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distribution of time--Turkey and Greece

Charleston, SC
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distribution of time--Turkey and Greece

My husband and I are going to Turkey for a work-related meeting (Izmir) next May. We thought we'd make a 15th anniversary trip out of it by adding time on the sides for Istanbul, an as-yet-undetermined Greek island, and Athens (flying into Istanbul and out of Athens). We thought 3-4 days in Istanbul, followed by the meeting (5 days), which includes a day trip to Ephesus, and then a boat to a Greek island. What we want out of an island is a small cottage or villa with a pool, very private. We envision getting produce, bread, etc. to make simple meals at home to share every night al fresco, and generally 'vegging out' and living like the (maybe retired) locals!

So, after this, we have Athens. I am concerned that Athens is going to disrupt the chill vibe we hope to establish on the islands, but that may just be something we have to deal with. My major question (other than soliciting opinions on an island that will be sparsely populated and allow total seclusion in beauty--not a Mykonos, for example), is how much time should we set aside for Athens? Of course we want to see the Parthenon and the museum close by. But I don't want to get history-ed/museum-ed out, so to speak. We have a lot planned in Istanbul including the spice market, Haggia-Sophia, Blue Mosque, Sufi exhibition (is that what you call it?), etc. Somehow I'm having trouble getting excited about Athens, given that we'll get our history in Istanbul and Ephesus, our luxury/resort-type thing in Izmir, and our 'live like the locals' on the islands. Thanks for all opinions!

Athens, Greece
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1. Re: distribution of time--Turkey and Greece

>and our 'live like the locals' on the islands.<

Locals sit all day long in cafeterias (cafes) drinking cold instant coffee and than watch TV all night on the couch :):):)

Finding a"private villa with a pool" in a non touristic island is impossible things like that exist only in the tourists islands and cost a pretty penny (google "villas in Greek islands")

The good news is that islands that you could actually go to from IZMIR are very large and touristic (w. the exception of Chios a huge and rich islands that many shipping moguls come from)

turkeytravelplanner.com/trans/Ship/GreekIsla…

Istanbul is way more pretty and exciting than Athens but from a historical standpoint Athens is more interesting (just google "ancient Greece")

Edited: 10 August 2014, 05:30
Athens, Greece
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2. Re: distribution of time--Turkey and Greece

For less touristic islands I found this thread interesting

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g189400-i194-k6728…

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3. Re: distribution of time--Turkey and Greece

Ashley10,

You are asking a difficult question and you'll probably get as many opinions as responses, all worthwhile, so here goes. Three years ago my husband and I had three weeks (also in May which is a great month for travel) and I wanted to divide the time between Greece and Turkey. After spending lots of time researching the two, we decided to focus on Greece for three weeks. It was wonderful. The following year we had about four weeks,so we focused on Turkey, and because we loved the "chill" of the Greek islands, we visited Samos (2 nights), Patmos (5 nights), and Kos(2 nights) after staying in Selcuk for 2 nights to see Ephesus. However, since then, I have regretted not seeing Pamukkule, and some other World Heritage sites in Turkey. Are you planning to visit the Cappadocia region?

You ask about Athens. Many will disagree with me, but I think you can see the main sites in 1-2 days. My husband would tell you to fly in and out of Athens (which has a great airport) and go directly to an island. Istanbul, on the other hand, was amazing! Our four nights could have easily been longer.

You don't say how long you will have. It will be easy to find an island that meets your needs in May. You could ferry to one of the Northeast Aegean or Dodecanese islands or fly to Athens and connect to any of the islands with an airport, and ferry from there on to other islands. All good.

In short, I can understand your hesitance regarding Athens. You can always return and take more time to see the city. We keep returning to Greece. You may as well. You are fortunate to have started your planning for next May. I hope this is somewhat helpful. You can't go wrong.

Here are photos from our trips to Greece as well as Turkey.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/netrekker/sets

Charleston, SC
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4. Re: distribution of time--Turkey and Greece

Dear NE trekker,

Thank you, that's very helpful. We don't plan for Capidoccia this time because it's very out of the way but I hope to get back at some point! Out of your three islands (Samos, Patmos, and Kos), which was your favorite?

Thanks to you as well, Koutras I!

Chios was also recommended to me by my Turkish friend, as it is so close to Cesme and Izmir.

New York City, New...
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5. Re: distribution of time--Turkey and Greece

Hey and welcome Ashley10:-) I think you got a great rec with Chios.. it will be the most authentic of the isles you mention with way less tourism since it's not a cruise port stop as in Patmos and no direct int'l flights coming in from Europe as Kos offers;-) Samos is a large isle but a popular bouncing board for those looking to get to Kusadasi/Turkey but easy enough to head out of the mainstream and further into the isle for more of what you're looking for;-)

And yes, like many of us, you'll have to deal with a major metropolis such as Athens after a chilled vibe coming from an isle to fly home;-) But it's a magnificent City and would allot at least a couple of full days (which bottom line required 3 nights) to take in the highlights.. regardless of how antiqued out you will be.. trust you will look back and not regret your choice;-) Happy planning.. and EnJOY!

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6. Re: distribution of time--Turkey and Greece

Of those three, easy, Patmos! Of course, it depends on your interests. The 11th century Monastery of St. John is pretty amazing. The island is small enough to get around most of it on foot and also the bus system was very good. Restaurants are excellent, there were only smallish cruise ships during certain days of the week (maybe just a couple) and the island is stunning. We enjoyed our brief stay on Kos and Samos, but they were connection islands for us. We saw many families on Kos, making it more family-friendly.

BTW, Cappadocia is an easy, cheap, flight from Istanbul, and it is also easy and cheap to fly from Cappadocia to Izmir for Ephesus. Of course, another trip may give you more time there.

Maryland
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7. Re: distribution of time--Turkey and Greece

Chios is a great choice for an off-the-beaten-path island and is very close to Izmir. It has beautiful coastlines, interesting villages that will take you back a hundred years and a fascinating medieval history. Even in August, the peak tourism season, we found mostly Greeks visiting the island, very few other tourists. Enjoy you holiday!

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8. Re: distribution of time--Turkey and Greece

.. not to confuse you any further.. but along with Chios, Lesbos may fit the bill as well?;-) Large isle.. not tourist dependent.. close to Chios! You have ample choices with the Dodecanesse chain of isles and lots of time to read up and see which you feel would best suit:-) I agree Patmos is a wonderful small isle but does get the mega-ships with hordes descending upon the isle.. most looking to visit the Monastery.. but for the most part, the call on the port is a short one of a few hours;-) Keep us posted.. keep Enjoyin'!

Charleston, SC
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9. Re: distribution of time--Turkey and Greece

Thanks, everyone! These bits of advice are VERY helpful. I am also reassured because either I have been researching, or a friend has mentioned, each island that you all are suggesting--so I think we are on the right track!

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10. Re: distribution of time--Turkey and Greece

Our pleasure Ashley10:-) Let us know how the planning goes.. and FWIW, the Dodecanesse isle group literally translates to *12 isles* the number in the isle group.. we've covered quite a number of them here already;-)) Enjoyin'!