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AP6380's Trip Report: Turkey and Southern Italy (Calabria)

AP6380's Trip Report: Turkey and Southern Italy (Calabria)

Jun 30th, 2005, 03:32 PM
  #1  
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AP6380's Trip Report: Turkey and Southern Italy (Calabria)

I don't think I will be starting the actual report for awhile, but I wanted to post just in case anyone has any questions.

Our itinerary was as follows:
3 nights Istanbul at the Blue House (Mavi Ev)
3 nights Kalkan at Hotel Pirat
2 nights Bodrum at the Su Hotel
3 nights Kusadasi at Hotel Kismet
2 nights back in Istanbul
7 nights at my family's home in Calabria

Turkey was everything I had hoped it would be. Istanbul was very interesting, we couldn't walk a block without talking to someone. The men were very forward, asking me questions about whether I had a boyfriend, etc. in front of my father! We were often mistaken for Turks and had some interesting experiences because of this.

Please ask any questions and I hope to add to this thread soon!
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Jun 30th, 2005, 04:11 PM
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This has all the makings of a wonderful and interesting trip report! Will look forward to hearing more about the Forward men, the food, the shopping, the sights and how lovely to have family in Calabria
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Jun 30th, 2005, 04:25 PM
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I'm going to Turkey July 12 . . . please post details . . . I'm sitting here hanging on your every word!

Thanks,
Sandy (in Denton)
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Jun 30th, 2005, 04:30 PM
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I demand to know the restaurants you ate at in Istanbul. I have asked repeatedly on this forum for restaurant advice in Istanbul, only to be rudely ignored by the hoi polloi. The only person who was nice enough to assist me was the male nurse from Texas--Seamus.

My Gucci, is it that hard to look in your Hermes agenda and give me a few restaurant names and addresses? What, are you all to busy playing canasta with Imelda Marcos to help me?

Thank you,
John G.
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Jun 30th, 2005, 04:34 PM
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By the way, Sandi, I will be in Istanbul on July 16-23. If you are wearing capris with white Keds, please do NOT say 'hello' to me on the street.
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Jun 30th, 2005, 05:22 PM
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My father & I departed on June 7th from Newark and flew Alitalia. I am in my late 20s and my dad his late 50s. I always pack a lot and had read the warnings regarding airlines being very particular recently in sticking to weight guidelines. We observed at check-in in Newark one employee telling a passenger that he had to check-in his carry on. We got really lucky, the man we had just asked me to move some of my things in my carry on into another bag. I had just bought a carry on with wheels that was regulation size, but definitely on the larger end. When we boarded the plane my bag wouldn't go overhead, and when I asked an attendent where I could put it, she replied "I don't know," and turned her head and just kept standing there. I've always heard the complaints about Alitalia attendents, this was the first time I had experienced a really unhelpful one. My bag fit under my seat and we were good to go.

We had about a 5 hour layover in Rome before flying to Istanbul. Getting a Visa upon arrival was extremely quick. We arrived in Istanbul around 5pm. We grabbed a taxi out front, and I had my reservations about him to begin with. It was just a feeling I had. I at least made sure it was a metered taxi, although this doesn't mean that you won't be taken on a longer ride than necessary, but it makes me feel a bit better. We showed him the hotel's name and address, (Blue House, or Mavi Ev) and he proceeded to being us to another hotel in the area with "Mavi" in the name. The taxi driver asked a man on the street for help with locating our hotel, and this man tried to convince us to go to another hotel that he knew about. I promptly said "no" and our taxi driver found the Blue House.

We were pleased with the Blue House and for our first 3 nights had a room with a great view on the Blue Mosque. The call to prayer was of course very loud, but my father really enjoyed it and would open the windows to listen to it. At night I slept with my ipod on listening to ocean waves to help me sleep, so I wasn't woken up by the call to prayer too often. The shower in the hotel was very strong, and the decor was charming. They have free internet access and the breakfast selection was quite good.

That first evening we didn't do too much after checking in, we just took a walk and had dinner. I was somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of people that were talking to us. Even though I work in Manhattan and have lived there, this was a different level of intensity. Many of the men approaching us had an angle and wanted to sell things, but once we said "no" firmly they would leave us alone. We also had many interesting conversations with people. The men trying to sell things often would say hello to us in 5 different languages to try and figure out what we spoke.

Many young men would approach us and feel us out to see if we were a married couple, and as soon as they found out we were father & daughter they would ask me a million questions about whether I had a boyfriend, etc. None of them were deterred by the fact that my dad was right there. It was hilarious. I started to realize that wearing my clothing that covered me the most would be beneficial in Istanbul. That first night I had capris and a long sheer caftan on with a tank top, but felt like the way I dressed still was very attention getting. From what I had read prior to going I realized that tank tops wouldn't be a good idea in Istanbul, and this was definitely confirmed that 1st night!!! I have never felt so inclined to want to cover up in a city on vacation.

That first night we ate at "Buhara," on Nuroosmaniye Cad. No. 7, Cagalogu (I think that's the address!) It was about a 10 minute walk from the hotel. It was tucked in a backstreet where there wasn't too much tourist traffic, and that's what drew me in. The mezes were great and they served wonderful, fresh, hollow bread for dipping. Our waiter told us we looked like "typical turks" or possible Greek. We tried 3 mezes, 2 kebabs, 3 desserts and 2 Rakis and a bottle of wine, the bill came to about US $70.
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Jun 30th, 2005, 05:47 PM
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wj1
 
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Hi AP6380.

I'm really looking forward to your report and I'm sure I'll have many questions to ask you as we prepare for our September Turkey trip.

First question: Was it the capris that were a problem or the sheer caftan over the tank top? I'm hoping to wear capris or just-above-the-knee skirts. Thumbs up or thumbs down?
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Jun 30th, 2005, 05:53 PM
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This is Very interesting, please continue!!

JohnG LOL
If Sandi is like me, she will wear those white keds and look for you just so she can Scream your name out and give you a hug LOL
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Jun 30th, 2005, 06:28 PM
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JohnG, poor thing. I don't want you to starve in Istanbul and I would be happy to send you a long list of restaurants that I have compiled for my upcoming trip which includes the actual recommendations and reviews from a number of sources, including the Louis Vuitton City Guide and Departures (the American Express Platinum card magazine) which should be to your liking. I don't post my email address, but if you are willing to post yours, I would be happy to mail it to you.
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Jun 30th, 2005, 07:08 PM
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Well, if John doesn't want to give his address, you can send it to me, at [email protected] and I can send it to someone else who can send it to John

John, this means that no matter what color shoes I am wearing, if I ever see you somewhere, I'm gonna yell your name and hug you ... lol
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Jul 2nd, 2005, 04:16 PM
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I'm sorry that I am so slow to continue, coming back to the real world has been difficult for me!

Wj1- I think maybe the sheer caftan with a tank underneath may have been the reason for some looks. I wouldn't be too worried, but if you are just dress conservatively. Tanks and skirts above the knee, I assume, would be a major attention-getter.

Day 2

We headed to Topkapi first thing in the morning. We went immediately to the Harem to get tickets, but various tour guides hopped in the front of the line to get tickets for their groups. A very vocal woman cursed them out for quite awhile, eventually when the ticket window opened they took care of us before all the guides. Joining a tour to see the palace might not be a bad idea, but it's also wonderful to explore at your own pace. We did go to the treasury, the size of the rocks on display were amazing!!!!

We then headed to the Blue Mosque. If you are wearing shoes without socks you may want to bring a pair to put on as you have to take your shoes off to go in. There were a lot of carpet sellers ready to pounce on us as we walked out, but eventually they give up if you tell them no enough times. We then headed to the Aya Sofya, my guide books reported that there was a fee to see the mosaics, but we didn't pay any. One thing I should mention is that all the entry fees quoted by my guides were way off. Everything was about 30% more. We at some point had a conversation with someone who had been traveling to Turkey for years and said the prices have gone way up recently. While in Aya Sofya my dad mentioned that lots of Turkish women were giving me looks. On this day I had a knee length skirt and a long-sleeved linen shirt. I obviously should have brought pants on this trip, but I only had a few pairs of capris on hand. I also wonder if the looks I was getting were due to people thinking I was Turkish, and them wondering why for a Turk I was dressed so inappropriately. Many of the most scantily-clad tourists that I saw were Italian.

Vendors commented to us that they were seeing a lot of American tourism this year. After seeing these sites we headed to Sireci with a taxi, I had forgotten my ipod charger. We were directed to an electronics store called DoguBank by our hotel. Because I was traveling with my dad who doesn't like to walk as much as I do, and who brought bad shoes we took many taxis around Istanbul. Several times I really felt like they took us on a longer ride and gave us a "tour," as they would point out sites to us. We walked back and bought Baklava at Dedelogu. They even had chocolate baklava, it was excellent!

That evening we walked to Balikci Sabahattin, as recommended by Seamus on this board (thanks!) . It was an excellent seafood restaurant. It's located at Seyit Hasan Sokak, Cankurtaran. The seafood mezes were to die for, I really likes the sardines which seemed to be marinated in vinegar and oil. It seemed like lots of young, hip Turks were eating there. We sat outside and had many cats (which I love) prancing around. The dessert that I had was the best of the trip, and if someone knows the name of this dessert please tell me: It might have been semolina, nuts and sugar that was all ground up and it was topped with ice cream. The ice cream in Turkey is of a very different consistency, almost like taffy.
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Jul 5th, 2005, 02:40 AM
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Day 3

Unfortunately on this day I didn't happen to notice what kind of shoes my dad was wearing. He's not a city person. The day before we had walked at least 7 hours, and he had worn sneakers. On this day, he wore leather shoes. We walked all day long again, and by the end of this day he had many blisters!!!!!

We tried to take the tram to Dolmabahce Palace from the Gulhane stop, we were supposed to take it to Kabatas, but once we got to the stop before it, the train went in reverse. We got off the first stop after that and took a short taxi ride. We bought the all-inclusive ticket.

After the ornateness of the Selamik (men's apartments) the women's (the Harem) were a let-down. I don't think the Harem is a must-see if you must make a choice. The grounds are beautiful. Afterwards, we taxied it to the Taksim area and walked down Istiklal Caddesi. This is a scenic, mostly pedestrian boulevard of old buildings, boutiques and restaurants. I would imagine that this area would be a good area for nightlife. We stopped at a casual place for lunch, I had only learned a few words of Turkish, and the waiter spoke NO English. Our whole order got messed up, but I enjoyed the Gozleme. They had a woman in the window making it.

We walked to the Galata Tower, which had great views. Unfortunately for us, it was overcast. We then walked over the Galata Bridge, there was tons of fisherman everywhere! My father happened to notice while we were walking that I was the only woman in site. I'm not sure if seeing the Galata and walking over the bridge is a must-do, I should have peobably planned to do the river boat cruise instead. Our plan was to talk the tram back from the Eminonu stop, but we couldn't find it and his feet were killing him so we took a taxi back. I think on this night we decided to eat cheap and close to the hotel, at the Can Restaurant. It was all tourists, but good for a cheap fill-up.
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Jul 5th, 2005, 06:02 PM
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Day 4

We had a 7:05 flight to Dalaman. For our car rental and domestic flights in Turkey we used
Argeus Travel, www.argeus.com.tr

We got to the airport a little before 6, and the line just to get in the airport was HUGE. We had to go to Turkish Air first with our confirmation number to pickup our tickets. The check-in line was also a nightmare, we got to the plane 5 minutes before it's scheduled departure time. I noticed that the flight attendants were much nicer than Alitalia, and even for a 45 minute flight they give you a pretty adequate amount of food.

A representative from the rental car company met us outside the airport, I didn't quite understand the setup, we had to drop him off a few miles up the road from the airport. We drove to Dalyan, I really wanted to see the Lycian tombs, but later realized a boat trip was necessary to get the best view here. We went to Iztuzu Beach for a little bit, it was very peaceful.

We then drove to Kalkan. I must have pretty cranky after the drive, because at first I was turned off by the appearance of the town and that it was full of all British tourists (although I knew this ahead of time!). It was just weird to be in a place with all tourists of one nationaility. Hotel Pirat is in a good location, cheap and is attractive on the outside. Our room was a good size and had a balcony, but the decor was shabby. We peeked at a few menus near the hotel, the prices were fairly high. We wandered uphill near the PTT (post office) and ate a good, cheap Turkish meal at the New Flower? Tomato Restaurant.

The town grew on me after exploring it a bit more. It was weird seeing all English people sitting at English and American type bars in Turkey listening to American music. On the way back to the hotel that evening, storekeepers kept looking at us and nodding saying "Iyi aksamlar" (sorry, I'm too lazy to put in the appropriate characters) meaning, good evening. They weren't saying this to other tourists. I started asking the next 3-4 men why they were doing this, they all stated "because you are Turkish." They couldn't believe that we weren't.
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Jul 7th, 2005, 08:27 AM
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wj1, you can email me at [email protected]
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Jul 8th, 2005, 03:31 PM
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Link to my Turkey pics:

http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...j&x=0&y=x8zmuf

I'm not really liking the way the kodak gallery has changed- When you go to the slideshow, make sure you select "slideshow settings," then "small." You should then be able to read my captions below each pic. It used to be easier to read the captions...
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Jul 9th, 2005, 04:13 PM
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Just to back track to Istanbul, as it appears this trip report will take me awhile & I think there are people here headed there soon. 2 excellent restaurants that we went to are:

Hamdi
Tahmis Caddesi, Kalcin Sokak #17, +90-212-528-0390
I found this review on DailyCandy.com, "Hamdi serves the best Turkish food in town (and that's saying something). No need to order unless you're vegetarian; they'll just bring on the mezze. (Ask for extra pistachio-and-opium kebabs.) The roof deck is a scenic double whammy: the Suleiman Mosque and the Golden Horn estuary."
We had our hotel make reservations for us. We let them just bring the food on, for the most part, without ordering. It was really, really good.

Develi
Location: Along the city walls. Gumusyuzuk Sok 7, Samatya Balik Pazari, Kocamustafapasa (0212) 632 79 82
Review from the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide:
"Develi devotes itself entirely to the spicy meat specialties of the southeastern Anatolia. The chefs have devised interesting combinations such as kebabs with pistachios and the sharp-tasting loqat (malta erik, a yellow plum). Keme kebabi (with mushrooms) and patlican kebabi (with aubergine) are also very good. For dessert try the delicious kunefe (syrup-coated pastry filled with sweet cheese)."
The views here were excellent as well, they have a rooftop deck. There are 2 pics from their roof in my album on ofoto. Our hotel also made the reservations for us here as well.
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Jul 9th, 2005, 05:47 PM
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Thank you for all your information, sweetie. You, above all others on this forum, have helped me the most with planning my trip to Istanbul. Leaving on Friday. Can't wait!!!!

John G.
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Jul 11th, 2005, 02:35 AM
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John, I'm glad my info. has been helpful. I spent 2 more days at the end in Istanbul, but I think your main concern was restaurant reccs, right?

Day 5

We drove to Kas in the morning. The ride between Kalkan & Kas is stunning. You pass Kaputas beach, which is a very popular pic that you might come across when viewing websites on Turkey. It is a very beautiful little cove, and I would say that this was my favorite beach in Turkey.

We went to Kas to look for a boat ride because the sunken city boat tour was only offered from Kalkan on certain days, which were days that we weren't going to be there (we were told because it wasn't high season yet.) We took the glass-bottom boat ride from Kas, it cruised around and went to Kalekoy/Simena & Kekova. Kalekoy/Simena was a real highlight, I really thought this little island was beautiful. This was our first experience with an impromptu tour guide (a local) attaching herself to us & taking it upon herself to show us the sites (she was trying to sell us scarves). Later on I saw how when a boat is approaching, the children of the island assemble themselves first on the docks in an effort to sell beacelets, etc., and then the women are a little ahead with their baskets full of scarves. She spoke a little Italian, and this is how she communicated with us. As we climbed the town to get to the fortress she would yank from the plants growing nearby oregano, cacao beans (I think), etc. and let us smell them. She took us down the opposite end of the island and there were so many Lycian tombs all over the countryside. I took a picture of our "tour guide" looking out over the ocean, it's in my Ofoto album, it's one of my favorites. My father ended up buying 5 scarves from her, some of them were interesting, they had tiny seashells and evil eyes sewn into the fringes.

Looking through the glass bottom didn't really give us a better view of the sunken city, maybe it was due to water clarity, but in my opinion to see the best views taking this particular boat isn't necessary. The lunch they served on the boat was very good, typical kebabs, etc.

From what I saw of Kas, it seemed filled with more diversity, there seemed to be different nationalities of tourists. There were a few Turks on our boat who were vacationing there. Back in Kalkan we ate at the "Fish House," which is a modern (and not so Turkish) but delicious seafood restaurant. The ambience on the roof was beautiful. I have a pic from their roof in my Ofoto album. On our way back to our hotel, we saw across the street a bellydancing show going on at a restaurant. It was pretty tacky, the dancer was bringing drunk men up to dance and make fools out of. It was entertaining though!!!

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Jul 11th, 2005, 03:03 AM
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AP6380, your photo slideshow was fantastic! I'm up early with coffee prepping for my own trip to Italy (leave later this am), and minus the in-your-face attitude of the men, Turkey seems like a good possibility for one of my next trips.
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Jul 11th, 2005, 04:36 AM
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Fascinating and beautiful pictures. Thanks so much for sharing. Now, Turkey is on my list of places I want to see someday. The list gets longer every day!
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