Sicily, Turkey, or Romania and Bulgaria?

Old Jan 10th, 2011, 07:54 AM
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Sicily, Turkey, or Romania and Bulgaria?

My husband and I are trying to decide on our next trip and have narrowed it down to these three possibilities: Sicily, Turkey, or Romania and Bulgaria. We are planning on an in-depth one-month trip (we are slow travel types), and are looking at next fall September/October timeframe.

Couple questions: Is fall too late to visit the Aeolian Islands? Has Turkey become anti-American? Of the two, which country is more appealing Romania or Bulgaria?

We are retired and have traveled extensively throughout Europe (favorite countries are France, Ireland, and Greece). We love history, traditional cultures, ancient ruins, and out-of-the-way small towns. We prefer to use public transportation most of the time with maybe a one-week car rental to visit hard to reach spots.

Which place would you recommend?
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Old Jan 10th, 2011, 08:50 AM
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hello magster,

I will answer from general knowledge regarding sicily and Romania, low level experience regarding bulgaria and naturally
lots of experience on turkey.

I would find Sicily a desirable place to visit in the Fall, but not for a whole month. I would think that a maximum of ten days will take care of all antiquity and many churches as well as the excellent pasta.

I would not enjoy Romania in the Fall.neither would i be happy with the low level of english spoken and difficulty of discovering the countryside on my own. I would not like to go everywhere with guides and tours.

Bulgaria is also not the best place in the Fall, cool and wet usually and again the language issue.

Both romania and bulgaria would be more interesting for students of nature and local cultures rather than antiquity.
It also seems that both countries are paying dearly for rushing into the EU prematurely.

Turkey is not really a comparison to any of your other alternatives. It is a large country with different climates, the possibility to swim in the South while others will be skiing in the North; remnants of old civilizations from 8000 years to present, some of them excavated, others still apparent among rocks, trees, bushes and even under the sea; a megalapolis of possibly fifteen million people in a lively and fun loving city encompassing terrific antique sites and cathedrals, churches, palaces, city walls, fortresses, underground cisterns, baths, columns, museums, festivals, open air street markets, the grand bazaar, the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus.

Turkish food resembles Greek, armenian and arabic food plus the royal imperial cuisine of Istanbul.

However, i have to warn you that you may find istanbul more expensive than the other locations but the other parts of Turkey will be within most budgets.

I would suggest the standard fare of:

- eight days in istanbul (broken in two at beginning and end)
- 4 nights in cappadocia (read Parag's and aduchamp's recent reports)for alien landscapes and antiquity and a side trip to the Hittite capital Hattusas.

Enjoy your planning
- 5 nights in Side for beach and antiquity,aspendos, perge, anemurium
- 6-7 nights at Kas for lots of interesting sightseeing, views and good food, Myra, Arycanda, Pinara, Xanthos, Kekova, Tlos, Patara, Chimera, Olympos.
- 4-6 nights at Selcuk for ephesus, pamukkale, Aphrodisias, herakleia, Miletus, Prienne.

You would fly to Cappadocia and back from Selcuk (Izmir airport) however you will need to be on the road for the other destinations either by comfortable buses or by rental car.
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Old Jan 10th, 2011, 09:07 AM
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Oh, forgot,

The turks are not anti-american. the Turkish government itself is strongly supported and propped up by the United States government although the ruling party is basically a fundamentalist religious party (wishfully called "moderate islam" by the State department)

All the touristic areas of the country and the whole western and southern coasts are very modern, supporting secular political parties, with no evidence of the population following any religious bans on alcohol, clothing, etc.

However, the Northeastern, central, eastern and southeastern parts are almost totally under fundamentalist control with de facto bans on serving or selling alcohol. the governors, MPs or the Mayors proclaim that not selling alcohol is a commercial decision since nobody wishes to buy any anyway. That is why they say nobody asks for a liqueur selling or serving license.

In any case, the roads are good, the signage is good, lots of radar make the roads reasonably safe.
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Old Jan 10th, 2011, 09:21 AM
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Magster2005, You will be better rewarded if you spend your entire month in Turkey. It is quite large and diverse, as described by Otherchelebi. You still will have some parts unexplored.
I have fallen in love with Turkey and its people who make it very special.
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 04:15 AM
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Hello magster

I can thoroughly recommend Turkey. My husband and I spent five and a half weeks wandering around Turkey last May. We too are retired independent travellers who like to travel slow and use public transport. We really enjoyed Turkey, the Turkish people and the diverse landscapes. We had no trouble travelling between cities by bus and used local trams and mini-buses in each place we stayed. We tended to stay about 4 days at each destination and took at least one organised day trip in each place.

Our itinary was Istanbul, Ankara(the old citadel), Goreme(unique landscapes and valley walks), Konya(home of the whirling dirvishes and fantastic bazaar area); Antalya, Kas and Fethye(along the mediterranean) then Pamukkale(unique travertines), Selcuk for Epheseus before returning to Istanbul.

We walked around incredible ancient Roman ruins, sat in Roman theatres, experienced mud baths, swam in the mediterranean and took trips with the locals on mini buses to small villages. You will love it!

We have travelled to many places in Europe and initially I intended to make a short visit to Turkey then hop across to the Greek islands. We have done two extended trips around the islands before and really like them. However, the more I read about Turkey the more I thought we could spend all our time there. I'm really glad we did.

The people were so friendly, the bus system is great and easy to use, and there is so much to see.
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 04:18 AM
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I forgot to mention that I am actually researching Bulgaria and Romania for our next trip in May! We must have similar thoughts!
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 06:18 AM
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Thanks so much for the replies. Looks like Turkey is a must do! Is fall a good time to visit Turkey? (I read that May is the best month.) I am thinking maybe Sicily and Malta for this fall and then Turkey in Spring 2012.

otherchelebi -- Thanks so much for the detailed, thoughtful reply. I feel much better now about my anti-American concern.

ausieo -- We do sound like kindred spirits! Your travel style sounds just like ours. We are off to Egypt in March. Have you been there?
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 08:11 AM
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Some Advantages of the Spring for Turkey:

- tulip festival in Istanbul beginning April
- longer daylight hours
- the green crisp plums, cherries and strawberries, beginning- mid May.
- livelier greens and blues for photography.


Some Advantages for Fall:

- warmer than Spring (both air and sea)
- October is good for beaches in the South.
- tangerines Southwest, jujubis in Istanbul, Amasya apples, Ankara pears
- Softer colours for photography.I hope Colduphere and Aduchamp will also give you their view on visiting Turkey in the fall, because they were here last fall.

Colduphere is good following instructions but has not been around lately.

Aduchamp may or may not respond just to bug me, in which case you can post on his trip report.

you may also wish to have a look at my recent trip report on Fodors lounge and any earlier ones, reached from my profile.

For weather conditions, there are many websites which will give you average air and sea temperatures and rainy days for each month for all major cities in turkey, Sicily, Malta and of'course Egypt. It is always a good idea to consider those statistics when planning and checking everyday from a week before to midway through your travels.
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 09:48 AM
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I've been to Sicily (2010), Turkey (2009) and Romania (2005). You might want to read my trip reports. Just click on my name to find them.
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 01:27 PM
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Correction: Turkey was in 2008
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Old Jan 12th, 2011, 04:07 AM
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No, can't help with Egypt as we haven't been there. We've done Vietnam, Shri Lanka, India and Kathmandu etc in the past but as we age I get a bit concerned over sudden problems with our health so I tend to favour Europe these days! Also, getting insurance cover for some areas is getting expensive.

There's one thing for sure though, while we can still pull our bags behind us we will travel independantly using public transport - it's the best way to meet and talk to the locals and invariably leads to many memorable experiences.
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Old Jan 25th, 2011, 08:29 PM
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I have traveled to Turkey many times and it's a lovely place. I fully agree the Turks are not Anti American. I would though think one month in Turkey is way to long. I would suggest you visit Turkey then Bulgaria for two-three days on the way to Romania where I would spend a minimum of eight days. Do so and you will thank me.
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Old Jan 26th, 2011, 02:30 AM
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I can't agree with the poster who said a whole month in Sicily is too long - I have now been three times for 10 days each time and can't wait to go back as I have still so much to see ... I suppose it depends whether you want to gallop around the sights or prefer to sit and soak up atmosphere. For me it's atmosphere every time, and you are by your own admission "slow travellers".

It's such a varied island; wonderful mountains for walking in the centre, steeped in history having been invaded by just about everyone from the Phoenecians through the Normans to the US and British armies, amazing beaches and GREAT food.

I would spend at least a week in and around Palermo, just walking and soaking it in. Yes it's polluted and dirty in parts, but it's one of the best cities I've ever spent time in. A coach party of day trippers can get no real feel for the place. Buy coffee! Sit and watch the world go by!

Then take a trip around the archaeological sites (my favourite being Segesta). Stop off in a lovely seaside town like Cefalu for a couple of nights. And spend some time walking in the mountains. Then take a hydrofoil out to the islands - Aeolian, Egadi or Pantelleria - and rent a little villa and go snorkelling.

BTW, my early October trip was my favourite - the sea was warm after the summer heat and eveywhere was quiet after the holidaymakers had gone back to work and school!

Whatever you decide, enjoy it.
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Old Jan 26th, 2011, 03:08 PM
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Aveyronnaise,

Thanks so much -- a slow-paced trip to Sicily in October sounds wonderful. And just the kind of trip that we would like.

Are you a wine drinker by any chance? Since you have spent so much time in Sicily, would you be able to recommend any wineries to visit?
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Old Jan 27th, 2011, 05:43 AM
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www.goturkey.com and Sicilia for me

my fav for beauty and culture

eastern europe ugly communist era buildings

generally blocky cities some nice areas and cheap but dodgier.

Turkey has some fundamentalist problems like russia but

generally pro-capitalism sentiments and a great country

with more history than any other.

www.insuremytrip.com and review consular advisories

always wise fro any destination.

Happy deciding,
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