Reflections on 6-Week Trip
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Aug 20, 2012 8:35 PM Last Post By: tai4
May 6, 2011 9:00 AM
Reflections on 6-Week TripIt would be boring as h*ll to post a day-by-day report, so here are some reflections. We left the US March 21 and returned May 3. We are a couple in our 60's. Day-packs only.
I used hostelbookers.com. Average cost was about 50TL for double bed with private bath. We never had an uncomfortable bed or a dirty one. As a fellow traveler bragged at breakfast about how he could negotiate great deals on rooms, I saw a smile cross the owner's face. Later in private I learned from the guy that he had negotiated the same price we got from hostelbookers. Almost all rooms included breakfast. I'm sure there are cheaper places just as nice that aren't on hostelbookers, but we don't enjoy hunting for them.
Speaking of breakfast, OH MY GOD!! I awoke every morning in great anticipation of the feast and was never disappointed. We ate well the rest of the day, too. We were not fond of the doners--too dry, but loved the kebabs and the other stuff in the lokantas. Most trips we tend to eat from the market, etc., to save money, but in Turkey we could afford sit-down meals every day--generally around 20-25TL total for two kebab plates, salads & water. We also ate lots of cheap ice cream from the boxes--a "scoop" is hardly a spoonful when it is hand-dipped. Salads were generally wonderful, though we learned to ask for them without dressings, which were a bit strong for us. We never shied away from fresh foods and never had any hint of a problem.
Itinerary for 42 nights:
3 nights in Istanbul. Stayed in Sultanhamet and saw the biggies.
Bus to Ankara, 2 nights. The museum is one the best I've ever seen.
Flight to Van, 2 nights. The flight itself over the mountains was spectacular. Van with snow-capped mountains was one of the prettiest sites on the trip. People were amazingly friendly. We weren't ready to leave.
Bus to Hassankeyf, 1 night. The one disappointment of the trip. With the castle closed indefinitely, there's not enough to see to warrant more than a brief stop-over. The motel owner is not very knowledgeable, so don't waste your money on his "tour," and the motel was the worst accommodation of the trip.
Bus to Diyarbakir with stop in Midyat, 2 nights in Diyarbakir. We were treated to a free personal tour of the city by a guy who wants people to understand the Kurds' point of view. Fascinating, and the walls are spectacular.
Bus to Urfa, 2 nights with day trip to Harran. The Abraham stuff was dolled up. Harran was interesting, but small boys threw rocks at us when we didn't give them money.
(All in all, the SE was perhaps the most interesting part of the trip and we encourage you to consider it in your itinerary. The unrest is between PKK and military, not directed at tourists or ordinary locals.)
Bus to Goreme, 5 nights. I read about the Nevsihir scam here and on Trip Advisor, but we still got caught. Be careful. We ignored the touristy Open-Air Museum and did a lot of hiking in the valleys. Our host took us to the underground city that is not lit (starts with an M). Quite an experience.
Bus to Egirdir, 3 nights. Beautiful place to sit a spell.
Bus to Antalya, 1 night. The Ottoman houses were interesting, but old town is too touristy. One night was enough for us.
Bus to Kas, 1 night. Surprise. We used Kas to break up a long bus ride, and wished we could have stayed longer. Beautiful and peaceful place.
Bus to Fetiye, 5 nights. Tried to hike to Kayakoy, but the markers had been moved, so we got lost. Turkey has a ways to go before it becomes a trekking destination. Kayakoy should not be missed. Took the bus an hour or so to Faralya and got off at George House. Spent the afternoon lolling above Butterfly Valley, then took the bus back. A highlight of the trip.
Bus to Pamukkale, 2 nights with day trip to Aphrodisias.
Bus to Selcuk, 2 nights with Efes.
Bus to Bergama, 2 nights with Pergamum. Many people missed the best stuff down the hill at Pergamum, including the best-preserved Roman mosaic floor I've seen anywhere. There's a path leading downhill just past the entrance. Of the three sites, Pergamum was the best for us, and we really liked Bergama.
Bus to Eceabat, 1 night. We had planned to take the ferry from Bozcaado to Eceabat, but bus timing didn't work. Turned out OK, though, and Eceabat was amazingly empty two days before Anzac Day.
Bus to Istanbul, 8 nights with friend. The ferry from Bandirma was full, so bus all the way.
I almost feel guilty relating our second visit to Istanbul because it is so far out of our frame of reference--a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a side of the city most people never could. My husband's former student is very wealthy and well-connected. His home overlooks the Bosphorus near Anadolu Hisari. His Mercedes with driver was available to us every day. We had a picnic lunch with the director of the Topkapi Palace in the inner courtyard, then a private tour on the day it's closed to the public. We had dinner at Beyti Restaurant. Each night we were served Turkish delicacies.
What we learned from this experience was confirmation of our long-standing philosophy that money is a barrier to the best travel experiences. Our best days were when we caught the ferry to Eminonou, then explored by foot on our own. The area north of Eminonu was particularly interesting.
All in all, a very, very good trip. Not much I would change. The best part was the people, especially in the SE. Mothers handed us their babies so they could take a picture. One local on the bus turned around and handed us candy bars. Groups of young people wanting to chat. Simply a fantastic experience. Yes, the museums were nice, especially Ankara, and the limos were nice, but the streets are where the real Turkey is because that's where the people are, and it's the people that make Turkey such a wonderful place to visit.
May 6, 2011 11:22 AM
May 6, 2011 10:49 PM
2Thank you for coming back to the forum and sharing your thoughts and experiences with us-so many people are never heard from again and we are left wondering...what happened??You got to sample such different experiences and so can now appreciate the wide diversity of Turkey.
Ah...all that planning and now it's over.I sincerely hope you'll come back again as there is still lot's more to see.I also hope you will continue to contribute to the forum and share your advice and tips with those hoping to follow in your footsteps☺
May 7, 2011 6:25 AM
May 8, 2011 1:23 PM
4You asked for it: :)
Istanbul: Eurasia Hostel in Sultanahmet
Ankara: Otel Mithat (from LP, but not on HB)
Van: Otel Aslan
Hasankeyf: Hasankeyf Motel (Only option, but do not recommend)
Diyarbakir: Hotel Guven
Urfa: Hotel Bayan
Goreme: Emre's Cave House
Egirdir: Charly's Pension
Antalya: Sabah Pension
Kas: Santosa Pension
Fethiye: Yildirim Hostel
Pamukkale: Arkadas Pansiyon
Selcuk: Artemis Guesthouse
Bergama: Odyssey House (from LP, but not on HB)
Eceabat: TJ's Hostel
Istanbul: Aga Hamam Hostel (one night before meeting up w friend)
Another comment: There was a somewhat heated discussion before we left about the importance of allowing room in the budget for admissions to museums & other sights. I caught some flak for taking the position that it's not always necessary. I stand by that opinion. We did not skimp on those costs during this trip--to the tune of about $400. However, as we reflect, our best memories are the ones we didn't pay for.
May 9, 2011 10:08 PM
Love the comment re: "money is a barrier to the best travel experiences"!
I'm going to Turkey next week & haven't had time to do too much pre-trip research or planning--can you please tell me what the Nevsihir scam is that you are referring to?
Aug 27, 2011 8:48 PM
Aug 28, 2011 1:58 AM
"be careful of the scams they sometimes try to pull on the way. if the bus pulls over and sunny turks jump on the bus telling you the ride is over, just sit it out, ignore them and the bus driver will return in 10 to 20 minutes. and the ride will continue all the way to Goreme. make sure that the ticket you buy at the travel agent actually does go all the way to Goreme."
Aug 28, 2011 6:35 AM
Mar 13, 2012 3:31 AM
Apr 13, 2012 3:23 PM
Aug 20, 2012 9:32 AM
11I know your Trip Report is from a while back but I'm hoping you can remember... It sounds like you got from Van to Hassankeyf in one day. I was thinking I'd have to go to Diyarbakir and backtrack to Hassankeyf. Do you remember if/where you connected to do the Van to Hassankeyf journey?
Aug 20, 2012 11:38 AM
Aug 20, 2012 8:35 PM
(2 star Hotel)
From US$38.11 per night
(5 star Hotel)
From US$152.15 per night
(0 star Hotel)
From US$14.50 per night