The restaurant scene is very good indeed, choose from traditional Turkish dishes to a wide range of international cuisine. Many restaurants have roof-topped terraces to admire the great views. Prices start to climb the closer to the harbour but it is possible to find very reasonably priced menus. For a truly memorable meal try Obo Terrace.
The chef entertains you in what is essentially her home dining room. She serves a selection of Georgian specialities including lamb stews and dumplings. Time permitting, she plays old Russian songs on her piano in her own inimitable way. Interesting selection of desserts, but not much to offer the vegeterian. Atmospheric and surreal experience.
Galata Kulesi Sok. 61, a stones throw (downhill) from the staircase to Galata Tower, Beyoglu;
tel: 0212 245 1861;
open: Tues-Sun noon-midnight
Excellent street food - lamb and chicken kebabs with assorted accompaniments - harissa, mint and yoghurt, salad, grilled aubergine and fresh flat bread. All washed down with freshly squeezed orange or sweet lime juice. The friendly owner speaks eight different languages. Very affordable prices and friendly service despite being in tourist infested Sultanahmet.
Yerebatan Caddessi No 54, 34410
tel: (0212) 526 5231
Laid-back air, quiet grace. A special seafront playground with good cafes (but 18TL for 3 coffees), Laleli shop (olives, oil & soap), patisserie, and as you walk down the coastal road towards Ortakoy, mussels stuffed with rice and a good fish shop called Adem Baba with Ottoman houses in the area.
Taxi from Besiktas. Or bus from Eminonu.
The highlight of this trip is travelling on a wooden river boat through a reed filled waterway where loggerhead turtles live. You may or may not spot one in the water. Also on view are ancient rock tombs of the Lycian age at Kaunos. These resemble small temples carved out of sheer rock which housed the nobility and their belongings after death to await reincarnation. The lower orders were buried in less impressive surroundings below them.
Also worth doing - taking a mud bath, followed by a shower and a dip in a thermal bath afterwards.
And finally by boat again to Iztuzu or 'Turtle' beach, a beautiful expanse of white sand. You can dive into the Mediterranean on one side of the beach and swim in fresh water on the other. The beach is closed to public access at night to allow the turtles to breed there.
You can get there easily from the bigger centres such as Marmaris or Fethiye on an organised trip or from Dalyan itself. Most agencies offer it.
This hotel is run by a Japanese-Turkish family and is located in the beautiful and secluded Paradise Bay.
The hotel is just by the water with a stunning view, and you can relax on the long wooden jetty listening to the nature, without any disturbances. The sea is very clear - just like an aquarium where you can watch the fish go by.
The food is delicious, it is basically Aegean food: vegetables, herbs and mainly fish cooked with olive oil, and the Japanese menu cooked personally by the owners suited my taste.
The deluxe rooms are nicely decorated and are spacious, all with seaviews. The only
thing that might be negative is that the road leading to the hotel is unpaved and quite bumpy. They are waiting for the municipality to fix it, I hope that it works.
I would recommend the hotel to anyone who would like to have a quiet and relaxing holiday, enjoy the seaside and the nature plus a very friendly and comfortable stay.
Cennet Koyu n:48 Gölköy Bodrum 48400 Mugla Turkey
phone: +90 252 357 74 16-17-18
Cennet Koyu no:48 Gölköy Bodrum 48400 Mugla.
Tel: +90 252 357 74 16-17-18
The train is a really cool way to travel to/from Istanbul. Sleeper trains are much slower than the coaches, but do add a touch of class to your budget trip. We caught the Meram Expresi from Konya (daily at 17h50, 90YTL - about £35) for a private cabin for the two of us. Scheduled arrival was 06h30 but we arrived at Haydarpasa (Asian side) about 08h00 and caught the commuter ferry directly across to Eminonou. It is a lovely way to approach Istanbul.
Buying tickets in advance as a non-Turk was tricky. The website requires a Turkish ID #, and trying to buy by phone or from a local train station was fruitless. But despite being advised to buy tickets well in advance we had no problems at all when we turned up 3 hours before travel. If you are going to be in Istanbul during office hours before you travel then there are agencies that will reserve the cabin and collect the ticket for you.
Konya is 3 hours' coach journey from Goreme in Cappadocia so you can have a two-centre holiday with a cheap night on a train (to get to Goreme first we flew from Istanbul to Kayseri - 45 mins on a coach to Goreme)
This hotel is slightly away from the touristy part of Sultanahmet (good in some ways but taxis would only drop us at Sultanahmet Square).
The front road seems quiet (although building work is going on opposite at the moment, and the mosque and local traders start making noise early). The back of the hotel faces directly onto a railway line with frequent noisy commuter trains. Rooms 1, 4 and 7 face onto the track, so I'd clarify whether you are front facing or not. Talking to other guests, they, like us, were initially put in the large ground floor room at the back, which is noisy, dark and has no opening windows. We, like them, asked to be moved (my confirmation email mentioned a quiet front-facing room). After a bit of grumbling we were put in room 3. However the rooms at the front are very, very small, even though they are beautifully decorated. In our room the bed was jammed into an alcove (room 6 has identical layout). Anyone above 6' can't lie with their legs straight, which is uncomfortable.
Hot water was the best we've had in Turkey, and breakfasts were lovely.
Prices were reasonable (hotels in Istanbul do seem more expensive than you'd expect) at 60€ for a double, 80€ if you wanted the room with a balcony onto the railway line (room 7, I think). Laundry was expensive $6 for 2kg. We were required to pay as soon as we arrived (we wondered if that was because some people wanted to cut short their stay after a noisy/cramped night)
It looked like hotels on Akbiyik Caddesi and Utangac Sokak were in the same kind of price range, but slightly easier to get to, and possibly quieter.
Having said all that, we loved staying in Istanbul and had a fantastic holiday. Turkey really is the least hassle, friendliest place we've been to, especially Istanbul.
Akbiyik Degirmeni Sk no. 7, Sultanhamet;
tel: 212 516 7130/7131;
A nice basic hotel in Goreme. Helpful English speaking owner (who is a little pushy with the offers of tours but hey so's everyone).
We booked room 5 which is a cave room with a jacuzzi! (sadly solar heated water, so none too hot when we were there).
Nice conservatory overlooking the town where breakfast is served, stocked with a few magazines, TV and free broadband.
In early May we paid 60 YTL (about £25)/night for the room, and were given an additional 10% discount for 'phone booking.
+90 (0)38 42712136
This place is superb. In a prime waterfront location in the village of Orhaniye, this hotel/motel/restaurant/beach club has been run by the Dinc family for many years. I have been going there for the last 8 years.
Orhaniye is a peaceful, quiet, typically Turkish village in the equivalent of a national park that is almost completely undiscovered by mass tourism (Sunsail use it as a base but they are at sea 6 days out of 7).
Discuss your requirements with the Dinc family, they will pick you up and return you to Dalaman airport; this is about a two hour journey and you will go through Turkey's Blackpool - Marmaris - but rest assured Orhaniye is light years distant rather than just 30 minutes!
As of 2007 the family will be taking bookings directly.
Tel: 90 252 487 1074/1398
Fax: 90 252 487 1070
Wandering with a canoe in the Paradise Bay is very relaxing. The waters of the bay is turqoise blue and it gets narrower as you head inside. It becomes like a canyon with walls of green, and is a perfect combination with the blue sea.
Cennet Koyu Golturkbuku Bodrum Mugla Turkey
+90 252 3577417
nearest airport: Bodrum-Milas airport, airport code: BJV
As long as you don't have loads of bags and it's not the middle of rush hour, it's perfectly easy to get the train/tram into (and from) town. Take the LRT train from the airport to Zeytinburnu, then change to the tram that will take you all the way to Sultanahmet and beyond. You can also change at Aksaray, but I recommend Zeytinburnu (even though it will take a bit longer) because it's an easier interchange (just over a bridge) and you're getting onto the tram at the start of its journey (so you're more likely to have space to get on), plus there's an Akbil kiosk if you want to buy one of those multiple-trip gadgets. Otherwise, the trip costs 2.20 YTL for two tokens.
Beware - especially if you're a single male - of being approached by seemingly friendly blokes who start chatting (usually by asking you the time and then saying 'Oh, sorry, I thought you were Turkish...'), invite you to drink with them, particularly around Istiklal Caddesi. This can lead to you being relieved of your money in a dodgy nightclub. It very nearly happened to me.
Denizati is a cool spot, right next to Besiktas iskelesi in Kadikoy. It was summer time when we were there, the noise and smoke from the ferries were a bit annoying. But the location was so nice.
First an Orthodox church, then a mosque, now a museum, Hagia Sophia represents all the layers of Istanbul's history. A funny-looking, squat building from outside, it possesses an interior of outstanding beauty. As you enter, the enormous dome opens above you; the beauty of it made me weep. It is a lovely building of curves and light and space - unmissable.
The pile on board. The red leather seats patched with tape. The uplift of wash as the chugging Clydeside engines, 50 years after they were built, pull you away from (in old money) Asia Minor.
Listen to the cries of white coated waiters cry, "Chi! Chi! Chi!". Buy a tea for God's sake! It's their living! Add plenty of sugar. Buy a Simit; Sesame seeded bread. If it's cold, purchase a salep with cinnamon on top. It has the look and consistency of...eh...but tastes GRRREEEAATTT!
And then, the best bit.
Watch the European side hove into view. Aya Sofia, The Mahvi Cami, the bustle of old Istanbul. And if you can be bothered, do it as the sun rises. From Asia to Europe. The finest commute. Ever.
"I have surpassed thee, Solomon!" Reputedly the words of the Byzantine emperor Justinian on completion of his architectural pierce de resistance. Talk about urban renewal. In this Sceptered Isle in the middle of the 6th-century AD we weren't even building in brick, let alone creating a dome unsurpassed for a thousand years.
There's plenty of books to describe the remarkable history that took place within it. If you can be bothered to read up, try John Julius Norwich if you want the building to speak to you. However, if you don't have opposable thumbs, just marvel at its sheer architectural genius. Church of the Divine Wisdom with added minarets - have it.
Every city has an Irish bar (or several), and this one isn't at all bad, and for those who can't get into the swing of the disintegrating chaos of Istanbul, this is a good bolt-hole.
It is based in an Irish Cultural Centre,just off Istikalal Street (Tram Street, leading from Taksim Square) has a lively basement club called U2 and two other bars (the Lemon Tree and the Sports Bar).
It was pretty lively when Ireland beat South Africa in 2005, (or was it 2004?) friendly staff, who are generously vague about the dollar price of Guinness, and decent Irish pub food. Watch out when leaving, a friend was mugged in the rather seedy street outside, and on another night there was a serious knives and bottles gang fight on the next corner.
Istiklal Cad. Hüseyinaga Mah,
Balo Sok. No.26 Beyöglu
tel : 224 20 13
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