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Istanbul or Amsterdam and Iceland in December on way back f

Istanbul or Amsterdam and Iceland in December on way back f

Old Sep 3rd, 2022, 01:35 PM
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Istanbul or Amsterdam and Iceland in December on way back f

Ok, here’s a good problem to have. We are flying DC to Kenya on Nov 13. Doing Safari there and then in Uganda - total of about 20 days. That part is all set. Originally we were thinking to go to CapeTown for maybe 5 nights or so thereafter.
On one hand, hate to miss Cape Town on what will likely be our single trip to Africa. But on other, doing Cape Town adds a ghastly number of additional flying hours overall….long flight from Uganda to Capetown. and additional hours flying back to US. So then we started looking at breaking up flight back to US VIA Europe. Price and convenience wise Istanbul (where we’ve never been) on Turkish Air looked good, but also Amsterdam (which we always enjoy) via KLM and others. Including some flights with permitted stopovers in Iceland (where we’ve never been). Just looking for votes here Capetown? Istanbul? Amsterdam/Iceland?
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Old Sep 3rd, 2022, 01:47 PM
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Iceland for a chance of the aurora?
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Old Sep 3rd, 2022, 02:16 PM
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A chance of the aurora, sure…. Though perhaps unlikely … but really just interested in seeing Iceland …
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Old Sep 3rd, 2022, 03:44 PM
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For me, I say definitely Istanbul, 100%. It is exotic. It has amazing architecture and interesting history. It has a unique culture. It is vibrant. It is beautiful. There is a lot to see. The food is wonderful. The weather won’t be too bad in December. If you were only going there for such a short time and not seeing other places in Turkey, I would say do not go so far for a short stay. However, you are using it for a stopover as part of a longer trip and it will be perfect. Different areas are compact with some main sights only a block or so apart, so you can easily walk to several sights and many, many restaurants in one day. You can take a tram or taxi to another area of the city, again, very easy. Can you give it at least three nights, two full days? That would be enough to give you a good taste of the city and to tour four of five major sights.

We like Amsterdam very much, but it is easy to stop in Amsterdam on trips to Europe and you have been there.
Iceland seems interesting, but the Aurora is iffy and you need to rent a car or take a tour, etc. so not as easy as Istanbul. Colder too! Also, easier to go there on a short trip from the States.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2022, 04:07 PM
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Istanbul for a couple of days at least; the weather should be better.


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Old Sep 3rd, 2022, 04:27 PM
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I love Istanbul and Turkey and have been three times, but as someone who lives part of the year in Africa my vote is for Cape Town. This is the outlier and the OP is unlikely to go back to Africa. So I strongly recommend 5-6 days in and around the Cape. It’s stunningly beautiful, with so much to see and do, it’ll make for a trip of a lifetime!
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Old Sep 3rd, 2022, 04:59 PM
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Have been to Istanbul and loved it, have not been to Cape Town but it is on the list. Flip a coin!
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Old Sep 3rd, 2022, 05:28 PM
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Iceland will have many hours of darkness that time of the year so don’t consider it in December.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2022, 05:46 PM
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If Capetown is an option, I would tend to agree with geetika, only because it seems like a return to Africa is less likely. But I’ve never been, so can’t speak to the experience of being there.

But Istanbul is amazing! If Capetown isn’t an option, Istanbul by a mile. We loved the city - what an amazing city, and I second everything Sassafrass has said. It’s got so much to see and it’s so vibrant. The food! The architecture! The history!
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Old Sep 3rd, 2022, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by progol View Post
If Capetown is an option, I would tend to agree with geetika, only because it seems like a return to Africa is less likely. But I’ve never been, so can’t speak to the experience of being there.

But Istanbul is amazing! If Capetown isn’t an option, Istanbul by a mile. We loved the city - what an amazing city, and I second everything Sassafrass has said. It’s got so much to see and it’s so vibrant. The food! The architecture! The history!
progol’s right, Istanbul is amazing, I could go back again and again and never fail to find things to do and see. IMO Istanbul is clearly #2 after Cape Town, Turkey to be definitely visited, either on this trip, or a subsequent one. You can go to Amsterdam and Iceland anytime, so it’s down on the list.
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Old Sep 4th, 2022, 08:42 AM
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What about packing for two very different climates and potentially limited baggage on the safari?
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Old Sep 4th, 2022, 09:36 AM
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If you're willing to sit through a few extra hours on planes (and not really that many) then I'd say you really ought to experience Cape Town and the Western Cape before leaving Africa. As others have said, it's not that hard to visit Iceland or places on the European continent from the US east coast, but southern Africa is another story. I've been to Istanbul a couple of times and agree it's a marvelous destination (although to be honest I'd be a little reluctant given the current political situation in Turkey) and as you say, Amsterdam is quite wonderful (something of an "old shoe" place, if you get my meaning.) But Cape Town? Oh my.

Assuming you're finishing up the Uganda portion of the trip in Kampala/Entebbe, the quickest way to get to Cape Town would involve two flights that you might have to book separately. The first would be from Entebbe to Johannesburg, which will take around 4 hours, and the second from Joburg to Cape Town, which takes around 2 hours more. Joburg - Cape Town flights are run more or less as a shuttle service and cost around US$75 - 100 one way. There's also an option to fly from Entebbe to Nairobi, from which there's a daily nonstop to Cape Town, but it looks like it would require an overnight connection in Nairobi, which might be inconvenient. If your safari tour was ending in Nairobi, on the other hand, then it would be straightforward.

But if you could get there, imagine this totally made-up scenario for you.

You wouldn't be jetlagged, so going someplace to decompress wouldn't be all that necessary. So I'd check into a hotel close to the waterfront in Cape Town, and enjoy the balance of your arrival day, maybe with a walk around the Victoria and Alfred waterfront, or by going out for a Cape Malay dinner someplace in the stunning Bo-Kaap district with its riot of colors.

The next day, go back to the waterfront and do a tour out to Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela and others spent years during the fight against apartheid. Come back and if the weather's good (it ought to be) ride the gondola up to the top of Table Mountain for heart-stopping views of the city, the bay, and the coastal mountains disappearing into the distance.

The third day, pick up a car and visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, one of the world's greatest collection of plants and flowers, in a stunning setting. Then drive maybe 40 minutes to the lovely old college town of Stellenbosch, the capital of the Cape Winelands, an impossibly beautiful area. I'd suggest staying at the Eendracht Hotel on Dorp Street, where a comfortable room (air conditioned although it might not be necessary) and a fab breakfast will set you back around $120 tops.

Spend the next day exploring the winelands - maybe out to Franschhoek, or alternatively drive down to beautiful Hermanus. It's probably too late to see whales, but it's still a pretty wonderful destination, and the drive from Stellenbosch or Franschhoek (roughly 90 min. from either) is through breathtaking country, past numerous wineries if interested.

If you have five days, I'd return to Cape Town, maybe visit the District Six museum, or just spend time near the ocean enjoying the Mother City at its best.

You say this might be your only trip to Africa. I'd bet that a few days in Cape Town will change your mind.

Here are a couple of videos to give you a sense of the city and region.








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Old Sep 4th, 2022, 01:28 PM
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Have done stopovers in Amsterdam and Paris on trips to/from East Africa in the past flying KLM/KQ/AF--enjoyed these trips and they certainly helped break up that long, long journey (I'm in California). Assuming you're gorilla trekking in Uganda, yes, you have to pack carefully for different climates and activities, but it's definitely doable.
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Old Sep 4th, 2022, 04:17 PM
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Thanks all. Love all this info! Very helpful!

Yeah, there is that change of season coming back through Europe. But we’ve got the pack lite thing down after years of long travels. Lotsa thin layers, lowered standards, repetition, and occasional laundry. All in one soft side carryon.

gardyloo, thanks for the lovely Cape Town itin. Not sure there’s a nonstop Nairobi to Cape Town now. Least I couldn’t locate it.

The polls will still be open for your vote ……😀

Last edited by glover; Sep 4th, 2022 at 04:23 PM.
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Old Sep 4th, 2022, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by glover View Post
Thanks all. Love all this info! Very helpful!

Yeah, there is that change of season coming back through Europe. But we’ve got the pack lite thing down after years of long travels. Lotsa thin layers, lowered standards, repetition, and occasional laundry. All in one soft side carryon.

gardyloo, thanks for the lovely Cape Town itin. Not sure there’s a nonstop Nairobi to Cape Town now. Least I couldn’t locate it.

The polls will still be open for your vote ……😀
glover, my vote is still for Cape Town, more so since you probably won’t go back to Africa again. It’s one of my fav cities, vibrant and alive, with jaw-dropping views everywhere you look. The sight of Table Mountain from the Robben Island ferry is one of my most memorable ever, not to mention the views from the top of the mountain. A drive to the wine country in western Cape, maybe going all the way down to Cap Agulhas, the southern most tip of Africa. Memories of a lifetime…😍
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Old Sep 4th, 2022, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by glover View Post
Not sure there’s a nonstop Nairobi to Cape Town now. Least I couldn’t locate it.
Thursdays and Saturdays.
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Old Sep 4th, 2022, 07:27 PM
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Cape Town looks absolutely beautiful.

You asked, however, about Amsterdam, Istanbul, etc., because the flight from Uganda was so long and you wanted to break it up with a stop in Europe. Isn’t the flight from Cape Town much longer even than from Uganda? Would you still hope to break that flight up?
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Old Sep 5th, 2022, 05:34 AM
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I too vote for South Africa.
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Old Sep 5th, 2022, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by glover View Post
Ok, here’s a good problem to have. We are flying DC to Kenya on Nov 13. Doing Safari there and then in Uganda - total of about 20 days. That part is all set. Originally we were thinking to go to CapeTown for maybe 5 nights or so thereafter.
On one hand, hate to miss Cape Town on what will likely be our single trip to Africa. But on other, doing Cape Town adds a ghastly number of additional flying hours overall….long flight from Uganda to Capetown. and additional hours flying back to US. So then we started looking at breaking up flight back to US VIA Europe. Price and convenience wise Istanbul (where we’ve never been) on Turkish Air looked good, but also Amsterdam (which we always enjoy) via KLM and others. Including some flights with permitted stopovers in Iceland (where we’ve never been). Just looking for votes here Capetown? Istanbul? Amsterdam/Iceland?
Iceland in December will be practically dark all the time. And it will be cold. We were there just a couple of months ago in June and temperatures were in the low 50s at best. I would not recommend Iceland in December unless you are determined to see the northern lights which may or may not happen.
As you have been to Amsterdam before you may want to think of something else. That brings us to Istanbul. That would be a very good place to see especially since you have not been there before. Istanbul has a lot to offer and most of it is within a relatively short distance from each other. The food is very good, the price is reasonable and if you take Turkish Airlines I think he will be very happy with them. We stayed there some time ago for three days before taking a cruise and totally loved it. Now bear in mind back then the politics were not what they are now but you are there to see sites so I think it still is a very good bet.

Last edited by jacketwatch; Sep 5th, 2022 at 08:55 AM.
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Old Sep 7th, 2022, 12:04 AM
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I loved my trip to Instanbul Turkey, it's really well priced there and the food is delicious! Plus, if you like designer you can get some great stuff there too. Grabbed myself some nice handbags.
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