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NYC88 Nov 30th, 2008 11:27 AM

Wonderful Turkey Trip
My husband and I came back from our wonderful Turkey trip early Nov. The 1st thing I want to share is that if you plan to go to Turkey, do not hesitate to go regardless of what you hear from the media or from people who hear about your trip. Our only regret was we should have done this a few years ago when we started thinking about going to this wonderful country and while it was still inexpensive to do so. But, hey, there is a season for eveything! Thanks to everybody who contributed to this forum most esp. to Diane who took the Gate1 tour under dire circumstances and still had a great time, to Stu T. for those wonderful tips and to Murat for his untiring, ever patient responses to requests for help/info. We've been travelling for the last 20 years and considered our Turkey trip as one of the best. We're still trying to figure out why.......could be the unparallel ambience (imagine standing at the Galata Tower at sunset with the vista of Istanbul and simultaneous calls to prayer), the hamam experience (body cleansing at its best), the hot air balloon ride in surreal Cappadocia, the hike/visit to Soganli Valley and its amazing frescoes, the spooky 8 floors underground trip to Kaymakli, Ephesus and its grand theater and Pamukkale (though not as picturesque as before) is a natural wonder. Turkish Airline intra-flights we took (4) were all on time. Good meals were served even during a 30-min. flight, planes were basically new (with torqouise leather seat!). Thanks again Murat for arranging those flights. The people..... hospitable, helpful, kind, and respectful; special mention to the owners of Pamukkale hotel (Melrose Allgau), Mehmet and Ummu. What a wonderful hotel, B&B sort-like, very clean, good food at a very reasonable rate.

tower Nov 30th, 2008 11:33 AM


so happy it worked out well, and that you seem to have thoroughly enjoyed that remarkable destination!

stu t.

opaldog Nov 30th, 2008 12:29 PM

I'm always happy to hear people remark on what a great trip and destination Turkey/Istanbul is. We are heading to Istanbul for the first time in March 2009. Please write more. I am, of course, especially interested in Istanbul. For instance, did you go to a hammam in Istanbul? If so, which one. Any restaurant recommendations. We plan to stay at Empress Zoe. Where did you stay in Istanbul. I am assuming that you were in Istanbul; you may not have been.

NYC88 Dec 1st, 2008 07:10 AM

Hi, Opaldog. Of course, we stayed in Istanbul (5 days) and love it (read back my post re Galata Tower). We went to Cagaloglu. We had dinner at Rami, Hamdi and Boncuk and quite a few times at Tarihi Sultanahmet (favorite of locals, quick, excellent dishes at a very reasonable price. Make sure you go to the right one, No. 12 Divan Yolu) and of course, tea at Pierre Loti Cafe. We originally planned to stay at EZ but changed our mind as our credit card info was compromised when we passed it to them. Management since then changed into a secured web. We stayed at Uyan (excellent location and breakfast) for 3 days when we arrive in Istanbul; Dersaadet (excellent service, help/direction from management, breakfast and very clean and comfortable room)during our last 2 days. Forgot to mention 2 minor problems we encountered (in Istanbul): We asked the receptionist at Hotel Uyan to get a taxi for us (as a precaution) but still ended up getting charged almost double. The cab driver had his meter on night instead of day and when we complained, he pretended not to understand English. It was just a matter of paying the equivalent of $5 and we just paid but.....lesson learned. Another one was at the Ataturk airport music store, Havalanlari D&R, the CD that we bought was empty!

opaldog Dec 1st, 2008 10:24 AM

Thanks NYC88 for the info. I sent an email with my cc info to Empress Zoe, but split it into two emails. I honestly don't know if this is anymore secure than one, but it made me feel a bit better and I haven't had any problems yet. I'm hoping that the EZ lives up to the hype. I like the idea of the penthouse, which we have reserved. As we arrive in the late afternoon (4:30) and it will be dark, I imagine, and we have never been to Istanbul we will probably take a taxi or a shuttle to the hotel. The EZ does offer a shuttle but at a cost. I haven't decided what to do exactly with transportation.

I'm getting excited about the trip. I have the DK guidebook and the Lonely Planet book for Istanbul. I'm not going to get too obsessed with a moment by moment plan, but do want to make sure to do certain things while there. I'm expecting the weather to be possibly cold and damp, but being from New England and dealing with the weather here, don't expect it to be a problem.

I do not speak a work of Turkish. What will I need in the way of language to get around? Did you use ATM's? Thanks

NYC88 Dec 1st, 2008 10:35 AM

Opaldog, do yourself a big favor and just take the private transfer that your hotel offers. You'll be glad you did it as I am sure you'll be tired with the long travel. Most Istanbul hotels offer a free transfer if staying for at least 3 days. Yes, we've used ATM extensively as again, all the hotels we stayed in offered discount if paying by cash. There are a lot of ATMS in the old city, most esp. near the Tourism office where a few ATM's are clustered together. We do not not any Turkish word either but did not have a problem at all. Hopefully, it's not going to be too cold in March. We went late Oct.-early Nov. and the weather was unusually warm: high 50's in the morning and low 80's in the afternoon. On our last day, it was high 80's.

opaldog Dec 1st, 2008 07:06 PM

I will take your advice about the airport transport. I don't think the Empress Zoe offers free transport, but I don't feel like figuring out the public transport after a very long day of travel. I expect the weather in early to mid march to be on the chilly side and maybe wet. I almost always travel off season so I am used to the ups and downs of the weather at those times of the year.

Diane60030 Dec 5th, 2008 01:54 PM

I am so glad you had a wonderful time. It is truly a wonderful country with fabulous people.

isabel Dec 5th, 2008 02:17 PM

According to sunset in mid march is around 6:30 pm so it should not be dark at 4:30. It looks like average highs are in the low 50s.

opaldog Dec 5th, 2008 05:47 PM

That sounds good to me. I can certainly live with that. I will be prepared for wet, cool weather, however.

Maggi Dec 5th, 2008 08:59 PM

I'm curious about your experience at Cagaloglu. It was one of the strangest of my life. It was a very picturesque marble round room with stars cut in the ceiling. A new acquaintance and I were self-consciously sitting there stark naked to the echoing of dripping faucets as they brought us brass trays of tea (which I found out later they charged extra for). Then the pudgy middle aged women (who were themselves stripped down to bikini bottoms) scrubbed us both vigorously as we slid around on the marble slab, at times sharing the same brush for both us! Then they sat us down between their legs and soaped up our faces until we could hardly breathe. Afterward, they haggled over how much a tip we should leave them. I felt a little like I was in a Lucy Ball sitcom. I still have an embroidered handtowel to remember the experience by.

NYC88 Dec 6th, 2008 07:00 AM

Maggi, I just took the most basic (self bath) as I was not sure if I am going to like it + my skin is very sensitive. I thought I made the right choice and glad I went to Cagaloglu. I saw another woman who had the same service as you and you're right, I don't think I want anybody to lather me vigorously all over including my face. Other than that, it seemed that everybody looked satisfied with the service. Together with a group of French who were sitted nearby we alternated from sitting and pouring cold water and going to the hot room. The place was very clean and beautiful.

Maggi Dec 6th, 2008 08:23 AM

NYC, it definitely was memorable and I am glad to have had the experience also!

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