Please help me explore Turkey!

Dec 16th, 2011, 08:37 AM
Join Date: Jul 2008
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We visited the museum in Ankara and Ataturk's tomb. The tomb was very impressive and we were glad we stopped there. We were not as excited by the museum and were anxious to leave to move on to Cappadoccia.
dgunbug is offline  
Dec 16th, 2011, 11:41 AM
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I spent 3 1/2 days this past September in Istanbul and loved it so much that I'm also planning a 2 week trip to Turkey in 2012. Most of our must see sites coordinate (4 more days in Istanbul + Ephesus, Trabzon/Sumela, Cappadocia, and the Turquoise Coast. Glad to hear about Side...need to research that.)

Anyway, I'd say 5 days minimum is what I'd recommend for Istanbul. 6 or 7 is even better is you can spare the time. The Hagia Sophia is the second most spectacular thing I've seen in this world, right behind Basilica di San Marco in Venice. The upper level mosaics are stunning. Other must sees in Istanbul are the Blue Mosque, Underground Cistern, Spice Bazaar, and Chora Church (didn't get there...can't wait to go). The Grand Bazaar was actually underwhelming I thought, in terms of merchandise quality, but I'll give it another try next year. Did a 90 minute Bosphorus cruise which went from the Dolmabache (sp.) Palace up to the second bridge and back. An enjoyable 90 minutes. One other thing I didn't do was a hamam. It's definitely on my to do list for next year.

Overall, Istanbul BLEW ME AWAY. I am a solo male traveler and did find a few of the "warnings" for solo male travelers to be true...particularly Turkish men coming up to me and wanting to take me to see "this or that" unique little attraction. But overall, I felt totally safe. And the first morning of being woken up in my hotel room at dawn by the call to prayer coming from the Blue Mosque across the street was someting I'll never forget.

Looking forward to hearing about your trip when you are back next Spring.
MinnBeef is offline  
Dec 16th, 2011, 02:00 PM
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We spent three weeks in October/November 2010 in Turkey and felt rushed. Here is the trip report and some photos.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Dec 16th, 2011, 09:29 PM
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dgunbug – Thanks so much for all these helpful comments!

… Having one’s own car as a solo traveler is such a tricky thing – in my experience, it can offer incredible freedom, but it can also bring more than a fair share of white-knuckle moments and headaches, and it most definitely does not offer the opportunity to savor every passing vista. I suspect I’ll end up renting a car for a few days here and there for relatively localized travel (e.g., in the Cappadocia area), while relying on public transportation for moving from region to region.

… I’m very glad you (and Aduchamp1) mentioned Cirali. The chimaera intrigues me, even if it is difficult to reach, and the area sounds like it has some interesting ruins and other sites. Too, I’ve noticed that several sources say that Cirali has one of the most beautiful beaches anywhere in Turkey, and since I only plan on visiting one or two beaches, it makes sense to consider this one.

… I definitely want to visit at least a part of the Lycian Way, perhaps the stretch including Myra. I’m still trying to get a handle on what I most want to see in southwestern Turkey, and how to balance the many and varied things “on offer” there.

… Behramkale sounds like quite a treat. I love it when a trip includes a place that is unexpected and off the beaten path. The rare times I’ve found a place like that give me a strange (but wonderful) sense of “ownership” that I don’t get with the obvious destinations. Thanks for sharing!

… While in Ankara, I plan on visiting both Ataturk’s mausoleum and the museum. If I’m not thrilled with the latter, I can’t say I wasn’t warned!

… I’ve made notes about the ruins you mention and appreciate the time you’ve taken to share your experiences. It really helps to read other travelers perspectives!

… Again, many thanks! When I finally post a draft itinerary, I hope you’ll chime in.

MinnBeef – It sounds like we have some similar interests! I hope that you are enjoying planning your next trip to Turkey as much as I am enjoying planning my first.

… I’ve been thinking that I will want at least 5 or 6 days in Istanbul, so I’m glad to hear that you think that’s about right, especially given how much you enjoyed it! You mentioned most of the places on my draft must-see list for the city, which also includes the Topkapi Palace.

… And I, too, definitely want to experience a hammam, though whether I will do so in Istanbul or elsewhere (or more than one place) is something I haven’t yet decided.

… I’m looking forward to awakening to the muezzin. I remember hearing their calls to prayer while watching the sun set over Sarajevo and Mostar – and just thinking of those moments reminds me of why I so enjoy travel. Thanks for the reminder!

Aduchamp1 – How did I miss your incredible, wonderful, delightful trip report?!? I’m about to top it to help others avoid a similar lapse. Thanks SO MUCH for making sure I saw it! And thanks, too for sharing your photos – so evocative!

… I will study the report much more carefully in coming days, but I have a few immediate questions:

➢ I hope they do not change the name again in the next two weeks when we return for a longer stay in Istanbul. We have reservations and I would hate to have trouble finding a hotel again.

As you say, that could be quite disruptive! All my travel documents and maps would be off, not to mention my guidebooks and notes…. Did you identify any appropriate insurance options?

➢ [Speaking of the Chimaera:] …we are sure they shut off the gas for the evening

I like to think of myself as fairly conscious of both safety and ecological/environmental issues. Is there someone to whom I should speak to make sure the gas is off?

➢ If you are dropping your rental car off at an airport, ask questions about who will and where the car will be picked up.

Thanks for the warning, but I don’t anticipate a problem - I know to go to the drink stand. (☺)

On a more serious note, I appreciate your comment that 3 weeks felt rushed to you, but I’m not sure I know what your itinerary was. If you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear!

Thanks again!
kja is offline  
Dec 16th, 2011, 09:57 PM
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You are welcome.

I think the trip to Chios made the trip a bit hectic. We had never been to a Greek Island but Chios was interesting in own right. We spent a week in Istanbul and besides being gagged and beaten by Otherchelebi we only saw the tourist highlights and those were crowded.

We are now in our 60's and have been traveling independently for over 40 years and travel with the idea that is better to see a few places well than many poorly. And I think our feeling of being harried was at least partly a function of age. Too much driving and too many domestic flights.

Here are some more photos:
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Dec 17th, 2011, 01:00 AM
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Adu, I find your complaint rather unjustified. I remember Mrs. Adu telling me that you enjoyed being gagged and beaten. It was just some additional Turkish hospitality even though it was definitely against all my upbringing and sense of ethics.

I also resent your use of the word "poorly" although Eser says it was not used to belittle us.

Come back again Adu, we enjoyed the company.

And, KJA, we are not really hijacking your thread. I am following up and trying to formulate the itinerary alternatives on the basis of your newly exposed interests.

Some corrections are needed:

- the roads are much better than they were 5-6 years ago. So the driving, even to Cirali, Kusadasi and Behramkale is much easier.

- Behramkale was a major Bythinian city and has a lot of ruins. Please scheck my trip report "A trip in time and....."
The town has two parts, the ruins on the hill and the port below. It is very close to Troy, across from Lesvos and actually has two and a half access routes (the port has only one) It was also where Aristotle conducted a school of Philosophy.

- For Myra, etc. have a look at my "fumbling family....." trip report.

- In fact make sure to read all my trip reports and my reviews on Amazon under ahmet celebiler, because there is a possibility that you may be required to sit for a two hour written examination when you arrive in Istanbul.
otherchelebi is online now  
Dec 17th, 2011, 06:00 AM
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Turkey is a country to which I would gladly return and I would even tell you there I was visiting again. And remember, if you are ever in NYC, I would like to show you my New York sans the ropes and duct tape.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Dec 17th, 2011, 11:01 AM
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Here's the start of the promised itinerary : The Outline

- day of arrival plus 3-4 full days in Istanbul
- 1st class sleeper to Ankara.
- Arrive at Ankara about 9AM and take taxi to hotel to deposit luggage. Visit the museum of ancient Anatolian civilizations, the castle and the Ataturk mausoleum. hang around Tunali Hilmi Street in the evening.
- Arrange rental car to be brought to your hotel early next morning, and push off towards Bogazkale before the rush hour traffic starts (7AM)
- Visit Bogazkale and Yazilikaya.
- If you wish to visit Alacahoyuk also, continue to Amasya for the night, and spend the morning enjoying and discovering Amasya (may actually be worth a whole day)
- Drive South to Goreme for your Cappadocia adventure, buying roasted chick peas at one of the many road-side stalls (leblebi) near Corum. Eat Ispir Dolmasi if you can find a restaurant that serves it on the route, around Corum intersection.
- 3 full days in Goreme, including driving to the new neolithic find at one end of Ihlara Valley and a carpet weaving village.
- If you can, return car at Kayseri airport to fly to Antalya.
or continue with car, past Aksaray to Mersin and Silifke and on. or drive to Manazan, past Karaman to Mut and to silifke or to Ermenek.
-riving will take anywhere from two to four or even five days until Antalya and will take you to places undiscovered by many tourists, including ancient cities, castles, pirate coves, sink holes, caverns, an incredible mosaic, recently discovered and restored at a small town called Ayancik, the initial settlement area of the Christian Turks (on previous Roman ruins), a very large unexcavated city suitable for a picnic and with a nice beach for a swim (Anamur), and all very, very local.

- If you fly to Antalya, (and I definitely do not recommend an overnight bus) rent a car there immediately and disappointingly give the city a miss although the museum and the original historic port area are nice, because the traffic getting in and out can be atrocious.

- You may also have to miss the sites to the East of Antalya or reserve the whole day to them, possibly staying at Side overnight. The sites are Perge, Aspendos and Side.

- If and when you drive to the West of Antalya, you can go all the way to Cirali that day, visiting Phaeselis on the way and enjoying the heavenly smells of the pine trees and the great scenic route.

- Staying couple of nights at Cirali (check Canada hotel and the Trip Advisor Destination Expert Canadamom) will give you a chance to chill out, rest, visit the fires of the Chimaera and the ruins of Olympus and also maybe join a hike or Safari up the mountains.

- My wife is calling me to help with selecting some music for her slide show of a friend's birthday party photographs so have to stop here and listen to some Jacques Brell and Jacques Prevert Chansons. I will be back to add some more for later days and alternatives.

Just let me know where you would like to have more meat on the bone.

Did you get a chance to watch our slide shows with some interesting music, at you tube? Here's one :

and the following albums have some of our travel photos:
otherchelebi is online now  
Dec 17th, 2011, 08:36 PM
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I am TRULY astounded, otherchelebi - I can't thank you enough for the thought and effort you have put into my plans! I look forward to studying your suggestions. I can't respond in any detail tonight, but will follow up as soon as I can. Again, thank you so much!
kja is offline  
Dec 19th, 2011, 09:38 PM
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Sorry for the delayed responses, Aduchamp1 and otherchelebi – I hate when work interferes with life!

Aduchamp1 – Thanks for sharing some of the reasons that your trip seemed a bit hectic. I can definitely appreciate that some aspects of traveling change as one gets older. For some years now, some of the decisions I make about trips reflect my assessment of the places I believe (whether correctly or not) will be harder to visit in the way I want to see them as I age. I think I can still manage a trip in which I move around a lot and have little down time – part of why Turkey is next for me! And thanks for the additional fabulous photos!

Otherchelebi – So much welcome and helpful information!

- I’m not sure what my “newly exposed interests” are, but I am still researching options and am learning more as I go. Perhaps I threw you off with my comment to dgunbug about Behramkale? I didn’t mean that I have a particular desire to see it, only that I can resonate with the joy of unexpectedly stumbling upon a pleasant place. (But given your comments, I will now look it up to learn about its ruins and history.) I also didn’t mean that I plan to make any special efforts to stumble upon the unexpected on this trip. There is SO much I KNOW I want to see in Turkey that I’m not likely to include unplanned roaming. Even so, I’ll be surprised if I don’t encounter a few wonderfully unexpected moments, whether because I take a wrong turn or take a brief break from driving or find myself somewhere with an extra hour or so.

- I loved “A Trip in Place, Time and Mind, Annals of Philosophy and Travel” and am grateful to realize that shedding the blood of mosquitos can count as an appropriate sacrifice! I feel more ready than ever to visit ancient temples! And yes, “Still…. I like traveling with myself, My one and only existential self...” rings a bell for me. As I wrote upon my return from a trip a few years ago, one of the things I liked best was "living more or less in the present (instead of the past and future, as I tend to do when not traveling."

I also loved your video of Iznic and the glorious music to which Eser’s photos were set – WOW! I’ve begun exploring Eser’s photo slideshows – so inspiring! I look forward to many happy browsing moments in days and weeks to come.

And of course I have finished reading ALL of your posts here and on TripAdvisor, whether under the name otherchelebi or ahmet celebiler – NOT! But I have read enough to know that you have been a tremendous resource for many, many travelers – thank you for all of us! I look forward to “studying for my exam!” - you have shared such a wealth of information!

I am puzzled about your current views of the safety of travel in eastern, and especially southeastern, Turkey. I was aware of one of your TripAdvisor posts from last June about safety in eastern Turkey in which you said that you had postponed your plans to travel in eastern Turkey (a message that I took very seriously!) and I have also seen some of your more recent posts (perhaps from November?) that made me think that your concerns had been sufficiently allayed to resume recommending sites such as Gobekli Tepe – or at least, to cease discouraging people from going there. But I certainly have NOT read all your comments and am, perhaps, taking a few remarks out of context. I can understand that safety concerns in that part of Turkey are likely to fluctuate; too, I can understand that safety might well be a greater concern for a solo female traveler. Nonetheless, I would love some clarification. I readily “gave up” Nemrut Dagi in light of your initial comments on my wish-list, but had still very much hoped to see Gobekli Tepe and Sanliurfa. Too, Trabzon and its surrounds continue to appeal to me. (Much as I love learning enough about an area to know what I most want to see, I hate having to decide what to skip!)

I am intrigued by your suggestions for the first part of my trip. I must admit that the area between Cappadocio/Goreme/Ihlara/etc. and the coast had not caught my attention, but I realize from your suggestions that I need to learn much more before finalizing a plan. The new neolithic find near Ihlara Valley is definitely of interest.

Again, I am incredibly grateful for your attention to my interests and plans and consider myself one of many, many people who have and will experience of Turkey in a much richer way for the benefit of your input.
kja is offline  
Dec 20th, 2011, 12:28 AM
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You're lucky that a board meeting was cancellled this morning and I find some time to respond. Will write as I remember:

1. The safety issue regarding the Southeast has not been resolved at all. However, activity dwindles in the Winter months due to the weather and we are seriously considering visiting Gobeklitepe, Urfa and Gaziantep ourselves, before the Winter snow leaves the mountains. We are in a position to follow the latest developments and decide on the spur of the moment. I believe that major tour operators know the risks and can conduct a visit to the region better than a solo traveler. So you may consider a good Istanbul based operator like Fest Travel or a local company, if you wish to visit, also depending on the latest news for the region. Having a local guide will give you some additional security because there is high likelihood that he will be privy to information from some descrete sources which never make it to the national media, and this information could travel both ways and guarantee your safety. Would still be an adventure.

2. I gave the information on the possible overland routes from Cappadocia to antalya and Lykia just to wet your appetite. But, I am not sure if you have enough time for all of that plus Southwestern and Western Turkey and the Black Sea.

3. I will try to come up with regional alternatives and you can figure out which of them you will leave to the next visit and which of them you will feel comfortable with joining.
Offhand and including the fastest means of transport:

- Cappadocia + Hittites, 3-4 days including the Hans, organized tour or self-drive
- Trabzon + Sumela + One or two valleys or the Zigana pass, 2-3 days, self drive.
- Cappadocia-Alanya self drive with site visits according to my recommended routes, 4-5 days.
- The Lykian Way from Antalya to Fethiye including beach time, 4-6 days self drive.
- Ephesus + Pamukkale, including Aphrodisias, Herakleia, Didyma, Miletus, Prienne, Carina. 4 days. self drive.
- Northern Aegean/Bithynia including Foca, Pergamon, Behramkale, Troy, Nicea; 3-4 days from istanbul or Izmir/Ephesus, self drive.
- Istanbul major historic sites, 3 days
- The living Istanbul, major sites plus city and nature 6-7 days.
- Ankara, one day

So, you can actually squeeze in quite a few segments within 25 days.

Internal flights to Ankara, Cappadocia (Kayseri and Nevsehir), izmir, Antalya, Dalaman and Trabzon are quite frequent, but you should reserve and buy tickets a month or more in advance to get the best rates and make sure of place. Each THY flight has a number of price categories and the prices increase as the cheaper category is sold out. The on-line site gives the different prices for flexible tickets and tickets with limited or no returns. There are also cheaper flights with Atlas, Onur, Pegasus, Sky, Sunexpress, Anadolu. Specifically Cappadocia-Izmir and Cappadocia-Antalya flights are with some of these other airlines.

For rental cars, the broker, Economy car rentals can find cheaper cars but if you do not like the vehicle, it will be difficult to change. If you're returning car to your rental point, local hires should be cheaper and fine. But if you are returning to other destinations, it may be a better idea to go for a large rental company. You may also be able to negotiate at location with Avis, Hertz, Budget, Alamo, etc. if it is not a busy time. Also check the specials and campaigns on the local web sites.
otherchelebi is online now  
Dec 20th, 2011, 09:30 PM
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Otherchelebi, I am indeed lucky—VERY lucky--that your board meeting was cancelled!

1. Safety in the Southeast – Your answer is not what I hoped to hear, but it is also not unexpected, and not quite as discouraging as I feared. Please indulge me in an effort to make sure I understand by putting the message in somewhat different terms:

• There are safety concerns that I should take into serious consideration before making a decision to travel into southeastern Turkey, including Sanliurfa and Gobeklitepe.
• If I do decide to go to this area, I should consider doing so with a pre-arranged tour, which could be a tour by a reputable company (a) out of (starting in?) Instanbul or (b) out of/starting in Sanliurfa (in which case it sounds like I should ensure that my tour starts and ends at the airport in Sanliurfa).
• Moreover, the situation is subject to change, so if I decide to try to include these locations in my plan, I should monitor the situation and be prepared to switch to Plan B.
• I (and other Fodorites) may benefit from a report with your observations of the area based on a trip you currently hope to make in the next few months.
• Safety considerations do not need to figure centrally among the plans made by travelers to or around Trabzon. (Did I get that right?)

2. Possible overland routes from Cappadocia to Antalya and Lykia. You did, indeed, whet my appetite and I am definitely enjoying learning about some places that had not otherwise captured my attention. Thanks so much! That I might not be able to include this particular stretch in an itinerary that includes various other places isn’t the point right now: Of course I can’t include it all – that’s why I posted in the 1st place! My hope is that this thread helps me better understand my options so I can weigh them and decide among them – and it seems that your description of this area will help me do just that! Thanks!

3. Regional alternatives - what a wonderful and extraordinarily helpful summary! I began this post because I was having trouble narrowing my options when faced with the amazingly rich variety of possible destinations within Turkey; with this input (and the many posts preceding this one), I’m getting a much better sense of how to construct a plan that will include my “must-sees,” maximize the diversity of my experiences, and minimize my down-time.

And thank you, too, for the information about internal flights and rental cars – you’re giving me a great start on gathering some critical information!
kja is offline  
Dec 20th, 2011, 11:41 PM
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kja, thanks for your appreciation,

Your poınts 1 and 2 above are absolutely correct.

the safety concerns change according to the current political and even economic situatıon at the time of travel, at least for some regions ın Turkey. Hence, the need to follow closely and to try to leave the planning for those regions as late as possible.

I somehow locked my keyboard ın the Turkish mode. Sorry if you get some crazy letters.
otherchelebi is online now  
Dec 21st, 2011, 06:21 PM
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otherchelebi - I just looked through Eser's photos of Myra and the Datca Peninsula - WOW! And I still have more of her pictures to view when I have a bit more time.

I am slowly relinquishing my hopes to visit the southeast. No decisions yet, but I'm slowly adjusting to the idea. And warming to the idea that I'll have more time for other wonderful places....

I'm sure I'll have more questions soon.
kja is offline  
Dec 21st, 2011, 07:20 PM
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kja - We avoided traveling in the eastern region, but found so much to see during our 3 weeks that it didn't matter. Otherchelebi's information is excellent and we visited many of the places he suggests. You cannot go wrong wherever you visit. There is so much history, beautiful scenery, and ruins to see throughout Turkey. It is definitely a place I would return to.
dgunbug is offline  
Dec 21st, 2011, 07:39 PM
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Thanks, dgunbug! Difficult as it is to drop places from my wish-list, I have full confidence that I will have a wonderful experience in Turkey. (And I trust you will enjoy your time in China.)

Fodor's Forums are wonderful, aren't they? To have a place where you and I (and others) can share our experiences, while also benefitting from the generosity of true experts (like otherchelebi), is so welcome!
kja is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2011, 04:02 AM
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I'm looking forward to hearing about your travels to Turkey. Please post a notice in the Asia forum when you have reported back as I rarely look here.
dgunbug is offline  
Jan 1st, 2012, 06:53 PM
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It sounds like you enjoy many of the things we do when you travel -- one thing I would add in when you are in Istanbul is to take the Bosphorus ferry to the Sabanci Museum and eat lunch there. The ferry ride is fascinating (in April you may be able to hop off and on and see some of the small towns) -- we went in January and there was only one trip up and one back -- which was fine too. The Museum is private and usually hosts a modern show as well as the collection -- which is a beautiful introduction to the essence of Islamic art. Food at the museum is by one of Istanbul's star chefs but you can get small plates (the marinated/grilled octopus -- so tasty!) -- and the view is sublime.
The trip up and back, with a glass of Turkish tea harks back to another era.

And do get up for the balloon ride in Cappadocia -- the perspective from the air is something you won't see any other way -- and it is really memorable. I have pictures from the ride that my colleagues here in the States can't believe ...
jenskar2 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2012, 10:33 PM
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jenskar2, you are another testament to the benefits of Fodor's forums!

I am planning to take a ride on the Bosphorus ferry, but I hadn't planned on stopping at the Sabanci Museum. In fact, I have 7 guide books for Turkey, and if any of them covers the Sabanci, I couldn't find any mention through their indexes when I checked just now. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my post and mentioning this museum and its restaurant!

Thanks, too, for affirming that the Cappadocia balloon ride is worth it. With my budget, it seems a very extravagant splurge, so every voice enthusiastically in favor gives me a bit more confidence that it is worth each pretty penny.

Please keep tossing your ideas my way!
kja is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2012, 07:54 PM
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I finally have a very, VERY rough and overly long plan for my visit to Turkey. I don’t pretend to have allocated my time well or wisely – and I still can’t fit my plan into 3.5 weeks or less. I am hoping all of you can help me make adjustments. I’m sure I’ve made some egregious errors, so if parts of my plan make you laugh out loud, that’s fine – but please share the joke with me!

BTW, I am aware that my plan is ambitious, and that’s fine with me as long as it isn’t unrealistic. I don’t mind a packed itinerary -- I want to take full advantage of the time I have to see and experience things. I am NOT looking for a relaxing sojourn.

When suggesting what I can cut or where I am allocating too much time, please don’t neglect to address my omissions – places I have skipped or given too little time. This itinerary really is a preliminary draft, and any and all comments are welcome!

My usual schedule when traveling: I’ll get up early if it is the only way to see or do something special, but I’m not a morning person. On a “normal” day, I would expect to have breakfast and (if necessary) check out in time to begin exploring by mid-to-late morning (say 10 or 10:30 a.m.). Except for a few brief breaks (I don’t eat lunch), I keep going until late in the day (around sunset or even later if places are open and if I am certain that I can get a meal afterwards). I like to relax while I eat dinner and sip some wine, but I don’t mind grabbing a light dinner once in a while if that’s what I need to do in order to see or do something.

BTW, on any of the days when I am relocating, it at all possible, I want to arrive at my new location before sunset (which I think will be about 8 p.m. or a bit later through most of my time in Turkey) – I don’t want to drive after nightfall if I can avoid doing so.

Very rough 1st draft itinerary:

Day 0 – 1: Fly from the eastern US through Istanbul to Trabzon.

The day my flight departs counts as day 0 because the flight leaves late enough that I won’t have to take leave from work. ☺ Nonetheless, I won’t arrive in Turkey until evening of “Day 1.” I’m thinking of going to Trabzon immediately because doing so should save me some time: my layover will be minimal and my “lost” time will also be minimal, given that I will avoid having to get to/from an airport on another day; too, I wouldn’t have much time to do anything that day in Istanbul, even if I were to stay the night. I should arrive in Trabzon at about 7:30 p.m., which should give me time to get to my lodging and check in and maybe even walk around the city a bit – something I like to do after a long flight. I might even have time to catch a bite to eat, but if I don’t, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Day 2: Trabzon & the Sumela Monastery

My primary goal for the day will be to visit Sumela Monastery; I would also like to see Aya Sofya. If I’m reading correctly, organized tours of Sumela Monastery generally leave Trabzon at about 10 a.m. If I can manage to get up early enough despite jet lag, that would probably be my best option. I think a taxi for one person would be prohibitively costly – correct? Otherwise, I suppose I could try to rent a car for the day, although I don’t like the idea of driving before I fully recover from jet lag. (Although the car would give me some interesting options for seeing some of this area of the country.)

Day 3: Trabzon → Amasya

I’m thinking of taking a bus from Trabzon to Samsun and then picking up a (pre-arranged) rental car in Samsun and driving on to Amasya. I believe there are busses about once an hour from Trabzon to Samsun, and that the trip takes about 7 hours. So if I get up early enough to take a bus that will reach Sansun by mid-to-late afternoon, I can use the day to enjoy scenery while drowsing (and so maybe put the worst of my jet lag behind me) and still have time to pick up a rental car and drive to Amasya before sunset. I would then keep the rental car until I reach Istanbul near the end of my trip.

Day 4: Amasya to Ankara

My plan would be to spend the morning in Amasya, and then visit Yazilikaya and Bogazkale en route to Ankara (stopping for roasted chick peas near Corum on the way and making sure I visit Ankara’s Tunali Hilmi Street during the evening).

Day 5: Ankara to Cappadocia

I’ll spend enough time in Ankara to visit at least the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and the Ataturk Mausoleum before heading to Cappadocia. I haven’t yet decided where to stay in that area – still weighing the apples and oranges!

Days 6 – 7: Cappadocia

My must-see/do list currently includes one of the unspeakably early and outrageously expensive balloon rides, the Goreme Open Air Museum, the Zelve Valley, and Kaymakli. Other fairly high priorities (at this time) include Uchisar and Sobesos. I am considering moving to lodging close to the Ihlara Valley for the next 2 nights.

Day 8: The Ihlara Valley to Sultanhani

Explore the Ihlara Valley and the neolithic site near it (more details, please, otherchelebi!), then Sultanhani and – if time permits - Agzikara Han.

Day 9: Through Konya to Beysehir

Leave the Ihlara Valley for Konya, stopping there long enough to see the Mevlana and Karatay Museums before moving on to Beysehir.

Day 10: Beysehir to Side

Spend just a little time in Beysehir before heading to Side for the night. Visit Perge and/or Aspendos if time permits before settling in to Side.

Day 11: Side to Antalya

Visit Side, Perge, and/or Aspendos (if not visited on day 10), then Antalya. (Is there any way to avoid traffic nightmares in Antalya, maybe by parking somewhere and taking public transportation?)

Day 12: Antalya to Cirali

Visit Antalya and then Termessos and Phaeselis on my way to Cirali.

Day 13: Cirali

Visit Olimpos and the Chimaera; spend a 2nd night in Cirali

Day 14: Cirali to Kas

Visit Myra on the way to Kas.

Day 15: Kas

Take a boat cruise to the Lycean ruins around the Kekova area; spend a 2nd night in Kas.

Day 16: Kas to Bodrum

Leave Kas in time to see highlights of Bodrum’s castle and museum before dinner.

Day 17: Bodrum to Selcuk

Leave Bodrum; stop in Didyma, Miletus, and Priene on my way to Selcuk.

Day 18: Selcuk

Visit Selcuk, Ephesus, and Sirence; return to Selcuk for the night.

Day 19: Selcuk to Denizli (?)

Visit Afrodisias, Pamulkkale, and Hierapolis. Sppend the night in Denizli, unless there are better options for an overnight destination.

Day 20: Denizli (?) to Bergama

Visit Sardis or Ak Han if time permits; spend most of the day in Pergamum and the night in Bergama.

Day 21: Bergama to Bursa

Drive from Bergama to Bursa and spend the rest of the day enjoying Bursa.

Day 22: Bursa to Istanbul

Leave Bursa, stopping in Iznik on the way to Istanbul.

Days 23 – 27: Istanbul

I’m looking forward to seeing all the “standard” tourist sites in Istanbul, as well as roaming around a bit.

Day 28: Depart from Istanbul for the U.S.

Thanks in advance for your input!
kja is offline  

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