Turkey Travel Tips: 2006
Ancient cultures, delicious food, and warm, sunny beaches: We love and Turkey! What tips do you have for your fellow travelers to the East Mediterranean?
Tour of Western Turkey
My husband I recently returned from a long anticipated trip to Western Turkey. I must admit I had some trepidation about going given various recent news reports. Once there, however, we were welcomed and made to feel very comfortable wherever we traveled. Istanbul is fascinating and we looked forward to hearing the call to prayer from the loudspeakers mounted on the minarets throughout the city. The traffic, however, is horrendous due to the extremely narrow streets all converging into each other. One must be very vigilent when walking in Istanbul. Ephesus was unbelievable! Amazing to see in person.. We loved Antalya and hope to return someday. As touristy as it is, we thought it was just beautiful. Cappadocia and Pamakkule were also extremely interesting. The landscapes were awesome.. Since we were on a tour, our meals were included. We found the food to be very healthy and enjoyable throughout the trip. We highly recommend a visit to Turkey for a thoroughly interesting and most enjoyable experience.
Hackensack, NJ USA Tue 11/28/2006
If you go to Turkey, definitely make a trip to the ancient city of Olympos and stay at the Canada Hotel in Cirali. It's a lovely hotel and the hosts make you feel incredibly welcomed. Great for relaxing and getting away from it all. Beautiful pool and serene tropical garden with hammocks to chill out in. Would definitely go back!
London, UK Thu 11/16/2006
I used the Turkish 101 (Learn to Speak Turkish with the Travel Linguist) dvd prior to travel and found it very helpful. Turkish is really a fun language and speaking a little bit will enhance your travel experience.
Wichita, KS USA Mon 10/23/2006
Bring a flashlight!
Turkey is fabulous, but bring a flashlight! I was in Turkey for two weeks and there were brief power outages (appx. 2 hours) twice.
Wichita, KS USA Mon 10/23/2006
Even be?ng ?ll ?n Istanbul ?s a pleasent exper?ence.
My husband and I were on a Pr?ncess Cru?se through the Med?terrean. The n?ght before we docked ?n Istanbul, my husband became very ?ll and the sh?p doctor's sent h?m by ambulance to the Amer?can Cl?n?c ?n Istanbul as soon as we docked. I was expect?ng maybe a step above a tent for a hosp?tal and maybe a less than adequate med?cal staff to greet us. Instead we found a very modern and extremely clean hosp?tal. The surgeon and hosp?tal staff are top notch. They e?ther speak Engl?sh extremely well or enough to make us comfortable. The?r k?ndess and care has made our 9 days ?n hosp?tal and our aborted 'vacat?on of a l?fe t?me' bearable. I cannot say enough about how k?nd the Turk?sh people are. We should all take lessons from them on hosp?tal?ty and love of fam?ly.
PJ & Monty
KDH, NC USA Sat 10/21/2006
To tips for a Turkish road trip
Turkish hospitality is well known by anyone who has travelled there, or like me has been lucky enough live there. After being in a big city for a while, it was time for a road trip and we stumbled upon (well, had good recommendations from fellow travellers) a few gems of Turkey. We started off going through Egidir, which was the perfect remedy for a hectic life in a the city - it was serene, picturesque and the family run Gol Pension was an absolute delight. We didn't have to eat all day after the delicious breakfast! Next stop and another chance to enjoy a lovely Turkish family atmosphere and food was at Venus Hotel in Pamukkale, where we truely felt like we were at home and got great travel tips from the owners and other guests staying there. We stayed 2 nights to enjoy the sunset at pamukkale and to visit Aphrodisias - a must see on anyones travel list if they're coming through these parts. It was a beautiful site, well signposted with a great museum and the opportunity to enjoy some ruins without the feeling of being wedged inbetween tour groups tousling for space. Then it was on to Fethiye for a superb fish lunch and the night at the delightful Akay Pension in Patara where Kasim and his family treated us to more fantastic Turkish cuisine. Our last stop was Antalya where our hotel luck continued at Mavi Ani Hotel, in a great location, run by friendly people and then the long drive back home, tired, but happy with our travels.
Ankara, Turkey Fri 10/20/2006
1)My main tip is: GO! After visiting almost every European country and all main sights, Turkey is #1 for me. Let go of all stereotypes and apprehension and just go, it will be a vastly rewarding experience. 2) The coastal cities like Kusadasi, Bodrum, Marmaris are worth the visit, they are easy to visit from Greece--but realize they are not really representative of Turkey, more touristy and the prices are quite high on everything compared to the rest of Turkey. Once I got to Istanbul and saw the prices there, I realized I paid too much for everything I had purchased in these cities. Wait until you are out of the tourist hot spots before purchasing. If these are the only places you are going, then bargain hard because there is lots of cushion in the prices. 3) Approach the Turkish people with an open heart and a smile and you will be rewarded. There is a section on the board here called Connecting with Locals--if that is your interest (it is mine), then go to Turkey--you will connect. If approached with dignity and respect, the Turkish people will roll out the carpet and welcome you into their lives. You will take home incredible stories and experiences, like I have. 4) Let go of all fear about traveling to Turkey, I had to fight through some of this myself, but there is no need. One on one, person to person, the problems of governments and newspaper sensationalism disappear and are forgotten. Instead you will find kind people who want to meet you and share fun times with you--magical moments abound. Turkey will exceed all expectations and provide you with a travel experience like no other! It is nothing like Morocco, which can be edgy and difficult at times with pesky salesmen who can't take no for an answer and a language barrier to deal with. Where I was, English was common and I had no problems at all. It is taught in the schools, and anyone associated with tourism, traveling, selling, restaurants, etc. has a good grasp of the language. You will feel comfortable and welcome traveling in Turkey! GO! Be an ambassador of Good Will, the Back Door way....
Sedro Woolley, WA USA Tue 10/17/2006
I am in Istanbul at this moment. This city and it's people are just amazing. I did not know what to expect and my 5 days here have been the best ever. I have so many stories of kindness and connecting with the local people here--and what an adventure it is for anyone who will make the effort to come and explore and enjoy. The people of Turkey are just delightful. The city is safe, clean, loaded with sights and fun things to do, and very easy on the budget. If you are a shopper, look out! Everything is here for the best of prices. Just one quick story (of many)--I was in the Grand Bazaar just before closing time, just wandering around when a shop owner caught my attention. We talked a little bit and I looked at his silver shop, but he was mostly interested in just being friendly. The Turkish people are curious and open in a very nice way. Then the call to prayer drifted through, and it was time for people to break their day of fasting for Ramadam. He invited me to sit down with him and he pulled out bread, cheese, and melon. We sat and talked for a long time. We shared our lives with each other. All the crowds were gone and most of the merchants too when we finally exited the deserted Bazaar. It was a special moment that I will never forget, but just one of many that I experienced in Istanbul. Americans are very welcome, you will feel at home here in the hospitality of the Turkish people. It is a place like no other!
Sedro Woolley, WA USA Fri 10/06/2006
I took a flight into Samos on Sept. 12 and then took the boat over. The Greek operator has a few boats (I was on the Samos Star) and there is also a Turkish operator that runs the same route. With all the business that flows back and forth on this route it seems pretty solid that you won't get stranded. I wouldn't worry about that too much. Either way listed below would be fine. Have a great time. I did Kusadasi, Ephesus, Bodrum, and now I am headed for 5 days in Istanbul. Turkey is a marvelous place and Americans should not be concerned, they will be welcomed.
Sedro Woolley, WA USA Wed 09/27/2006
Ephesus to Athens info
You have two reasonable choices--both involve flying discount airlines. One is to fly from Athens to the island of Samos, then take a ferry to Kusadasi on the Turkish coast and bus from there to Selcuk (where Ephesus is). The ferry generally runs early morning and around 5 pm (always subject to change, of course) so you might have to spend the better part of a day on Samos. (We should all have such "inconveniences"...) One problem is that the ferry service is provided by a small operator, so schedules could change or boats be canceled and you'd be stuck within sight of the Turkish coast and no way to get there.
Probably the better option is to fly SunExpress from Athens to Izmir and take a taxi to Selcuk. Or even better, if you choose to stay at the wonderful Hotel Bella (a great Rick Steves-style hotel in Selcuk with some of the best hotel food in Turkey) they will pick you up at the Selcuk airport. (I think they may also do pick ups in Kusadasi as well.)
Enjoy Ephesus (and the other sites of Selcuk, like the St Johns Basilica and the fine museum there). It's definitely worth some hassle for the visit.
USA Wed 09/27/2006
Ephesus from Athens
How hard is it to get to Ephseus from Athens? I'll be doing Greece this coming May 2007 and I have 4 days do to Ephseus if I can fit it in.
Seattle, WA USA Mon 09/25/2006
We will be traveling with a ETBD tour in Turkey in October. What are the current recommendations for innoculations for Turkey. One friend said she thinks multiple shots (typhoid, diptheria, malaria pills) are a good idea. What have current travelers been doing--thanks
USA Sun 09/17/2006
Great restaurant in Istanbul
If I wanted a memorable meal in Istanbul, I'd head for Asitane. It's in the hotel (Hotel Kariye, I think) right next door to the Chora Church (also a must see, with fabulous Byzantine mosaics and frescos). Lovely ambiance (white linen tablecloths) and the food is unique--many items on the menu are recipes from the Ottoman sultan's kitchens. World class and unlike anything else in Turkey.
USA Thu 09/14/2006
Dear RB, I was happy to read your positive comments on your trip to Turkey. My husband and I will be going on a group tour at the end of October and, needless to say, we are concerned about our safety while there. I know anything can (and does) happen anywhere, but due to the recent hype about the bombings in Antalya, it does raise the question of feeling secure during our trip. Where did you shop for the souvenir items you purchased that you mention in your posting? Was it at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul or just small shops in Istanbul? Can you suggest a good restaurant in Istanbul for our free day there which does not include dinner? Thank you.
Hackensack, NJ USA Thu 09/14/2006
Report from Turkey
I am bouncing back and forth right now between Greece and Turkey and wanted to report that my recent time in Kusadasi and Ephesus was great! The weather, people, and prices are all really good. Tourism is moving into the slower season now and also some people have stayed away because of the fear factor. As stated below I refuse to let that guide my life when we are exposed to dangers in so many forms every day. I found Turkey safe, easy to travel in, and the people are so open and hospitable. I was constantly asked, out of genuine friendly curiosity, where I was from and when I explained the USA, people were wonderful in their response. I felt nothing but warmth everywhere, from the customs officials to the marketplace sellers, to people on the street. Kusadasi is easy to enjoy, the shops are much more laid back than some other places. They won't pressure you, and just let you look without the hard sell. I am not a shopper or souvenir buyer type of traveler, but in Turkey they have such great things for amazing prices. I bought lots, for not very much. I did not experience any language barrier. It would have been so easy to take a pass and not go, and I would have missed out on some of the best times ever....I have memories that will be with me for a lifetime!
Sedro Woolley, WA USA Thu 09/14/2006
Temperatures in October
Western Turkey has huge variations in climate, from the subtropical Mediterranean coast near Antalya to the continental steppes climate of Ankara and Cappadocia, to the marine climate of Istanbul. One thing to be aware of is that most of Western Turkey has a dry and a wet season, and late October will be the wet season. Not monsoons, but prepare for rain, especially on the coasts and around Istanbul. If you are planning on the interior, prepare for cold (though probably not freezing) nights and bracing days. Great for hiking! On the coasts, the temperature will be moderately cool but not cold, most likely. Of course, transitional seasons have the potential for the greatest surprises both in the US and abroad.
USA Wed 09/13/2006
We are planning a trip throughout western Turkey in late October. what can we expect temperature wise? Thanks
Dayton, Ohio USA Wed 09/13/2006
Private Tour Guides in Istanbul????
Has anyone hired a really good private tour guide in Istanbul lately? I am planning a trip and want to hire a good guide. Any information would be appriciated, including contract info.
Scottsdale, AZ USA Mon 09/04/2006
Tur-ista Travel Agency
I also had good experiences using Tur-ista for plane, train, and bus tickets, in arranging a car rental, and in booking a tour of Cappadocia. However, we ran into some American tourists who used them to book hotels in several areas outside Istanbul and they were unhappy. They didn't like the hotels chosen--and that's hard to judge because taste in hotels is different for different people. But they were staying at the same place we stayed in Antalya and they were paying about 30% more than we paid booking direct with the hotel. So I would be wary of depending on them for hotel bookings.
USA Fri 09/01/2006
Turkish Travel Agency
Tur-ISTA Travel Agency Serkan TUNCAY was the internet agent. http://www.tur-ista.com http://www.turistatravel.com
I had a good experience with the agency and the agent.
I don't believe you can direct book on Onur Air from the U.S.
Wichita, KS USA Thu 08/31/2006
Kellie, Which Turkish Travel Agency
I, too, would like to buy a roundtrip air ticket from Izmir to Istanbul for mid-Sept. Which travel agency did you use? I tried to use the Onur Air website, but it is not working for English.
Sedro Woolley, WA USA Wed 08/30/2006
Tickets from Izmir to Istanbul
FYI - I was able to book a flight from Izmir to Istanbul from the U.S. through a Turkish Travel Agency. The cost on Onur Air was $55 for one-way. This was half the price of the tickets I could find on the standard U.S. travel websites.
Wichita, KS USA Wed 08/30/2006
I'm Still Going Too!
I agree with RB! I'll be heading to Turkey in 17 days and counting. Am I concerned? Yes - the thought of bombings very scary. But here's the question to ask yourself - how many people were murdered in your state (which is likely a lot smaller that Turkey) just over the last weekend? I don't know the numbers for my state, but I do know that the two cities I live closest to, Oakland and San Francisco have together seen more than 100 homicides this year. Yet few of us are scared to travel about our states, cities or towns because we are accustomed to the dangers of our day to day life - so accustomed that we hardly give a thought to worries of being killed in an car accident. For some reason, its the rare dangers that seem to scare us the most.
One other thought. If you wait to take the trip of your dreams until there is no more terrorism, you're going to be in for a very long wait. I traveled to Washinton DC shortly after 9/11 and to Europe shortly after the US invaded Iraq. Each time, I had multiple friends who also wanted to travel, but decided that it was too dangerous just now (one was convinced that all Americans would be attacked if they went to France). Well, the end result is that I, and millions of others, have traveled all around the world and come home safe and those who decided to wait it out just got to look at our photograph albums and continue to dream of their own trips.
Hope you decide to join us in Turkey!
Santa Rosa, CA USA Wed 08/30/2006
I AM STILL GOING
I am going to be traveling next month in Greece and Turkey and will not be deterred from going to Turkey. I went to Marmaris last year and in September I am going to Kusadasi, Ephesus, Bodrum, and maybe Istanbul. The risk is absolutely minimal--Turkey is still safe. I will not give in to Fear. The chances of car crashes, everyday accidents, on the job injuries, out of the blue medical diagnosis, homegrown crime, etc are far greater and we go about our days without giving it a thought. Security will be high, tourism will be lower, prices will be great, the sun will be shining, and the Turkish people will be so glad that you came. Hope to see you there!
Sedro Woolley, WA USA Wed 08/30/2006
do you think it will be safe to go to marmaris in three weeks time, we have booked an 8 day gulet cruise from marmaris. what do you think after what has happened the last few days????
London, UK Tue 08/29/2006
Bombings in Turkey
My friend and I have a trip booked to Turkey - visiting Istanbul, Cappadocia, and Ephesus in early 2007. In light of the continued bombings throughout Turkey from Kurdish militants targeting tourist sites, we have reservations about going now. I know it's impossible to predict what will happen on any trip, but this makes us very aprehensive. As Rick Steves exclaims, "Turkey is Hot," but is it just too unsafe to go right now? If you have any advice or personal experience from recent travels, let me know. Thanks!!
Hollywood, CA USA Mon 08/28/2006
Post tour ideas
There are a number of possibilities--Bursa has fantastic mosques and is not at all touristy. Bergama (for the ruins of Pergamon) is also worth exploring. If you are interested in more recent history, Cannakkale (Gallipoli)is worth a day visit. And if you're in the area, Cesme has a nice beach and is very popular with French tourists (though not so much with English speaking tourists). Izmir is a modern city with a nice seafront walk and good restaurants (the old town was destroyed, partly burned in the aftermath of WWI and the rest destroyed in a later earthquake, so you have to like modern cities to enjoy it.)
Are you planning to stay in Istanbul for those days and take day trips? If so, keep in mind that traveling south from Istanbul is complicated and longer than you might expect because the Marmara Expresi train isn't running anymore and you have to detour a long way around the Sea of Marmara by car or bus. You might think about flying on one of Turkey's budget airlines (Atlas or Onur)--extremely cheap and good service. A flight to Izmir takes less than an hour compared to about nine hours on the bus, for example. You could take a cheap flight to Antalya on the Mediterranean coast and spend a day or two exploring the walled old town, the first-rate archaeology museum, and an afternoon at the Upper or Lower Duden Waterfalls. Another great alternative (if you weren't planning on day tripping from Istanbul) is to rent a car and drive out to Afrodisias and Pamukkale in the interior. It's an easy drive--about three or four hours from Izmir--and an unforgettable one through high mountain passes on good, well-marked roads. The ruins at Afrodisias are nearly as spectacular as those at Ephesus, but are visited by only a fraction of the tourists, so are much more evocative and thrilling to me at least. And Pamukkale--the huge calcium encrusted travertines--are beautiful and unique. You can't walk across them anymore except barefoot (to protect them) but it's worth the tenderfoot discomfort to do so and then soak your feet in the thermal streams that run through the travertines. At the end, you can walk several miles through the ruins of Hieropolis (the waters of Pamukkale were thought by the Romans to be curative, but the size of the necropolis there suggests that the cures didn't always take). Let me know what kind of activities and sights you like and I can be more specific.
USA Thu 08/24/2006
Post tour info please!
Will be doing Rick's Oct 9th Turkey tour. Suggestions for post tour appreciated. We end on Oct 21st in the a.m. and my flight back to US is a.m. of Oct 24th..any suggested "must see" sights between Kusadasi and Istanbul? Was thinking of taking a bus north and maybe a ferry across from Bandirma or Bursa? Any suggestions would be helpful. I will be spending 6 days pre-tour in Istanbul so wanted to see something else..thanks!
Phoenix, AZ USA Fri 08/18/2006
If you are planning on staying at the Hotel Obelisk before or after Rick Steves tour..check out Orbitz.com..I booked a single room for $31 a night! If you book directly with them it's 57 euros!
Phoenix, AZ USA Fri 08/18/2006
We bought tickets about three days in advance. I don't think season matters that much, since it isn't really a tourist route. Enjoy Turkey!
USA Wed 08/16/2006
Booking flight in Izmir
How far in advance did you purchase your tickets from Izmir to Istanbul?
Wichita, KS USA Tue 08/15/2006
Flying Onur or Atlas
You can't book online from the English language websites--or at least that was true several months ago. Go to any travel agent in Izmir and book your tickets there. We flew Onur on that route in May for about 60 lira per person one way.
Seattle, USA Fri 08/04/2006
Flight from Izmir to Istanbul
Can anyone provide any advice on how to book a flight from Izmir to Istanbul? I would like to use one of the lower cost airlines e.g. Onar or Atlas, but can't seem to find a website that works. I have had no luck using the airlines websites.
Wichita, KS USA Fri 08/04/2006
Istanbul & Turkey
I returned yesterday after spending 30 days traveling in Turkey. I am a 60 year old female and traveled with another female friend. We had a truly wonderful experience with little hassle everywhere we went. I have been to Turkey before and found the country much cleaner this time than last. The people were friendly and bent over backwards to help us find our way. Even in Eastern Turkey, where we found few people speaking English and we were clearly different, people went out of their way to help us. Istanbul is a wonderful city with much to offer. We stayed at the Tash Konak Hotel in Sultanamet and the staff there were wonderful. The hotel was inexpensive (45 Euros per night) and a lovely place with a wonderful rooftop terrace for breakfast. Since Rick does not have a tour book, we used Lonely Planet to find our way about.
USA Sat 07/22/2006
We just got back from Istanbul, and I would HIGHLY recommend staying at Hotel Seven Hills. The location and balcony are top notch. It made the experience that much more incredible
I love turkey and am returning for my fourth visit. three of my girlfriends friends are going with me. My hotel pick is the Apricot hotel. The staff is wonderful the breakfast great and the price is very reasonable for the fantastic location. I will bring back a big bag of spices, becuse I agree that Turkish food is the best! I buy the meat spice mix in the market, its wonderful on meatloaf, or pork. My pepper grinder is a sturdy metal one I bought at the Egyptain spice market. I use it everyday, it made a nice gift for cooking friends back home. Instead of driving, or taking the bus, we will be flying dowm to Izmir, try Onur airlines for tickets. ( the manger at the apricot bought them for us) Take your own sunblock in the warm months and I am taking a small blue umbrella for portable shade. I lost my sun glasses and bought a spare pair no problem, but no sun block anywhere. also take a small roll on bug goop, the bugs come out at night. have fun , write me if you have any questions justine in oregon
Hotels, and more
Istanbul, or USA Fri 06/16/2006
I just returned from a trip that included an overnight in Istanbul (far too little time to spend in a beautiful and fascinating city). I would like to add to other recommendations for the Hotel Angel's Home (www.angelshome hotel.com) in Sultanahmet--the old part of the city. The hotel is clean with modern tiled bathrooms. The owners provide free Internet access in the lobby--a nice amenity. What really sets this place apart, along with its fantastic location within an easy walking distance of the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofa, is the incredible dedication to customer service. We arrived around 7 pm on a Saturday, knowing that the Grand Bazaar closed at 8 pm and would be closed Sunday. We asked for walking directions from the owners, thinking we'd have to run to see it at all, and they immediately arranged a FREE guided tour so we wouldn't miss it. They are extremely gracious and are truly committed to assuring that their guests have a wonderful visit.
The other experience that I would recommend is a visit to the carpet store owned by a family member. It is just around the corner, a block away, and on the way to the mosques. The store name is Onur Carpet and Kilims, and the owner, Cihan Ulkem, took us upstairs and gave us a history of Turkish carpets, showing us samples from his wonderful supply. We learned about kilims, tribal rugs, embroidered silk, Ottoman (we call "persian") etc... These are not mass-produced street bazaar carpets but rather one of a kind, some very rare and some that took a single weaver years to make. The rugs and carpets are breath-taking and the history lesson was well worth the time. We were not pressured to purchase a carpet.
Finally, although the Grand Bazaar was indeed a mind boggling shopping experience, we enjoyed visiting the Egyptian Bazaar, near the New Mosque and the waterfront. This is an authentic street bazaar, frequented not by tourists, but by the Turkish people, and whether or not you purchase anything, a stroll through the narrow and noisy streets is an opportunity for immersion in Istanbul life.
I hope to return someday soon and urge anyone who hasn't visited Istanbul to do so.
Hermosa beach, ca USA Wed 06/14/2006
We want to drive from Athens to Turkey this July. Does anyone know how long it will take and whether it is safe?
Seattle, Wa. USA Fri 06/09/2006
Clarification on earlier post
Sorry if I implied that the Hotel Bella is the cheapest option in Selcuk; Jamie is right, it isn't. The nice thing about traveling in Turkey is there is a wide range of hotel choices--everything from barebones hostels to 4 star luxury resorts and everything in between. Everyone's needs and priorities are different--but if you are fortunate enough to be able to afford the price (actually about 34 dollars a night given the current exchange rate) the Hotel Bella is an exceptional experience for the money. Oh, and to clarify, that price is the high season rate.
USA Thu 06/08/2006
Hotel near Ephesus
I am glad you had a great time but just wanted to inform other vistors that $40--USD at a pension for a double room is spending way too much money---and it is not even the hight of the season yet.
Turkey Sat 06/03/2006
Hotel in Cirali is Canada Hotel
USA Wed 05/31/2006
Hotel recommendation near Ephesus
We spent three days at the Hotel Bella and would recommend it to anyone. It's a small hotel run by Erdal and Nazmi and the nicest, friendliest staff I have encountered in all my travels. The location is very convenient--directly across the street from St John's Basilica. The rooms are beautifully appointed with Turkish rugs, wall hangings, and prints. The bed was very comfortable with linens and duvet covers like you'd expect at a four star hotel. The terrace is also an inviting place to go for drinks and conversations in the evening--since it was still chilly at night in April, they lit a wood fire each evening and we got acquainted with other guests planning our sightseeing for the next day with the advice of Nazmi and Erdal and the large library of guidebooks and resources, including free Internet access. The breakfasts (included with the room rate) were excellent, including eggs done to order; dinners are extra, but for a very reasonable rate you get some of the best food we had anywhere in Turkey (and that's saying a lot.) While you eat you can watch the stork's nest across the street as they feed their chicks. Add to this free shuttle to Ephesus, convenient tours arranged to other sights, and that the room rate was under $40 for a double room in the high season and you can see why we'll be back.
PS Rick, when are you going to do a Turkey book?? We've got loads of suggestions...
Seattle , WA USA Tue 05/30/2006
Hotel recommendation on the Mediterranean Coast
We spent two days here on our driving tour of the Turquoise Coast and loved it. Cirali is tucked into the mountains on the coast not far from Antalya--the nearby pebble beach is practically deserted, with some evocative Byzantine and Venetian ruins to explore to boot. The hotel's rooms are simply but comfortably furnished--ours had a little balcony overlooking the lovingly maintained garden. In the large common area there are tables for breakfast and dinner, a TV, and a pingpong table. There are also a bar and tables outside alongside one of the nicest pools we saw on our travels in Turkey. Saban, the proprietor, and his staff were friendly and helpful with good suggestions for local touring. The food is good home-style Turkish cooking. If you are looking for discos and nightlife, Cirali is probably not for you. But if you want a perfect base to explore the paradise of the coast and mountains outside Antalya, I highly recommend this hotel.It's very much in the vein of the family run hotels that Rick favors, so if you like those kind of accommodations, you will certainly like this one.
Seattle, WA USA Tue 05/30/2006
Turkish tour guides
We just got back from Turkey. We booked 13 nights and 9 tours through a travel agent in Istanbul. On our first tours in Cappadochia our tour guide recommended a "better" tour than our chosen Ilhara Valley tour. The "better" tour turned out to be a big disappointment and we never got to see Ilhara Valley. So we were more careful when we got to Antalya and the guide tried to talk us into a "better" tour than Termessos. This time we checked our tour books which had very little to say about the "better" sights we were going to be shown. The tour guide was grumpy but took us to Termessos which is a situated up on a mountaintop reached after a strenuous hike. Termessos turned out to be our favorite ruins (only city Alexander couldn't defeat). What we learned is that the guides will try to talk you out of sites that are far away (gas is expensive in Turkey) and/or involves strenuous/long hikes.
Alamo, Ca USA Tue 05/23/2006
Turkish Travel Help Tips
My husband and I went to Turkey for 2 weeks the last two weeks of September,2005. In planning our trip I used a site called Tom's Turkey Travel Planner, or something similar. It's run by a former travel guide writer and was very helpful. After lots of research on different travel boards, books and websites we decided to use a turkish travel agent recommended on Tom's site and vouched for by several different board postings. It turned out to be a good plan for us because they did the work and we had a wonderful independent trip without the hassle. They picked the hotels, guides, arranged transportation and made suggestions we hadn't thought of. Some one posted to be aware of turkish travel agents, but I think anywhere it's like picking a doctor or plumber - get recomendations. We stayed at wonderful boutique hotels for much reduced rates and had our own van and guide for the places and days we requested them. It was totally tailored for us. Since Turkey is such a comparatively good travel bargain it was doable for us here where, in say Italy, it probably wouldn't have been.
Brooklyn, NY USA Sun 04/02/2006
Konyaalti, the main beach at Antalya is pebbly with rounded stones. Not too hard on the feet, but not sand either. If you want sand, Olympos and Phaselis to the west or Side to the east are better. Side has light colored sand--very unuusal on this part of the Mediterranean coast. When I have stayed in Antalya, we stayed in Kaleici (the Old City) where there are a variety of lovely pansyons. Beach hotels tend to be larger, more generic and more expensive in Antalya. Just down the coast, though, you can stay on the beach at Olympos (treehouses and pensions geared to a yound backpacking crowd) or Cirali (much quieter in a national park--no discos or fish and chips).
USA Fri 02/24/2006
Great time in Istanbul
My friend and I just returned from a six day stay in Istanbul and we both had a lot of fun. We were worried about how we would be treated, being two American women, but we were treated with kindess overall.
For two New Yorkers it was strange to see very few women on the streets during the day. We found out that most Turkish women are housewives and stay home while their husbands work. So at first it wasn't easy to deal with so many men. They are aggressive mostly because they want you to eat at their restaurants and buy their goods. I started to find it amusing and funny the way they would fight for our patronage.
The only time it became less amusing was in the Grand Bazaar. Since we travelled in February there aren't as many tourists so we stuck out. Walking through the bazaar we were constantly asked to come into shops, and some of them would block our path to get our attention. My friend and I bought a few things (definitely haggle!) but we quickly became stressed out. Everyone was yelling out "Hello, come here" or "Please, we want your money"! We did buy rugs which we haggled the price down to what we thought was fair, and the salesman was kind and funny and served us a lot tea while he showed us what he had. But I'll warn you: after leaving the shop with our purchase (the rugs were put into small suitcases for us) those rugs became our albatross. EVERYONE was stopping us trying to sell us a second one, even as we left the bazaar and we out on the street. We were not left alone until we got to our hotel! That was aggravating!
Otherwise the people we encountered, mostly in the restaurants, showed a lot of interest in where we were from and who we were as people. In some places we sat for a few hours and talked to the waiters, managers (and even an owner who sat at the table with us) and had really pleasant conversations. We met a lot of people and made a few friends in Istanbul, not only Turkish but American as well (we met some of them on our tour and we were all staying at the same hotel, the Orsep Royal in Seraglio, near the Hagia Sophia).
The food is delicious, especially the rice pudding! The mosques and museums are wonderful, and being two artists and art teachers, it was great to see all these ancient artifacts (especially at the Archeological Museum). One bit of advice: go to the museums way before closing. Most close at 4:30 and we went to one at 3:45. They started to close the place at 4:05 and wanted us out even though the last ticket is sold at 4pm. That pissed us off but there is no use in arguing. So go early.
But like I said, I loved my stay there and I will have fond memories forever.
New York, NY USA Fri 02/24/2006
On my 3rd trip to Istanbul in so many years I was a bit disappointed as I found people not as friendly as on previous trips and with some even making borderline rude comments in passing. Even had a pack of teenage boys purposely slam into my girlfriend and I on passing. While I felt very safe on my previous visits I left with a different feeling after this one. I would not recommend the Celal Sultan Hotel as we checked out early due to plumbing/sewer problems that made it difficult to breathe the air. Bed was also not clean and they lied about being a member of the Luxury Small Hotels of the World! They are nowhere near having the standards required. I would suggest the Hotel Seven Hills. It's in a lovely part of town across from The Four Seasons and along with excellent views has a very gracious staff.
San Diego, Ca USA Sat 02/04/2006