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Trip Report Trip Report - Rome, Greece & Turkey

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My husband, 19 year old daughter and I took a 3-week trip in early May to Rome, Greece and Turkey and I’m finally finding time to write a brief trip report with the highlights. My daughter had spent the spring semester going to school in Rome and was a great tour guide for us. When my husband and I were on our own, we spent time exploring the neighborhood around our VRBO apt – Piazza Navona.

First, our apt. was terrific and I highly recommend it to everyone who wants a little bit more space at a reasonable price. When we were there, it was only $125 euro a night. The neighborhood is wonderful and the apt. was the perfect size for us. It has one large bedroom and bath with a tidy kitchen (including clothes washer) and a fold out couch in the living room. The photos on the web site are very accurate. In addition, the owner, Carla, was super helpful and her driver was there waiting for us at the airport when we arrived.

We ate at some neighborhood restaurants that proved to be good finds. The first was Taverna Lucifero near the Campo de Fiori (Via Dei Cappellari 28). We had wonderful Osso Bucco and pasta there but they specialize in fondu. It’s a small place and the owner was greeting everyone – mostly locals. Here is the link:

My daughter’s favorite place was in Trastavere and called Bir & Fud. When you have finally had enough wine and want to try something different, you can try this terrific beer and pizza place. The owner’s English is perfect and he was incredibly knowledgeable about beer. They have hundreds of different beers to choose from and a lively young crowd. I don’t think they have their own web site but here is some info:

If you are interested in trying Sardinian foods while in Rome, try Perdingianu & Croccoriga near the Piazza Venezia. We loved the food and the service was excellent.

One of the best choices we made while in Rome was to take a tour with Context Tours.
We had a 4-hr tour of the forum, etc. with Patricia and it was fabulous. There were 6 people total and it was more like spending the morning with friends than a tourist experience. Patricia is an archeologist and a Roman native, extremely informative in every area of the history of the city. We are not extravagant travelers and it did seem like a lot of money to spent (75 euro/person), but I would do it again in a minute.

We saw all the fabulous sites that are recommended in all the guidebooks – I don’t need to list them all. One museum that isn’t on everyone’s list is the Museo Barracco. It’s small but the building is beautiful and full of fabulous antique sculpture.

We found the best place for a City view – the Terrace of the Quadrigas at the Victor Emanuele II monument. It does cost $10 to ride the elevator to the top, but it’s well worth it.

We spent the first few days in Athens at the Hotel Myrto in the Plaka. This hotel, although in the budget category, is in a perfect location to enjoy Athens. It is only a couple of blocks from the Acropolis. I think that we paid around $100 for a triple, breakfast included. And the breakfast was really good – fabulous yogurt, fruit, bread, etc. You won’t be impressed by the entrance/lobby and there is nothing luxurious about the hotel but it is priced right and comfortable.

We had a terrific meal at the Restaurant Palea Athina, right down the street from our hotel (46 Nikis). I love moussaka and this place won the prize. Very traditional, family owned and inexpensive.

From Athens we took the bus to beautiful Nafplio. Our hotel there was our favorite of the trip – the Omorfi Poli Pension.
What a wonderful place to stay! Our triple room was huge and perfect in every way, including the price – around $100 including breakfast. Breakfast was wonderful, including homemade orange marmalade. Make sure that you visit the Folk Museum across the street from the pension. We had a standout meal down the street at the Taverna Byzantio – very traditional and tasty.

On to the island of Samos (we flew from Athens) where we only spent two nights before heading off to Turkey. We stayed at the Hotel Samos since we were going to be taking the ferry and the terminal is right across the street. I can’t rave about the hotel, especially the bathroom with no ventilation. The shower was a mess with a curtain that was too short to keep the water inside the shower. As a result, our room was humid all the time. It’s a large hotel, which isn’t really our style. I think that we might have been more comfortable in Kokkari which is smaller and more traditional.

We took the ferry to Kusadasi, Turkey. We stayed in Selcuk for three nights at the Hotel Nilya.
Nilya is a small, family run, cozy hotel that is very comfortable. You can see all the sites and then spend the afternoon relaxing in the courtyard before you head out for evening activities. I would encourage anyone visiting Ephesus to stay in Selcuk. There is some great shopping, the people are friendly and it’s very convenient – you can spend one day at Ephesus and another day visiting the Ephesus museum, St. John’s Basilica and shopping. Our favorite shop was the Ephesian Art Gallery at Cengiz Topel No. 1, run by Ali Bayar. He is a very friendly guy who speaks perfect English and doesn’t practice a heavy pressure sales technique. His brother works down the street at The Old House Restaurant – they make tandour lamb, which is fabulous.

We also spent an afternoon in Sirince, a small town in the hills above Selcuk. They make fruit wines there that are very nice and there is lots of great shopping. You can take the bus or a cab and it only takes a few mins to get there.

We flew from Izmir to Istanbul where we splurged by staying at the Seven Hills Hotel in Sultanahmet. This hotel offers breakfast in a beautiful rooftop dining room and a perfect location for tourists. It’s not inexpensive (about $200) but it is very comfortable and a well run hotel.

We found the food in Istanbul to be outstanding just about everywhere, but some highlights include Ciya (on the Asian side) where we had the best lahmacun ( and the Pudding Shop, where you can just point to what you think looks good and have a seat.

We did an all day tour of the city with Sema Uysal, a fabulous tour guide. She will design any type of tour for you and your family. She is very organized and is an Istanbul native. Her email is

We loved Turkey more than we thought that we would and will go back if we get the chance!