A couple of weeks exploring Turkey on a group tour let me see all sorts of amazing things. And left me wanting to return.
Springtime Turkey itinerary
Day 1: April 13
A First Glimpse of Istanbul
At the airport we pile into the bus, still mostly strangers and groggy from our trip – but from the bus window I can see that I will like it here.
The leaping dolphin greeting we receive simply re-enforces that impression.
Waiting at the Golden Horn Sultanahmet
t takes forever to get into our room at the Golden Horn Sultanahmet as they don’t have quite enough rooms ready when our group arrives. While a shower would be really nice after a trans-Atlantic flight, the lobby is beautiful and the views from the top-floor terrace restaurant are fabulous!
If one has to wait, this is a good place to do it.
Back to the View from the Terrace
Hagia Sophia is to the left. . .
Day 2: April 14 Istanbul
A Random Pastry Shop
Sweets are very popular in Turkey – and very beautiful.
Day: 3 April 15 – Istanbul and Around
We explore Christian churches, take a cruise on the Bosporus, visit the spice market and a mosque, and take a walk through trendy Taksim neighborhood.
The Chora Church Museum
Greek Orthodox Easter
A cruise on the Bosporus
The spice market
Rustem Pasha Mosque
Day 4: April 16 – South Along the Coast
The scenery changes dramatically once we leave Istanbul.
Gallipoli is the site of a bloody, pointless battle. But it’s also the place where the national identities of Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand were formed or strengthened. Today beachside cemeteries honor the memory of those who lost their lives here.
Read more at Revisiting Gallipoli’s Anzac Cove
Troy is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Read more about Troy, what it’s like to visit, and how to plan your visit in my post for World Heritage Sites.
And we end the night along the lovely little harbor in Assos.
Day 5: April 17 – Along the Coast
Early morning in Assos (Behramkale)
Temple of Athena
Pergamon is a UNESCO World Heritage site that includes Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman ruins. Among them are the ruins of the ancient acropolis and Asklepion, as well as sites from the Roman period forward within the modern city of Bergama.
Asklepion at Pergamon
The Asklepion is an ancient medical facility — another Roman ruin and part of the Pergamon World Heritage site.
Driving the winding backroads of Turkey
Day 6: April 18 –Ephesus and Around
Church of St. John
House of the Virgin Mary
Temple of Artemis
Day 7: April 19 – From Turkey to Greece
We leave Turkey for a few days in Samos, Greece.
Day 8: April 20 – Touring Samos
We are out and about on the island for the day.
And we end the day back in our little town.
Day 9: April 21 – Leaving Samos
Day 10: April 22 – Hierapolis and Pamukkale
Roman ruins at Hierapolis
Festivities at Pamukkale
Day 11: April 23 – Central Anatolia
Along the road
In Konya we visit the Mevlana Museum.
We are spending the night here too, in a hotel in the heart of the city.
Day 12: April 24 – Central Anatolia
We start the day with a drive through the countryside along the Silk Route, with a stop at one of the restored caravanserais.
Mostly the landscape looks a lot like North Dakota – but with a mountains in the distance.
But there’s no thinking we are in North Dakota when we reach Cappadocia and the cave churches of Goreme.
A little shopping
You can’t go to Turkey without shopping for a rug!
Day 13: April 25 – Cappadoccia
Exploring underground cities
Gawking at Uchisar village
Creating and shopping for pottery
Absorbing the surreal scenery
Waiting to watch the dervishes whirl
Turkish Tulip Mania (March 25, 2012)
Pomegranate Juice, Anyone?
Freshly squeezed fruit juice is available everywhere in Istanbul and vendors always prominently display the fruit they are using.
Why buy a bottle of plain old water when you can have fresh pomegranate juice? Just remember that even the ripest pomegranates are pretty tart!
Where do they teach you these lines?
One thing you absolutely can’t escape when you are in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is the insistent calling of salesmen. It is an endless stream of “Hey, beautiful!” “Lovely lady, this [scarf, necklace, plate, etc.] is almost as beautiful as you are.” and on and on and on.
My favorite went something like this:
- Salesman (mostly directed to my blond friend): “Ah, you are so beautiful. One look into your eyes and I know I am dead.”
- My friend and I: “You’re dead?”
- Salesman: “You are an angel and angels are only in heaven, so I must be dead.”
- Me: “Do you all go to a special school where they teach you these lines?”
- Salesman (without missing a beat): “Sometimes they work.”