Turkey Trip Review
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Nov 29, 2012 12:57 AM Last Post By: KatrinaZ
Nov 19, 2012 4:36 AM
Turkey Trip ReviewWe just returned from a splendid month in Turkey, and want to share highlights with readers planning a trip. My spouse and I are US/European seniors with good energy and lots of travel miles behind us. When traveling in Europe we drive our camping car to our destination, and when traveling in Asia or the Americas we fly and rent a car. Turkish acquaintances tried to put us off driving in eastern Turkey, but fortunately we continued with our plans. We saw little careless/dangerous driving in Turkey. They drive no faster than the French and seem more attentive and sober than the Mexicans!
We flew into Trabson on 14 September, stayed one night at the Korlu Grand Hotel, very impressive and good value, picked up our Avis rental the next morning and drove to Sumela monastery, which is not to be missed. We returned north, back to the Black Sea town of Rize, staying in the Milano hotel, also good value and a manager who went to great lengths to be helpful. We left Rize driving through lovely countryside, and past tea plantations, remarking on our easy journey. But soon the roadworks began on the 925 and continued for many miles before and after Ispir, and on the 505 towards Yufeseli. Slow going, plus we were also stopped by road crews as the new, upper road construction sent rocks tumbling down the hill onto our road. The Turkish government is damming rivers to provide hydro electric power, certainly a worthwhile goal, but until it is achieved in this part of Turkey many roads are unmade and occasionally blocked by work crews and/or sliding rocks.
An hour after Yusefeli we reached Barhal where we eventually found our rustic little paradise, Karahan Pension, just out side of the village and up a steep hillside. The welcoming young man carried our bags up the MANY steps to our sweet little room with bath and balcony, and majestic views of the mountains just across the valley. He even had cold beer! Dinner both nights was fresh, well prepared and healthful. Walking in the beautiful countryside is inspirational.
We continued on to Kars, and most of the drive was quite pretty; we saw sheep, cows and vast stretches of uncultivated land. In Kars we stayed at the Gungorce Hotel which is very comfortable and priced at around 50 euros. Next day we drove about 45 minutes to Ani, the ruins of a medieval city on the old Silk Road that rivaled the power of Istanbul in the 1100s. What is left now is the shells of churches and the surrounding wall. It is a bit errie, but beautiful, and needs your imagination to complete the picture. Across the river, which is the Armenian border, guard towers from the cold war still stand, adding their sinister aspect. We spent about 3.5 hours there and it was very special.
We left Kars for Cappadocia, not having any idea how far we would get in one day and fearing, frankly, a very basic hotel and evening meal at best. Instead, the road was excellent and we shared the driving, about 8 hours, all the way to Malatya! We found a beautiful hotel, the Grand W Askca, and got the room for less than 60 euros! Dinner in town was very good, and breakfast at the hotel the following morning was a huge buffet with lots of delicious choices.
We drove another 4 or 5 hours to arrive in Cappadocia, and headed for the Kose Guesthouse in Goreme, owned by a Scottish lady. It was fine and only cost 38 euros, but was more of a back packer place than we wanted. I give them very high marks for returning my Kindle when I accidentally left it behind! Nice dinner at the Orient. Frankly, we found Goreme to be much too touristy, even the end of September, and after one night we explored some of the other towns, staying three nights in Urgup in the excellent Meleklerevi Cave hotel which was not inexpensive, but a superb way to splurge! Melaklerevi is a creation of a charming Turkish couple's imagination, with numerous balconies and terraces and beautifully designed rooms. One night we returned to our hotel after dinner to find that the owner had a fire going on the balcony, and we sat and spoke for quite a while in the lovely atmosphere.
We visited the "Outdoor Museum"which is a series of churches carved from stone in the 400 to 600s, I believe. Very good, but so crowded that I just passed on a few. Go early!
Hot air ballooning with Kaya Balloons was fabulous and enhanced by the other 150 or so other balloons in the sky. It was very exciting from start to finish with the bizarre rock formations, valleys, photo ops, etc. There were 24 in our basket + pilot, and that is a lot of weight. Very impressed with the balloon company's professionalism in terms of the flight and safety, even if they were a bit too casual in giving time and information to clients.
We moved from our cave hotel in Urgup to The Old Greek House in Mustafapasha, another unforgettable hotel, but for entirely different reasons. We loved the charm of this building, and warm family feel from the owners, mainly young men who couldn't do enough for us. We got a special price 4 nights in our traditionally decorated room, and spent a lot of time on the front balcony, watching the activity. Perhaps best was eating breakfast up on the terrace in the sunshine under the hanging grapes, with roosters crowing. Ah, just wonderful. The weather was sublime and Mustafapasha became our favorite village because it's small and quiet.
One night in Mustafapasha there was a wedding down the street; extremely loud, but the music is really quite interesting, and certainly reminded us that we were in Turkey!
I have now seen enough 1000 year old churches with remaining bits of frescoes, built into caves for safety's sake.
A week in Istanbul with friends was amazing, but as guidebooks will write the city up better than I can, I will leave it to them.
On 8 October we flew south from Istanbul to Dalaman, rented a car and drove west to the Bodrum peninsula where we found a little hotel called Denizkizi, smack on the Mediterranean Sea near Sogut. Simple but sweet, 75 euros per night with breakfast, stunning sunsets, freshest fish, balcony, and endless views of the sea, coast, islands, boats. Perfect weather with hot days, barely cool nights, warm, clear water to swim in. Again, the young men were charming and attentive, adding much to our holiday. One day we drove to Datça which was very nice, and agreed that where we are in Sogut is close to perfect for us. I feel sure we'll be coming back!
Nov 19, 2012 6:27 AM
1Thank you for this lovely detailed trip review,I'm sure others will find it helpful in the future.This is the second review in as many days from more mature visitors and I hope this will provide encouragement to other senior travellers who maybe feel a little uncertain about tackling Turkey.As you found,Turkish people are warm and welcoming and in particular show great respect to older people(sadly not seen everywhere!)and are quick to offer help.This also stands true for visitors with health and mobility issues too.
No surprise you still found Göreme busy and bustling in mid September,it stays this way even into late October and early November as these are ideal months to visit-weather still lovely but without the intensity of summer.
How lovely to have seen a traditional village wedding too :)
One thing threw me...Soğut Köyü on the Bodrum peninsula...and guessed this was a typo and you meant to type Bozburun peninsula.I think this is where another forum member, Hennopsrover,also stayed in early September.It looks very similar and they too adored it!
So,time to start planning your return visit now and I'll cross post this to the trip review sticky so it doesn't get lost.
Nov 22, 2012 2:05 AM
2Yes, please forgive my mistake. Sogut Koyu is definitely on Bozburun peninsula! Another detail is that from nearby Datca one can take a boat to Rhodes ~ it's very close ~ and this is our plan for the next trip. Can't wait to return!
Nov 22, 2012 6:22 AM
3This is a newly started connection during the summer months.There has always been the Saturday ferry to Symi but now it extends over to Rhodes too.Hopefully they will also extend the service to more than just the one day!
Nov 29, 2012 12:57 AM
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