The trip was a success, at least to me. Having two types of travel methods was really good. The first part, 100% guided Istanbul-Canakkale-Troy-Pergamon-Kusadasi-Konya-Pamukkale-Cappadocia-Ankara-Istanbul (refer to the map below). We had to follow the schedules and the fast pace. Shopping and taking pictures were done fast and didn't need second thoughts. The second part, we were on our own exploring a few parts of this mega city in a slower pace and more time on walking around, shopping and sampling the local foods.
The November weather was nicely cool, temperature ranging from 20 degree celsius to 5 degree celsius, at times we didn't have to wear coats at all when the temperature were 15 and above. I think this is the best time to visit Turkey if you are thinking to go at the end of the year.
The blue line from point B to point C and so on shows the direction we traveled. The line from point I (also point A, as we started from here, Istanbul) actually should be towards Gallipoli Peninsular on the European side (which is across Canakkale) but Googlemap got confused. Lol.
We spent 9 days and 7 nights under the charge of Parlo travel agency and then extended our stay in Istanbul for another 4 days and 5 nights, making the hotel reservation ourselves through Agoda.com. There were 60 of us in this Turkey trip, divided into 2 groups, Group A and Group B but the groups didn't travel together. However, our schedules and hotel stops were the same. The people in my group were mixed ones, 1Malaysia; Malays, Chinese, Indians, Sikhs and Eurasians and the communication language was English. The major occupation group is from the education industry, teachers, and there were eight of us. Our tour leader was a 24 year-old Nicki with a tomboyish look and the local guide was Mr. Ugur (Ugur means lucky).
Here is the summary of our tour.
Day 1: Kuala Lumpur
Flight departure from KLIA to Istanbul Ataturk Airport at 12.50 am (14 Nov). We gathered at the airport at 10 pm on the 13th Nov. The flight time was 12.50 am Malaysian time.
Day 2: (A-B) Istanbul-Canakkale
Arrived at Istanbul at 6.30 am and performed our Fajr solat at a quiet section of the airport carousel area. Nicki told us to change our USD into Turkey Lira at the airport (USD1= TL1.8). When I asked Nicki how much she recommended to bring on this trip, she said,"USD600". By then, the bus from Dorak was ready outside the airport to take us to the pier. There we boarded a ferry which took us for a cruise along the Bosphorus Straits that separates Europe and Asia and connecting the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. The cruise provided dramatic sights lining the shores ; mosques, villages, palaces, grand wooden mansion, imposing fortresses etc. After that we visited Topkapi Palace and Museum before touring the beautiful Hagia Sofia, a UNESCO world heritage site. We had our lunch at a fish restaurant near the shore. There we performed our zuhr-asr solat before we set off to Gallipoli Peninsular and crossed the Dardanelle Straits by ferry to Canakkale. It was a long journey taking around 5-6 hours from Istanbul. We checked into Kolin Hotel where we had our dinner and slept over for one night.
Day 3: (B-C-D) Canakkale/Troy-Asklepion-Kusadasi
Day 4: (D-E) Kusadasi-Pamukkale/Denizli
Day 5: (E-F-G) Pamukkale-Konya-Cappadocia
Day 6: (G) Cappadocia
More pictures in the Cappadocia entry.
Day 7: (G-H) Cappadocia-Ankara
Day 8: (H-I) Ankara-Istanbul
Day 9 - Day 14: (I) Istanbul
Departure for 3pm flight to Kuala Lumpur . The group except the 6 of us, were driven to the airport early at 11 am because the immigration process would be long. My family and I then took two taxis to Ayasultan Hotel, a boutique hotel which we had made reservations for 5 nights through Agoda.com. After checking in, we walked to Grand Bazaar and started shopping. Lol. Another 4 days to go, yeay!
Thank you for reading and visit me again.