Vacationing in Turkey-2

Comments on 6 weeks in Turkey during August and September '94

Safety: We had several occasions in late evening to walk dark, almost empty, rural lanes and Istanbul side street and were never threatened at all. Local men even carry their wallets in the back pocket of their pants without concern for theft. Every traveler we met agreed with us that we felt safer in Turkey than in our own home towns. Water: No one drinks from the tap and good bottled water is cheap and available everywhere. Prices are extremely low by US standards: outside Istanbul, it was hard to spend $5 each for dinner, and pleasant but simple pensions averaged $14 double with private facilities and breakfast. Even in Istanbul, the well located, pleasant Hotel Historia cost only $45 double (see Istanbul below); while a dinner with elegant service, fine wine, delicious appetizers, entres and desserts, plus lovely piano music cost less than $13 per person at the Citadel Restaurant. Turkish inter city buses are on-time, air-conditioned Mercedes Benzes with great suspension systems and amazingly low fares. (A comfortable 6 hour trip costs under $20, shorter ones much less.) Southwestern coastal towns are lovely with their archeological ruins, beaches, and waters. All-day boat rides and mini-bus tours often included lunch and cost about $12 per person. Highlights included: the Seluk area for sightseeing the ruins of Ephesus, Priene, and lovely Pamuak Beach lined with 1 and 2 bedroom housekeeping bungalows for $30 and $40 per night; and Dalyan, with views of Lycian rock tombs from the roof patio of the inar Sahil Pension, and the pensions boat trip to the Caunus ruins, Turtle Beach, thermal mud baths, and a swim in clear Lake Kyceriz. Pretty Kas had our favorite all-day swimming and ruins-viewing boat ride, as well as pleasant, unpressured browsing in its handicraft shops. Pamukkales Palmiye Hotel provides perfect views of the areas beautiful and unique natural thermal pools set in white travertine terraces. Entry into one of these pools from the back door of our room was a real plus! (All this, including breakfast and in-room refrigerator cost just $50 - our biggest Turkey splurge, and well worth it.) Egirdir: Major highlights of our trip were this cool, mountain lake village (2 1/2 hours north of Antalya) and the pleasures of simple Halleys Pension overlooking the lake. (Telephone in Turkey: 246/ 312-3625.) Here we enjoyed the beach, lake swimming, row boating, delicious home cooked dinners with our fellow guests, a colorful Sunday market in a nearby smaller village, and a fine all day taxi-tour during which we hiked through shady andir Canyon taking time to swim in cool waters at the base of beautiful waterfalls. (The pension cost less than $15 double with half-board, and the tour was $12 per person including barbecue lunch.) Cappadocia is fascinating with its fairy chimney rock formations, houses cut into the soft lava rock, and three underground cities (each can house up to 20,000 people!) which were carved in the rock 1,000 years ago by Byzantine Christians protecting themselves from invading Ottomans. The whole area makes for fascinating sight-seeing and/or hiking. Ankara is Turkeys capital and was the noisiest, smoggiest, costliest, dirtiest city we saw in the country! Despite its fine Museum of Anatolian Civilization, we do not recommend staying here except as a quick overnight to cut the long bus trip from Cappadocia to Bursa or Istanbul. Bursa is a charming city with fine architecture, gardens, mausoleums of the earliest sultans, and excellent public transportation. Dont miss the scenic cable car ride up Uludag mountain where you can hike for miles along quiet trails through the pines. We also enjoyed the Turkish baths, separated by sex, at the lovely old Eski Kaplikalari Hamam near the Hotel Karavansary Terminal. (I enjoyed bath, massage, and body scrub for $6.) We stayed in the centrally located Cesmeli Hotel ( has elevator and is not far from the tourist office and listed in the "moderate" section of Lonely Planet) for $14/night with breakfast. Istanbul is a fascinating, world-class city.The Sultanamet area, where the Blue Mosque, Aga Sophia Church, Topkapi Palace and numerous other city highlights are located, is the best place to stay. We enjoyed the friendly Hotel Historia with its elevator and lovely lobby chatting area. Its address is: Mimar Mehmetaga Cadessi, Amiral Tafdil Sok. No. 23, Sultanahmet, 34400 Istanbul. Telephone in Turkey: 212/ 517-7472, Fax: 212/ 516-8169. (When calling from the US, dial 011-90 first.) Although the sign at the desk said $90, a bit of friendly bargaining brought it to $45 double with breakfast. It is within a 10 minute walk of the sites mentioned above, and only 10 to 20 minutes from most of the others - including the ferry docks. (When tired, we took the convenient tram.) We also recommend seeing the Whirling Dervishes perform their riveting religious ceremony at 5 pm the last Sunday of most months in their Museum of Divan Literature. Most guidebooks dont mention it. Call 212/ 245-4141 to verify date and time. Turkey, A Travel Survival Kit by Lonely Planet was my primary guidebook. The Travel Survival Kit series is my favorite in every country for its outstanding maps, information and recommendations. However, due to an unfortunate error, the November 1993 edition of Turkey lists obsolete phone numbers outside Istanbul! If you plan to make advance reservations, also bring a Rough Guide or similar book until a later edition of the Survival Kit is published. (Correct Turkish phone numbers are like ours: a 3 digit area code plus a 7 digit local number.) If your travels in this area include Thessaloniki, Greece, dont miss the magnificent Archeological Museum containing the remains of the unlooted tomb of King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. Discovered by a Greek archeologist in the 1970s, this tomb had never been opened since Philip was placed in it 336 years before Christ! The workmanship of the gold tiaras, masks, jewelry, armor and carved and painted vessels is exquisite. Should you have questions or want more suggestions, feel free to contact me via e-mail to:,Internet.
From: (Gail Anderman) Subject: Turkey and North Greece (1/2) Date: 24 Jul 1995 00:41:19 GMT

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