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Trip Report Terrific Turkey Trip

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Came home yesterday from a wonderful 11 day holiday in Turkey with my folks. Before I left, I heard all the horror stories about Turkey and people asking whether we'd be safe. My answer: YES! We spent 7 full days in Istanbul and 2 days in Selcuk/Ephesus. Istanbul was lousy, chaotic, full of tourists and yet had some of the most amazing sites and restaurants. The mosques were beautiful-especially the small one on the second floor by the Spice Market with the gorgeous tiles as was the Chora Church which was full of amazingly glided mosaics and frescos. It literally takes you breath away. We dined mainly at Sirecki (www.sireckirestaurants.com) which was by our hotel-Hotel Erboy. Highly recommend this hotel-staff and rooms while 2 star are at a high standard and the free transport and free dinner at their award-winning restaurant is an added bonus.

Wasn't all that impressed with the Grand Bazaar or Spice Market as they seemed like trinkets bought in China for tourists. My family did love the market in Kadikoy across the strait in Asia. No pushy touts cheaper prices and more locals shopping. I picked up some Pasabahce tea cups/saucers and teaspoons there that were good quality and made in Turkey.

Probably the best thing we did was get out of Istanbul for a couple days and go to the small market town of Selcuk by Ephesus. The Hotel Saint John was a quiet peaceful retreat in a more residential area of town. It was wonderful to see the old men and women sitting outside their homes as the small children played in the streets. The female receptionist was very helpful and even called around for my mom when she left her bag on one of the dolmas. The weather was gorgeous and warm and we would have loved to spent more time on the Aegean Coast. Finally not enough can be said for the kindness of the Turkish people. From our hotel staff to the Bus Station manager who found my mom's bag in Selcuk to the young woman in Istanbul who helped our family and another clueless group in buying jetons from the finicky machines, when asked to help, all were very helpful to tourists.

There's so many memories to take away-the call to prayer echoing from all the mosques, well-fed stray cats and dogs taking a nap in the noonday sun, the delicious food that tastes fresher than anything in the US, especially the yogurt/tomatoes/cucumbers, riding up the Bosphorus eating Kanlica yogurt and powered sugar, and the sunset walk across the Galata Bridge. Not to mention the awesome site in Ephesus. The Boston bombing took place while we were in Turkey and hearing the CNN talking heads talk about Islam and Muslims made me realize how more Americans need to go to these Muslim countries and see the reality. When I decided on Istanbul, I was very naive about Turkey and why people would go there on holiday. I came back hoping I can convince more Americans to put Turkey (cheaper than Europe) on their itinerary.

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