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Just Got Back!

Perrysburg, Ohio
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Just Got Back!

Just got back from three weeks in Turkey, and as always it was a fantastic trip. We visited Istanbul, Cappadocia, Cirali, Kas and KayaKoy, and I fell in love with the Mediterranean region just as I had previously fallen in love with Istanbul. We only had seven days in Istanbul this trip, and that was way too little time to spend in the city that has totally captured my heart. Because I was traveling with a couple who had never been to Istanbul before, most of my time was spent showing them the major sites and doing things I’d previously done. I’ll only mention the new things I discovered/experienced in Istanbul in this thread, and I’ll do a report on the other areas of Turkey in a separate thread.

Perrysburg, Ohio
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1. Re: Just Got Back!

AKBILS can now be purchased at the Sultanahmet tram stop, which makes obtaining one much easier for those folks staying in Sultanahmet.

THE BOSPHOROUS CRUISE on the IDO public ferry is now 20 Turkish Lira (this past October it was 17.50 Turkish Lira). It’s still a bargain for the experience.

PRINCES’ ISLANDS: The short carriage tour of Buyukada is 40 Lira, the long tour is 50 Lira. We took the long tour again, and this time the driver didn’t stop for a break at the café area. Surprisingly, he just kept on going....so we didn’t get to pet the donkeys or take pictures there.

NIGHT BUS TO CAPPADOCIA AND SCAM: I had to do the night bus this trip just to see what it was like. Even though it was a 12 hour trip, it was actually quite comfortable. Unlike long-distance buses in the U.S., Turkish buses are exceptionally clean and comfortable with attendants who are constantly offering you water, tea, snacks and lotion to clean your hands. There is, however, a neat little scam going on you need to be aware of when you take a bus from the Nevsehir bus company. When you arrive in Nevsehir, the bus drivers will get out and these other guys will get on and will tell you that you need to transfer to a mini-bus that will take you into Goreme. These guys from the mini-bus will be wearing ties that say “Nevsehir” on them and will point to them and tell you they work for the Nevsehir bus company. What you need to know is that you do not need to transfer to this mini bus…if you purchased a bus ticket from Istanbul to Goreme, the bus you are on will go to Goreme. These folks are just looking to make some extra money by charging you extra for that leg of the trip, and they sound fairly convincing. I spent about five minutes talking with them as I wanted to hear their spiel, and when they couldn’t convince me the main bus didn’t go to Goreme, they next tried to convince me my hotel sent them to pick me up. When I told them that wasn’t possible since my hotel didn’t know what mode of transport I was using to get there, they finally gave up. There were about 8 of us on the bus headed to Goreme, and none of us went with these mini-bus drivers. I have no idea if this happens with other bus companies.

TAXI SCAM: I also experienced my first taxi scam in Istanbul. We grabbed a taxi from the taxi stand in front of the Spice Bazaar, and the driver tried to charge me 32 lira from Eminonu to Chora Church! I couldn’t remember what the exact fare should be, but knew it shouldn’t be any more than 10 or 15 lira. Although the meter read 32 lira when we got to Chora Church, I refused to pay that much and told him there was something wrong with the meter. I kept insisting I’d only pay him 15 lira, which really ticked him off until he saw I had a 50 lira note in my wallet. Then he said he’d change my 50 lira note for me and started to do so while keeping my initial 15 lira and also deducting another 15 lira from my change, but I insisted he give me the 15 lira back before I gave him my 50 lira note. By the time I got out of the taxi he was a pretty ticked off taxi driver, but I didn’t really care. The taxi trip on the return trip from Chora Church to Eminonu was only 9.80 Lira….what a difference when you have an honest taxi driver!

RESTAURANTS: As usual, it seems that I spent most of my time eating my way through the city. Below are brief reviews of some restaurants we visited that I had never tried before:

ASITANE RESTAURANT, which is right next to Chora Church. The food there is excellent, and their outdoor garden is lovely. I ordered a marinated veal dish, and my daughter had chicken with apricots, almonds and grapes. Both dishes were to die for. If you’re visiting Chora Church (which is a must see on a trip to Istanbul), then I highly recommend you have lunch at Asitane Restaurant. It’s definitely as good as everybody says it is.

GRISSINI RESTAURANT in Nisantasi. This restaurant was recommended by Kozano, and I can’t say enough good things about it. It has a lovely enclosed outdoor garden in the back that’s the perfect place to take a break from shopping on a hot summer day. They have a wonderful menu that includes pizza made in a brick oven that’s absolutely delicious. I also ordered their profiteroles, and couldn’t believe the size of the serving…four profiteroles with vanilla ice cream smothered in chocolate sauce! Grissini’s is definitely not a budget restaurant, but it’s definitely money well spent. I can’t wait to have a full dinner there, as their entire menu looked wonderful!

IT’S A JOKE, top floor of City’s Mall in Nisantasi. Enigma recommended this restaurant, and the food was great. I’m a burger addict, so when I saw the New York burger I was hooked...and it was fantastic. I was initially tempted to have one of their steak dishes (they cook steaks the right way at this place….medium rare to rare)! It’s a reasonably priced restaurant with a fun atmosphere. City's Mall itself, however, is small...Personally, I think Kanyon and Istinye Park are much better if you're looking for high end malls to visit.

IMBAT RESTAURANT, on the terrace of the Orient Express Hotel in Sultanahmet. We met Enigma there for dinner, and also met the owner (who also owns the Sirkeci Konak Hotel). The food was excellent. My friend Sharon and her husband liked the shrimp casserole starter so much that they both ordered it again for their main course. It was truly the best shrimp casserole I have ever eaten...and the entire meal was just as delicious.

The couple I was traveling with wanted to eat in Sultanahmet almost every evening, so we only ate dinner in Beyoglu once, when we dined at a restaurant on French Street. As always, French Street was tons of fun, no matter where you eat. I have to mention that we also revisited North Shield Pub, Sultan’s Pub, and Albura Restaurant, all of which are favorites of mine in Sultanahmet and none of which ever disappoint.

I tried to visit Midnight Express on Istiklal Street (the boutique Kozano recommended) and the art gallery at the same place, but both were closed. It was unclear whether they were closed because it was Sunday or if they are no longer there…all I could get out of the guy at the door to Misir Apts. was that they were closed.

Although it’s always great to get home after a long trip, I’m missing Turkey already. The couple I was traveling with could never before understand my fascination with Turkey, no matter how many times I tried to explain it. But now that they've experienced Turkey themselves, they are shouting its praises....and I can smugly say "I told you so!" LOL Although I wasn't able to visit all of the new places I had hoped to visit, I was able to see the misconceptions my friends had about the country melt away and watch them change from non-believers to enthusiastic converts. That was such a wonderful experience for me, as there is nothing more enjoyable than sharing someplace you love with people you care about.

Ruhr Area, Germany
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2. Re: Just Got Back!

Hi Osumom, welcome back to the forum:-)!

It sounds that you have had a great time in Turkey and I´m looking forwards to all your reports with impatience.

And I´m glad that your friends have got the "Turkey feeling" as well, perhaps even a little bug for it?

The Nevsehir dolmus scam is mentioned in the new Lonely Planet and it is told furthermore that many of those dolmus drivers are tying to charge you for an additional bill.

A little extra income for clever people, lol.

Tschüss

patara01

Istanbul, Turkey
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3. Re: Just Got Back!

Welcome back, we miss you!

London, United...
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4. Re: Just Got Back!

Welcome back Osumom - 3 whole weeks you lucky thing! Great report and very much looking forward to hearing about your re-visit to Cappadocia and experiences along the coast.

Thanks for the warning about the Nevsehir mini-bus scam - hopefully if enough people read about it through posts like your's or in the Loneley Planet they will no longer find the people to con. It is a real shame though, because another forumite, FrankMozart I think, also complained recently about it and it was so sad, the event seemed to have soured his entire experience of Turkey. Very glad to see that they didn't get away with it with you and your party!

Surrey, UK
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for Istanbul
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5. Re: Just Got Back!

Welcome back to the forum!

Great to hear that you had such a fantastic time..... Look forward to reading your report about the other places you visited too.

You have most certainly been missed!

Gocek, Turkey
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6. Re: Just Got Back!

Great report, as usual, osumom, pleased to see you kept the pubs in Istanbul going!

Naples, Florida
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7. Re: Just Got Back!

Welcome home. We've certainly missed hearing your voice. Glad you had a wonderful visit. And thanks, as always, for the restaurant info. I'm updating my travel notebook as we speak.

Istanbul
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8. Re: Just Got Back!

Hi Osumom,

Great trip report. Thank you. I really enjoyed meeting you and your friends at IMBAT restaurant. What great shrimp casserole they have! I am eagerly waiting for your second installment.

enigma...

Perrysburg, Ohio
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9. Re: Just Got Back!

I missed all of you guys too...it felt really weird to be off the forum for more than three weeks! Forgot to mention that we stayed at the Hotel Alaturka in Sultanahmet again. I really do like this hotel...not only because the rooms are huge compared to many rooms in Istanbul but also because the staff is just so darn nice! There are two Celil's who work reception, and both are fantastic and great fun. The views from both terraces are spectacular, and the location is perfect...right on the corner of Akbiyik Caddesi. While it can be quite noisy occasionally, luckily I'm one who has never been bothered by noise and can sleep through anything. (They had two big flat-screen TVs set up in the outdoor cafe across the street from the hotel because of the UEFA cup tournament the first night we were there, and people were still partying outside at 5:00 a.m. the next morning!)

We also did a bit of shopping. I weakened and purchased another carpet, along with two carpet floor/bench cushion covers. Also purchased four throw pillow covers at the Grand Bazaar. When we were at Kanyon Mall, my friend Sharon and I spotted a large vase smack dab in the middle of the window of Pasabahce at the same time and we both made a beeline for it. It's a good thing she got to it first, because if she hadn't bought it I definitely would have...and my budget would have been seriously blown. It was truly a spectacular piece. I did buy a gorgeous vase and tea table with a brass tray in Goreme...the table will look great surrounded by my two floor cushions! Bought lots of other little trinkets, but no tea sets this trip! :)

One thing that continually amazes me is the memory of the shopkeepers and restaurant staff in the city. On several occasions as soon as my daughter stepped foot in a place, someone would run up to her, welcome her back and asked if she remembered them...and she hasn't been to Istanbul since 2007!!!! How they do this I have no idea, but it's not something you encounter here in the U.S.

Jo

Mount Dora, Florida
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10. Re: Just Got Back!

It is great to have you home again; although I know you are missing Turkey. We missed you! Welcome Home!

If you are going to continue to run off for three weeks at a time you need to take a laptop:-)))