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Old 2nd March 2018, 18:07   #1
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Dear Mods, this is my first travelogue. Kindly modify wherever required.

Prologue:
I live in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. We have very few holidays in the year one bunch (of 7 days) in Ramadan Eid i.e. around May-June and another one around Aug-Sept. Just after going back from India after completing my Diwali 2016 vacation, I was wandering how my wife and I will kill the time of next Ramadan Eid holidays i.e. June 2017. One fine day, I was just searching if I would go to my home in India for the week how much the ticket would cost? The prices in Nov-2016 had already started reaching skies. I was searching via Skyscanner.net map view option where I found a sudden shock! A Greek airline which recently started flying to Jeddah was giving one return ticket Jeddah-Istanbul-Jeddah in mere 9,500 INR!!!!!
I did some serious thinking for 2 days and went ahead of booking tickets (of June’2017) but by that time it reached 15,000 INR which was still a great deal. Around 30,000 INR invested.
Now I had around 7 months to plan my one week trip. Recent political emergencies were a bit concern from my parents yet they did manage to let it not show on their faces but still my wife and I could understand the concern.
Till this time, I never organized any of my foreign trips entirely on my own but this time we made up our mind to do so which would result into great savings and maybe I can manage the entire trip in the annual bonus amount.

Let us conclude this and proceed with main travelogue:

Travel Dates: 23-June-2017 to 29-June-2017

Flight: Aegean Airlines

Visa Process:
Getting Turkey visa in Saudi Arabia was easy. Got it in 3 days by some agents appointed officially by Turkish Consulate.
Surprisingly, as my flight was having transit in Greece I needed to get Schengen transit visa as well. Greek embassy was bit hesitant in the beginning to issue but then they issued the visa. (But just before 10 days of my departure).

Hotel Booking:
Got it done through Goibibo as they were having some hotel festival kind of offer which gave great prices booking throughout Turkey. All hotels were booked after booking extensive research on Tripadvisor and some other website. Also the geographical locations were kept in mind to save on logistics.

Local Transport:
Turkey has great road connectivity throughout and number of night buses run from place to place. Many well-known companies such as Metro, Suha, Nevsehir etc operate nices buses at reasonable rates. Hence, we went ahead with booking Metro and Nevsehir buses.

Itinerary:

Day-1 - 23-June-2017 - Istanbul: Allotted only one day to Istanbul (considering recent disturbances). I had gone to Istanbul in 2011 and I am good at road memories etc. So was confident that I will be a good complimentary guide to my wife showing the historic places in a day’s time.
Booked B&B hotel room for a day just for 1200 INR in Sultanahmet area. All famous places Hagia Sophia Mosque, Blue Mosque, Balicia Cistern, Sultanahmet square were less than one kilometer from the hotel.
Took the night bus of Metro tourism to Cappadocia. (90 TRY ≈ 1500 INR per person) (11 hours ride)

Day-2 – 24-June-2017 – Cappadocia/Goreme: Day allotted for leisure and shopping. We got a cave hotel room at 2,300 INR/day on Goibibo including breakfast and a stunning view. I had already contacted the hotel guy who was very warm and nice did the hot air balloon booking already. (Prices for Balloon are in EUR. We got a 100 EUR per person)

Day-3 – 25-June-2017 – Cappadocia/Goreme: Hot air balloon ride and Red tour for the entire day. More details of red tour will follow with photos. We also did ATV ride to sunset point in the evening.

Day-4 – 26-June-2017 – Cappadocia/Goreme: Green tour for the entire day. Departed to Pamukkale in Nevsehir night but in the evening. More details of Green tour will follow with photos.

Day-5 – 27-June-2017 – Pamukkale: Day allotted for leisure. We got a pension room at 1500 INR per day including breakfast. To mention here, the host/owner was the warmest hearted person we have ever met as a hotel/property owner.

Day6 – 28-June-2017 – Pamukkale: Full town tour including hot water origins, thermal water pools, Heirapolis etc.

Day-7 – 29-June-2017 – Return trip: Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul. Return flight of Aegean Airlines to Jeddah. Back to dry deserts!!!!!

SIM Card:
We bought one SIM from Istanbul airport with 3GB data and managed in both mobiles with hotspot on. In Turkey it actually takes 1.5 hour to get the SIM card activated. Hence, do not expect to get your taxi driver navigated with google maps if your hotel is in old areas of Istanbul.

Entire Itinerary and expense details are attached in PDF herewith.

Now let us begin the journey:

Day-1:
Arrived at IST airport and got a SIM Card. Hotel guy send a Mercedes Vito to pickup.
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Checked-in at the hotel. Room was small but nice, clean and airy.
View from hotel window.
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Stepped out after having a decent meal at roof top of the hotel.

First stop - basilica cistern:
Ticket - 10 TRY per person
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Second stop - Hagia Sophia Mosque:
Ticket - 40 TRY per person
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Third stop - Blue Mosque:
Free entry (entry restricted inside the mosque during prayer times)
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Random photos at sultanahmet square:
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Evening view at hotel roof top. Had amazing dinner (overloaded the tummy):
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Checked out and went to central bus stand at Bayrampasa area. Boarded Metro bus to Cappadocia. The bus was Mercedes Benz Tourismo with 2x1 seating. Each seat was having a display, head-phones, USB charger, socket charger. Tea-coffee, water, snacks were served throughout the journey. Due to holidays in Turkey, traffic was horrible and bus reached hour and half late to Cappadocia.
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_2481.jpg

Some photos taken on the way:
Drivers changing (They seemed following driving hour rules. New driver polishing the shoes before taking charge. Metro bus company is so big that they have their own petrol pumps and restaurants on highways.)
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_2491.jpg

Cruising at 110kmph on beautiful highways:
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_2494.jpg

At Nevsehir, they shifts the passengers of Cappadocia in smaller Mercedes Sprinters and the big buses proceed towards Kayseri.

The small buses drop you to Cappadocia center. There is nice arrangement between hotels and tourism department. There is a counter of Turkey tourism department. Just go there and tell the hotel name you have reservation. They will call and hotel guy will come to pick you up.
Hence, the hotel guy came and picked us up in his Passat!!!!!

Cappadocia Center:
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_2543.jpg
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_2544.jpg

Checked in our Cave Room. It was whole different experience. Inside temperature is considerably lower than outside. The room height obviously is very low but its the beauty of a cave room.
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_2552.jpg
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Unique Details noticed at hotel:
Overhang restaurant:
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Most unique use of log:
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Hanging Garlic:
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_2573.jpg

Room lock - antique way:
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View from room:
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_2551.jpg

Reception:
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Grapes yet to arrive:
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_2598.jpg

To be continued .....
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Old 2nd March 2018, 21:29   #2
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Part-2 - Continuing - Authentic Turkey – Extreme Economic Way

Cappadocia Streets:
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No problems in Turkey at all being a vegetarian:
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Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_2628.jpg

Day-3:
Hot Air Balloon Ride. They pick you up from the hotel early morning 3:30am !!!!!
Takes you to their office. Breakfast and then to the takeoff site after safety briefings.

Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_2659.jpg

It is indeed a lifetime experience.

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We were dropped at hotel by 9am. Did have some more breakfast and headed for our already booked Red tour. Red tour basically covers all near by areas of Cappadocia and is for the ones who are interested in having nice photos. There is no much history involved in these places. If you are running short of time, you can skip it.

These trips can be booked from hotel. Price(100 try) include lunch and due to having Eid, we got some gifts as well. Transport mode - Mercedes Sprinter.

Trip include love valley, pigeon valley, imagination valley and a pottery place.

Red tour photos.

Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_2832.jpg
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Brand new sprinter for the tour
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Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_2929.jpg

Found some retro still in working condition
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_2940.jpg

Day ended with a Quad Tour (100 TRY per bike). Last stop was the sunset point which was extremely crowd with full of people.

Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_2969.jpg
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_2989.jpg

Day-4 - Cappadocia Historic Green Tour:
This tour is unavoidable as it consists various historic sites. Do not skip this. 120 TRY per person including lunch. Vehicle - Volkswagen crafter.

Trip include old christian underground cities, old monasteries, canyon walk and a river side lunch.

Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_3015.jpg
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Volkswagen Crafter
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To be Continued .....
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Old 2nd March 2018, 22:46   #3
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Part-3 - Cappadocia to Pamukkale:

We had already checked out from the hotel in the morning. Reached back at hotel in the evening. Did take bath in common yet clean bathrooms. Headed to bus station. Bus was scheduled at 8pm. (55 TRY per person).

We reached an hour early and decided to drop luggage at travels office. Headed for dinner.
Had amazingly delicious pizza.

Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_5771.jpg

Came back to the bus station and found another antique in very fine condition.

Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_3173.jpg

Settled in the bus. It was a 2x2 layout with TV and headphone on every seat. Tea-Coffee and snacks served along way.

Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_3177.jpg

Found this when bus stopped on the way. Just checked odo and was shocked !!!!! 23 lac kilometers already done and still engine sound was like symphony.

Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_5774.jpg
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_5775.jpg
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_5776.jpg

Also found that the driver was using engine retarder more than the breaks. Bus mostly cruised at 90kmph and reached Denizli in the morning. Again shifted to small bus and reached Pamukkale 6:30am.

Day-5 - Pamukkale:


The only bitter experience in the entire tour: Nevsehir local office in Pamukkale is operated by some travel agent who was very weird guy started selling his offers to all passengers at 6:30 in the morning. I told him I would come back in the day time. He became furious stating that you would not come back, I know people like you etc etc etc. His company name was MOONSTAR TOURS. Please avoid this company guys when you visit Pamukkale. Finally, I booked with him the airport shuttle and came out.
More detailed information in my review - https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR...eview526250408


Walked to our hotel. Extreme opposite surprise found. The owner was a nice and warm person who was operating his property with his family including his grand children. Great welcome gesture and a sight of relief.

Checked in and had a nice sleep of 2 hours. Did breakfast and again slept for 2-3 hours.

Breakfast - skipped Eggs and bacon slices:
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_3181.jpg

Went out to explore the town in the evening:
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_3192.jpg
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_3195.jpg
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_3196.jpg

Day-6 - Pamukkale:

Had booked day tour 80 TRY per person. It is not that great to book a tour as there are very few places which are far from the town. The thermal pools and Heirapolis are located nearby each other. You can skip the tour if you can walk approx 2km to and fro.

Thermal water origin. It is extremely hot and having very high minerals that you can not drink a full glass. It is also having extremely good medical benefits which are mentioned at various places around.

Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_3221.jpg
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Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_3226.jpg

Went to another place where the ancient thermal pool is preserved. Entry is paid inside the pool. Locals call it Russian pool as they dominate the presence there in pool.

Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_3295.jpg

There are two water pumps where you can take the water in your bottles directly from origin. We did so. The water was so heavy that we could not finish a half liter bottle till evening.

Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_3303.jpg

Went further to take bath in the naturally formed pools which look like snow covered which are actually Calcium covered. The mud there is said to be very good for skins. We did some mud bath there for half an hour.

Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_3281.jpg
Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_3282.jpg

Next stop - Heirapolis.
Ancient Greek city discovered. Taken out and rebuilt to the extent possible. A great sight to be. Yet the day became hotter and dusty, we started wrap it up quickly.

Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_3312.jpg
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Day-7 - Return:


Denizli to Istanbul. Denizli airport is an international one yet very quiet place.

Had nice coffee at 7:00 am.

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It was the only plane present there which we boarded.

A star alliance livery A320 from Turkish Airlines:

Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-img_3354.jpg

Next flight - Istanbul to Athens was Bombardier Dash 8 - 400 operated by Olympic Air for Aegean Airlines.

Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-file_000-1.jpeg

Finally - back to deserts, notice the humidly hot Jeddah.

Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way-file_001.jpeg

Thanks for reading folks. As promised earlier, please find below PDF file of itinerary and excel file of all expenses done. Also attached is hourly schedule of the entire trip.

Hope it will be helpful. Keep driving, flying and travelling (safely).

Itinerary.pdf
Est. vs Actual Cost.xlsx
Hourly Schedule.pdf
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Old 3rd March 2018, 02:43   #4
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Default re: Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 3rd March 2018, 08:00   #5
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Default re: Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way

Very well laid out. Looks like you managed to see almost everything in a short span of time but still didnt feel rushed!
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Old 4th March 2018, 00:31   #6
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Default Re: Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way

Nice thread. You seem to have covered all the right places to visit in Turkey.

I thought of visiting Turkey twice in the past. Each time there were some untoward incident and I had to drop my plans.

Brought back memories of my stay in Jeddah . If you think Jeddah is hot and humid, you might try to spend some time in the Eastern Province to get the real feel.

Cheers,
Pinin
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Old 4th March 2018, 10:48   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinin View Post
Nice thread. You seem to have covered all the right places to visit in Turkey.

I thought of visiting Turkey twice in the past. Each time there were some untoward incident and I had to drop my plans.

Brought back memories of my stay in Jeddah . If you think Jeddah is hot and humid, you might try to spend some time in the Eastern Province to get the real feel.

Cheers,
Pinin
Thanks. The long seven month planning finally got executed.

I fully agree with your last sentence. Eastern province is having even more extreme weather.
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Old 4th March 2018, 17:37   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikhilb2008 View Post
Very well laid out. Looks like you managed to see almost everything in a short span of time but still didnt feel rushed!
Thanks. The long 7 month planning finally paid off.
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Old 5th March 2018, 12:24   #9
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Default Re: Authentic Turkey – The Extremely Economical Way

Nice one buddy enjoyed reading, the best part I liked was your balloon ride. 23 lacs kms on the odo, here the state govt usually scrap the buses after about 6 or 8 lacs kms.
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Old 5th March 2018, 13:42   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by majumon View Post
Nice one buddy enjoyed reading, the best part I liked was your balloon ride. 23 lacs kms on the odo, here the state govt usually scrap the buses after about 6 or 8 lacs kms.
Thanks buddy.

Yes, it is a common practice with Indian State Transport Departments.

However, the scenario seems different outside. May be their governments are doing regular interval inspections and are renewing the registration after successful verification.

I traveled Spain for one week (in 2013) in a Volkswagen transporter van which was having around 10 Lac km on odo and was in delightful condition.

Also, in Saudi Arabia our company is having several Toyota Prado with 5-6 Lac Km in working condition. Every five year or so when the registration is to be renewed, there is a detailed inspection done by RTO like department here. If found OK, they register the vehicle again or else they will ask to repair/rectify and come again for inspection.
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