Eastern Turkey Trip Report
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Nov 13, 2012 4:50 AM Last Post By: pasporijo
Aug 28, 2012 4:48 AM
Eastern Turkey Trip ReportConsidering I have had a lot of questions answered on this forum, I hope this information is of use to someone out there!
I crossed the Georgia-Turkey border at Batumi/Sarp. I took a city bus (101) for .80GEL to get to the border from Batumi but there is apparently one that goes through all the way to Hopa as well. Probably would have been faster that way but in the end I had to wait for my bus to Kars anyway. The border is pretty straightforward but as others have noted, the visa office is past passport control so you just get sent there first and then have to go back to passport control.
From Sarp, I took the daily Kars-bound but at 10:30am for 40TL. I've been quite surprised by the high cost of buses in Turkey compared to the Causasus but I guess it's because of their gas prices. The journey was beautiful but very long - about 8 hours. Might be faster once they finish the crazy gorge road though.
In Kars I was planning on going to the Hotel Nur where I was told there were single rooms for 20TL but met another traveler going to the Temel 2 who had a map (I don't have a LP) and was too tired to wander far so I followed. Single was clean enough for 25TL but smelled a bit of cigarettes. Convenient location near the bus station and includes breakfast but was served moldy bread one morning. The guy working was very unfriendly initially but I think he heard me complaining because then he got very cheery and helpful. Was told wifi works only in the reception area but I got it to connect in my room on the third floor too.
Celil seems to have a monopoly on trips to Ani from Kars but hopefully this will change because 40TL is too much to pay for only transport to the site on a very good road. There is a village nearby so I assume there has to a bus going there but I didn't have a chance to find out. Ani was very cool and there were few tourists which made it all the more enjoyable. Weird to walk around when you can see armed Armenian border guards at their posts across the river.
Got a bus to Dogubayazit (20TL) via Igzir (6TL). Was planning on staying at the Isfahan Hotel since they offered me a 25TL deal on a 35TL single room (who knows what the price really is) but found a 20TL room at the Kenan Hotel on the way from the bus station. They are on the same block but across the street from each other. There was a place for 15TL on the same street as well but it was gross. The Kenan was fine... old bathrooms but clean enough, Wifi in the room and very friendly.
Ishak Pasa palace was in a beautiful spot but the inside isn't very interesting (except the courtyard where there were some intricately carved outer walls). One part was closed for renovations but from the look I got peeking in, that section wasn't all that exciting either. For me the surroundings made it all worth while. There are some ruins you can climb behind a mosque higher up the mountain and the views from there are great.
Decided to skip Van because other than the lake, I didn't think there was much to see and there didn't seem to be any budget accommodation. Could be wrong. I got to see the lake on my way to Hasankeyf and the water looked that nice turquoise color but with no snow on the barren mountains nearby it didn't look nearly as dramatic as I've seen in photos when the mountains are snowcapped. Anyway, bus to Batman from Dogu was 35TL. I was initially told I would be taken all the way to Hasankeyf when I purchased the ticket for 40TL the afternoon before but then in the morning was told that I would have to pay again and change at Batman. I complained and finally someone who spoke English explained to the new guy what I was told the day before. So, they gave me 5TL back. There was a bus company that claimed to go all the way for 50TL but they didn't leave until 10:30am so I opted for an earlier, cheaper option. Even still the ride took forever due to four police checkpoints with very thourough searches (maybe due to the recent bombing).
Bus dropped me at the otogar in Batman which was annoying because there were no dolmuses there. I was told I needed to take a taxi to the city center to get a dolmus to Hasankeyf. Luckily, one bus company decided to let me ride on their bus going through Hasankeyf for 5TL even though they didn't normally stop there.
Arrived after dark but the place is so small it's easy to find your way. The motel (25TL) is not as bad as people have been posting... clean, squat toilets and bare rooms. But I was exhausted and very hot so I splurged on an air conditioned room at Hasankeyf Hasbahce for 40TL. Worth every penny! Spotless, new rooms, wifi, huge breakfast, quiet and wonderful AC!
Very hot in Hasankeyf so I got up before 7 to hike around until about 10 when it got unbearable again. I loved the area... especially the canyons behind the castle where you hike for free. Castle is only really worth it for the view.
Next to Mardin via Midyat. I paid 5TL to get to Midyat standing on a big bus (they asked for 10 but seemed ok when i gave 5), and then 10 for a dolmus to Mardin.
Nice guy helped me find the city bus to Old Town for 1TL. Seems like a beautiful city but the main street in Old Town is currently being ripped up so I don't recommend going in the next few weeks. Dusty, extremely noisy and unpleasant. The side streets are better and the view from the hill is great... just give it time to settle down!
Next I wanted to go to Nemrut Dagi and here I wasn't sure how to proceed. In the end I decided to go with Komagene in Kahta because the Gunes hotel folks weren't responding to me. If you have time, there has be a cheaper way to get up there but I was too lazy to try! Komagene is charging 125TL for either a sunrise or sunset tour but I had read on this forum that people had been able to get it for less. I was unsuccessful in that but some of the people in my group paid even more than I did. I was told we were going to have an English speaking guide but we only got a driver who spoke no English. I was told the entrance fees were included but when we arrived everyone hopped out to pay the fee. The driver saw that I was annoyed and quietly paid my fee for me. When I asked Abdullah (the current guy running the show) about it later on he told me that only I was supposed to be paid for which didn't make any sense. The hotel itself is fine except for some very thin floors but the tour was definitely not worth that much money. If you have to choose between sunrise and sunset, I would recommend sunrise. I did sunset and it was fine but the photos I saw from people who did both looked great from sunrise. The other sights we stopped at along the way were not interesting enough (to me) to warrant the extra cost involved. Abdullah was just a sleazy guy out to make a buck and I could tell he was giving people different prices and different stories every time.
From Kahta I went to Malatya via Adiyaman (apparently the big bus from Kahta to Malatya takes much longer than taking two dolmuses but that could have been another of Abdullah's lies). There I looked for the 12pm direct bus to Goreme that I had heard about but couldn't find it after asking at least ten companies. By the time I was ready to give up and buy a ticket to Kayseri, there was only one bus with seats left and they decided to overcharge me by 5TL because they knew I had no other choice. Not nice. But at least I didn't have to deal with the Nevsehir scam and was dropped in Goreme as asked for 10TL from Kayseri. I assume the scam is more of an issue from the other direction since you have to go through Goreme from Kayseri to get to Nevsehir!
Now I'm relaxing for a few days here... hope this helps someone!
Aug 28, 2012 6:25 AM
1Great stuff,will add it to the trip review sticky.Forum member Go_2 brought Hasbahce Pension to our attention last year and said it was wonderful so you have confirmed all she said.
Yes the scam at Nevşehir mainly concerns buses coming from Istambul,Izmir and Antalya :(
Nov 12, 2012 11:24 AM
Nov 12, 2012 10:53 PM
3Tai4 hasn't been on the forum for a while(probably recovering from their trip!)but I remember they asked about accomodation in a few places and in Mardin they were given a recco by forum member Go_2 for the Basak Hotel and seemed to indicate in previous posts this was where they would stay.
Mardin is quite an 'in'place to go these days so decent cheap accomodation is a bit thin on the ground there.
There is also the Akad Aile Pansiyon and Cafe in the town centre too.
Nov 13, 2012 4:50 AM
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Coffee table looking bare?
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