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Old 3rd September 2014, 13:08   #1
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Default Turkish Delights

Hot Air Balloon's in Cappodoccia at Sunrise.
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The opening picture will give you an idea of what’s coming up over the next few days!

This is my first travelogue on T-BHP though I have written a couple of ownership threads earlier. I just love to read the travelogues shared by BHPIANS hence I decided to write one of my own. Here I am going to write down my trip report to Turkey which I undertook during the last Independence day weekend along with my friends. I will write the travelogue on a day wise format with lots of photos as the saying goes a picture speaks more than a 1000 words(though here you would find a lot more words too).

So here we go!


My friends and I undertake bachelor trips every year where we look to travel to a new destination for adventure and sightseeing. This year the idea to explore Turkey was bounced off by one of our friends and thus we started the planning and itinerary building process couple of months ago. The first thing was air ticket bookings, we initially zeroed on Qatar Airways as they had the least transit time. Later we found out Turkish Airlines was offering a good air fare for their direct service to Istanbul from Mumbai. Hence we booked our tickets on Turkish Airlines for the Mumbai - Istanbul sector and for Chennai - Mumbai we booked in Jet Airways using Jet miles.Next was the visa process. Turkey issues e-visa’s for tourists which can be applied online by paying a nominal fee through credit card on their website and the e-visa is emailed within one hour of applying. Indian passport holders should have a valid Schengen/UK/US visa in their passport to avail the Turkish e-visa facility. Once the visa process was through we started deliberating on the itinerary.Since we had decided on a weeks trip Istanbul with its rich history and museums was allotted 3 days and the rest of the 4 days we decided on visiting Cappodoccia Izmir Ephesus Pammukale and Antalya. In order to cut down on travel time and stay stress free during the trip we decided to use the domestic flights in Turkey for our inter city travel instead of bus/trains. Pegasus Airlines Sun Express Onur Air and Atlasjet are some of the private LCC in Turkey apart from the national carrier Turkish Airlines. After doing some research we found out Pegasus Airline had the best connections and competitive fares than the other airlines. We booked all the internal flights by Pegasus Airlines except for one by Onur Air. Flypgs have a very user friendly iPad app which we used book the tickets. Hotel bookings were done as well and we were all set to go on our most awaited trip to Turkey!

Last edited by sameer sultan : 4th September 2014 at 11:54.
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Old 3rd September 2014, 15:48   #2
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Day 1

August 12 2014

The excitement was at its peak to understate as today our journey was to start. We had an evening 7pm flight to Mumbai. We bid goodbyes to our families and proceeded to the airport.

The journey to Mumbai by Jet Airways was uneventful. Upon arrival around 930pm at Mumbai we had a few hours before we could check in for our international flight, hence we decided on having dinner at Mahesh Lunch Home at Juhu. Uber cab was booked thru the app which promptly picked us up from the Terminal 1B and dropped us off at the restaurant. We had some lip smacking konkani sea food at a leisurely pace as we had to kill time.

Another Uber cab was booked for travel to the new Mumbai International Airport Terminal 2. This was my first time at the new Terminal. I was mighty impressed with the design and layout. The interiors of the Terminal are like a five star hotel lobby!!

Check in counters for Turkish Airlines opened at 2 am and we were one of the first passengers at the counter. At the check in counter the staff was offering business class upgrade for US$300/- as apparently the business class cabin was going half empty hence they were luring the coach passengers with this offer. I was a bit reluctant to upgrade but eventually agreed as my friends were keen on upgrading as they reasoned that we could catch up with some sleep on the fully flat bed in the business class as we would arrive well rested in Istanbul after the early morning 6 hour flight. Hence we went ahead with the upgrade to J. We were offered lounge access as part of the business class upgrade. We had about 3 hours before our flight departed so we proceeded to the lounge for some relaxation and charging our mobiles. The lounge was huge and nicely decorated just like rest of the impressive Terminal.

Boarding started 45 mins before the schedule departure of 5:55am. We got priority boarding and in no time we were at our seats. This was a 777-300 aircraft with Reverse Herringbone Business Class seating. The aircraft was quite old as the seats were a bit worn out I had a tough time pulling out the personal entertainment screen. Found out through one of the Stewards that this was a Jet Airways aircraft leased out by Turkish Airlines. We settled down in our seats and were offered pre departure drinks and amenity kits which contained a shawl a pair of socks and eye shades. As I was very keen to catch up on sleep after a long night I was waiting for the flight to take off as I could recline the seat to bed position and doze off. The flight took off on time and the seat belt sign was switched off in about 15 mins.I requested the Steward to not serve the breakfast as I would like to catch up on sleep. I had a sound sleep for about 4 hours as the flat bed was comfy.

Up on getting up I was offered some refreshments and snack. There was a Bollywood actor Aditi Rao Hydari travelling with us and I wanted to take a snap with her. I requested the Steward to check with her if she would oblige for a photo op!She agreed and we met at the front of the cabin and clicked some snaps with her including a selfie!!. Apparantly she was travelling to Budapest for a film shoot. Rajkumar Rao her co actor was also travelling with her. Though we did not click any photos with him ;-).

Some snaps of Day 1.

Mumbai International Terminal 2 Check In area
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Mumbai International Terminal 2 Airside
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Turkish Airlines Business Class Seat
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ICE and Seat Controls
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Turkish Airlines Business Class Cabin
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Take Off from Mumbai
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Air show
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Turkish Airlines Flight in Istanbul Ataturk Airport
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Old 4th September 2014, 14:57   #3
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Day 2

August 13 2014

We arrived in Istanbul Ataturk Airport at 9:45AM local time well rested and excited to explore Turkey. Upon landing the taxi to the remote stand took ages as there was a lot of traffic on the tarmac. Once we were in the terminal we proceeded to the fast track immigration counter for business class passengers. There was no wait time then we picked up our bags and were outside the customs area. We proceeded to exchange currency and also wanted to buy a local sim card mainly to access data.

Once that was done we came out of the terminal where there was the Havatas Airport Shuttle Service about which we had prior info on, that it was a cheap and fast bus service to get to Taksim Square where our hotel was located. After about 45 mins we arrived at Taksim Square, we were a bit hungry hence dropped in at a cafe to have some Turkish Doner Kebab which would be the first of many Doner Kebabs we would have on this trip!

The hotel we had booked was Mercure Taksim Istanbul which as per directions given in the booking voucher was around 500mts from Taksim Square. We decided to walk but did not have an idea on which way to go as we could not check out google maps for directions since data was not yet activated. We asked around for directions, we discovered that we could have language issues as none of the people we asked were fluent in English. This would be a major communication hindrance for us during our travels in Turkey. Finally we could manage to find someone who gave us the directions to the hotel. We walked for about 10mins and we finally reached the hotel and checked in.

This was a fairly new hotel opened in 2012. We freshened up and got ready to explore the historical city of Istanbul. The climate was sultry as it was peak summer in Turkey. At first we reached Taksim Square which is a huge maidan like place where the Turkish flag was fluttering in all it's bright red glory. This is also the place where all the agitations take place something like our Ram Leela Maidan in New Delhi. We clicked some photos at Taksim Square as luckily no protests were going on!

At the left corner of Taksim Square the Istiklal Street starts which winds down towards the Bosphorous River. Istiklal Street is the walking street for shopping and eating in European side of Istanbul. At 3pm the street was so crowded with full of tourists. No cars are allowed only occasionally trams pass through the street. It was really a happening place and we started walking down towards Bosphorous river which is the border between the 2 continents of Europe and Asia. As most of the readers will be aware Istanbul city is located at the border of 2 continents of Asia and Europe with the Bosphorous River flowing in between.

Coming back to our walk down istiklal street we were taking in the sounds and sights and occasionally stopping by shops to gorge on some delicious baklava the signature dessert of Turkey freshly squeezed pomegranate and orange juice and some tasty water melons.

After a walk of about 45mins we reached the Galata Tower which is a monument located on a hill on the banks of the Bosphorous. We stopped by for some pictures and then had some Turkish Coffee at a cafe near the Galata Tower. It was my first taste of Turkish Coffee and I liked it very much. Its very strong in flavour with its bitter sweet taste. Next we proceeded to Kabatas area which is the place from where the ferries start for the Bosphorous Cruise. We were just in time to catch the sunset cruise on the Bosphorous which lasts for 2 hours. The ferry was loaded with tourists. We managed to find a vantage point to click pictures.

This cruise starts from the European side of Istanbul cruising towards the Asian side crossing many bridges new and old and then finally dropping off at Sultanhammet which is the old town of Istanbul. There are a lot of monuments and historical sites on the banks of the Bosphorous. It was really a wonderful cruise as it gives a great view of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and many other landmark historical monuments of Istanbul.

There are more expensive cruise options which include dinner and belly dance but we opted for just the sightseeing cruise as we were more interested in taking in the wonderful sights of Istanbul from the Bosphorous river. After sailing for about 2 hours the ferry dropped us off at Eminonu which is the ferry and tram station of the old town.

The area was bustling with a number of sea food restaurants and street side shops.The Suleimaniya Mosque is located here. We had dinner and proceeded to the tram station to get back to our hotel. We picked up the istanbulkart from a kiosk near the station, this card is something like the octopus card of the underground service in London. The istanbulkart can be used across all the public transport and up to 5 people can use a single card. It also offers subsidised fares than the single journey tickets.

From the Eminonu station we took the tram to Kabatas station which is on the other side of the Bosphorous river. Kabatas is the interchange station for different metro lines. There is a single dedicated metro line between Kabatas and Taksim Square called the funicular line. This is an uphill track from Kabatas to Taksim and downhill the other way. Taksim Square is situated on a hill and Kabatas at the foot hill on the banks of the Bosphorous. It's easier to walk downhill from Taksim to Kabatas as we did earlier in the afternoon but impossible to walk back as it's a steep climb. Hence the Funicular line which uses the pulley chain technology to pull the train up hill is very convenient to commute between Kabatas and Taksim Square.

After a short 3 min train ride we reached Taksim Square and proceeded to walk towards our hotel to retire for the night.

Pictures of Day 2 follow....
View before landing
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Another view just before landing
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Istanbul Ataturk Airport
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Turkish Airlines Flight
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Turkish Airlines Flights lined up on the tarmac
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Masjid near the airport
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View of the Marmara sea
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Turkish Flag
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Istiklal Street
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Fruit stalls selling fresh juice in Istiklal street
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Freshly cut water melons
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Galatta Tower
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Turkish Coffee
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End of Istiklal Street
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Kabatas Ferry Station
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Bosphorus River
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Bosphorus Cruise
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Rest of the pictures are the various views of the monuments on the banks of the Bosphorus River.

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Last edited by sameer sultan : 5th September 2014 at 18:19.
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Old 4th September 2014, 18:21   #4
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Some more pix from Day 2....

View of the Sultanhammet Masjid from the Bosphorus
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Eateries on the banks of the Bosphorus at Eminonu
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Suleimaniya Masjid
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Inside ceiling of Suleimanya Masjid
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Inside Suleimanya Masjid
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Attached Thumbnails
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Last edited by sameer sultan : 5th September 2014 at 18:20. Reason: Removed 1 repetitive picture
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Old 5th September 2014, 18:15   #5
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Day 3

August 14 2014

The plan for today was to visit the Topkapi Palace and Museum and the Hagia Sophia or the Aya Sofya as the locals call it. After a sumptuous breakfast at Mercure Taksim Istanbul we set out on foot to Taksim Square Metro to catch the Funicular to Kabatas. From Kabatas we took the tram to Sultanhammet across the river.

A surprise was in store for us at the entrance of the Topkapi Palace. There was a long serpentine Q to buy the entry tickets. Looked like every one in Istanbul had decided to visit the Palace today! When I was doing the research online I came across a museum card for Istanbul which gives entry to all the palaces and museums in Istanbul valid for 3 days from entering the first museum. It was for 1 time entry. They were not selling e cards, as such we had to pay online and the card would be delivered to a local address in Istanbul. Since e card was not available we did not buy it. Luckily there was a kiosk next to the ticket counters at the Topkapi Palace selling the Muze Cards. The Q was less. The Muze Card is worth buying if one plans to see 3 or more museums in 3 days time. The card actually gives entry to a total of 7 museums in Istanbul. We opted to buy the card since the Q was much lesser though we had plans of seeing only 2 museums.

Once we bought the Muze Card we proceeded to the Topkapi Palace and Museum which was the palace of the Ottomon Sultan's for over 400 years from 1465-1865 of their 624 year reign. There is a separate Harem in the Palace enclosure which we visited first. The crowd here was much less since there was an extra charge to enter the Harem. Though it was accessible with the Muze Card. We looked around the Harem for about 30 mins. These were the privy chambers of the Sultans of the Ottomon Empire for all their Noctornal activities. It was little away from the main palace.

Next was the Museum where the Holy Relics of the Muslim World including the cloak and sword of Prophet Mohammed(SAW) and other Prophets items are preserved with great care. Clicking photos is prohibited here. There was obviously the maximum crowd at this museum. It was really memorable to see all the artefacts of the revered Prophets. It is also amazing that these are well preserved and restored for hundreds of years.

Next we visited another museum where the paintings depicting the life of the Sultan's were kept. In all it took about 3 hours to see the Topkapi Palace and museum. We actually missed out on a couple of portions. Half day is needed to cover the entire palace and museum. We came out of the Topkapi palace and proceeded to have lunch.

Later we visited the Hagia Sophia(Aya Sofya) which was a Greek orthodox basilica(church). Under the Ottomon empire it was converted into a masjid. Now it is a museum. It is a very beautiful monument with intricate designs on its walls and ceiling well preserved.The pictures below will give an idea of how beautiful this monument from inside is.The Blue Masjid or the Sultanhammet Masjid is also located next to the Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia but we did not visit it as we had planned to attend the Friday prayers there the next day. The Aya Sofya and the Sultanhammet Masjid look very similar from the outside as both the monuments are very similar. Hence when seen from the Bosphorus both would look similar side by side. Though one is the museum and the other Masjid. While the Sultanhammet Masjid is much bigger from inside.

After about 45 mins we came out of the Hagia Sophia and returned to our Hotel for some relaxation after all the walking we did today!! Later in the evening we went to Istiklal Street for dinner and shopping. Had the best Doner Kebab at Bambi's cafe which seemed to be a popular joint in Taksim Square.

Pictures of the Topkapi Palace and Museum Harem and the Hagia Sophia follow...

Sultanhammet Masjid
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Entrance to the Topkapi Palace
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Topkapi Palace entrance
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Another Pic of the entrance to the Palace
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Another view of the entrance
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Topkapi Palace
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Inside the Harem in the Topkapi Palace
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Masjid inside the Harem
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Harem Courtyard
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Outside view of the Harem
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Outer view of the Holy Museum. We could not take pictures inside of the artefacts as its banned.
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View of the Bosphorus from the Topkapi Palace
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Topkapi Palace
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Topkapi Palace
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Hagia Sophia
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Hagia Sophia from the side
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Entrance to Hagia Sophia
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Inside Hagia Sophia
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Inside Hagia Sophia
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Old 6th September 2014, 12:40   #6
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Day 4

August 15 2014

We got up a bit late on Independence Day. The 4 of us greeted each other on our freedom day

The plan was to vacate the rooms after breakfast, check out of the hotel and goto the Blue Masjid for Friday prayers around 1pm. After checking out we left the bags in the locker room of the hotel and proceeded to Sultanhammet by the funicular metro and tram.

The Blue Masjid got its name as blue tiles adorn its interior walls is known as Sultanhammet Masjid. We completed the prayers in the historical masjid and visited the Hippodrome which is just outside the Masjid.

The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus which was the social and sporting centre of Constantinople during the Byzantine Empire. Today it is a square named Sultan Meydan in Istanbul.

Later we walked to the Grand Bazaar, Sultanhammet area of Istanbul is the central location of this massive city as all the major attractions are located here within walking distance of each other which is very tourist friendly. Topkapi Palace and Musuem Aya Sophia Blue Masjid Hippodrome and the Grand Bazaar are all located at Sultanhammet. Coming to the Grand Bazaar, which is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world, it has over 3000 shops in the old town of Fatih. This bazaar whose construction started in 1461 was fully established in the 17th century around 1638 . It's still in the original building of that era. We had lunch just outside the Grand Bazaar. The market was bustling with tourists as there are a lot of mementos to picked up at a bargain price also there are many jewellery shops and sweetmeat shops selling Turkish Delight which is a rubbery like sweet delicacy of Turkey. There is the famous carpet market located here, where one can buy some exquisite carpets and prayer mats. Next to the Grand Bazaar is the Egyptian Market(Spice Market) which is well known for spices.

The Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Market are very much like what we find in our Indian Cities like Chandni Chowk in Delhi Bhindi Bazaar in Mumbai Flower Bazaar area in Chennai or the Charminar area in Hyderabad.

Around 430pm we returned to the hotel to pick up our bags as we had to catch a flight at 8pm from Sabiha Gokcen airport which is about 60kms from Taksim Square. We walked up to the Havatas boarding point to take the 530pm shuttle bus to the airport. The journey took about 1.5 hours to Sabiha Airport which is located in the Asian side of Istanbul as we encountered a lot of traffic. This airport has a much bigger and nicer terminal than the Ataturk Airport. This airport is mostly used by the private airlines. Our next destination was Kayseri which is one of the closest airports to Cappodocia. The other airport is at Nevsehir but that airport had much lesser flight connections than Kayseri which is a bigger city and it is located 85 Kms away from Cappodocia.

Out flight Flypgs got delayed by about an hour. We departed at around 9pm and after about 45mins we arrived at Kayseri.The airport was very small with 2 tiny terminals for international and domestic arrivals. We took a cab to our Hotel which was just about 5kms always from the airport. We had booked Novotel Kayseri.

After dinner at the restaurant we retired for the night. We had a very early morning call at 330am as we were heading to Cappodocia for the Hot Air Balloon ride which was the highlight of our trip. More details in the day 5 log.

Some Pictures of day 4..

Metro and Tram route map of Istanbul
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Sultanhammet Tram Station
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Blue Masjid as seen from Sultan Meydan
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Blue Masjid
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Courtyard of the Blue Masjid
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Ceiling of the Blue Masjid
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Inside the Blue Masjid
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Ceiling of the Blue Masjid
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Hippodrome at Sultan Meydan
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Aya Sophia
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Grand Bazaar
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Flypgs at Sabiha Gokcen Airport
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Novotel Kayseri
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Novotel Kayseri
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Lobby of Novotel Kayseri
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Reception at Novotel Kayseri
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Kids play area at Novotel Kayseri
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Restaurant at Novotel Kayseri
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Last edited by sameer sultan : 6th September 2014 at 12:54. Reason: Some details were updated
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Old 6th September 2014, 20:17   #7
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Day 5

August 16 2014

Our tour guide for Cappodocia had sent the cab to pick us up at the unearthly hour of 330am. We had barely slept for a couple hours we had to get up to freshen up and start our drive to Cappodocia. The Hot Air Balloon ride is taken every morning just before sunset hence we need to reach the take off location by 430am to prepare for the flight. The drive was good so early in the morning. Weather was chill and we reached the tour guide office at about 430am.

There were many other tourists. We were offered some snacks and after about 30mins wait we were allotted the Hot Air Balloon along with 12 other flyers as each basket accommodates 16 ppl. We went on a short drive to an open ground where already many hot air balloons were taking off. Our pilot was warming up the balloon with the fire blowing out of the gas cylinders. The basket is divided into 5 compartments. 4 for the pax and the centre 1 for the pilot where the gas cylinders are also placed. Whenever the fire blew out of the cylinders it would heat up our backs. The fire was ferocious and took a while for us to get accustomed.

We were given some basic instructions by our pilot like the position we should adopt while taking off and landing though none of those instructions were implemented!! We took off smoothly. I don't have words to describe the wonderful feeling as we attained height. The sun was rising and the sky above the mountainous region of Cappodocia was filled with hundreds of hot air balloons. It was the most wonderful sight. The beautiful sky above with the sun caressing it with its first and soft rays of the day and the vast landscape below which was very diverse. The pictures below would give you an idea of why we experienced!!

The hot air balloon reaches a height of about 8000feet. The journey is for about 45mins. Once the sun has risen fully it's time to land and we were back at the same place from where we took off. Once we landed there was a small celebration by the pilot for the successful flight which we undertook. Some photos were clicked and flying certificates given to each person who took the hot air balloon flight. It was a delightful experience for me and a must do once in a lifetime activity for those who aspire adventure in life.

Pictures for you to experience the adventure virtually!

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Next our cab dropped us off at the Dideli Konak Cave Hotel at Goreme. Where the breakfast arrangements were made for us and after a rest for about 2 hours another guide would take us for the full day tour of Cappodocia. The Dideli Konak Cave Hotel was one of a kind hotel and the first time I have seen anything like this. The approach to the hotel is very underwhelming. But once you enter the cave hotel its all together something else. Don't judge a book by its cover saying is very apt for this hotel.

The rooms were luxuriously decorated with all the modern amenities like jacuzzi and the works though on the outside it was just like a cave.The hotel which had just about 12 rooms and a restaurant is run by a very friendly old couple who took personal care of every guest. We had a wonderful time there and also a sumptuous breakfast which was just like home made food as the menu was prepared by the owners wife. We regretted for not planning to stay for a night at this wonderful cave hotel instead we were there for just 2 hours that too as a holding station for our full day tour to start as we had completed the hot air balloon flight very early in the morning.

Once our guide came he explained to us all the places we are going to visit today we left the hotel promising to return again for a longer stay. The Cappodocia is the historical region comprising of the towns of Goreme Uighur Uichar and Nevisehir. Cappodocia which lies in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey is a rocky mountainous region with many natural formations and fairy chimneys. It is one of a kind region very diverse which looks inhabited but actually there are tons of hotels and resorts which are very well carved out from the natural caves.

These caves have natural cooling which maintains a standard temperature of 14 degrees celsius throughout the year irrespective of the seasons of summer winter monsoon or spring. Our guide was friendly and well versed in English. Along with us there were 14 other tourist from various countries. So we interacted with them and it was an enjoyable time touring Cappodocia.

First we visited a place where the rocks have formed natural fairy chimneys. Then we visited the pigeon valley where we could find thousands of pigeons. We fed some pigeons with the grains provided there.

Next we proceeded to visit the Kaymakeli underground city.This was a marvellous place where a whole city was established underground in the caves by the erstwhile kings as a secure place to hide during the time of war. The tour of the underground city took about one hour as the guide explained each and every cave. We had to crouch and crawl in the caves in order to move around. One of our friends felt claustrophobic in the cave hence he skipped touring the underground city. It beats ones imagination how imaginative the planning was by the rulers of earlier generations who used the natural caves to inhabit and lead a life. Just like any city the underground cave city has houses courtrooms jails churches grave yards wells to draw water and all the basic necessities to lead a normal life during the war period. It was a maze navigating the caves while crouching. The climate outside was very sultry as it was midday but inside the underground cave city the temperature was just 14 degrees Celsius throughout. It was as if we were in a air conditioned room but actually we were in a cave which was a natural formation in the earth by our creator. Just wonderful. The photos won't do justice to what we experienced inside the cave.

Once we finished the underground cave city tour it was time for lunch. Our tour guide for the day took us to a cave restaurant for lunch as part of the package. The restaurant was nice again in a cave but the food was horrible as the tour guide turned out to be a cookie cutter!!

After lunch we decided we would cut short our day tour and go back to our hotel in Kayseri for some rest as our day had started at 330am in the morning. Moreover we had seen the important sights of Cappodocia. Our cab was called to pick us up from the cave restaurant we bid good byes to our co tourists and proceeded to Kayseri which took about an hours drive. The highways in Turkey are well maintained and conducive to high speed driving.

Once we were back at Novotel Kayseri we slept for sometime before we went out in the evening to the nearby shopping district for some Turkish Doner kebab which we needed badly after the horrible lunch we had. Our next flight was later in the night to Izmir our next destination. We checked out of the hotel at 830pm and proceeded to the airport for our schedule flight departure time if 1030pm to Izmir via Istanbul. So we had 2 flights to take tonight before we arrive at Izmir at 1am in the night.

Flypgs was delayed again by 1.5hours which really irritated us after such a longish day we had. Eventually we reached Izmir at 230am.
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 6th September 2014, 22:19   #8
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Below are more pictures from Cappodocia region. The Dideli Konak Cave Hotel Fairy Chimneys and the Kaymakli Underground City are featured in the pictures below.

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Old 8th September 2014, 14:18   #9
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 8th September 2014, 15:11   #10
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Originally Posted by sameer sultan View Post
[b]Day 6
Lovely pics till day 5 Sameer saab!

Day 6 pics are broken. Please check. What Nikon camera/lenses did you use (Assuming from the camera bags)? Also, what make is the wide angle lens (appeared so at the busy street outside your first hotel from day 2)?

P.S - Mods, I'm unable to rate the thread a 5* and I get a message saying "A required field called <em>Ipaddress</em> is missing or has an invalid value."

Last edited by Divya Sharan : 8th September 2014 at 15:14.
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Old 8th September 2014, 16:28   #11
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Day 6

August 17 2014

Upon arrival at the spanking terminal at Izmir after a delayed flight we proceeded to the Europcar rental kiosk at the arrival halls after picking up our bags. We had booked a rent a car for 24 hours as we had plans to drive down to Ephesus and Pamukkale in the morning. After completing the formalities we drove out of the airport in the Mercedez Benz C180 towards the city. We had booked the hotel at Double Tree by Hilton. It was almost 4am by the time we reached the hotel. Gave the car to the valet checked in and crashed on the bed for some much deserved sleep.

Izmir seemed to be a very well developed city with excellent infrastructure. No wonder it was one of the candidate city for Expo 2020, which was eventually awarded to Dubai.

We were up by 8am. Walked down the street to have breakfast at a Turkish cafe. We then drove out towards Ephesus. We were using Google Maps to navigate but were finding it difficult as Google maps does not support voice based navigation in Turkey.I took a wrong turn as 2 friends were giving directions using google maps, result was we lost 45 mins to get back on track! On the go we downloaded NAV Free app which provided voice based navigation and finally hit the expressway.It was a 6 lane track. Traffic was manageable I floored the C180 touching speeds of 180K's plus at one point I hit the 200K's mark. There seemed to be no speed limit on the expressway. In no time we took the exit to Selcuk which is 85kms from Izmir. From Selcuk Ephesus is 10KMS.

Ephesus the 10th century Greek city is famous for the Temple of Artemis which was eventually destroyed in a raids by the Goths. The ruins are still preserved and it is a sightseeing destination with entry ticket and all.The Seven Sleepers Cave and Virgin Mary's house is also located nearby in Ephesus. We visited all the 3 places.

After about an hour we started our drive to Pumukkale which was 185kms away. The highway was a regular 4 lane road just like our golden triangle highways. As we were travelling between Selcuk and Pumukkale which were not big towns and did not lie between major cities hence the expressway was not there but the highway was still good with well marked signage. At the junctions there was not haphazard crossings by motobikes and cycles like in our highway. In fact we did not see a single 2 wheeler on the highway. There were no pedestrians as well. Only cars buses and lorries were plying on the highway. My friend was behind the wheel now. Though we were not on the expressway still he drove at a good speed of almost 150K's ave as the highway was excellent. In about 2.5 hours we reached pummukale. The last 30 KMS were on village roads which was single lane but still good enough.

Pumukkale is a natural site in the Denizli province of Turkey. The city contains hot water springs and travertines, which are carbonates left by the flowing water. The ancient Byzantine city of Heirapolis is also located here. In present day it is a ruined city. The Turkish tourism department have made the entire area the hot springs travertines and Heirapolis into a sightseeing complex which attracts a number of tourists. An ancient pool is created from the natural spring water where tourists take a swim as the water supposedly has medicinal benefits.

We had to park the car and walk for about 40mins passing the ruined city of Heirapolis and the Travertines to reach the main area where the ancient pool is located. We took a swim there for about an hour. It was almost sunset by the time we were done. We walked around the ruins for sometime and then we started our drive back to Izmir which was 280kms away.

On the way we stopped for dinner at a dhaba type restaurant. The food and service was excellent. We had some traditional Turkish food. The last 80kms to Izmir were on the expressway. We reached Izmir airport around 1am to drop the rental car. We took a cab to the hotel. Slept for about 2 hours as we had our flight to Antalya at 7am in the morning. Thus day 6 of our trip ended at 3am!!

Mercedes Benz C180 - Europcar
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Butter Smooth Turkish Highways
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Sparse Traffic
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The town of Selcuk at the far distance
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View of a Fort from the Seven Sleeper's Cave Site
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Indian style Tandoori Naan being prepared by ethnic Turkish cooks!!
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Kunafa dessert
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Horse carriages at Seven Sleeper's Cave Site
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The ruined Byzantine city of Heirapolis at Pamukkale
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Hot water spring pool at Pamukkale
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Ancient Pool at Pamukkale one of the major attractions at tho site
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Old 8th September 2014, 16:30   #12
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Great write up and pics. Hagia Sofia, Galata Tower takes me back to Assassins Creed. You just helped add one more place to my bucket list. Keep it coming!
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Old 8th September 2014, 16:41   #13
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More Pics from Pumukkale on Day 6 of the trip...

Medicinal benefits of the Thermal Water mentioned here...
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Sunset over the valley of Pumukkale
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Sunset as seen from the Travertines of Pumukkale
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Old 8th September 2014, 18:05   #14
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Day 7

August 18 2014

We checked out from Double Tree by Hilton at 5am. Proceeded to the airport. We were a bit disappointed that we could not look around Izmir which was a very beautiful city as time did not permit us. Izmir airport was very busy in the early morning.It was the best airport of all the airports in Turkey that we visited.Thankfully our flight Flypgs was on schedule.

After some breakfast we boarded for our 40min flight to Antalya which is a seaside city with a number of beach resorts frequented by Russian tourists primarily.Upon arrival at 8am we took a cab to the hotel Crown Plaza Antalya. After about 45 mins drive we reached the hotel which was a sea side property. Our rooms were not ready as we had reached the hotel pretty early. The check in time was only 2pm. Hence we ventured out for some food. It was very hot as it's the peak summer season and the place was buzzing with tourists looking for some sun tan.

We visited a cafe which was run by an American. It had an nice American feel. After some tasty snacks we returned to the hotel. Luckily we were given our rooms well ahead of the check in time. As we had not slept last night we hit the bed for a couple of hours. Later we went for a swim. The beach is connected by a subway from the hotel. We went to the beach as well.

Later in evening we visited the old town of Antalya which is where all the tourists go for sightseeing shopping eating and partying the night away.The place was buzzing with activity. We had dinner at a road side cafe. Then we strolled around the walking street. There were a number of tourists taking in the various attractions offered. Like horse driven carriages tattooing and other various touristy activities. After spending a couple of hours we returned to the hotel. Next morning we had our flight back to Istanbul to connect to our flight back home.

As a lot of Russian tourists visit Antalya during the summer months they seem to carry their guns along with them on a holiday. Hence this sign at the Antalya arrivals terminal!
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American themed cafe
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Crown Plaza Antalya
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Reception at the hotel
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View of the lobby from the ninth floor at Crown Plaza Antalya
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Standard Room
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Suite Room at Crown Plaza Antalya, one of our rooms was upgrade to the suite!
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View from the Room
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Antalya Beach
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Tons of tourists at the beach
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Umbrella ceiling in the market at Antalya Old Town area
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Antalya old town area entrance to the fish market
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Day 8

August 19 2014

We got up pretty late as our flight was at 140pm. Hence we reached airport around 1230pm. On the way we had a quick bite for a late breakfast. Today we were flying Onur Air as this airline and Turkish had flights to Istanbul Ataturk airport while Flypgs had flights only to Sabiha Gokcen airport from Antalya. As we had our flight to Mumbai from Ataturk we opted for Onur air. The flight was on time.

We arrived into Istanbul Ataturk airport around 230pm. We changed terminals which are located within walking distance. Once in the international terminal we spent some time having lunch and just killing time as our flight to Mumbai was at 730pm. The check in counters opened at 430pm. We checked in cleared the immigrations which had a very long Q. I had never seen such a crowd in any of the airports I have so far visited.The terminal was like Mumbai CST or Chennai Central Station in terms of the number people there. There was tons of Turkish Airlines flights departing during the evening hours to various parts of world.

My friends indulged in some last minute shopping at the Duty free shops. Boarding started 30 mins before departure. We had a smooth flight to Mumbai.

Turkish airlines flight ready to depart to Mumbai from Istanbul Ataturk airport!
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Day 9

August 20 2014

Upon arrival into Mumbai at 430am the immigrations baggage retrieval and customs was a breeze at the new International Terminal 2 as there were a number of immigration counters and baggage carousels. We booked an Uber to change terminals and reached well ahead of the departure time of 9am of our connecting Jet Airways flight to Chennai.As there was an earlier flight to Chennai at 7am we changed our booking to this flight and reached Chennai by 9am.

We were happy to be back home after a wonderful and memorable trip of Turkey!Hope you enjoyed reading and seeing tons of pictures in the Travelogue!

End of trip report.
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Old 8th September 2014, 19:35   #15
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Loved the pics posted here Sameer, crisp & high resolution. Did you burn your data usage limit on this?

Thanks for sharing. Brings back memories of my trip to Turkey in 2004.

Although I did not visit the other cities apart from Istanbul, I still have fond memories of my travel to Istanbul itself.

Lovely weather, great food & very friendly locals. Definitely a must travel to destination for history buffs.
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