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Spain, Turkey (and maybe Greece) in October

Spain, Turkey (and maybe Greece) in October

Sep 7th, 2009, 02:57 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 36
Spain, Turkey (and maybe Greece) in October

Hello Fodorites,

Once again I'm seeking your valuable wisdom and experience in travel. I, Asian, petite female, would travelling alone and would be staying in hostels again. I'm thinking of flying from New Jersey to Madrid mid-October. I'm hoping to catch the last bullfight show of the season (Oct 18, I think). Then go to Barcelona and Istanbul. Here's the plan:
Oct 16 - Fly from NJ to Madrid
Oct 17,18,19,20 Madrid & day trip to Toledo
Oct 22 - Go to Barcelona, don't know how yet
Oct 22, 23, 24 - Barcelona
Oct 25 - Go to Istanbul, don't know how yet
Oct 26, 27, 28 , 29- Istanbul
Oct 30 - Back to NJ
1. I have 12 days worth of vacation leave to use so I thought I could expand this trip to include Athens, or am I pushing myself too much?
2. Any recs for transpo between cities?
3. I'm an animal-lover. I don't know if the bullfight is stil worth seeing. Should I go?
4. Is it safe to for a solo female traveller to go to Istanbul?
Thanks in advance for your advice.
calico1 is offline  
Sep 7th, 2009, 11:50 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 4,601
Hello Calico 1,

here are some answers and tips:

- Going to Athens will increase your costs. each flight adds.
- Also you would be missing parts of other locations. one day in toledo, 3 days in Madrid, 2-3 days in Barcelona and 3-4 days in Istanbul is like ordering a tasting menu in a very good restaurant. All locations are terrific and the times are barely enough to scratch the surface, except for Toledo for which one long day is enough. In barcelona, just Gaudi architecture would take longer than a day, and Istanbul has a large number of antiquity as well as the interesting very cosmopolitan culture on the beautiful Bosphorus.
- It is definitely safe for a solo traveler to Istanbul. I recommend that you stay in Taksim/Cihangir area rather than Sultanahmet where most tourists stay. Sultanahmet has the touts and hassling shopkeepers, and also those who think tourists are suckers. It will take you 15 minutes by funicular and tram to get to Sultanahmet, for the historic sites and the bazaars.
- Madrid and Barcelona are dangerous in terms of purse snatcher and pickpockets. My wife's large vanity with all her personal stuff and both our passports were stolen in front of our hotel. And two pickpockets ganged on me in Barcelona. (If anyone tries to talk to you with a low voice or a whisper, beware. It means that he is trying to draw your attention while his partner does the job.)
- Check Turkish Airlines, THY on the web and their promotions. sometimes you can get exceptional deals. And they fly between Barcelona or Madrid and istanbul frequently.
- You should not go to a bullfight if you love animals. It is gory and vicious and you will probably leave the stands rather quickly regretting the cost of the ticket.
otherchelebi is offline  
Sep 9th, 2009, 05:42 PM
  #3  
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 36
Otherchelebi, thanks so much for input! What you and your wife experienced in Barcelona was terrible.
calico1 is offline  
Sep 9th, 2009, 06:01 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 26,710
Either go to Turkey or go to Spain. We have spent a great of deal of time in Spain and 12 days is nothing. We are planning a trip to Turkey in 2010 and three weeks seems like too little.

Enjoy and learn one country well.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Sep 11th, 2009, 07:21 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 1,271
I would not try to cram 2 countries into one trip much less 3. I would spend the time in Spain focusing on Madrid, Seville, Cordoba, Ronda, Granada and maybe Malaga. If I had more time (12 days is not enough time to see Spain), I would choose San Sebastian over Barcelona anyday.
Egbert is offline  
Sep 11th, 2009, 07:47 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 4,601
Hate to sound pedantic, but, while learning one country well is a good idea for those who can frequently take ten or more days vacations in far away countries, a tasting menu of two or more may appear much more appetizing for those who cannot foresee visiting those areas again in the near future.

Again, different parts or towns of each country have different things on offer. I liked Barcelona because of Gaudi because he has been my favorite architect for over 40 years, and the little gooseneck barnacles at the restaurant frequented by Miro, and the proximity to the Dali museum in Figueras and Dali's house at Port Ligat. But the city itself was unfriendly and not very beautiful.

Madrid was nice because we walked a great deal and got lost and discovered quaint nooks and cranies just like in Rome.
Smaller towns looking as if they were 600 years old were fascinating and we loved staying at the paradores. However, these are for two or more people, sharing little adventures.

A lone traveler should probably feel safer within groups visiting historic and cultural sites within easy reach, and spending the free time in areas where any conversational company will be of higher intellectual and cultural quality. A good idea in Turkey, would be to ask a few questions to a family with small children at a good quality restaurant, hoping that it will lead you to discovering more of the local culture. People will usually love to respond and include you in further plans. One can even ask, how you could find out more about the people of the city or the country.

You do not need 12 days for this, although a few days are definitely needed at any location.
otherchelebi is offline  
Sep 11th, 2009, 07:57 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,657
Sultanahmet has the touts and hassling shopkeepers...

We experienced none of that staying in the Sultanahmet.
Michael is offline  

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