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How We Toured Turkey in 2 Weeks

How We Toured Turkey in 2 Weeks

How We Toured Turkey in 2 Weeks

Turkey was one of my favourite trips, this country was so amazing to visit.  Considering we planned it last minute, the trip ran very smoothly.  Turkish people are so friendly and helpful and the transportation is very efficient made it easy to get around (though not always the most comfortable!).  I loved the beautiful, busy, chaos of Istanbul, the history of Selcuk, relaxing along the coast in Fathiye, sea kayaking in Kas, mountain biking to the eternal flame in Cirali and hot air ballooning in Goreme…and eating delicious food wherever we went!  This trip had it all and I would love to go back there someday.  To see how we toured Turkey in 2 Weeks, check out the links below.  They link to each day of our trip – what we ate, where we stayed and what we saw.  I highly recommend…everything!  *For more detailed reviews of the hotels we stayed at you can check out my Trip Advisor profile.

HOW WE TOURED TURKEY IN 2 WEEKS

Day 1 – Istanbul

Day 2 – Istanbul

Day 3 – Istanbul

Day 4 – Selcuk

Day 5 – Pamukkale

Day 6 – Fathiye

Day 7 – Oludeniz

Day 8 – Kas

Day 9 – Kas & Kekova

Day 10 – Cirali

Day 11 – Olympos & Antalya

Day 12 – Goreme

Day 13 – Goreme

Day 14 – Istanbul

Day 15 – Karakoy

I’m happy that my boyfriend and I picked this country as our first “big” trip together.  We’re an outdoorsy couple who love to eat and explore so Turkey was a perfect destination for us.  If you’re looking for a little bit of history, a big dose of interesting culture, loads of good food, some relaxation along with an amazing adventure, then I highly recommend you visit this amazing country! 

How We Toured Turkey in 2 Weeks.  Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

How We Toured Turkey in 2 Weeks. Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

If you have any questions about our trip to Turkey, please comment below!

Turkey in 2 Weeks – Day 14: Istanbul

The next morning we hopped on a small plane and headed back to Istanbul.  Flights to Istanbul were short and cheap – and I just couldn’t handle another overnight bus!  I was also happy for the extra time in Istanbul as we had a lot of souvenir shopping to do.

We stayed at a different hotel this time, and unfortunately this place was the most disappointing one of the trip.  My review of the Flower Palace Hotel is up on Trip Advisor.  That said, the manager apologized and offered a discount the next time we booked there.

We spent the morning hitting up the markets – the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market.  Shopping was a bit overwhelming at first, just a maze of every kind of item.  But I soon found my groove and got pretty good at haggling, making our way through both markets and ending up with bags filled with souvenirs: tea set, coffee pot, colourful small bowls, table runners, Turkish delights, tea, turmeric, saffron and even a Turkish lamp!  We go ripped off on the saffron – the cheap spice we bought comes from the same plant but isn’t the Iranian saffron which actually cost the same as back home.  The other scam we sort of avoided was with the apple tea.  We had been drinking this apple tea across the country – a gesture of hospitality whenever you enter a store.  This apple tea is pretty much Kool Aid-like sugar water.  We successfully dodged the shopkeepers who tried to push the sugar water tea on us and bought apple tea bags instead.  But when we tried the tea back at home they were pretty tasteless, and I wish I had bought the Turkish tea for everyone instead.

In the afternoon we saw a whirling dervish show – no photos allowed unfortunately.  The show was so beautiful and relaxing, like being in a trance.  I loved the Turkish folk music and the dancers were mesmerizing to watch, swirling endlessly in a circle, their form held so still and meditative.  The dancers are Sufis and they have given up their worldly possessions to act as messengers to connect God with the material world.

Grape leaves at Pasazade, Istanbul, Turkey

Grape leaves at Pasazade, Istanbul, Turkey

We had dinner at a romantic restaurant near our hotel called Pasazade.  We split some fresh grape leaves and I had lamb with smoked eggplant – smoked eggplant really is to die for!

Lamb with smoked eggplant at Pasazade, Istanbul, Turkey

Lamb with smoked eggplant at Pasazade, Istanbul, Turkey

Pasazade, Istanbul, Turkey

Pasazade, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

We wandered around the old town that evening admiring all the cute streets so full of life and lights.  We ended up in the main square where we picked up some baklava and ate it by the fountain in the park, admiring the Blue Mosque all lit up at night.

"Tower of Baklava" -  Istanbul, Turkey

“Tower of Baklava” – Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

I love how there are so many cats in Istanbul that there is a cat house in the park!

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Turkey in 2 Weeks: Istanbul – Day 3

We spent the first half of our third day in Istanbul wandering through the bazaar district, window shopping for when we would return to Istanbul at the end of our trip.  Our first stop was the Grand Bazaar, a maze of endless corridors filled with every kind of Turkish souvenir you could ever want.   The bazaar is overwhelming and I’m glad we scoped it out first, making notes on prices and items we wanted to buy.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

When we came back two weeks later, I was ready to bargain.  We knew we wanted a Turkish lamp, tea set, silk table runners, coffee pot, trivets, and small ceramic bowls.  For the smaller items, the price didn’t vary too much and I made sure to check that they were stamped “made in Turkey”.  The tea sets and coffee pots varied a bit in price, but it also depended on what kind of detail and material you were looking for, so make sure to check out all the different types of sets before starting to bargain.  You can generally bargain between 35-50%.  Never accept an item at face value, and if a seller is too aggressive step away.  Try not to look too interested, the best bargains happen after you’ve spent awhile browsing and then pretend you don’t want anything.  Don’t feel rushed – if you can’t get the price you want at one booth, you’ll definitely find the same item somewhere else and you can start a new bargaining deal.  Sellers will always offer you tea, and it’s best to decline the offer, not only is it time consuming (and just sugar water) but you’ll feel more obligated to buy once you accept a free drink.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

The most expensive item we bought at the bazaar was a Turkish lamp.  These lamps varied in price but basically came down to buying a lamp with good wiring.  There are cheaper ones under $100 and then lamps with better wiring and frames that are over $100.  After saying that I didn’t want the lamp and trying to bargain 50% off the seller’s asking price, I ended up spending $130 CND on a 5 piece lamp with good wiring and the slightly cheaper frame.  He wrapped the lamp up really well for travel and gave me his card and said if there were any problems they would ship me a new lamp.  In the end I was pretty satisfied with my purchase.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Spice Market, Istanbul, Turkey

Spice Market, Istanbul, Turkey

Spice Market, Istanbul, Turkey

Spice Market, Istanbul, Turkey

The Spice Market was just as overwhelming as the Grand Bazaar – huge quantities of every kind of spice, dried fruit, herbs, nuts, teas and pastries are a feast for the eyes!  Most spices weren’t much cheaper than Bulk Barn back home, so it was a bit easier to stay focused.  I knew I wanted some Turkish tumeric because it was a spice that I couldn’t easily find.  I also wanted saffron because it’s such an expensive spice.  Here’s where we went wrong.  The saffron that is displayed out front is the cheap but fake saffron.  The good Iranian saffron is kept hidden away and the seller will try to up sell this to you.  The Iranian saffron was pretty much the same price as back home, so we bought the cheaper saffron and didn’t realize we had been fooled until we got back to the hotel.  Luckily we only spent about $7 but I still hated being played!

Spice Market, Istanbul, Turkey

Spice Market, Istanbul, Turkey

We also wanted to buy a whole bunch of apple tea as souvenirs for friends and family.  Here’s the deal with apple tea.  The tea that people offer you everywhere you go is pretty much just sugar water, but it’s sweet and the apple flavour is different than what we’re used to so you tend to think it’s a yummy drink.  This is why it is commonly known as “tourist tea”.  If you try to buy the same tea in the market they will try hard to sell you the powdered tea, which is pretty much like buying Kool Aid.  There are apple tea bags if you really want to buy apple tea, and they taste OK, but aren’t sweet like the “tourist tea”.  We also bought what I thought was apple tea leaves, but in my haste I didn’t check the ingredients which was pretty much just dehydrated apples, so that was a rip off.   My advice would be to buy the real black Turkish tea and just avoid apple tea all together.

Spice Market, Istanbul, Turkey

Spice Market, Istanbul, Turkey

In the afternoon we walked back to the Sultanahmet district and took a stroll through the Hippodrome which used to be a large arena where Byzantine emperors would watch chariot races.  Now this popular promenade is decorated by obelisks and statues.

Hippodrome, Istanbul, Turkey

Hippodrome, Istanbul, Turkey

We finally toured the Blue Mosque, whose beautiful cascade of blue domes have been on our horizon since we first arrived in Istanbul.  The Blue Mosque was the grand project of Sultan Ahmet and features the biggest courtyard of all the Ottoman mosques.  Tens of thousands of blue Iznik tiles adorn the interior and is quite impressive.  The grand interior also has a huge prayer space and is surrounded by 260 windows.  While perhaps not as lavish as the Aya Sofya, I found that I actually appreciated the Blue Mosque’s elegant details and perfect proportions more.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

My boyfriend was given a wrap around skirt as he was in shorts, and I had to wear a wrap around skirt, long sleeve shirt and scarf.  As I waddled around trying to hold onto all my layers of clothes and take photos at the same time I may have let out a few curse words…oopsy!

Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

As the call to prayer echoed throughout the streets of Istanbul in the late afternoon, we headed back to our hotel and passed through the Arastas Bazaar, a much smaller bazaar but we were pretty shopped out by this point.

Arastas Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Arastas Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Our last stop of the day was a quick walk through the Aya Sofya Tombs, part of the Aya Sofya complex but can be entered separately.  These tombs are the final resting places of five Ottoman sultans.   This area was nice and quiet, and we admired the tombs from the outside, and took just a quick peak in.

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Aya Sofya Tombs, Istanbul, Turkey

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Tomb of Sultan Mehmed III – Aya Sofya Tombs, Istanbul, Turkey

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“In Bloom” – Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey

We had a final stroll through the Sultanahmet district on our way back to the hotel, I loved this one street that was filled with patios, nightlife and overall had such a welcoming vibe.

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Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey

Before hopping on an overnight bus to Selcuk, we treated ourselves to a fancy dinner at Mazbah, a lovely glass roofed restaurant around the corner from the travel agency.

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Scorpion fish soup – Mazbah, Istanbul, Turkey

The scorpion fish soup and lamb brains were both delicious – light, flavourful and not too overpowering.  The kebabs had a nice presentation but overall nothing special, same with the duck soup according to my boyfriend.

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Lamb brains – Mazbah, Istanbul, Turkey

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Kebab wraps – Mazbah, Istanbul, Turkey

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Duck stew – Mazbah, Istanbul, Turkey

Our hotel had recommended a travel agency pretty much across from the Basilica Cistern.  They booked a shuttle to the main bus terminal for us and were really helpful and we found their prices to be reasonable.  So off we went on our first overnight bus ride in Turkey!