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Turkey Trip Report (Ephesus, Cappadocia, Istanbul) - May 2010, Part 1

Turkey Trip Report (Ephesus, Cappadocia, Istanbul) - May 2010, Part 1

Sep 24th, 2010, 08:15 PM
  #1  
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Turkey Trip Report (Ephesus, Cappadocia, Istanbul) - May 2010, Part 1

My husband and I (late 20's) went to Turkey from May 9-20, 2010. For context, we flew from NY and are in our late 20's.

May 9/10:
We took a direct Turkish Airlines from JFK to Istanbul. Our flight was 3 hours delayed because of of the volcano ash, and we missed our connecting flight to Izmir. Once we landed in Istanbul, with a little bit of confusion (I have to add that Turkish Airlines personnel and Turkish airport staff was extremely rude and couldn't help us with what to do because of our delay, i.e. where to go in the airport, don't speak English, etc.) we found our way to the Visa desk, got stamps, which cost $20 and then went to passport control. From there, we ensured that our bags were checked through and made our way to the domestic airport to get on the next flight to Izmir. Tip #2: if you are connecting in Istanbul from the int'l to domestic airport, give yourself at least 3 hours. Tip #2: You need to get your visa before you go to passport control. We were told incorrectly to do it in the reverse order, so we waited 30 min at passport control only to leave the line and get our visa and then wait on line again.

We got booked on the next flight, but there were more complications. Passengers flying from Europe into Istanbul were also delayed because of the ash. Instead of simply telling us that, we were delayed 30-45 minutes 4x and were told it was from operating difficulties. Our flight finally landed in Izmir's domestic terminal. However, our bags were at the int'l terminal. It took the airlines staff 1 hour to figure that out. In that one hour, us and a group of Americans/Europeans took the tram twice btw the terminals and got a great tour of the airport until we were reunited with our bags. Hence, my complaint about the airline/airport staff. From here on out, our trip took a turn for the better!

Selcuk/Ephesus, May 10-12
We used Argues Travel for our guide in Ephesus and Cappadocia and couldn't have been more pleased. Our guide picked us up at the Izmir airport and drove us to our hotel in Selcuk, Hotel Nilya. We were pretty tired that night, and after showering, walked into town, had dinner at a decent restaurant, whose name I cant recall but it was on the terrace with a pool next to to the aqueducts. We walked around a bit after, had some visne (sour cherry juice that I became addicted to by the end of the trip and miss terribly) and got lokum at a shop.

The next day, after breakfast at the hotel, which was simple and delicious, we were picked up by our guide, Cetan, at 9am. We went to the Virgin Mary House and on to the ruins of Ephesus. The ruins blew our expectations; we didn't know that they were so extensive and that well preserved. Tip #3: Make sure you see the terrace houses. It costs extra if it is not included in your tour, but it is worth seeing the houses and mosaics preserved from hundreds of years ago! Tip #4: It was early May but very, very hot. The sun was out. Where sunscreen and bring a hat or an umbrella for Ephesus; the ruins are out in the open with no trees for shade. After the ruins we went to see the temple of Artemis, only a column left now. Impressive because it is one of the wonders of the ancient world, but that's all. From here, we had lunch, went to a carpet co-op to get a weaving demo and onto the Ephesus Museum, which is quite small, but interesting - we spent 30 min in it. Our last stop was St. John's Basilica, a beautiful structure and up on a hill so we got a great view of Selcuk. We had dinner again in town, walked around and went to bed early - it was a long day!

The next day we were transferred to Izmir airport for our flight to Kayseri (to go to Cappadocia). Cetan was a wonderful, funny and efficient guide who spoke perfect English. We were sad to say bye to him.

Cappadocia, May 12-14
Tip #5: Flights from Izmir to Kayseri are very limited - 2-3x a week. We took Sun Express and based our entire itinerary on when this one flight was occurring. Upon landing in Kayseri, we were picked up by Argeus and driven to our hotel, Serinn House in Urgup, our base in Cappadocia. I highly recommend this cave hotel, the owner is a wonderful lady, a great host and provided delicious breakfast every morning. Our room was newly finished with modern furniture and very clean. The first day, we were on our own. We went to the Turasan Winery, got a few samples and bought a bottle of wine, which we brought back to the hotel's deck and drank while watching the sun set. We walked in the direction of the town's center and had a wonderful, wonderful dinner at Ziggy's Cafe. Good food and great drinks. After dinner, we went walked into the town center and drank tea at an outdoor cafe and walked back to our hotel.

To be continued...
Suzy_Q is offline  
Sep 25th, 2010, 05:11 PM
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Suzy,

Despite the ash problems, it sounds like you enjoyed your trip to Turkey. We were in Ephesus in late October and it was HOT (a cloudless, gorgeous day to tour the ruins). I agree that the terraced houses are not to be missed; they're well worth the extra cost.

We also stayed in Urgup (at the Melekler Evi Cave Hotel). It was incredible as were our three days there. We also ate at Ziggy's! Looking forward to the continuation of your report.
ellen75005 is offline  
Sep 26th, 2010, 11:28 AM
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Yes Part 2 is coming! I promise to finish it as soon as possible. We passed the Evi Hotel all the time!
Suzy_Q is offline  
Sep 26th, 2010, 01:35 PM
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I decided to make this one thread instead of posting a new topic. Let me know if this is the wrong protocol and I will happily change it.

PART TWO
Cappadocia, May 12-14, continued from above.
The morning we woke up, had breakfast at our hotel, and were picked up at 9am by Alec, another wonderful guide. He came with a driver (also very friendly) and we had an entire new minivan with large windows to ourselves! It was another hot day out in the valleys and we walked through Dervent Valley and onto the Zelve Open Air Museum. By now it was pretty hot and the sun was getting to us, but the sights were amazing. We went onto the Fairy Chimneys where you can do a lot of climbing to a top of some the formations and get an amazing view of the valleys of Cappadocia. From here we stopped for a delicious lunch at a local restaurant, included with our tour. It was probably the best hummus I have ever had. Our next stop was the famous Goreme Open Air Museum. The Byzantine art and rock-cut churches with frescoes and paintings dated back to as early as the 10th century - amazing! We complete the tour with a visit to the Uchisar Rock-Castle and cooled off with some ice-cream. We got back to our hotel around 6pm, and we both feel asleep around 7pm - without dinner - ahh the effects of the strong sun! It was just as well, the next day we had to be up by 4am for our hot air balloon ride.

Our last day in Cappadocia started off with our balloon ride. We did a lot of back forth about doing this, as it was ~$200 pp, but in the end we decided to just go for it with Cappadocia Balloons. They're the #1 in balloon rides in Cappadocia, along with one other whose name I can't recall. There were other companies with cheaper rides, but we decided we didn't want to take a risk. We were picked up at our hotel at 4:30am and drove to the center along with others to sign release forms. By 5:30am we were in the air soaring above the mountains and valleys. The pilot of our balloon spoke great English and would point out all the attractions. A guy proposed to his girlfriend, she said yes and it was more excitement in our group of 20 on the balloon. After landing we were given a champagne toast and some sour cherry cake and driven back to our hotel. The balloon ride is not to be missed if you can afford it. I will leave it at that.

Alec picked us up around 9am again. We were scheduled to go to the Kaymalki underground city first but it was too crowded, so we went on to the Ilhara canyon first. We hiked almost 2 hours in the Valley of the Sky and saw some pretty cool church carved from the rocks. We had lunch in the valley and back to Kaymakli. My husband and I both hate tight confined spaces, so we decided not to go in all the way. We were able to peer in at the end of the city, because our guide apparently had connections, saw what we needed to see without being jammed in with people, and decided it wasn't for us. Tip #6: Skip the underground cities if you are even slightly claustrophobic. You can't stand up straight in certain areas and you have to stay in one place for a few minutes if there is a jam up ahead.

After this, we were taken back to our hotel, changed, showered and were dropped off at the Kayseri airport for our evening flight to Istanbul. From here on out we were on our own. We were incredibly happy with our experience with Argeus and have since recommended them to three other friends/family members, who all have been very satisfied with them too.
Suzy_Q is offline  
Sep 26th, 2010, 01:56 PM
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Great balloon proposal story. I would have married the pilot if he would have taken us down sooner. We were up for 90 minutes packed in like sardines.
colduphere is offline  

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