Three Weeks in Turkey Short Trip Report

May 13th, 2015, 07:41 AM
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Three Weeks in Turkey Short Trip Report

We are wrapping up three weeks in Turkey and it has been a terrific experience. We are seniors and at this stage of life are into "soft" travel meaning with creature comforts etc. so if this isn't your travel style at this point, this might not be as helpful to you. (Please know that when we were younger, we used all public transportation, many B&Bs with shared baths, and those European bathtubs with the hose that required acrobatics to shampoo your hair!) It was also a splurge trip for us. We knew the language was impossible for us and the culture would be very different for us so we needed lots of help.

In Istanbul, we stayed at the Vault Hotel. It was a lovely property with views of the Bosphorus, access to many good restaurants within walking distance, easy to get to the Galata Bridge to walk (or take the tram) to the Old Town. Staff was very helpful and the breakfast spread was amazing. It is also near the funicular up to Ikstilal Street and on to Taksim Square. Enjoyed dinner at these restaurants: Ali Ocakbasi, Karakoy Lokantasi, Neolokal, and Topaz (very fine dining!) Experienced the Kilic Ali Pasa Hamam for my first Turkish bath and loved it. So much so that I just had another in the hamam at Sumahan Hotel on the Asian side.

We did use a guide some but also navigated around some on our own. Never had a moment of concern about safety except when crossing the street!

Flew to Cappadocia and stayed three nights at Yunak House in Urgup. Liked it very much (we had a cave room....I think for more money you could have had a cave room higher up and would have had an awesome view from your terrace.) We did the hot air balloon ride and it was worth getting up at 4am!!! Found Kaymakli amazing as was Goreme Open Air Museum. Also enjoyed hiking through Pigeon Valley. And seeing the Whirling Dervishes was more moving than I had anticipated.

Returned to Istanbul and then did have a rental car but one with a driver. We were glad we made that decision. Some roads in Turkey are wonderful and well marked but not all. It seems that sometimes you're going along just fine on a road and then suddenly construction appears or the road changes to nonpaved or the vehicle in front of you slows down to a crawl inexplicably. The Taurus Mountains are also challenging. I do recommend Opet for your stops: clean bathrooms and good supply of snack options.

We went to Edirne and found it interesting and enjoyed touring Sinan's masterpiece mosque but don't know if that would be right for everyone.

Next did Gallipoli and found that experience more than worthwhile and moving, especially since this was the 100th anniversary. Many visitors from Australia and New Zealand. Again, we are history buffs, have a fascination with Churchill and were in Australia last year on ANZAC day, so it depends upon your interests if a day walking all over battlefields and visiting cemeteries and memorials is right for you. We stayed at Gallipoli Houses and wish we had two nights there. Very peaceful.

We visited Troy and were glad we did but you kind of have to work at that to comprehend it because there are so many layers (Troy ! through Troy IX).

More to follow.....
peggionthego is offline  
May 13th, 2015, 09:39 AM
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Great start! I'm hooked and looking forward to your next installment.
Trophywife007 is online now  
May 13th, 2015, 10:56 AM
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Vey useful information and for once a traveler who did not eat at the touristy restaurants of Sultanahmet and enjoyed decent Turkish food (albeit possibly with an Italian flavour at Topaz)

Thanks for posting.

Just one note, many Shell and BP service station also have reasonably good facilities. It is always a good idea to find one where the lavatory entrance is through the shop.
otherchelebi is online now  
May 13th, 2015, 12:09 PM
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Very interested in reading more as Turkey is on my wish list.
LCBoniti is offline  
May 13th, 2015, 01:13 PM
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Good report! We head there on May 30 and then on to Cappodicia.
traveldawg is offline  
May 13th, 2015, 02:22 PM
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Love Turkey and am enjoying your report. Thanks for taking time to do it.
Sassafrass is online now  
May 13th, 2015, 10:43 PM
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Assos was after Troy for us; we stayed at Assos Alargo, a very special boutique property with a terrace with incredible views. A pool too although too cool for that when we were there. Eche, the young woman proprietor, is amazing. On her suggestion, we'll be reading Attaturk by Andrew Mango when we get home. We toured Behramkale's Temple of Athens where a special rock was used for burial which is where we got the word sarcophocous (sorry about the spelling) from. Also of interest is that St. Paul left the Assos port headed for Rome.

We stopped by Antandros, only recently opened to the public. Wonderful mosaics uncovered here. Made me think that every time someone turns a shovel in Turkey, they must find antiquities!

Marvelous Pergamum was next, missing its Altar of Zeus (now in a European museum). The library there had rivaled Alexandria's and it where we got "parchment" from. Don't miss Asclepion, the medical center (in a different location). We stayed at the Hera Hotel in Bergama and liked it very much. Wonderful owner; very friendly and speaks great English. Lovely terrace views for breakfast. Dinner @ Kybele Restaurant. I had a delicious lamb steak, a salad of rocket, apple, pomegranate, tomatoes and Bergama cheese.

Also recommend the book Hot Sun, Strong Tea. I was glad I read it on the trip instead of before it because then I understood the geography better.

And should mention I find I like Raki. Maybe it's just because I'm in Turkey?

More to follow....
peggionthego is offline  
May 13th, 2015, 11:28 PM
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I like your style of reporting. visions, impressions, tastes and glimpses rather than photographs, catalogues and schedules.
otherchelebi is online now  
May 13th, 2015, 11:58 PM
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Thank you, Chelebi and I can say your postings were very helpful to me in preparing for this trip. I'm sure you're right about stopping on the road at BP or wherever; we just always stopped at Opet so that's all the experience I had.

A comment about food in Turkey: we found the food fresh and flavorful but not spicy. We also found the portions very large!! We had the experience far too many times (our bad) of being unable to eat the main course because we filled up on too many irresistible mezes! We did learn that every restaurant was more than willing to let us share; our last night, we shared a salad, a main and a dessert. Some restaurants in the US are okay with that but not all.

I will not be getting on the scales for a while after I get home.
peggionthego is offline  
May 14th, 2015, 12:04 AM
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more trip reporting continued....

We visted Urla Winery and liked it very much. Liked the wine too. Like wineries most places: beautiful setting, clean facility, impressive tour.

Ephesus is, well, Ephesus. No matter how many photos you've looked at or documentaries you've watched, you're still not prepared for how amazing it is. The Celsus Library is just as imposing and jaw dropping as you expect it to be. Loved the latrines, of course. Ephesus is not a layered city like Rome and Troy; it is more intact because it was just abandoned after the rive silted up and then the marshy conditions brought malaria.

You MUST pay the extra money to tour the terrace houses!! You must! Pretty crowded even in May; can't imagine it in the summer. And hot, hot, hot. Do not go in without water in your backpack.
peggionthego is offline  
May 14th, 2015, 12:15 AM
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I hadn't heard of Antandros before, the mosaic looks wonderful. Thanks for that, now on my to-do list.

Here's an article about the "meat eater" tombs at Assos:
Croesus is offline  
May 16th, 2015, 02:59 AM
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After Ephesus, we visited the town of Avalik on Cunda (pronounced Junda) Island. There is a small new museum there, the Rahmi M. Koc Museum which opened in May of 2014. Interesting collections and the restored church/mosque is lovely. We had lunch by the water at Bay Nihat, sitting under an umbrella and enjoying cool breezes. Great people watching.

We drove from there to Alacati where we spent two nights at the Tas Hotel. It was a lovely property but there is much construction going on around it. Maybe it will be finished for the "high" season? Alacati has been well known to people from Izmir for a long time but has been discovered by people from Istanbul so it is exploding. Lovely old windmills there. Great dinner at Asma Yapragi.

Our only winery tour was at the Urla Winery which we enjoyed very much. As at most wineries, it was a beautiful setting, spotlessly clean facility and fun to take their varieties of award winning wines.

After leaving Alacati, we went to Aphrodisias. It is "younger" and smaller than Ephesus but known for its sculpture, much of which is still there in a lovely museum. The stadium is the best preserved in Asia Minor. At this point, we've driven (or been driven!) almost 700 miles.

We took at bit of R&R @ Rixos Gocek. They have a lovely private beach with clean bathrooms and food & beverage service. You take a pontoon boat to get to it. Gorgeous setting. Enjoyed a slug day.

On the way to Bodrum, we stopped at Dalyan and took a boat trip to see the Carian cliff tombs. Amazing. I think this river is also where some of the filming of African Queen was done. This river ends up at Iztuzu Beach where loggerhead turtles nest, although we were too early for that.

From Bodrum, we spent four nights on a gulet. By boat, we visited Knidos, Simi, the Holy Monastery of Taxiarchis Michale Panormitis with its unique bell tower - it was also a center of allied counterintelligence covert radio operation for which the abbot was executed in 1944. There are many, many coves and bays where boats can anchor for swimming, snorkeling, etc. The water was too cold for me to swim (others hardier than I were managing just fine) but I thoroughly enoyed kayaking.

Back in Bodrum, we toured the Castle of St. Peter, particularly fascinated by the wrecks of ancient ships on display in the underwater archeology museum.

We returned to Istanbul for one day before heading back to the US.

Loved Turkey. Go there! So glad we did.
peggionthego is offline  
May 18th, 2015, 08:49 AM
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Wow - I am amazed by all that you did. It does sound wonderful. Thank you so much for your trip report.
LCBoniti is offline  
May 18th, 2015, 08:58 AM
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great report, peg.

thanks for sharing your trip with us.
annhig is offline  
May 19th, 2015, 02:51 PM
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You are so very welcome! We get so much help from Fodorites and hopefully a trip report helps us pay it forward in some small way. Yes, LC, we did a lot!!! As retirees, we are trying to make the most of our current good health and (relatively) good condition. We are fully aware that more low key trips may lie ahead. Our strategy is farther/harder now and closer/easier later.
peggionthego is offline  
May 28th, 2015, 08:54 PM
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Thanks for the wonderful report
"From Bodrum, we spent four nights on a gulet."

I am interested in your gulet experience ... which company and how much did you pay
were the cabins air-conditioned and good bathrooms-showers ?

I am from canada (age 60 +) and will b ein Istanbul
- whether to try the gulet experience form Bodrum or Fethiye

KKKK is offline  
May 30th, 2015, 03:21 PM
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We were with Neyzem Travel & Yachting. Their vessels leave from Bodrum. I do think the cabins were air conditioned but we didn't need it when we were there. I can't say how much we paid as it was included in the amount we paid for our total trip. BUT, we are 60+ and thoroughly enjoyed our time on the gulet (it was the M/S Myra). I think the bathroom/shower was great given my limited experience on a sailboat. (I've always thought sailing is a bit like camping on the water but I would strongly urge the experience. And this was definitely "upscale camping.") It was so wonderful to stop in all these gorgeous bays with no one else there or just a few other boats and kayak or explore ashore or go out on the zodiac.
peggionthego is offline  
Dec 25th, 2015, 02:45 PM
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Hello,here is a reputed company for gulet chartering they are situated in milan Italy and bodrum turkey. They are maintaining good reputation on gulet chartering in many years.they have got very selected quality gulets to charter. Since you are 60+ and when you do a cabin charter they will allocated to a nice gulet with your requirements specially with your aged people. So that will be a nice thing for sure. This is the link and you can find many options from turkey gulet cabin charters . talk to their officer very helpful
Malink is offline  
Dec 27th, 2015, 12:58 PM
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Great trip report. I'm considering going to Turkey, but am not sure yet. Two friends and I camped through Turkey in about 1969, when the infrastructure wasn't that good.

I need to do some more research before I decide if I'll go.
Pegontheroad is offline  
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