Please help me explore Turkey!

Jan 13th, 2012, 07:07 PM
  #61  
kja
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Thanks, Murat! I sincerely hope that I will visit Gobeklitepe and Nemrut (and many other places) on my 2nd trip to Turkey. Sounds like I'll be able to benefit from your experiences by then - please share your impressions! I often find that the best "answers" are the ones that lead to even more questions, and that seems just as true for traveling as anything else. Bon voyage!
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Jan 18th, 2012, 09:55 PM
  #62  
kja
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I finally have a revised plan that I think (“think” being the operative word here) is possible given my interests and time frame. If this plan has merit, my thanks to the many Fodorites who helped me come up with it. All flaws are mine, and mine alone.

Days 0-1: Flight from US to Ankara, 1st of 2 nights in Ankara
Day 2: Ankara
Day 3: Pick up rental car; visit Hittite sites east of Ankara and spend night in Bogazkale
Day 4: Drive to Cappadocia (Goreme or perhaps Urgup or… – I haven’t decided yet); 1st of 2 nights there
Days 5-6: Explore Cappadocia. Before sunset on day 6 (my 2nd day in the area), move to Guzelyurt for the 1st of 2 nights there
Day 7: Explore the Ihlara Valley +
Day 8: Travel through Kizilkaya / Asikli Hoyuk and Sultanhani on the way to Beysehir for the night. [BTW, otherchelebi, the Manazan caves, Alahan monastery, and Anamur/Anemurium are all on my wish list for my future trip to eastern Turkey.]
Day 9: Visit Aspendos, Perge (briefly, if time permits) and the (Lower?) Duden Falls on the way into Antalya for the 1st of 2 nights there
Day 10: Antalya
Day 11: Visit Termessos and take the cable car to/from Tahtali Dag on my way to Cirali; spend the night in Cirali with a visit to the Chimaera after sunset.
Day 12: Visit Myra and Arykanda on my way to the 1st of 2 nights in Kas
Day 13: Kas, including a boat ride to Kalekoy and Kekova
Day 14: Drive to Pamukkale and begin my exploration of Hierapolis and Pamukkale; spend the night there or nearby
Day 15: Finish exploring Hierapolis and Pamukkale, visit Aphrodisias on my way to Selcuk for the 1st of 2 nights there
Day 16: Visit Ephesus (and parts of Selcuk and Sirence as possible)
Day 17: A day left largely to whim, catching up, and/or a bit of relaxation. Finish seeing Selcuk and Sirence if there is more I want to see in these places. Or if I’m not totally burned out on ruins and I want to do so, visit Bergama or Sardis. Or stop briefly in Izmir. Plan on arriving in Foca in time to walk around, watch the sunset, and eat a good meal before spending the night.
Day 18: Return the rental car to Izmir and take bus/train to Bursa, arriving by mid or late afternoon. Begin exploring Bursa, where I will spend the night.
Day 19: Explore Bursa, then – during the evening - move on to Istanbul.
Days 20-24: Istanbul
Day 25: Morning flight from Istanbul to the US.

I think this plan gives me a reasonable variety of experiences – and as I’ve mentioned before, diversity is the key to my concept of an ideal trip. I think I’m proposing a reasonable pace (i.e., enough time to see what I choose to see, given that I’m not looking for down time). I know I’m skipping a LOT of things that I’m sure I would thoroughly enjoy, but I hope I’m not skipping an entire range of opportunities that are available to those who travel to western Turkey (except for beach/boat time, which is not something that particularly interests me). This plan calls for quite a lot of driving, but I think the flexibility of having a car will justify the costs. And I’ve checked this plan against the information I have about opening times, and think I have successfully avoided predictable closures (such as museum Mondays). But any or all of these assumptions could be wrong! I can only go so far without the input of those of you who have actually been to these parts of the world, so I would really appreciate your comments.

I invite all of you who have experience with the places I plan to visit – or the places I plan to skip! – to weigh in, whether your insights are based on a single visit or years of exploration. Nothing is “written in stone” yet and I would definitely prefer to make my decisions after considering input from those of you with experience and/or expertise.

Thanks so much! And thanks again to all of you who have already provided input - I deeply appreciate (and have learned from) your efforts on my behalf.
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Jan 18th, 2012, 11:27 PM
  #63  
 
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You have worked and studied hard and have come up with a doable itinerary which should not disappoint you.

I have just a few comments:

- You may not need to spend a second night at Ankara. It has just the museum and the mausoleum. You could push off to Bogazkale your first day afternon if you have managed the jet lag with a melatonin pill the night before.

- If you decide to visit Foca and especially Bergama, you are actually rather close to Bursa and it is not a good idea to backtrack to return car at Izmir and take a bus. You will lose anything from 6 to 10 hours. Might as well continue to Bursa by car and then to istanbul and return car in Istanbul.

- Bursa has very little going for it unless you are an Islamic architecture scholar interested in its few significant mosques and attached buildings. Otherwise it is a large industrial city at the foot of a high mountain.

- If you have the rental car, it will be more interesting to drive to Iznik and stay the night there, bypassing Bursa completely.
- Sirince may or may not be worth a visit, but it is definitely not worth a second visit. Beware its fruit wines which are fake. However, there are many other interesting places, like PMD, Cave of Zeus, Dilek national park, Carina, Doganbey, Herakleia within easy reach of Selcuk.
otherchelebi is offline  
Jan 19th, 2012, 04:26 AM
  #64  
 
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Day 6-7, when I did this I stayed at the Çatlak Hotel - http://www.catlakturizm.com.tr/en/p/2/about-us.html - in Selime and they gave me a lift to the visitors centre with all the steps (for a fee). I then walked down the valley and eventually arrived at the Çatlak Restaurant - http://www.catlakturizm.com.tr/en/p/9/restaurant.html - at the bottom of the valley, from where they gave me a lift back to the hotel. Since there's no restaurant in the hotel, they have a "servis car" which will ferry you to and from the restaurant (which is 3km away) for free. I totally pigged out on lamb chops there one night!

Possibly an alternative to staying in Guzelyurt which is over 10kms from the valley?

There must be places to stay in Ihlara village as well, I think.
Croesus is offline  
Jan 19th, 2012, 08:42 PM
  #66  
kja
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I love this board!


otherchelebi –

Hi again! Thanks for once again taking the time to consider my plans and offer insightful questions and suggestions!

➢ You have … come up with a doable itinerary which should not disappoint you

☺ ☺ I’m so glad to hear you say that! (Even though I can’t imagine being disappointed with Turkey.)

➢ You may not need to spend a second night at Ankara.

Perhaps, but I almost always lose a lot of sleep leading up to a trip as I burn the proverbial candle at both ends, so I won’t necessarily have “just” a case of jet lag. And I really don’t want to try driving an unfamiliar vehicle in unfamiliar territory if I’m not at least reasonably well rested. So, as nice as it would be to get a jump-start on my journey, I think I’ll appreciate (and need!) a bit of a soft landing. My highest priorities for Ankara are, of course, Anit Kabir and the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which I’ll be happy to visit at my leisure. If I have extra time, I’ll probably visit the Ethnography Museum, take a stroll through the Citadel…. I’m confident that I’ll find things to keep me busy as I adjust my internal clock, tune my ears to the sounds of Turkish, and celebrate the start of my new adventure. (And of course, I’ll welcome suggestions!)

➢ Bursa has very little going for it unless you are an Islamic architecture scholar interested in its few significant mosques and attached buildings.

I’m not a scholar of Islamic (or any other style of) architecture, but I find architecture fascinating, and my primary reason for visiting Bursa is, indeed, to see a few of the mosques that – at least according to what I’ve read so far – are considered noteworthy for their architecture. Some of Bursa’s other sites also sounded interesting to me, but I will definitely go back to check my sources.

➢ it will be more interesting to drive to Iznik and stay the night there

I may do that! I seriously considered that option, but I had concluded that going to Iznik would take too much of my time away from Bursa. But your comments about both Bursa and Iznik have sent me back to the drawing board to see what I’m willing to skip in Bursa to make some time for Iznik.

➢ Sirince may or may not be worth a visit, but it is definitely not worth a second visit. Beware its fruit wines which are fake.

Warning noted and appreciated!

➢ there are many other interesting places, like PMD, Cave of Zeus, Dilek national park, Carina, Doganbey, Herakleia within easy reach of Selcuk

I had given serious thought to most of these places before reluctantly deciding to skip them so I could focus my time and energy on other destinations, but I must admit that I hadn’t known of Doganbey until I read your message (a very quiet sea-side location not far from Miletus?) and I haven’t found any information on Carina. I love the depth of your knowledge of Turkey – what an incredible resource you are!


Croesus -

I LOVE the idea of finding lodging near the Ihlara Valley that will provide pick-up/drop-off service: that will make visiting this special place so much easier. Thanks for the information, the inspiration, and (as always) internet links – and for so generously providing your expertise and insights. Thanks so much!
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Jan 20th, 2012, 01:25 AM
  #67  
 
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I'm surprised at how many hotels/pensions there are in Güzelyurt - at least 8. If you're looking for a better class of lodging, I guess you'd find it there. I see the Hotel Karvalli has a great view across to Hasan Dağı. Worth finding out how much the transport to and from the valley is.

The advantage of staying in Ihlara or Selime is that you'd only need one drop-off or pick-up.
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Jan 20th, 2012, 05:51 PM
  #68  
kja
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Hi, Croesus - The Karvalli looks very appealing and seems to get some great reviews - thanks for mentioning it! I wonder whether their transfer service would include having someone follow me to Belisirma, so I could leave my car there, and then drive me to Ihlara Village. That would let me take as much time as I'd like to walk from Ihlara to Belisirma, exploring as few or as many churches as I choose - and even go further if I want - without worrying about reaching a particular place at a particular time. I'll definitely check into that!
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Jan 24th, 2012, 09:14 PM
  #69  
kja
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Another tweak: After visiting Ephesus (after my 2nd night in Selcuk), instead of going to Foca:

Day 17: Visit the Acropolis of Bergama on my way to Bursa; spend the 1st of 2 nights there.
Day 18: Explore Bursa, with a side trip to Iznik.
Day 19: Finish exploring Bursa, and then take the late afternoon ferry to Istanbul.

I’ve realized that I don’t want to skip Bergama, even if I only have a few hours there. I think I should be able to visit at least the Acropolis in a few hours – is that right?

I’ve considered going on to Iznik that night, but I’m balking at the idea of any additional time on the road – I’ll already be spending longer than I’d like driving that day, and now that I’ve made the decision to visit Bergama, I’d rather spend any extra daylight time I do have there than on the road.

I expect to be able to see the two mosques I most want to see in Bursa by mid-day on Day 18, but that will be a day when most of Bursa’s museums will be closed. So I would then head to Iznik, where I think (hope) the Iznik Foundation might be open. Even if not, I’m sure I’ll enjoy roaming around Iznik for a few hours. I could stay in Iznik that night, but I think I’d rather be ready to start visiting Bursa’s museums without unnecessary delay the next morning, so I expect to return to Bursa for a 2nd night. I should then have enough time to sample of few of Bursa’s museums and maybe even catch a puppet show (I have an interest in folk and traditional arts) before heading for the ferry to Istanbul.

This change in plans not only means giving up Foca (which I’m sure I would enjoy), but also giving up my one planned play-it-by-ear day. But if my plans through the end of Day 16 are reasonable, I don’t think I’ll need a “flex” day. And the fact is that NONE of my plans are written in stone, so I can ALWAYS adjust them as whim dictates.

As always, I welcome comments.
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Jan 25th, 2012, 02:42 AM
  #70  
 
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Here's some practical advice :

- Selcuk to Bergama will take 3 hours
- Just the Acropolis (without the Asclepion on the other hill) will take about 90 minutes.
- Bergama to Balikesir will be 60-70 minutes, but going through Balikesir may waste another 10-15 if the ring road is not finished.
- Balikesir to Bursa will be about 90 minutes.

Now my proposition is that you do not enter Bursa but continue to Iznik on the ring road (follow Istanbul signs) which avoids all the traffic and saves you at least 30 minutes.

This way, you can enjoy Iznik the next day when museums are closed in Bursa and drive back to Bursa at your leisure next day.

- You will also save miles and time on your way back to Istanbul by taking the ferry from Bursa (Mudanya) to istanbul

So all together, I would say at least three hours less driving some of which in very dense traffic.

- Park car in Bursa and use a guide or taxis, because you will be lost and parking is impossible.
otherchelebi is offline  
Jan 25th, 2012, 07:46 PM
  #71  
kja
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Once again, otherchelebi, you have given incredibly welcome and helpful advice!

I LOVE this plan!

I had considered multiple variants of it, but rejected each because I didn’t think I could reach Iznik in a reasonable amount of time. I’ve been using viamichelin for my estimates, and it led me to expect a MUCH longer trip from Bergama to Iznik. After I read your message, I checked mappy, and found confirmation of what all Fodorites should know: Trust otherchelebi! So you’ve offered me an efficient solution that not only avoids backtracking, but also avoids unnecessary time in frustrating urban traffic. Perfect!

I am also delighted by your suggestion that I can visit Bergama’s Acropolis in about 90 minutes. I’d been thinking I’d have “only” 2 or 3 hours there; your answer suggests that I might even end up with enough time to briefly visit the Asclepion or other parts of Bergama. I won’t assume I can – but I’ll be sure to have a plan that lets me take advantage of whatever time I have there.

So:
Day 17: Visit Bergama on my way from Selcuk to Iznik; spend the night in Iznik.
Day 18: Go to and explore Bursa; spend the night in Bursa.
Day 19: Finish exploring Bursa, and then take the late afternoon ferry to Istanbul.

Just to be sure: the ferry at Mudanya is the same as the ferry at Guzeljali? And if I can get from Bursa to the ferry without driving, is there any reason why I shouldn’t return my rental car in Bursa?

Many thanks!
kja is offline  
Jan 25th, 2012, 10:14 PM
  #72  
 
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Thanks for the nice words kja.

Mudanya and Guzelyali are the same. Check ido.com for schedules.
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Jun 5th, 2012, 05:59 PM
  #73  
kja
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I've returned from my journey, and am very pleased to say that it was truly wonderful - even better than I had hoped! I will try to post some observations in the not too distant future, but wanted to take a moment to express my thanks to all of you who helped me explore Turkey in such delightful and memorable ways.
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Jun 6th, 2012, 05:05 PM
  #74  
 
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kja-looking forward to reading about your trip! I know you had quite an extensive itinerary. I leave for my trip on August 24th and your experiences will be of great interest to me.
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Jun 6th, 2012, 05:59 PM
  #75  
kja
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MinnBeef, you are in for a wonderful experience! I don't have the knowledge that Fodor's experts have, but feel free to ask questions and I'll do my best to answer.
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Jun 8th, 2012, 03:02 AM
  #76  
 
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"am very pleased to say that it was truly wonderful - even better than I had hoped!"

A lot of people discover this about Turkey. I'm glad you had a good time.
Croesus is offline  
Jun 8th, 2012, 04:15 PM
  #77  
kja
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Thanks Croesus, and thanks again for your help!
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Jun 8th, 2012, 05:24 PM
  #78  
 
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Can't wait to read your report.
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Jun 14th, 2012, 06:29 PM
  #79  
kja
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Here's the link to my report:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ern-turkey.cfm
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