I left Lebanon August 24 2008, I stayed in Syria for five nights transferring through to Turkey. From Aleppo I entered Turkey on August 29 2008. I hired a taxi in Aleppo for 500 SP to travel to Antakya; there was a 500 SP departure fee out of Syria. In Turkey I paid $20.00 for a multiple entry, three month visa.
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I departed Turkey into Greece, in transit to Israel, on November 12th 2008. My complete tour in Turkey was two months and two weeks.
I found Turkey to be hassle free, except for Istanbul, although if you can put on the Turkish look by not smiling, looking angry about life, and don’t carry a daypack—you will not be bothered. The landscape in Turkey is beautiful. My favorite towns were Amasya, Konya, Trabzon, Silifke, Giresun, and Urgup in Cappadocia.
I experienced the Turkish and Kurdish to be kind of strange, people don’t smile and the sense of humor in null, although two different couples from Australia comment how the Turkish sense of humor is excellent and similar to their sense of humor. I experienced the sense of humor, likened to my own sense of humor, in Istanbul. People are very stressed out because of the economy that creates anger within the cultural of Turkey.
The details of traveling Turkey as follows…
Arriving in Antakya from Aleppo, I stayed at the Yeral Hotel for 10 Turkish Lira a night without a fan, although a private bathroom—I stayed two nights. From Antakya I traveled on a Dolmus (midsize bus) to Gaziantep for 18 YTL, no air conditioning, only the fan work, the trip was bearable.
I arrived in Gaziantep, the trip from Antakya is three hours. The Bus station for Gaziantep is far out of town, I took a city bus for 1 pound to the city center and stayed at the Evin Hotel for 17.50 YTL a night after bargaining down from 30 YTL, although without a fan, but with a private bathroom and free wireless Internet. I stayed in Gaziantep for two nights.
I took a pullman bus from Gaziantep to Sanliurfa, a cost of 12 YTL. In Sanliurfa I stayed two nights at the Lizbon Konuk Evi Guest House. This guest house was nice to stay at, breakfast and dinner is included in the price at 25 YTL. Their hospitality was a little strange because of their religious judgments, although for two nights its a nice place. After a two night stay I took a pullman bus from Sanliurfa to Mardin for 20 YTL.
I arrived in Mardin mid-morning and stayed one night at 20 YTL at the only budget hotel in town. Mardin is a wonderful little town. The hotel is tolerable for one night with a shared slightly grubby bathroom. The mosque loud speakers are an arm length away.
I took a Dolmus to Diyarbakir for 7 YTL. In Diyarbakir I stayed at the Aslan Palas Hotel for 20 YTL a night with a clean shared bathroom (squat toilet) with free wireless internet; I stayed for three nights, the room did have AC and a sink. Up to this point this was the best hotel, I did my laundry in the room.
From Diyarbakir I took a bus to Tatvan for 20 YTL, the bus ride took 6 1/2 hours. In Tatvan I stayed at the Ustun Hotel for 20 YTL a night with a private bathroom and a desk; I stayed two nights in Tatvan, during the time in Tatvan I went to visit Bitlis, a small charming town 20 kilometers away from Tatvan. I departed Tatvan and paid 10 YTL on a pullman bus to Van.
In Van I stayed at the Aslan Hotel for 20 YTL a night, I stayed two nights. The town of Van can be noisy, although the room was comfortable with a private shower and sink, the squat toilet was outside of the room. The person that speaks English at the hotel expresses a handful of judgments.
From Van I took a Dolmus to Dogubayazit for 15 YTL. In Dogubayazit I stayed at the Tahran Hotel. This is a wonderful hotel with very friendly staff. I stayed three nights at 20 YTL a night, private bathroom with breakfast and free wireless Internet. Their panorama roof top is very relaxing with an awesome view of Mount Ararat. In Dogubayazit I visited the Ishak Pasa Palace, a must see if you’re in the area of Dogubayazit.
From Dogubayazit I took a Dolmus to Igdir for 5 YTL and transfered onto a midsize pullman bus to Kars for 15 YTL. In Kars I stayed at the Temel 2 for 20 YTL, I declined the breakfast for the cheaper price, although private bathroom. The hotels in Kars are at a higher price. While I was in Kars I visited the wonderful area of Ani with a group at a lower cost then going myself.
From Kars I took a bus through the beautiful Georgian Mountain Valley to Yusufeil. The best route of scenery up to this point of traveling Turkey. Yusufeil is a beautiful relaxed town in the mountains. I stayed at the Barhal hotel paying 20YTL. My room was on the river with a private bathroom. The sound of the rushing current of the river was ultimately pleasant. The Kackar Mountains are beautiful and very popular for trekking.
From Yusufeil I took a Domlus for 10YTL to Artvin. The drive was another outstanding route. I transfered onto a pullman bus and traveled from Artvin to Rize. In Rize I stayed one night at the Hotel Tibet for 20YTL, just your basic hotel, the shared bathroom was clean, though.
The next day I traveled to Trazbon for 5YTL on a Dolmus and stayed at the Hotel Imperial for 20YTL, the hotel doubles as a brothel, although I was not bothered, nor hassled from the Natashsas. I stayed in Trazbon for three nights. I took an independent day trip through for 20YTL to the Sumela Monastery, this day trip is a must if your in Trabzon.
I took a Dolmus from Trazbon to Giresun. For the first time since I departed America I was forced to stay in three star hotel, the Kur Tur Hotel. The girl gave me a good deal, the room was regular 75YTL and I got the room for 40YTL, the price that one star hotels were charging. The higher class type of travel is not for me, I prefer zero star hotels. Nevertheless, the stay was nice with a private bathroom, wireless Internet and free buffet breakfast. Giresun is a nice town except for the price tag, I stayed one night. To my amazement they had graphic porn on regular TV at this three star hotel.
I traveled from Giresun to Unye, connceting through Ordu. I took a Dolmus for 6YTL from Giresun to Ordu and transfered onto another Dolmus for 8YTL to Unye. In Unye I stayed at the Cinar Hotel for 20YTL, shower and sink was in the room with wireless Internet—a shared squat toilet, I stayed one night.
From Unye I took a pullman bus through Samsun to Amasya. I stayed at the Taha hotel for 25YTL a night, I stayed three nights. Nice room with wooden floors and a shower in the room. The sink and regular toilet was shared. Amasya is a wonderful picturesque town and well worth the stop. The guy that was singing the prayer call at 4:30 in the morning had the worst voice, the mosque is just across the street from the Taha hotel.
From Amasya I backtracked to Samsum for 15YTL on a pullman bus and connected onto another pullman bus heading to Sinop for 20YTL. In Sinop I stayed at the Hotel 57, this is a very nice hotel, even better than the three star hotel in Giresun. I bargained to 30YTL a night from 40YTL. Free breakfast and fast wireless Internet included, also, a great place to get some Laundry accomplished in the room, I use the garbage bucket for a wash bin. Sinop is a nice, friendly town on the Black Sea Coast. During the time of late September the Black Sea Coast can be cool, but not cold, and rainy; I enjoyed the rainy, brisk coolness.
From Sinop I took a overly packed Dolmus to Kastamonu connecting through Boyabat for 20YTL. I stayed at the Hotel Selvi one night at 20YTL in Kastamonu. The hotel is a good deal, although the rooms with a bathroom is 30YTL. The room without a bathroom, but with a sink is 20YTL, though, no shared shower, kind of strange, it was OK for one night.
The next day I took a pullman bus from Kastamonu to Ankara for 25YTL. In Ankara I stayed at the Santral Hotel in the Ulus area. The older guy was nice that owns the hotel. The room was clean with a private bathroom and with an ultra powerful water pressure for the shower including hot water, I paid 25YTL, I stayed two nights.
From Ankara I took a pullman bus to Sungurlu for 15YTL and connected onto a Dolmus for 2.50YTL to Bogazkale to visit Hattusa. I stayed at the Hotel Baykal/Hattusas Pension. I stayed in the pension for 20YTL with a shared bathroom, I stayed two nights. The owner is very nice and they have a good restaurant with free wireless Internet. Hattusa is walking distance from the hotel, although the whole area of Hattusa is 6 kilometers which half is uphill.
From Bogazkale I took a Dolmus back to Sungurla and connected onto another Dolmus to Krinikkale and transfered to a pullman bus to Kayseri. In Kayseri I stayed at the Camlica hotel for 30YTL, breakfast included and free wireless Internet. From Kayseri I took a midsize pullman bus for 6YTL to Urgup in Cappadoica.
In Urgup I stayed at the Elvin Hotel. This place is like staying at grandmas house. For only 25YTL the room was wonderful with a clean private bathroom and powerful water pressure with hot water. The room has knotted wooden walls and down blankets, and free wireless Internet. I did bargain the price down from 35 to 25YTL with Grandma, although the process was kind of comical. The older couple are very nice warm people. I stayed at the Elvin hotel two nights.
I took a very short bus to Cavusin in Cappadocia, a very small, relaxed village. I stayed at the Turbel Hotel for 30YTL with breakfast and a private bathroom, I stayed four nights. Cavusin is a good alternative if a person is tired of the touristic town of Goreme. Cavusin is only two kilometers from Goreme. After staying in Cavusin I moved over to Uchisar only 8 kilometers away, I stayed at the Kilim Pension that has an excellent view of Cappadocia, I stayed two nights in a cave room for 48 YTL a night with a private bathroom—an good breakfast is included.
From Cappadocia I took a Pullman bus to Tarsus for 30 YTL, I stayed at the Cihan Palas Hotel for 35 YTL with a private bathroom, AC, and breakfast. The room was clean, although not worth the money, I only stayed one night.
From Tarsus I took a pullman bus to Silifke and stayed at the Arisan hotel for 20 YTL, shared bathroom, although very clean, I stayed three nights. I took an independent day-trip to Narliuyu and Kizkalesi from Silifke. From Silifke I took a pullman bus to Konya for 30 YTL. Konya is where the museum of Rumi is located.
In Knoya I stayed at the Hotel Cinar for 30 YTL a night with a private bathroom and free wireless internet, I stayed two nights. I was able to accomplish washing my clothes in the room at this hotel. From Knoya I took a pull man bus to Antalya for 30 YTL and connected onto a Dolmus for 8 YTL to Olympos.
In Olympos I stayed at the Turkomen Pension for 25 YTL with a private bathroom, breakfast, dinner and free wireless Internet. In Olympos choosing the correct pension is essential. This pension was OK, the staff were a little bored like everyplace else and emitted slightly strange energy, although I met a few nice people at this pension.
I rented a jeep in this area for some independent day trips. From Olympos I hitchhiked and got a ride to Kumluca and jumped on a Dolmus to Kas for 12 YTL.
In Kas I stayed at the Santosa pension, this pension is wonderful, family owned that emitted great energy. They let me use the kitchen to cook my own breakfast, they let me use a wash bin for my clothes, which they don’t mind if you hang your clothes on the outside line. A private bathroom, free wireless Internet, and free tea for only 20 YTL a night, I stayed three nights. The town is touristy, although relaxed.
From Kas I took a Dolmus to Fethiye for 12 YTL and connected onto a pullman bus to Pumukkale for 25 YTL. In Pumukkale I stayed at the Hotel Dort Mevsim for two nights for 15 YTL. A nice budget hotel with a swimming pool, free wireless Internet, private bathroom, and they have a restaurant. They can arrange rides to Afrodisias, which I highly suggest.
From Pumukkale I took a pullman bus to Selcuk and stayed at the wonderful Homeros Pension. This place is the best. Grandma’s cooking is awesome, along with free breakfast, wireless internet, free wine on the rooftop for the sunset each night. The Homeros has an excellent atmosphere that creates friendly socialization with the other guest. I paid 25 YTL and stayed three nights. They give free rides to Ephesus and it’s easy to walk back into town.
I got a ride from an English holiday maker to Bergama to visit Pergamum. From Pergamum I took a pullman bus to Behramkale through Aynacik for 25 YTL.
In Behramkale/Assos I stayed at the Turman pension for 25 YTL and stayed two nights. I declined the breakfast for the discount. The room had a private bathroom and free wireless Internet. Two nights was enough in this little town, the tourism was slow, but the town populace is bored stuff.
From Behramkale I took Domlus’ connecting through Alyvick to Ezine to the boat dock to Bozcaada. Bozcaada is one of the two islands of Turkey in the Agean Sea, the rest belong to Greece. Even so, Bozcaada is a nice lazy island that only costs 3 YTL with a free return to visit. I stayed at the Ergin pension/hotel for 20 YTL a night, I stayed two nights. The older man was determined to ahve me as a guest. The room had a private bathroom, and I accomplished washing my clothes which they provided me with a bid and had a clothes line outside.
From Bozcaada, I took the boat back and jump onto a Dolmus to Canakkale for 5 YTL and stayed at a mid-range hotel called Ece hotel for only 30 YTL with breakfast. It is worth looking around at different hotels in low season, many will offer the price of a budget pension. The room had free wireless Internet and a private bathroom.
During my stay in Canakkale, I took an independent day trip to Troy with a Dolmus for 4 YTL each way. The next day I decided to purchase a tour for the world war one battle sites on Galippoi for 60 YTL, it was the best way to see the sites, although this is the only tour I purchased.
From Canakkale I took a bus to Istanbul on the European side for 40 YTL. The arrival into Istanbul was a kind experience, Istanbul is an easy town to navigate and great public transportation. I stayed at the Istanbul hostel for 20 YTL a night I stayed three nights, then I moved to the Antique hostel for 24 YTL a night, and stayed four nights, each hostel had six beds in the room.
The cost in Istanbul is expensive if a person eats at the tourist restaurants, although, I found good local food at the same prices as the other parts of Turkey. The only difference is that I stayed in a hostel next to having my own room at the same price. The public transportation is excellent in Istanbul.
I departed for Greece on the sleeper train from Istanbul, non-stop to Thessaloniki on November 12th 2008.