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RTW 9 1/2 – The Moscow to the Med Edition

Wrapping Up a Month from Moscow to Istanbul

Posted by on Jun 20, 2014 | 0 comments

Wrapping Up a Month from Moscow to Istanbul

After an inspiring few days among the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, I was on to my last stop in Istanbul with an early morning flight from Nevsehir. I wasn’t especially excited to get to Istanbul, mostly because I knew it meant this amazing trip was finally coming to an end.

I’d visited Istanbul once before, on RTW #3, so I didn’t have a particularly ambitious itinerary for my last day of the trip. Of course, it had been in the middle of winter when I last visited and it was long before I was traveling with a good camera so I figured I should at least make the effort to update my photos from such a beautiful city.

I was on the ground at Istanbul’s Gokcen Airport by 9:30am and began the combined bus/metro journey necessary to get to the center of town. I had a 6:00am flight out of Istanbul’s other airport (Ataturk) the next morning so I had booked a hotel next to that airport for the night. Unfortunately, the two airports were hours apart so it didn’t make much sense to go all the way to my hotel, drop my bags and make the hour return ride back to the city. So, I decided to tough it out with my luggage for a few hours of sightseeing.

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Cave Dwelling & High Flying in Cappadocia

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 | 0 comments

Cave Dwelling & High Flying in Cappadocia

Getting to Cappadocia is difficult over land, there are no trains into the area and from my last stop in Pamukkale the journey would have involved two buses and at least 8 hours. Luckily, there are a couple of low-cost Turkish airlines serving the nearby towns of Kayseri (an hour away) and Nevsehir (20 minutes away).

I managed to find a $45 flight on Sun Express from Izmir to Kayseri so it made sense to backtrack a little by taking the 4-hour train ride from Pamukkale back to Izmir in order to catch it. So, after spending the night at an airport hotel in Izmir, I was at the airport bright and early for my 6:00am flight to Kayseri, excited to get my Cappadocia adventure underway.

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A Play Day at Pamukkale Turkey

Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 | 0 comments

A Play Day at Pamukkale Turkey

The train ride from Selcuk/Ephesus was a relaxed 3 ½ hours to Denizli where I’d need to find the bus station to catch a “dolmas” (a shared mini-bus that is a staple of travel within Turkey) to Pamukkale, about 25 minutes away. I’d gotten my first glimpse of the white mountains of Pamukkale from the train as we pulled into the Denzili station and I was excited to get up there and explore.

The bus station was pretty easy to find using my time-proven solid strategy of just following the other tourist-looking people with luggage and since the dolmas leave every 15 minutes there was one waiting and we were off in just minutes.

For my brief stay in Pamukkale I chose the Venus Hotel based on its Trip Advisor reviews. There’s not much to the actual town of Pamukkale and it seemed to be the best choice in the area. Owned and operated by the Dormus family since 1991, this small bed and breakfast was centrally-located just a short walk away from both the bus stop and the exit to the travertines.

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Ephesus with Ease

Posted by on Jun 12, 2014 | 2 comments

Ephesus with Ease

The 3-hour bus ride from Bodrum to Selcuk with Pamukkale Tours was much better than I thought it would be. It was a 26-seater minibus which seemed crowded at first and I thought, “well, this is going to be a long ride.” But once we pulled out of the station I was able to change from my assigned seat to the back row of the bus and spread out to get a little writing done along the way.

Oddly, the bus was quite the full-service experience. Fifteen minutes into our drive, a “flight attendant” type person suddenly appeared in the aisle handing out bottles of water. I hadn’t even noticed him on the bus before we left! He then proceeded to do another round passing out packaged snacks like pretzels and chips before making another round with coffee, tea and soda. I didn’t know what was coming next, I half expected him to whip up a casserole or something in an Easy-Bake oven. I’ve never seen this kind of service on a bus before but it was a nice surprise, totally worth the extremely reasonable $18 fare.

We arrived at the bus station in Selcuk right on time at 1:30pm and I figured while I was there I should try to find the train station to get my train ticket booked to Pammukale for the next day. I’d found a train schedule online but wasn’t sure how crowded the trains usually were so I thought it might be best to book a day ahead just to be safe.

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A Travel Day from Kos to Bodrum

Posted by on Jun 11, 2014 | 2 comments

A Travel Day from Kos to Bodrum

As the ferry sailed away from Symi’s beautiful harbor I was definitely more than a little wistful. Symi was such a special place. But it was time to move on to the final leg of this trip – Turkey.

I’d visited Turkey once before but it was just a brief stop in Istanbul on Round the World #3. While I was in the neighborhood on this summer’s trip, I thought it would be the perfect time to explore the Asian side of one of the world’s only transcontinental countries.

So, over the course of the next week I’ll be visiting Ephesus, Pamukkale and Cappadocia before finally flying home from Istanbul next Friday.

The best option for getting to Turkey from Symi was to take a ferry to the Greek island of Kos and then another ferry from Kos to Bodrum on the Turkish mainland. But the limited ferry times meant that I’d have a minimum connection time of 5 hours to spend on Kos before the first afternoon boat went back to Bodrum.

I had originally planned to spend a night on Kos while in transit between Symi and Bodrum but I ran out of time to research where exactly I wanted to stay and when I arrived in Symi I realized that’s where I wanted to stay. And based on what I saw of Kos (which I admit was just the main town) I think I made an excellent decision. The harbor area, while scenic and possessing the obligatory castle, was incredibly touristy to the point that I’m not sure I would have survived more than a few hours there. It clearly catered to the package tourist and 20-something European nightlife set, neither of which was a group I counted myself a part of.

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Smitten with Symi

Posted by on Jun 10, 2014 | 4 comments

Smitten with Symi

For those of us who are passionate about travel, there are many places in the world that we revel in visiting, maybe even fall a little bit in love with. But then there’s another level of travel experience, one that’s far more rare…a place that just calls to your soul.

If you’ve got a minute, the exquisitely-tiny island of Symi Greece would like a word with your soul.

Surprisingly, two months ago I’d never even heard of the island of Symi. But while trying to plan a route from Rhodes to Turkey, I happened to stumble across this little gem. Though there are a few direct ferries between Rhodes and the Turkish mainland, the more common path was to Bodrum via the islands of Symi and Kos. It seemed like a good plan to break up the 3-ferry trip with a stay on one of the two islands.

So, after a quick Google image search of both Symi and Kos, I was instantly taken with the pictures of Symi with its quaint pink and yellow, Venetian style architecture. I’d never seen a Greek island that looked like Symi and I knew right away that it was an island I had to see. Sometimes I just get a feeling about a place, so I decided to spend 4 nights on Symi, longer than I devoted to anywhere else but Crete on this trip.

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