Monday, April 23, 2007

The New and Improved Turkey Travel Itinerary

An itinerary is a work in progress and will continue to be one until the travel becomes history. This is what makes them fun to write - they're as changeable as the weather and as fickle as my cat, Scarlett. You're not married to one. You can wish it on someone else. You can even steal someone's itinerary and adopt it for yourself (which is why my itinerary probably sounds somewhat familiar to Lonely Planet readers).

So, I hereby announce my new and improved itinerary; sans rental car.

Day 1 (Th): Leave Cincinnati for Istanbul
Day 2 (Fr): Arr. Istanbul in the early afternoon. Head to the Hanedan Hotel. Do some sightseeing--possibly the Hippodrome, Hagia Sofia and the Yerebatan Cistern.
Day 3 (Sat): Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque.
Day 4 (Sun): Boat ride up the Bosporus. Wander around. Check out Taksim Square.
Day 5 (Mon): Leave for Izmir (high-speed ferry to Bandirma, then express train to Izmir). Arrive in Izmir around 2:30 pm, then catch a dolmus (minibus) to Selcuk. Find hotel.
Day 6 (Tue): Grab a bus from Selcuk and head for Ephesus. Spend day in Ephesus, then head for Pamukkale.

Okay, stop here. Change of plans. My last version had me renting a car in Selcuk. This was before I found out that some of the roads in Turkey are just the tad steep...and have sheer drop-off cliffs running along them. Did I mention that I am afraid of heights? So, I will NOT be renting a car in Selcuk, but will instead be using public transportation. This is fine - I've heard that the buses have attendants who spritz your hands with cologne. Cool.

Day 7-11 (Wed-Sun): I'm not sure if I'll be in Pamukkale or Fethiye, but the goal is to wind up in Fethiye by Thursday since I want to take a gulet (Blue Voyage) cruise from Fethiye to Olympus. The company I want to go with only leaves on Thursdays and Sundays. The cruise travels across the Mediterranean over the next 4 days, stopping in the Butterfly Valley, St. Nicholas Island, Kalkan (Hidayet Bay), Kas, Aperlai , the sunken city of Kekova, Pirates Cave, Camlik Bay, and a final stop in Harbor Andriake (arriving on Sunday).
Day 11 (Sun): The gulet company arranges a bus to Demre to see St. Nicholas Church and the Rock Tombs. From there, a bus transfers us to the town of Olympos, where I will spend the night.
Day 12 (Mon): Hang out in Olympos in the morning, then head for Cappadocia, land of the fairy chimneys and Goreme.
Day 13-15 (Tues-Th): Travel around the Cappadocia region. On Thursday morning, head for Ankara and visit museums. Take night train to Istanbul. Arrive Friday morning.
Day 16 (Fri): Spend the day shopping in the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market.
Day 17 (Sat): Leave for Cincinnati at 12:35 p.m.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Guidebooks

Guidebooks are all-important and so I was happy to hear that the latest Lonely Planet Turkey guidebook will be released on April 18th, just in time for my trip. Since I already have the Rough Guide, I'll be bringing both along. I haven't decided yet whether to rip them up and carry them in pieces or keep them intact. The Eyewitness series has an Istanbul guide and I'm seriously thinking about getting that as well. They're heavy, though - I'm not sure if it's worth it for the 4-5 days total I'll be in Istanbul.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Mobile Blogging...

This is a little off-topic, but WOW! This is so cool - I can post to my blog using my cellphone - how cool is that!!? All I do is text a message to go@blogger.com and it automatically posts to my blog. Check it out at Mobile Blogger.

Hanedan Hotel


It's truly amazing how quickly my hotel nominees responded to my emails asking about availability. Trying to make a decision took the better part of a day--luckily, my day is their night so I didn't feel too guilty about keeping them hanging. In the end, I went with Hanedan Hotel. Their email was the friendliest and their rates the cheapest - 35 euros a night which includes breakfast, plus they'll pick me up at the airport for an additional 12 euros, and they give a 10% cash discount. The rooms look pretty nifty and the photo of the terrace where breakfast is served looks incredible!

I'm still waiting to hear when frigging Lonely Planet comes out with their 2007 Turkey guide. According to Amazon, it's supposed to be in April but there's no mention of it on the LP website. It will annoy me to no end if it comes out after my trip. The Rough Guide to Turkey is decent but no match for LP. For one thing, it doesn't give hotel prices. Granted, it does list the websites of the various hotels, but when you're sitting on a bus bouncing over a dusty countryside frantically searching for a place to stay in the town up ahead, a URL doesn't do much good. Argghhh...

The first 5-6 days are tentatively set (and of course, all is subject to change) ...now onward ho!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Itinerary: Slowly but Surely

Today I realized that my trip begins in a little under 6 weeks and I haven't done any planning at all. So I plopped myself down in front of my bee-yoo-tiful new laptop (Windows Vista has killer graphics!) and planned my little heart out...

May 3, 2007
Day 1 (Th): Leave Cincinnati for Istanbul
Day 2 (Fr): Arr. Istanbul in the early afternoon. Head to either the Hanedan Hotel, Hotel Sebnem, Yunus Emre Hotel, or Hotel Niles. All look nice and very reasonably priced (approximately 35-55/night). Do some sightseeing--possibly the Hippodrome, Hagia Sofia and the Yerebatan Cistern.
Day 3 (Sat): Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque
Day 4 (Sun): Boat ride up the Bosphorus. Wander around.
Day 5 (Mon): Leave for Izmir (high-speed ferry to Bandirma, then express train to Izmir). Arrive in Izmir around 2:30 pm, then catch a dolmus (minibus) to Selcuk.
Day 6 (Tue): Rent a car in Selcuk and head for Ephesus.

That's as far as I've gotten. After Selcuk, I plan to drive up to Cappadocia but want to stop along the way in Fethiye, maybe Kas, maybe... who knows? One of my ventures into a travel board forum got me an invitation to look up someone who lives in Cirali, which is off the Mediterranean coast, so I might stop there. Eventually I'll wind up in Goreme at some point, and then will start making my way back to Istanbul. I would love to visit Sanli(urfa) and Harran but I'm not sure if I will have the time to make it that far east.

(Click on map to see larger)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Antioch

I really want to go to Antioch. I began re-reading "The Silver Chalice" by Thomas B. Costain a few days ago, and the book simply reeks with Biblical history. Much of the book takes place in Antioch (now Antakya) and tells of the beauty of the city. Evidently, much of the ancient city is now buried, but it would still be very cool to be in the presence of so much history. And some new "old" mosaics have been uncovered (see below). I'm not religious, but I am fascinated by religious history...okay, any history...so I'm dying to cover as much ground as possible.










The Cave Church of St. Peter is believed to have been dug by the Apostle Peter himself as a place for the early Christian community of Antioch to meet, and thus is reputed to be the first Christian church. At any rate, it is certainly one of the oldest.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I want to play!

Why does life and work get in the way of really important things: like planning trips? Right now, I'm procrastinating. I should be studying for the Kentucky bar exam, which is in a very few short days, but instead I'm here. Next thing you know, I'll be scrubbing the kitchen floor (is it obvious I really don't want to be studying...).

I have to rethink the night train now - maybe taking it to Ankara isn't the best solution (thanks, Joe, for your thoughts). I'm a little worried about taking an Ambien, though - especially since I'll be traveling by myself. I don't like the idea of being completely dead to the world with no one looking after my "stuff." But if I don't take one, then I don't get any sleep--and when you're my age, if you don't get any sleep, the next day is completely shot.

Things to think about...now back to Secured Transactions (yawn).