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Trip Report September/October in Turkey

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I spent the past 5 weeks traveling in Turkey with my husband at a very leisurely pace. We’re on a 4 1/2 –month trip around the world, and Turkey was our second major stop (the first was 3 weeks in the Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily). We had plenty of time to do an action-packed itinerary, but that’s what we’re doing in our next destination, Vietnam, so in Turkey we chose instead to concentrate on dynamic Istanbul (5 nights), magical Cappadocia (3 nights), and lovely Kas on the Turquoise Coast—the latter because we had free accommodation there for the month of October, thanks to the generosity of good friends who own a villa there.

I wrote my trip notes, including a small amount of selected pictures, on a blog I’m writing about our trip, called “Are We There Yet?” Here's a link, in case you're interested:

http://aprilaroundtheworld.blogspot.com

The Turkey posts start on September 25 and cover all of October. I’ve posted quite a few trip reports on Fodors in the past, but I like having the ability to integrate text and pictures, so I decided to do the blog this time. It’s been fun, and easy to do since I’ve had Internet access almost everywhere. I do tend not to include as much detail as I usually do in trip reports—it’s a bit more impressionistic.

We were expecting cool weather but have been very fortunate--the weather on the coast has been just about perfect since we arrived. We were in Istanbul the last week of September and it was a little cool even then, and cooled off significantly in October. Cappadocia in mid-October was sunny and warm during the day (perfect!), cooling off to sweater weather at night. Kas and surroundings have been gloriously warm--not hot--except for a couple of brief rainy spells. I hate swimming in cold water but found the water temperature in the Mediterranean this time of the year to be eminently swimmable (most recently yesterday!). I think October is a great month to travel in Turkey.

A few words about driving: We rented a car through autoeurope.com and picked it up from National Car Rental in Izmir, after flying from Istanbul on Pegasus. Cost for 30 days: $1440, including full insurance and tax, for a Renault Symbol, manual transmission. We just missed out on a great Internet deal at about 2/3 that price—a special rate for educators—because we dithered about when and whether to rent a car and then the deal was gone, so the car ended up being a bit pricey, but it was great to have the flexibility. We even drove to Cappadocia from Kas—a 9-hour trip that I describe a bit in my blog. The car was a perfect size and had a diesel engine that got great mileage (over 40 miles per gallon), important since fuel is about $9 a gallon in Turkey, and diesel (called motorin) is about 25% less expensive than gasoline.

The roads in Turkey are generally very good, and there’s constant road construction to improve them even more. Some of the construction, particularly along the coast, is quite an engineering marvel. The downside is that it’s leaving lots of ugly roadcuts in the otherwise beautiful white and red limestone cliffs. You have to be constantly on the alert when you’re driving because Turkish drivers tend to pass on a whim (often on a blind corner), ignoring the road markers. There are lots of 3-lane highways that give passing lanes for the uphill traffic, but they’re often used by downhill traffic too, despite the lane markers. Caution is a must! Cars don’t necessarily obey the speed limits, either, though there are radar zones that may result in tickets that eventually show up through your rental agency. Despite the sometimes dangerous driving, though, we never saw any signs of accidents.

There are some pay highways in certain areas, but I’m not sure how extensive they are. One such road goes from Izmir to Selcuk, and we ended up on it though we probably could have avoided it. Someone turning their car in to National the same time we were picking ours up gave us a toll card with a few Turkish lira still on it. When we got to the toll booth at the start of the highway it wasn’t clear which lane we should be in, so we drove through one of them, waved the card at a machine, and hoped for the best. When we reached our exit we knew we had to show our card, but again we weren’t sure which lane we should be in (they had different signs above them). So we pulled over to a little building next to the toll booths and went in to plead ignorance. Turns out that that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do if you don’t have enough money on your card—you go into the building and pay to add more. We added some lira to the card and the agent told us which lane to go through. Very easy, of course, but one of those moments of strangeness you encounter when you are in a new country.

We loved all the places we visited and were happy with the time spent in each, though we could have used at least a day or two more in Cappadocia—it’s a magical place where we wished we could do more hiking. We were thrilled to have five weeks to get to know a bit about at least a few parts of the country. There’s so much more to explore, but there's always "next time."

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