Help me with Turkey please!

Mar 19th, 2002, 06:45 AM
  #1  
Kris
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Help me with Turkey please!

I was looking at taking a 10 day tour at the end of May with Pacha Tours that included Istanbul, Ankara, Cappadocia, Konya, Antayla w/ side trips to Perge and Aspendos. But then I started reading some posts and thought maybe we could do it on our own. My main concern with the Pacha Tour is that there seems to be virtually no time on your own and all meals are included so it doesn't really give you a chance to explore much. The group size can also be up to 40 people although I doubt that would be the case.

We are limited to 10 days (including travel time) so it's really more like 8 days of full traveling. We have been to Istanbul and Ephesus so we will probably minimize our time in Istanbul to maybe 2 days.

Since we don't have a lot of time, if we skip Ankara, would our time be better spent between Cappadoccia and Antayla? Would it be feasible to fly from Istanbul to Cappadoccia (Kayseri?), rent a car, drive through to Antayla stopping at Konya, Perge and Aspendos and then catch a flight back to Istanbul? Is the driving difficult in this part of Turkey?

Should we hire a local guide in Cappadocia? Or is it relatively easy to explore on your own?

Better to arrange for hotels in advance or when you get there?

Thanks for any help you can give me!
 
Mar 19th, 2002, 07:13 AM
  #2  
carol
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Last May, we spent 3 weeks in Greece and Turkey, about 11 days in each country: Athens, Santorini, Rhodes, Marmaris, Istanbul, and Cappadocia. We not only did our own itinerary, but we changed it as we saw fit, at the last minure. We blew into town without a hotel reservation in both Istanbul and Marmaris. Everywhere else (except Athens) we booked the day before travelling. You can do this in May.

We flew to Cappadocia (Kayseri) and took a tour from there. The tour included airport transfers. I would highly recommend this. The flight plus transfers takes only under 4 hours and the bus or train takes 14, and there were 20-year-olds on our tour that were exhausted from the bus trip. All domestic flights in Turkey and Greece cost about $90 US a year ago.

Unless you just want to tour Goreme valley, I would recommend the two-day tour (Goreme and the underground cities and river hike) and an extra day in Cappadocia just to enjoy the rural flavour.

I have been told Antalya is great but we did not get there.

On a tour, you will probably see more faster and get better deals on better hotels, but less time to wander and enjoy the back streets.
 
Mar 19th, 2002, 07:15 AM
  #3  
evelyntrav
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Do you have to eat with the group? The food costs are so reasonable in Turkey that perhaps you could eat on your own even though the meals are included in your trip cost.
 
Mar 19th, 2002, 07:42 AM
  #4  
michele
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Kris,
You can do it on your own and as pointed out the food in Turkey is not only delicious , but very reasonable.( I hvae also heard that Pascha spends a lot of time taking you shopping. Trust me, you'll be inside enough shops without special stops).

Given that you have eight days, I would skip Ankara (good musuem and tomb of Attaturk, but the rest is very new and rather dull ) and stay two days in Cappadocia --not to be missed. Carol's suggestions are excellent. You will love Turkey. It's a fascinating place.

M.
 
Mar 19th, 2002, 08:26 AM
  #5  
Kris
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Thanks for the responses!

Carol, how did you arrange your tour in Cappadocia? Did you arrange it before you left home or once you got there? With the short amount of time, we're definitely flying between Istanbul and Kayseri. It looks like it's about $85 one way pp on Turkish Airlines.

I imagine with Pacha that you have breakfast in your hotel, lunch and possibly dinner while you are out touring with the group. I just didn't see any free time in the itinerary, possibly because it is a tight itinerary with a short time frame.
 
Mar 19th, 2002, 11:13 AM
  #6  
Patrick
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Kris, you sound like me two years ago. I studied all the tours thinking we'd be better off traveling Turkey with group, then I found this Fodor's website and was talked into doing it on our own. I'm glad we did. We also went in May and it was the perfect time, we felt.

We started in Istanbul for four or five nights, then flew to Keyseri where we had pre-rented a car from AutoEurope. The roads were great, well kept, plenty wide, well marked in English, and almost deserted -- we only saw any real traffic near Antalya, Konya, and the larger cities along the coast. We dropped our car off eventually in Kusadasi, but went by boat to Samos and other Greek Isles from there. We were in Turkey a little over 3 weeks total, and it was all great.

I'd definitely spend several days in Cappodocia, one night is fine in Konya. We added a night at Lake Egridir on the way to Antalya, but in retrospect we would have omitted that and gone directly from Konya to Antalya in one day. We found that we had overestimated our travel time greatly thinking the roads would be slow, but they weren't. Aspendos and Perge are right outside Antalya and easily reached while there. We originally wanted to stay in Antalya, but got a great deal at the Renaissance Resort just outside the city so stayed there, (for $99 US per room per night for two of us including fantastic breakfast and dinner outdoor terrace buffets.) We were a little worried about driving and parking in the old city of Antalya, and yes, it did look a little difficult. You can catch a flight from Antalya back to Istanbul if you need to.
In Cappodocia we stayed at the wonderful small cave hotel, Esbelli Evi. Although we explored on our own (the hotel provided us with a lot of details and directions), we did hire a guide at the entrances to a couple of sites, particularly the underground city we visited. Just have a small conversation with your guide before you agree to hire him so that you are sure you will be able to understand him. It is also possible to hire a local guide and car (surprisingly cheap) once you are in Cappodocia. Don't miss having a dinner or lunch at the Old Greek House -- but your hotel will need to call them and make arrangements and provide you with directions there. It is unique and fun. Language is not a problem as there is no menu -- but you will love everything they serve you.
 
Mar 19th, 2002, 12:15 PM
  #7  
michele
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A good friend of mine stayed at Esbelli Evi last year and agrees with Patrick..great place. She ( and a friend) also drove and had no problems.
May should be perfect.

M.
 
Mar 19th, 2002, 01:55 PM
  #8  
brenda
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We are going to Turkey in April and used Argeus travel . We wanted an independent tour and all they arranged for us was the internal flights, suggestions on hotels(which we took and they booked for us), rental car and guides (one day in Istanbul, one day in Esphesus and one day in Cappodocia) We are speding two days in Istanbul, then flying to Kayseri and staying three days and driving to Antayla, through Konya, then to Kaysarei and a three day Gullet tour out of Fethiye. Argeus has been real flexible and does as little or as much as you like. I believe that they are the travel agent for Turkish Air. www.argues.com
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 05:59 AM
  #9  
isa
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Dear Kris,

The big advantage of a tour (like Pacha or another) is that you will probably see more places but quicker. On your own you have the freedom to stop wherever and whenever you want and stay longer in a place you like.

Given your constrainsts and budget, yes the best is to fly between Istanbul & Kayseri or Nevsehir (depends on the day) and from Antalya to Istanbul.

Cappadoccia : no need to take a guide except if you want to do some trekkings & walkings. You won'nt have much time but still if you wish you can ride a horse or rent a bike to explore the area or simplier just walk alone. Very enjoyable.(suggestion : 2-3 days for Cappadoccia)

On the way to Antalya, you can stop in Konya and continue to Antalya. Maybe it is better to go direct to Side and stay the night there (as time is counted). You will then have the full day to visit Side, Aspendos, Perge and arrive in the evening in Antalya. (2 days)

Antalya area : Antalya old city (half day is enough), then continue to the Lycian part and try to see : Phaselis, Olympos & Kekova. (suggestion : 3 days)

It is quite easy to do it on your own with a good map. Roads are OK but do not underestimate the time you need to go from one point to another.

Have a nice trip in Anatolia !

Isabelle
http://davrazia.free.fr
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 08:26 AM
  #10  
Kris
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Thanks for the great advice, looks like I'm going to give the solo route a try. I wish we had more time as I'm finding lots of places I'd like to stop but I guess that just gives me a reason to go back!

Patrick, did you reserve the hotel Esbelli Eva in advance and if so where did you do so? It looks interesting-I've seen the name a lot on boards and it doesn't look very big so I thought you might need to reserve in advance.

And from the Renaissance, how did you get into Antalya? Did you drive or were you close enough to take a cab/bus? It's not quite as cheap right night ($120) but maybe there will be deals as it gets closer. It's a great idea, I hate driving in larger cities.

Better go book the frequent flier miles now
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 09:11 AM
  #11  
mh
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kris -

i third esbelli evi in cappadocia. you can make reservations via e-mail from their site (esbelli.com). they can also arrange a transfer from the airport at kayseri to the hotel in urgup. a rental car is the best way to see cappadocia, and you can pick one up in urgup. hotel should be able to advise you on that.

we drove from cappadocia to antalya last may. the roads are no problem. navigating antayla can be tricky, though, so be sure to get good directions to your hotel. we also stayed at the renaissance, which is convenient to aspendos.

have fun.
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 10:50 AM
  #12  
Kris
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OK, I've booked the frequent flier miles, I guess we're really going!

Is there a reliable website to book hotels in Turkey? I'm not looking for anything fancy, just a private bath and a good location. Any recommendations for Istanbul hotels?
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 12:04 PM
  #13  
Patrick
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I recently answered some personal emails that came from here regarding the Renaissance, and the person informed me that they had just booked in May at $89 a night including two meals. Did you check on their website--part of Marriott's website? We took a shuttle bus from the Renaissance into Antalya -- cost about 50cents as I recall, and stops at the front entrance of the Renaissance, running every hour or so.
As I recall, I did a google search for Hotels in Turkey and found several really great sites. I booked all hotels directly, mainly through their websites I found via the google search.
Yes, you must book Esbelli Evi ahead, if you can still get in during May --mh has given you the website.
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 02:19 PM
  #14  
mh
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kris -

try the nena hotel in istanbul. the location is excellent, two or three blocks from the hippodrome/blue mosque. we had a junior suite (about $90, i think) that included a balcony, the biggest room and bathroom we had on our trip, and excellent views of the blue mosque and the sea of marmara. a nice, clean, convenient place. it's nenahotel.com.

we stayed at the sultanhamet palace as well. it is also is in a great location, behind the blue mosque. nice place, but more expensive and with smaller rooms than at the nena. It also has traditional turkish bathrooms that we didnt find to be practical. didnt think the sultanhamet was worth the extra money.

those are the only two i have experience with, but many more are listed at instanbulhotels.com
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 03:28 PM
  #15  
Heather
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Kris, you always plan such interesting trips. I know how limited your available time is and it sounds like you're really making the most of it.

Your reports really are informative, too. Would you mind posting your trip notes when you return? I'm going to Turkey for the first time in the Fall and would love to read how your vacation went. Particularly since you're doing it on your own and not with a group.

Have a wonderful vacation!
 
Mar 20th, 2002, 06:51 PM
  #16  
Kris
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Hi Heather! I'm still twisting the husband's arm about driving in Turkey, I think he'll come around eventually. Maybe I'll threaten to drive, that should do it I'll be sure to post a trip report for you and if we ever have another Chicago get together, maybe some pictures too. Did you catch the Cappodocia article in the Tribune a couple of weeks ago? That's what got me started. We're thinking about either Bulgaria or Romania for the fall trip, I long for the days when I could actually take 2-3 weeks at a time!

mh or Patrick, can you give me an idea of the driving time between Cappodocia and Antalya? Is there any place worth stopping between the two besides Konya? The Rough Guide makes it sound like the drive is pretty uninteresting. It appears that you can't fly direct between the two (have to go back through Istanbul) and the bus takes 12 hours according to the Rough Guide.

Thanks to all for the suggestions so far, I'm still processing them all.
 
Mar 22nd, 2002, 01:57 PM
  #17  
carol
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Kris, we were not sure when and how we were going to Cappadoccia before we left. After a hellish experience with Greek ferries, we flew everywhere.

We booked the tour in Cappadoccia while we were in Istanbul. Your hotel clerk will be only too willing to help you find a travel agent. In our case, he had no salary and only got commissions, and the tour cost no more anyways, and he helped us to talk the agency out of charging us 3% to use our Visa (common Turkish practise). The tour included guide, cave hotel, and all meals including the nicest breakfasts we had in Turkey (Turkish breakfast but with boiled eggs and several wonderful cheeses). They also arranged the flight and airport transfers. We booked the day before we left for Cappadoccia. There were only 11 people on the tour and it was lots of fun.

We didn't drive in Turkey, not because we were afraid, but because it was more convenient not to. I have heard that driving there is a nightmare, but I have heard the same about every country in which we have rented a car (including Portugal, where we are going this May, and plan to drive). It depends on your driving experience and nerves.

Have a great time in Turkey. The only down side is the carpet-hawkers and there are so many wonderful things that you forget the rest.
 
Mar 22nd, 2002, 04:03 PM
  #18  
mh
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kris -

the drive from cappadocia to antalya isn't too long - 6 to 7 hours, i think.

the trip is interesting mostly in that you can see rural turkey up close. the route isn't that bad: some rolling hills and snow-capped mountains in the beginning, and a crossing of smaller mountains on the approach to the mediterranean. the plains around konya are pretty dreary, but still it's interesting to see the small towns in the middle of nowhere.

there seem to be several visit-worthy sites on the route along the coast east of antalya. unfortunately, i didnt have time to stop; maybe others here can tell you about them.

no need to worry about the driving. the roads are well maintained, and they're uncrowded until you get to the coast. there, it's still not a problem, but it can make for slow going.
 
Mar 23rd, 2002, 12:14 PM
  #19  
Paula Tim
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Check out
www.istanbullife.org
Paula
Rio
 
Mar 25th, 2002, 01:56 AM
  #20  
isa
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Hi Kris!

Between Cappadoccia and Antalya :
- "caravanserail" (not sure about the spelling) after Aksaray
- Konya
- Side
- Aspendos
- Perge

Enjoy the trip !

Isabelle
http://davrazia.free.fr
 

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