istanbul, cairo or athens??

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Aug 14th, 2003, 04:39 PM
  #1
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istanbul, cairo or athens??

I am a single U.S. woman considering traveling solo in the fall to one of the cities.
I havent done much research on any of the cities but there are wonderful deals to all three without too large of a single supplement.
I'm thinking of doing some sightseeing, eating some local food, and shopping for hidden treasures in markets...
Which city do you think you get more "bang for your buck" when it comes to food and gifts? Any pros or cons that you can think of?

I would love any advise any tips or any wisdom. : ) (I've never travelled anywhere except U.S., Carribean, Central America, and a bit of Western Europe)
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Aug 14th, 2003, 05:39 PM
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I can only comment on Istanbul, as I have not yet been to Cairo or Athens (and really, neither of them really seem like a place that I would go out of my way to see).

My wife and I loved Istanbul. We were there four years ago to start our honeymoon. We stayed in Istanbul for three nights at the Ceylon Intercontinental before hopping onboard an Orient Lines cruise beginning in Istanbul and continuing to the Greek Isles and ending in Rome.

Regarding Istanbul, the people were very friendly and the Turks really seemed to like Americans. It is really a fascinating city with remnants of centuries and dynasties past remaining. The Bosphorus River is a nice complement to an already beautiful city and the major Mosques create a nice skyline.

Istanbul was also great for shopping, although because we were with a group, the prices were outrageous. We did buy a ton of spices/teas/coffees, etc. at the Bazaar.

Istanbul is a very modern and pretty clean city, at least in the tourist areas and we were rarely haggled by people. Our tour guide taught us the Turkish word for "No", long since forgotten, and after shouting that out to the vendors, they immediately backed off, often I am sure will cursing me in Turkish, but whatever works.

There were some very nice shopping areas in Istanbul as well, and if I remember correctly, even a Ferrari dealership, no doubt for the wealthy people that owned the mansions that dotted the banks of the Bosphorus River. A day cruise down the Bosphorus River is highly recommended.

Good luck.
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Aug 17th, 2003, 07:51 AM
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Hi there,

I have been to all three cities and I would vote for Istanbul. There is much more to see, the shopping is better and you can do a tremndous amount on foot or with taxis at a reasonable rate. We stayed at the Ciragan Palace. You've got fab markets, the mosques are great, 2 palaces to visit and wonderful local food. It is also much cleaner, has less traffic than Cairo and Athens, and more of an authentic feel to it.

Cairo is very dirty, and besides the major Egyptian museum and the pyramids, we were not that impressed. Athens also has some great temples, better food than Cairo, but traffic the rest of the city are not really worth more than 48 hours.

In Istanbul I recommend the underground tours, and up at Topkapi have one of the local tour guides show you around - it is really worthwhile. Definitely take a boat ride, and go check out the great seafood restaurants. Buy local coffee and a turkish coffee "pot" which is brewed in a specific manner, and they are all over the bazaars. Definitely bring back spices such as ras el hanout, chilis, and such.

Essentially, you can easily spend 5 days in Istanbul, but I wouldn't spend more than 2 days in Athens or Cairo. Yes, I think the "wow" factor of the pyramids and the acropolis certainly make Cairo and Athens cities to see, but if you are wanting to spend more than a weekend in the city, I would vote for Istanbul.

We felt safe in all of the cities, by the way. Have fun!!
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Aug 17th, 2003, 04:59 PM
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I read the responses that you got to this post and to the one on the Europe board. I think the recommendations have been unanimous, so far, for Istanbul. I have been to all three places and have to recommend Cairo, or more broadly Egypt.

Athens has the Acropolis and smog. Istanbul is fabulous for all of the reasons that the others have mentioned, and you should visit there, but in June or May.

Only in Cairo can you see the pyramids. From Cairo, you can tour south to the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, etc. and take a cruise on the Nile. In Cairo, during the fall, it will be warm and will not rain.

You could conside also taking a side trip to Jerusalem. Or get an open jaw ticket, to Cairo and returning from Tel Aviv, and a flight from Cairo to Tel
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Aug 17th, 2003, 05:02 PM
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Aviv (or the other way around).
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Aug 21st, 2003, 05:29 PM
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Have only been to Cairo - am not sure I would pick it as place to check out local food - one of the dirtiest places I have ever been. However, Egypt is magical and if you were to venture beyond pyramids and Museum, it would be a good starting place for trip to Egypt.

We spent some time at a few of the local bazaars - main aisles were indeed fascinating with sights and smells, but some of the side and narrower alleys were a little scarey.
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Aug 22nd, 2003, 05:39 AM
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I have also been to all three places and I can say it all depends on what you're going for.

As an Egyptian, Cairo isn't my favorite place...as many have said, it's dirty and pretty touristy. You don't really get the feel for things there...I do however, equate it to New York City. A lot of fun if you know people and the right places to go. However, Alexandria (where I'm from) is beautiful...as well as the south (Aswan, Luxor, etc) which is just breathtaking. Ever consider taking a tour of the country? I think you should be able to do it for just as much money as just staying in Cairo for a few days.

Athens, I think, is my least favorite European City. The acropolis is nice, pretty decent food...not so good for shopping and I found it loud, obnoxious, and incredibly poor (greece is suffering from a very high unemployment rate)...I wouldn't recommend it as a day or two in Athens is enough...however the Islands and the Temple of Delphi are both well worth the money to go visit (we went to Santorini, Rhodas, Mycanos, Patmos)

Last- Istanbul...GREAT PLACE for shopping...plenty of stuff to see and SOOO SOOO CHEAP! I remember being able to eat there for something like $10.00 a day. The interesting thing about Istanbul is how you half the city is in Europe and the other half is in Asia... good stuff.

I'd look into doing a more full tour of Egypt first and if you decide that's not for you, then maybe consider Istanbul.

Good Luck in your travels.
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