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Those that know Turkey and/or Greece -I need your advice! Unique situation.

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Sep 15th, 2011, 04:49 AM
  #1
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Those that know Turkey and/or Greece -I need your advice! Unique situation.

My fiance and I are planning a short trip (10 "real" days - doesn't include travel days) and we are trying to decide between Turkey or Greece. What makes this question different from the other hundreds of "Turkey or Greece?" questions is that I'm in a small wheelchair and I am looking for some general guidance regarding these countries and which one might be easier for me to visit.

I'm looking for advice on which cities would probably be ok, as well as those that I should wholely avoid. Some places that seemed difficult (but that I have conquered) have been Rome, Seville, Brussels, small hilltowns in Tuscany, and some small towns on the French & Italian riviera. I'm fine with cobblestones, but gravel more than one layer deep can be a problem. More than 2-3 stairs isn't doable, hills are okay but within reason. Beaches themselves aren't really an option, but I still love the coast and wouldn't mind spending some relaxing time around that type of area.

We aren't looking to cram a lot of stuff into 10 days - so only visiting 2 cities/areas is fine (unless otherwise suggested). We can always go back, so we'd rather not rush around like crazy.

In terms of getting around - we like walking, we're okay with driving as long as the area isn't too hectic, city buses are okay, but traveling between cities by bus isn't really an option - its hard to find accessible ones and the lifts always seem to be broken once you do - so too much of a hassle. Flying is good. NO trains, but that's another story

Our initial feeling is that we'd love to visit Istanbul, Cappadocia (though I know there probably isn't a lot there that I'd be able to do...), Santorini or Crete. But we are completely 100% open to suggestions. I know this is probably really broad, but I'm just looking for a little bit of direction to start with - just your first impressions from those that know some of these places relatively well. Once we decide on the country then I can really start to delve into the details and research.

We are planning to go in either April or May of 2012 - early planning, but thats kind of what you have to do when handicap rooms are limited. From what I've read this time of year is good for either Greece or Turkey, but if there is a better suggestion we aren't married to going in these months...

Anything helps!
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Sep 15th, 2011, 08:05 AM
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If you're in a wheelchair you won't be able to navigate all the steps in the villages that overlook the caldera, and that's the area of the island that makes it special. The beach villages are flat and the streets are smooth so you'd be fine on that side of the island.
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Sep 15th, 2011, 10:16 AM
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Re: Athens, the city has made great strides in making the main museums and sights more accessible in recent years. The New Acropolis museum is easily accessible (we know this because we wheeled a stroller throughout it). Even the Acropolis is doable since they have an elevator that takes you to the top of the hill. The touristy area around the Acropolis called the Plaka is mixed. There are areas with a lot of stairs but there is also a large area that is relatively level (shops, restaurants, etc.)
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Sep 15th, 2011, 10:48 AM
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Istanbul would be my choice. Doable in wheelchair, so much to see and experience. Good luck
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Sep 15th, 2011, 12:05 PM
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Istanbul is doable in a wheel chair, although you have to pick your accommodation, location and tour plan well. Some sidewalks are ramped but not all. There are some cobblestone streets but not that many. There are hills, but you do not have to climb them. Most standard taxis are small but you also have quite a few minivans like doblos, kangoos, etc. which should be able to handle your wheel chair.

Staying at Sultanahmet )but not below at Sirkeci or any further down than the Four Seasons will give you full walking access to most of the major sights, including the Grand Bazaar. Entering the Blue Mosque and the Archeological Museum may need some help because of fiver six steps. Hagia Sophia should be easier and Topkapi palace will be fine.

You can enjoy the Bosphorus cruise as well, and if you go to Nisantasi, the upscale shopping, people watching, good restaurants will not be a problem.

Those who have recently been to Cappadocia will be able to provide more recent info, but I know that you can enjoy the alien landscapes the general atmosphere from reasonably close up, without having to go into the caves or climb down into the canyons or underground cities. I bet you can also take the balloon ride.

You can also do Ephesus, starting from the upper entrance and being picked up at the lower, although the terrace houses and the theatre will not be possible. But even the rest, including the library of Celsius is terrific and well worth the flight.

I would not try to squeeze in any beach time as your time will be just enough for Istanbul plus one or two other locations like the above.

You may also send a PM )personal message) and mention my name to Busy Retired, who is an experienced Istanbul and Turkey traveler and a Destination Expert on the Trip Advisor Istanbul Forums, who has some walking problems herself and has helped others with her advice in the recent past. She will be in Istanbul again, and hopefully we will meet again soon.
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Sep 16th, 2011, 04:16 PM
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To go on a balloon ride in Cappadoccia won't be a problem for you at all. We went with "Butterfly Balloons" in Göreme. They're very helpful in lifting people in and out of the basket. It was an unforgettable experience and well worth the expense.

Although, none of us were in a wheelchair, we had concerns about walking in Istanbul and selected a hotel with an ideal location for our needs in Sultanahmet. Within a short walking distance of Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar, the "Hotel Sultanhan" is located off Divan Yolu on a quiet side street (Piyer Loti Caddesi). Just around the corner is the stop for the tram, which takes you to Eminönü and other destinations.

I hope you get to enjoy this trip! It will be very different from anything you've seen so far in Europe
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Sep 17th, 2011, 10:41 AM
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Thanks so much guys! Really helpful information. Otherchelebi- I will definitely contact Busy Retired, thanks a lot for all the info and referring me to her. And thank you Waggis for the hotel suggestion, I'll definitely look into it.

We actually did a balloon ride in Tuscany this summer and loved it! I would love to do another in Turkey. I'm not sure if I will be able to or not - I was actually told no by several Tuscan companies due to insurance purposes and not being able to strap my wheelchair down to the balloon. I finally found one in Tuscany made specifically to accommodate wheelchairs, but they're very rare. I think I'd be perfectly fine just sitting in my chair in a regular basket, but I don't know if I'll hear the same response regarding insurance policies.

I really appreciate everything. Looks like we're headed to Turkey!
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 04:05 PM
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I know there are special custom made vehicles for touring with wheel chair, I know there is one in Kusadasi for Epehsus and environs and one in Cappadocia. If you also hook up with a good guide you would have no problem ( almost ) and see more than you would expect.
Both countries are great so making a choice is difficult.

Regards,

Murat
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 08:26 PM
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Hi Adoc86,
If you are still reading this thread, I recommend Istanbul first before Athens. Both cities are wonderful but the historical buildings in Istanbul are spacious and many sweeping walkways that will be easy to navigate. We walked everywhere comfortably and there seems to be fewer stairs and hills than Athens. Staying in Sultanahmet makes sense although we really enjoyed staying in the Taksim Square area and walking around the neighborhood - there were many hotels and restaurants. It is especially good if you like getting out at night. It is a distance from the Sultanahmet area so we took the tram which I imagine would also be accessible for you. And definitely take a boat up the Bosphorus. Enjoy your trip.
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Nov 17th, 2011, 05:47 PM
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Thanks Parosblue! We have in fact decided on Istanbul and can't wait!
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Nov 21st, 2011, 11:54 AM
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Adoc86, one thing to note about Istanbul's tram. Even though the city has 13 million people + another 13 million tourists (or so it seems!), the tram stations are designed for only 2 light rail cars per train. This is pretty crazy as even here in Minneapolis, the metro trains are usually 3 cars long. (A light rail car is equivalent in length and capacity to about 1.5 heavy rail cars) At any rate, the Istanbul tram cars are PACKED TO THE GILLS morning, afternoon, evening and night. Never once did I seem them not packed. Just an FYI re. your fiance's ability to navigate within that sea of humanity.
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Nov 21st, 2011, 06:20 PM
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I would rule out Cappadocia simply because the best of its cultural remains are not wheelchair accessible. On the other hand, I saw someone being taken down the main street of Ephesus in a wheelchair, so that might be doable. I do not recall any special problems in Istanbul, although I do not recall wheelchair accessibility either.
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Nov 21st, 2011, 07:39 PM
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What about Pamukkale as a place to visit in Turkey? It used to be wonderful, I don't know whether it still is.
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Nov 22nd, 2011, 12:18 AM
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I do not follow those who consider only problems and issues. Traveling is an adventure. You can enjoy different places and satisfy many of your senses even if you are blind. Just smelling a different air, hearing different words, knowing that you are now part of another scene, a member of the global humanity are great feelings.

The fact that I have fear of heights and claustrophobia (truth) and that I cannot go up to the top of the Eifel tower does not mean that I did not enjoy looking at it.

Most major and minor sights in Turkey are well worth visiting with a wheel chair without major difficulty for those who have practical solutions, the curiosity and the sense of wonder.

Busy Retired and MR. BR are in istanbul now. He was also suffering from some movement limiting back pains but it did not stop them from enjoying a day out with us on a drive through some of the parts of the city they had not seen before, a good Iskender Kebap lunch at Bursa Garaj restaurant in Levent and some interesting icecream flavors like walnut/fig, sour cherry/green apple. etc. at Girandola in Arnavutkoy. Incidentally, both of those locations are easily accessible but you would need to take a taxi to them as they are not on a tram line.
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Nov 22nd, 2011, 03:58 AM
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I would highly recommend Turkey as your destination. Istanbul is a must and even Cappadocia is do-able. You won't be able to climb up into the caves nor go into the underground city. However, the Hot Air Balloon ride is the most amazing experience. I was in Cappadocia two years ago with a group of girl friends, two of whom just had hip replacement surgery. We didn't do too much walking into the fairy chimneys, which is another wonderful experience, but still managed to have a good time.
The cave hotels may be difficult as there are many steps to navigate but I am sure there must be some with ground floor rooms.
Ephesus is also very do-able in a wheelchair. Go for it.
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