates may have to be modified based upon what flights are available to Bodrum, and the ferry schedule from Bodrum to Kos (would also appreciate any info you have on this).

    Thanks all for your help.

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    Sorry for late response.

    I was in the States and then in Southern Turkey. Have two new trip reports by the way. One titled, "From Denver to Virtuous", by the way.

    I very strongly recommend that you fly to Dalaman from Istanbul, do Kas and Fethiye, following the Lycian Way as much as you wish and possibly even Datca peninsula, then drive to Bodrum to take your boat to Kos.

    This will mean an extra fee for returning your car at another airport but you should be able to negotiate that in early May since Bodrum and Dalaman airports serve similar traveler types.

    Another option would be to drop your car in Dalaman airport or even in Fethiye or Marmaris and taking the hydrofoil to Rhodes from either Fethiye or Marmaris. They usually have at least one run a day starting in May, but you should check the web for that.

    The ferry schedules between Turkey and Greek islands for the coming year are usually prepared in March or April but you do not need to reserve too far in advance.

    Trying to cram Bodrum and especially Cesme is not recommended because you will be rushing around and driving too much although the days would be getting longer by the time you arrive in the area. Do not forget that most of the historic sites and the natural beauty require some walking and also driving down side roads which are slow because of turns and bends and width.

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    otherchelebi, also sorry for the late response! I, too, have been on a trip (death in the family, no fun at all).

    I'm in the process of re-assessing our itinerary in light of your comments, and I'll get back here as soon as I can.

    Thank you.

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    Well, that was quick.

    My wife says that we WILL (capitalization means non-negotiable) see the places that I mentioned in my post of July 10th (above), which I'll list here again:

    Cesme (generally exploring the peninsula);
    Priene;
    Aphrodisias;
    Bodrum (generally exploring the peninsula):
    Golturkbuku, Gumusluk, Yalikarak, Gelibolu;
    Datca peninsula (again, just general exploration);
    Dalaman;
    Dalyan;
    Fethiye;
    Oludeniz:
    Tlos, Salikent;
    Pinara;
    Xanthos;
    Patara;
    Letoon;
    Kalkan;
    Kas;
    Ucagiz;
    Kalekoy (Simena):
    Kekova Island, Aperlai, Apollonia; Arycanda;
    Olympos.

    So back to my original question: how many days would be needed to see these places with a car? We've tentatively allotted at least a full ten days for this part of our trip. Our guide book suggests that this should be enough time - is it? We're flexible.

    Also, I'm trying to understand why you suggest flying to Dalaman. We'll probably be driving as far as Antalya (using several bases, as you suggest) from north to south, to enable us to see all of these places, and were planning a quick (non-stop) drive to return to Bodrum. What would be the advantage of starting in Dalaman?

    Again, thanks for your help.

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    Sorry to keep bringing this to the top, but it's crunch time as far as car and flight reservations, and I still need a couple of questions answered before I commit.

    Instead of flying to Bodrum and renting/returning a car there. or flying to Dalaman (as you suggested, otherchelebi), I'm thinking that we'll fly from Istanbul to Izmir (closest to Cesme, where we want to start, and probably a lot of flight choices from Istanbul, owing to its size), and rent the car there. Then we'll complete our itinerary from north to south (Cesme to Antalya), and head back to Bodrum by the fastest route, where we'll drop off the car and head for Greece. Does this make sense?

    Also, based on the above itinerary, I really need a realistic estimate of how many days to allow. As I mentioned earlier, I'm flexible on the ending date in Turkey, and I don't want to short-change myself on sight-seeing time.

    Thanks for any help you can provide.

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    Since you seem to be adamant on Gelibolu, it makes better sense to rent car from Istanbul and start driving because Gelibolu is Southwest of Istanbul, in Europe and only 3.5 hours away. Whereas it is possibly seven hours or longer North of Izmir.

    Izmir, going South after Cesme will bring you to Bodrum before you get to the rest of your other required sights. Hence, there will be no need to drive back to Bodrum airport from Antalya. If you drive to Fethiye from Antalya on the inland route, that can be three hours or so and then you can take the hydrofoil to Rhodes from Fethiye. Antalya Bodrum will require an additional 4 hours and possibly 200 miles or so.

    Consider at least one overnight for each major center and at least three hours for each site including the time to get there. Cesme peninsula can take anywhere from two to five days and Datca about the same. Bodrum and its satellites will be no different.

    Give at least three full days to Fethiye and the same to Kas and environs, if you are willing to spend some of your intercity driving days to visit some of the sites you mention.

    Your last O/Ns will probably be at kemer, Goynuk or Beldibi just before Antalya. Although an overnight at Olympos or Cirali will give you the fires of the Chimera at night.

    That is a minimum of eleven days at lcentral locations plus six days traveling.

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    Yike! I'm certainly glad you responded, otherchelebi. My wife mistakenly thought Gelibolu was on the Bodrum peninsula. It's no longer in our plans (for obvious reasons).

    So, back to reality! The trip will basically begin in Izmir with a rental car. We'll end up in Antalya because it's convenient to Termessos (which we want to see), and a good overnight point before returning to Bodrum (we won't be doing any sightseeing in Antalya, because we've already been there on a previous trip).

    We won't be taking the ferry to Rhodes (again, we visited on an earlier trip), so it'll be back to Bodrum from Antalya. If I read your response correctly, the trip from Antalya to Bodrum (via Fethiye) would be about 7 hours. This is not a problem for us, but since we would have seen the coastal sights on the way from Fethiye to Antalya, it looks like there is a scenic inland road back to Fethiye (via Korkuteli). Perhaps we could actually see Termessos on the way back to Bodrum from Antalya since it also appears to be on that road.

    So if we deduct a couple of days from your estimate (because we eliminated Gelibolu), that leaves about 15 days. We were initially estimating about 10 days (not including the travel day from Istanbul to Cesme via Izmir). We're going to extend that at least a couple of days. I don't anticipate that we'll spend 3 hours at every site (based on our travel history), but we we'll allow adequate time for the sites that we're particularly interested in. If we can talk the rental car company (probably Hertz, because we're Gold Club members) into being flexible about the return date, we can also be flexible if necessary.

    Thanks again for your help.

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