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Best of Turkey Preparations

A few questions after reviewing the valuable blogged comments:
1) with wider acceptance of credit cards and the fear of having leftover Lira, how much Lira (per person) should one get at an ATM in Istanbul at the start of the tour?

2) for simplicity, we will likely book an airport pickup with the Acra hotel. With no Lira, what about tipping the driver?
3) there is much to experience in Istanbul. Save the hammam experience for Anatolia?
4) getting a shave in Turkey. Comments, suggestions? A place in Istanbul or perhaps a rural experience?
5) the balloon in Cappadoci is a not-to-be-missed experience for us. All I’ve read says the guide will make reservations. No need to do this in advance. Correct?
6) archeological museum - if time for only one, go to the one in Ankara, leaving time to see other stuff in Istanbul?
7) other suggestions? We are doing Lala’s food tour, and have early morning at the Gala tower, the basilica cisterns and Rustern Pasha Mosque high on our pre-tour list in addition to RS walks… perhaps taking the commuter ferry to the Asia side walk
Teh-shehk-kewr

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4946 posts

Lucky you going on the Best of Turkey tour! I'll answer a few questions:

1) with wider acceptance of credit cards and the fear of having leftover Lira, how much Lira (per person) should one get at an ATM in Istanbul at the start of the tour?
I was typically taking out 1000 Turkish Lira, less towards the end of the tour. There are ATMs at almost every tour rest stop. And there is an ATM not far from the last tour hotel in Kusadasi.

My Trip Report for my 3 weeks in Turkey includes examples of the cost of many typical items so you can estimate.

2) for simplicity, we will likely book an airport pickup with the Acra hotel. With no Lira, what about tipping the driver?
There are ATMs at the airport. Or I expect you could arrange with your hotel to add a cash tip to the amount you will pay them; on arrival, step inside and ask them to give you cash for the pre-arranged amount of the tip. (I haven't done this, so advise you to ask your hotel if they would do it.)

3) there is much to experience in Istanbul. Save the hammam experience for Anatolia?
The Hammam experience in Antalya was MUCH cheaper than in Istanbul. I spent $145 plus tip in Istanbul. As I recall, the option (which I didn't take) in Antalya was 600 Turkish Lira (cash only) about $35, plus tip (also cash only.)

5) the balloon in Cappadoci is a not-to-be-missed experience for us. All I’ve read says the guide will make reservations. No need to do this in advance. Correct?
Correct. Your guide will ask for a show of hands on the bus. The balloon company will come to your hotel in Cappadocia the night before the event and take your payment. Our balloon company accepted credit cards or cash.

Prices at the time of our tour (May/June, 2022):
Bosphorus Cruise: included with tour, drinks extra, Turkish Lira, cash only
Turkish Bath in Istanbul: 135 Euros (payable with credit card) plus tip in Turkish Lira, cash
Turkish Bath in Antalya: 600 Turkish Lira, cash only, plus tip in Turkish Lira, cash
Boat ride in Antalya: 400 Turkish Lira, cash only, plus tip in Turkish Lira, cash (drinks on boat extra, Turkish Lira, cash only)

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4946 posts

6) archeological museum - if time for only one, go to the one in Ankara, leaving time to see other stuff in Istanbul?

This probably depends on your interests and amount of time you are spending in Istanbul. You'll go as a group to the archaeology museums at Aphrodisias and Ephesus, and the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara. You'll have the option during your free day in Antalya to visit one after the (optional) boat ride. It's a bit of a trek; our guide walked us over there. All are smaller than the archeological museum in Istanbul.

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4946 posts

7) other suggestions? We are doing Lala’s food tour, and have early morning at the Gala tower, the basilica cisterns and Rustern Pasha Mosque high on our pre-tour list in addition to RS walks… perhaps taking the commuter ferry to the Asia side walk

That's great that you're taking Lale's food tour! I'd really love to hear how that goes as I'm considering it myself, for my next visit. The tour does take you to the Asia side, but perhaps only for a brief visit to the market, plus lunch. There may not be much time to wander and discover; there wasn't during our Best of Istanbul tour.

You might also consider Dolmabahçe Palace, which you can get to by way of a pleasant walk on the pedestrian walkway along the Bosphorus, until it ends anyway. And the Best of Turkey tour doesn't go to the colorful Fener District, which the Best of Istanbul tour did. Even with that, I would have liked more time there and will go there on my next visit.

There are a couple of other ideas in the same trip report I referenced above, including a Turkish Dance evening, if that holds any interest. I never miss an opportunity to attend a cultural dance event, and this one was mesmerizing!

Sorry, no clue on the shave. And now I'll try to reign in my enthusiasm for the Best of Turkey tour and let others chime in :-)

Posted by
27 posts

CW, thank you for your extensive and useful response.

I will review your trip report tomorrow and adjust my plans.
It is encouraging to hear of another person so pleased with their initial visit that they return to Istanbul and Turkey.

Posted by
27 posts

CW, I just read your trip report. Amazing and very informative.

I’m having difficulty finding such useful information for the Best of Greece tour.

Enjoy the Iberian peninsula.

Posted by
742 posts

Just chiming in on the hamam experience ...

I totally agree with CWSocial that the hamams are much cheaper outside of Istanbul, and you will have a great experience wherever you choose to visit a hamam. However, some of the historical hamams in Istanbul can transport you to a world of Ottoman luxury in a way that other hamams can't. I have done hamams in hotels and small, family-run hamams outside of Istanbul. Although every experience was wonderful, none can compare to the experience I had at Cagloglu in Istanbul. I felt transported into an 18th century Ottoman dream world, and for a few hours the real world simply ceased to exist. Yes, it was expensive, but I have absolutely no regrets. It's kind of like dining in a very high end restaurant. You don't want to do it every day, and the food at the little ethnic restaurant around the corner may be just as tasty, but sometimes it's nice to splurge.

Of course, I would probably go to a hamam in Istanbul and then go again in another city. One can never visit too many hamams. It's one of my favorite things to do in Turkey.

Posted by
4946 posts

Thanks, Dino AB, I'm so glad you found my trip report informative. I hope it helps you plan your best trip! The RS Best of Greece tour is on my list, though "next up" is Best of Bulgaria next spring.

While I don't have a point of comparison, only having visited the Hammam in Istanbul, I would agree with exactly what Marie said. The history of Hurrem Sultan Hammam transports you to another time, in the place "where the ancient public baths of Zeuxippus (100-200 AD) used to stand." I suppose I'll have to try a few more so that I can give a good comparison ;-)

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4 posts

We love food tours! We are taking the Best of Turkey tour in October. I've searched and can't find Lale's food tour. Would you mind giving me the link? Thank you.

Posted by
4946 posts

I never found the tour on the SRM Travel website, but I emailed and they sent the itinerary. They often run it the day before the Best of Turkey tours and the itinerary is complementary to the tour itinerary.

Posted by
4946 posts

Thanks for that dreeber [now Checkers]! I can see now how to navigate to it, but I hadn't found it myself.

Posted by
15686 posts

3) The tour guide took all who were interested to a hammam during the tour. So it's better to wait and go with some of your tourmates. Both men and women went.
4) I went on that tour in October 2013. One of the fellows went for a shave. Luckily I videoed him telling all of us about the experience on our tour bus. Watch it and then decide.
5) The guide will give you all the information a day or two in advance and makes a list of everyone who wants to go. On the morning (middle of the night actually :-), the balloon folks came to collect us and take us to breakfast near the balloon area. I think we paid there. In any event, you don't have to do anything in advance except hope the weather is favorable.
6) The archaeology museum (actually several in the complex) is a wow. It's much better than the one in Ankara. . . . if all the parts are open. Check in advance. BTW there are tons of places to visit in Istanbul. It's well worth spending time there both before and after the tour.
7) I took the tram from Sultanahmet across the bridge and then the funicular.

Posted by
27 posts

After 3 years of preparation, including your many valued comments and information provided by RS and interesting material on Turkey's history... we had to cancel or trip, days from departing.

My reference notes have been updated and will be useful when we do make the trip, hopefully in the not too distant future.

I would like to view the video on a Turkish shave, however it is locked. Could you send the key to my name?

Thank you for the helpful and interesting information, especially CW with your trip report.
See you on "Monday Night Travels" and perhaps a future RS tour.

Posted by
4946 posts

Oh Dino AB, I am so sorry to hear this. I know you've done a lot of preparation and must be so disappointed. I do hope this trip makes it back to your future travel list!