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Please Help With Basic Itinerary for Mom + 2 kids' 18-day Istanbul to Athens Journey in June

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Dec 4th, 2006, 08:04 PM
  #1
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Please Help With Basic Itinerary for Mom + 2 kids' 18-day Istanbul to Athens Journey in June

Every June I take my two kids (now 9 and 12) abroad for a few weeks. We spend the year prior studying, reading, making a timeline, watching movies, and sometimes even learning the language of our destination country. Last year was Rome and the Amalfi Coast; 2005 was China and Japan; 2004 was Paris and London. This forum has been so helpful in planning these trips each year.

This June we're booked to fly into Istanbul, arriving June 1, and out of Athens on June 18. I am buried in guidebooks, articles, and have been reading this forum, but am having trouble getting even a rough itinerary together to start working with. I know so little about Turkey and Greece and really am overwhelmed. I could use some help.

My kids are excellent travelers with strong history and classics knowledge. Any trip we take usually emphasizes history and culture, but also we like to throw in a great beach or pool occasionally whenever we can find one. Can someone suggest a rough itinerary (or be as specific as you want) that would include the highlights of Istanbul, Troy (my son insists, despite the lackluster reviews), Gallipoli, Ephesus/Kusadasi, a few of the best islands (Mykonos and Santorini have to be included for Mom), and if possible, Crete and/or Rhodes. We can cover a great deal in a day and have no trouble living from backpacks, sleeping on a train/ferry, etc. Budget is very flexible and we are willing to pay for any really special experiences, but prefer to avoid luxury hotels as we've found they insulate us just a little too much from the local flavor. Any suggestions about an itinerary, accommodations, or activities in either Turkey or Greece would be greatly appreciated (including suggestions for books and movies to help prepare us).

Thank you!
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Dec 5th, 2006, 06:32 AM
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Check out my trip report which includes Turkey:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34644385

I also have a Crete/Santorini one here that I never totally finished, but mostly.

I would do something like this:
3 nights Istanbul
Fly to Cappodocia region, 2 nights OR do 2 nights in Bodrum after Kalkan if you would like to stick to the coast.
Fly to Dalaman, go to Kalkan, 2 nights- boat trip to Simena
Rent a car, drive to Kusadasi, 2 nights-tour Ephesus
Drive to Galliopi, spend a night here, then take public transit to Istanbul for a flight to Athens.
2 nights Athens
Fly to Santorini, 2 nights
Ferry to Mykonos, 2 nights
Fly to Athens, spend last night there.

Crete takes at least 10 days in and of itself. I would leave it out this trip. I'm not a huge 2 night fan, but from the way you describe yourselves it would not be a problem.

I have to say that Turkey would be great for all 17 days. There is SO much to see. Check out turkeytravelplanner.com

Greece could also fill up all 17 days.

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Dec 5th, 2006, 08:17 AM
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SOunds lovely & adventurous! My only cavil would be including Mykonos after santorini, for a number of reasons:

(1) you've had a pretty intensive go-go-go itinerary, and need a little 'down-time." Maybe a less touristy island than Mykonos is a good idea (NOTE: if you are doing for the famed 'blue & white architecture' you should know that ALL Cycladic islands have this beautiful feature, and most with less crowds than Mykonos.

(2) Mykonos' biggest features are nightlife & shopping--neither of which apply to 9 & 12 yr olds.

(3) Mykonos is a drag from Santorini -- usually you have to go to Paros & change ferries... then the ferry to Piraeus is a longer drag.

(4) your kids might be ready for some beach time -- and Santorini has mediocre (black) beaches, and Mykonos windy ones... while Naxos sits close to Santorini with FIFTEEN MILES of white sand beach. If you take a beach-side apt at St. George beach you're right on the sand, and a shallow beach, which will (thus) be warm enough for swims in June -- and watersports are available there too.

(5) after all that hopping, your wallet might be a little flat and Naxos (hotels, food etc) is about HALF the price of Mykonos.

(6) Your kids like company... and St. George beach is a 'familly' beach so they'd find lots of youngster their age to interact with. It's also safe, if they want to wander around a bit on their own.

just a thought....
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Dec 5th, 2006, 08:21 AM
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I forgot to say (after reading that your children have interest in history etc) that Naxos is FAR richer in that respect than Mykonos! Castles atop the town, loads of ruins, a wonderful island to drive around with a 1-day rental car to find ancient statues, temples, a fasinating winding maze-like agora lane, more more.

Myknos has 5 windmills, a maze-like agora lane (which has shops like Cartier, Calvin Klein, DKNY and other East Hampton faves), and crowds pouring off cruise ships day after day after day.

just a thought....
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Dec 28th, 2006, 08:48 PM
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Thank you all for the excellent advice. It sounds like Naxos would be a much better choice. Any suggestions for getting out to Troy and then also to Cappidoccia before heading to islands. Ferries vs. flights?
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Dec 28th, 2006, 11:46 PM
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Lucky kids! Have a great time.

We enjoyed Athens more than we expected - loved the Archaeological Museum.

Relaxing on Santorini was really enjoyable. Our favorite little restaurant on Santorini was Mario's Taverna, near the airport - beachside dining with unfussy and delicious local Greek food (fish was very expensive, but the rest of the menu was very reasonable).
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Dec 28th, 2006, 11:47 PM
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Forgot to mention - kids were 11 and 13 last summer when we were in Athens and Santorini.
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Dec 29th, 2006, 10:42 PM
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If you can, when you're in Santorini, stay in Oia---gorgeous! Less touristy and Fira is only a 20 min, 3 euro bus ride away! Oh and, in Istanbul, definitely stay in the Sultanahmet. All of the historical and cultural landmarks are within a 3 mile radius. Plug for the Seven Hills Hotel! You'll love it!
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Dec 29th, 2006, 11:06 PM
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I agree with travelerjan about Naxos. I adore Mykonos, have lived on both islands and with children I'd go to Naxos. 40 years ago I worried about what my daughter was seeing on Mykonos. There is a lot of partying, which is fine but when my daughter was on our balcony and came in and asked me what those 3 people were doing in bed. I don't remember what I told her.
Have a great trip.
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Dec 29th, 2006, 11:27 PM
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I loved Ancient Troy, in spite of it's "lackluster" reviews. It has such a colorful history, and when I was there I could almost hear Achilles taunting the Trojans to come out and fight while he dragged Hector's body behind his chariot. Definitely go.

The 15th Century Crusader's castle in Bodrum is also worth a visit if you get that far south, but you can get to Santorini after Ephesus by going to Kusadasi, taking a Turkish ferry across to Samos, then a Greek ferry on to Santorini. After Santorini you can easily get to Naxos or Mykonos or to several other Cycladic islands from Santorini. In June the Hellenic Seaways Highspeed Catamaran #4 does actually make a direct daily run to Mykonos, if that's your choice, so you don't have to go to Paros to change ferries unless you take the slower car ferry.

There may be better beaches in the Aegean than those on Santorini, but just because the shore is black or red sand or rock does not negate the excellence of the clear blue water. In June it'll be great for swimming. Just take along reef walkers or flip-flops to protect your feet from the hot sand. For your kids you might want to stay at Perissa beach, where the Meltemi Hotel Resort has a water park free for its guests.

Oia is beautiful and timeless, definitely worth your time. There are several affordable hotels with pools there, including the Volcano's Villas and the Anemomilos Hotel, as well as excellent restaurants and shops/galleries.

For me the best swimming on Santorini is actually below Oia, at the end of the seawall that begins at the fisherman's wharf called Ammoudi. Walk to the end and lay out on the rocks or swim across the narrow 100 ft. channel to the little rock island and lay out on the cement platform and enjoy the fantastic view of the island from sea level.

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Mar 16th, 2007, 01:48 PM
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ttt
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Mar 16th, 2007, 02:02 PM
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TravelTrio: There are 10 pretty detailed responses to your thread w/ lots and LOTS of info. So what new information are you looking for? Not being rude (honest) just wondering w/o re hashing everything above - is there something else you need to know or do you have a new question?
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Mar 16th, 2007, 02:38 PM
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Good point. I apologize for not being specific, but I am working 80 hrs. plus a week and am panicking about not having plans made, accommodations, booked, etc. already (but working is how I pay for this! Oh well.) I really appreciate people with strong opinions who will simply tell me to forget this, don't miss that, etc. Guidebooks just seem to include everything but the kitchen sink and it's overwhelming. My biggest problem is that I don't have a good handle on how easy it is to get from place to place, so I can't organize the basic itinerary to get started. Maybe things are out of order. I mean, can I fly from one place to another or do I have to go back through Istanbul or Athens every time I want to fly? What ferries make sense in Greek Islands versus flights? How significant is cost difference?

Anyway, here's what I'm thinking at this point, based upon above replies and other research:

2 nights Istanbul

Overnight tour to Troy, Gallipoli (I know, I know) for 1 night

Fly to Cappodocia region, 2 or 3? nights

Kusadasi, 2 nights-tour Ephesus

Ferry to Samos, then on to Santorini for 1 or 2 nights? Stay in Oia

Ferry? to Naxos, stay at St. George Beach? 2 nights?

Last 2 nights Athens

We have several additional days to play with, and I'm wondering how to fit in Crete or if there is a way to fit in Bodrum or maybe a gullet tour somewhere?

I am considering the Seven Hills Hotel in Istanbul, any opinions? Triple is 160 euros, which seems very high. Any thoughts?

I need suggestions on how best to handle the overnight tour to Troy and Gallipoli -- looks like overnight bus and then all-day tour maybe, not sure yet. I am not comfortable driving myself there.

How long to stay in Cappadocia if we want to do horseback ride, balloon ride, hike, in addition to Goreme outdoor museum and go underground. Suggestions for arranging these activities?

How best to get from Cappadocia to Ephesus? Where to stay at Ephesus?

Any specific place to stay at Oia in Santorini?

How to get from Santorini to Naxos and where to stay in St. George Beach?

Where to stay in Athens?

So, I continue to welcome any and all suggestions, even the most rambling thoughts. Right now I am limited in my time to research and, frankly, am overwhelmed at planning for so many different locations in countries I've never visited. Once I get the framework down, I can focus on the details better, but please offer any thoughts. Thank you.


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Mar 16th, 2007, 02:55 PM
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If your kids have a strong interest in history and culture, I would recommend more than 2 days in Athens. We are here right now, and I am amazed at how much my kids are enjoying it. In addition to being quite taken by the food, they love being able to piece things together as we visit the various sites and museums. I was worried it would be too much for them, but they seem to just soak it all up - In the evenings they've "made friends" with some kids at the square near our apartment - they're picking up Greek and getting the Greek kids to practice their English. We're having quite the trip. I was worried we'd be in this city too long, but I am already thinking about how to return (when it is a bit warmer, so we can at least visit an island or two!)
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Mar 16th, 2007, 03:13 PM
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TravelTrio,

We spent 3 weeks in Greece last summer w/ our kids, who are now 16 and 19. This summer, we're going back, but also visiting Turkey.

I really wanted to visit Cappadochia, but I decided that w/ only 12 days in Turkey, we had to choose either Cappadochia or the Aegean Coast.

Since we're going on to Greece after Turkey, it made sense to visit Istanbul, Ephesus, and Bodrum. This minimizes backtracking drastically, because we can catch a boat from Marmaris, Turkey, to Rhodes,which is our first stop in Greece.

From everything that I read, I decided that one day would be enough for Ephesus. So we are flying from Istanbul-Izmir, and getting a transfer w/ guide to take us to Ephesus for the day. We will then spend the night in Kusadisi at The Kismet Hotel.

From Kusadisi, we plan to drive to Bodrum, where we'll spend five days.

Then from Bodrum, another drive to Marmaris, for one night only, so that we can catch the ferry to Rhodes the next morning.

I think you need to decide which area you most want to see after Istanbul, and plan your time accordingly. Don't try to do it all, or you and your kids will be miserable between all the packing/unpacking and transfers between stops.

I would suggest:

4 nights in Istanbul ( and even that is probably too short for everything there is to do and see there!)

EITHER Cappochia 3 nights

OR

Ephesus/Kusadisi 3 nights

IF Cappadochia, find out if you can fly from that area directly to Athens w/out backtracking to Istanbul

Fly from Athens-Santorini- 3 nights
** Check recommmendations for lodgings by posters BROTHERLEELOVE2204, and HEIMDALL, in particular, who are quite knowledgeable about Santorini

3 nights in Naxos

Ferry/fly to Athens

And now, do yourself a big favor and go immediately to Turkeytravelplanner.com, and get in touch w/ one of the travel agencies recommended there. I used ANKER TRAVEL in Kusadisi, and highly recommend them.

A last note- we are staying at The Seven Hills, too. I like the location since we want to be in the heart of the sightseeing district. I've heard that there's few restaurants/minimal nightlife, but we'll deal with it!

GOOD LUCK!!!!
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Mar 16th, 2007, 03:16 PM
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A last note from me- if you post your budget, you'll get tons of suggestions for where to stay in Turkey, the islands, and Athens. We stayed at The Grand Bretagne in Athens last summer, which is fabulous, but only because my husband was there on business. Very pricey!!!
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