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Future Turkey and Albania Trip

I am considering a trip to Istanbul and Antalya (city and province) and Albania.

Houston to Antalya (change in Istanbul) 4 to 5-night stay.
Antalya to Istanbul 3 to 4-night stay.
Istanbul to Tirana 10-night stay.
Tirana to Houston (change in Istanbul)

I have done Istanbul in the past, as has my traveling companion, so we are looking for something off the usual tourist list. Food, people, history (but not necessarily museums), cultural interactions are all good subjects for us. We are doing Istanbul as it is a required layover on the way Tirana from Antalya.

All I know about Antalya is what I have read. A lot of help needed for 4 to 5 nights stay. Best places to stay in Antalya? Antalya (city) or Side or ???. Things to see and do in the region?

Day trips are okay in Turkeay, but no overnight trips. This is supposed a laidback trip and I would prefer not to do a lot of traveling.

Albania will be maybe 5 days of sightseeing and 5 days of fishing. The fishing can either be near Valbona or near Berat so the days of sightseeing need to work with one of the two locations. Suggestions? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WE6X7RvkexU

Date? Dependent on borders remaining open, health advisories and risk assessments. For seasonally applicable responses, let’s say September/October or May/June. If its May/June I will run the trip in reverse to put me in the mountains of Albania when it’s cold which works better for the fishing; and that puts me on the beach in theoretically warmer weather.

I always travel with Medical / Evacuation Insurance, and it does cover COVID. I will decide on the date by monitoring: 1. the consulates of the proposed destinations 2. the airlines serving the proposed destinations (Turkish Air / Air Albania) 3. the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html), 4. the WHO (https://www.who.int/news-room/articles-detail/updated-who-recommendations-for-international-traffic-in-relation-to-covid-19-outbreak), 5. the US State Department (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/before-you-go/travelers-with-special-considerations/schengen.html)

Posted by
18891 posts

Perhaps a day on the Princes' Islands while you're in Istanbul? I have only the vaguest memories of my trip to Istanbul, but I recall enjoying wandering around the islands.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princes%27_Islands

The In Your Pocket folks don't cover your Turkish destinations, but they do have a guide to Tirana. They sometimes come up with sightseeing options not mentioned in printed guidebooks.

https://www.inyourpocket.com/tirana

The more obscure the destination (and Tirana definitely qualifies), the more likely I am to take the time to go through the TripAdvisor listings. Unfortunately, they seem harder to use these days. I can't guarantee they'll be worth your time, but I have found some things I didn't know existed there, frequently because they were relatively new.

Posted by
2133 posts

The more obscure the destination (and Tirana definitely qualifies), the more likely I am to take the time to go through the TripAdvisor listings.

They've become completely useless. I no longer look at them for anything. There's a huge amount of pimping going on.

There is on on-going issue with Mexican resorts and bad alcohol. The use of what seems to be date rape drugs in drinks in bars there has been reported over and over and over again. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has covered this extensively. A person who had been drugged and raped put up a report on the site of the Mexican resort, and TripAdvisor pulled it down. This has happened repeatedly. They are nothing more than another form of advertising for places now.

Posted by
12387 posts

Thank you Acraven, every little bit helps.

EIDT: I had time this morning to look up the Princess Islands. Excellent idea. I found a possibility of getting a private boat for a Bosporus cruise to and from the Princess Islands. A bit pricey, but an excellent way to spend a day. And there are some fairly amazing hotels at very, very reasonable rates. Maybe a night or two?

Tirana is more or less the on the map location in Albania; obscure begins there. But I'm doing Albania for the trout so that's not a bad thing. I discovered an amazing obscure fishing haven in Bosnia last year. Hoping for more of the same.

Thank you Paul. I live very near Mexico and understand what you are speaking of.

Posted by
2133 posts

We went to Istanbul and while in Hagia Sophia picked up an "unofficial" guide. He was very helpful. He got us around the lines at the Cistern, and took us to his brother's little tavern for a Turkish casserole lunch. He took us to Panorama 1453, which is the Ottoman commemoration of the conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

Speaking of which, if you have Netflix, watch "Rise of Empires: Ottoman" which goes over how Mehmet II conquered Constantinople. His siege was the 42nd or 43rd to do it. How did he succeed? The show has a lot of good stuff.

Posted by
12387 posts

Thank you Paul. I like those sorts of programs.

Diane, I am one of those people who gets bored in about 75% of the museums I have visited. The other 25% I can spend all day in. From what I found on line the one you recommend falls into the later catagory. Thank you, I have about 4 hours taken care of.

Posted by
6603 posts

Antalya is a beautiful seafront city, wonderful seafood . The Turkish coast on the Asian side is one the favorite places I have visited as there are so many antiquities to explore. Enjoy your visit.

Posted by
11798 posts

James,

A question. When is the nicest time of year to visit the area? Are there months that are too warm or too cold?

Posted by
12387 posts

"nicest" i guess is subjective.

There are people who will say Turkey is too hot in August (average high about 90F). I come from a town in the US where 105F is not uncommon so its all relative. Turkey is a big country with a lot of climates. Here is Istanbul:

May 71° / 56°
June 80° / 64

September 77° / 62°
October 68° / 55°

In August, September, October, May, June (the months I am considering travel) the temperature in Antalya runs about 6F warmer.

Albania is a lot more complex as its small enough to visit from the Albanian Alps to the Southern Coast. Just looking at September and October Valbona (in the mountains where the fishing is good) the average high is 55F more or less. On the other hand, Sarandë at the extreme south and with some pretty nice beaches runs from an average high of 85F in September to an average high of 75F in October. Valbona tends to be wet, Sarandë no more than 4 days in which it rains during the month of September. Berat and Tirana tend to fall between the two. So, not really any different than any place else in the region.

Posted by
164 posts

@James E

On marrying, I gained an uncle who was born in Korçë, Albania. In 1938, age 12 was smuggled out of Albania and sent alone to live with an older brother in Perth, Australia. Never saw his parents again. A favourite uncle. Perhaps the following may be of use.

Korçë is about 120kms to the e/se of Berat and looking at a map, would most probably have a similar climate.
His children last went with him to Korçë late October in 2010, and report that the weather was mild, daytime around 20c. Short sleeve shirts. Earlier trips where in late spring, with slightly warmer temperatures. No one recalls rain being a hinderance.

They report that as Albania was once part of Ottoman empire, there are many mosques and buildings decorated with elaborate ceramic tiles. Tirana has many communist style, bland block architecture. Rakia is produced everywhere. Much like Italian grappa. Brought a few litres back to Perth. Powerful stuff. A good story is told about getting it through customs. I deeply regret I passed up the opportunity to go there. Maybe in 2022.

Recommend any unique and/or prescription medicines should be taken with you. They have talked about the virus, but after three layers of people it becomes hearsay.

They suggest an Instagram page “beauty _of _ Albania” should be useful. Apparently backed by the government.

An English chef, Rick Steins in 2015 did a series Venice to Istanbul. BBC 7 episodes of 1 hour each. The 3rd was mostly in Albania. Might be useful.

Some interesting writings on Lord Byron and John Hobhouse in Albania and Greece are readily available. Sorry, they had no trout fishing adventures.

Regards Ron

Posted by
600 posts

If you end up going in the spring, in early April Istanbul has a tulip festival that looks spectacular. I want to get there in April one year to see it in person, but the family members I have that live in Istanbul share photos of it each year. Not sure if that is your thing.

Posted by
12387 posts

I went out of my way to see the Rose Festival in Bulgaria one time. Yes, my thing. Thank you.

Posted by
14325 posts

Hi James,

First, I would consider meeting up in Istanbul in April for the tulips . . . subject to Covid developments.
Second, I suggest instead of relying on average monthly temps, you check timeanddate.com for historical day by day conditions for any month of the year, usually available for the last 10 years.

Posted by
237 posts

We stayed in a B and B in the old historic area of Antalya run by a German and his Turkish wife. The area was interesting and walkable. Had a Turkish bath, went through several little museums and enjoyed the terrace overlooking a tourist boat marina. Took a simple boat ride down the coast. Had 2 full days there, but could have spent more time. I believe we used a Lonely Planet guide for our Turkey trip. Most of our transportation was by bus. The buses were very good. People were friendly and helpful.

Posted by
223 posts

First off James I want to thank you for all of your posts and the effort you spend helping others.

We spent a month in Turkey several yeas ago and Antalya was one of our stops. Our trip was in September so all of Turkey was very hot.
We loved Antalya and stayed in the historic Kaleici district where most of the sights are located. We stayed at the Hadrianus Hotel which is a quaint place, nice rooms and lovely courtyard where breakfast is served.
Antalya is nice to explore on foot. We loved the museum mentioned above and our highlite was the co-ed Turkish bath at the Sefa Hamam, over several hundred years old and we still talk about it today.
We enjoyed the food and dined outdoors.
Two nights was sufficient for us but if you do 4-5 by all means do some day trips to Aspendos, Termessos, Olimpos.
We planned our trip using Lonely Planet and Tom's Turkey Travel Planner
https://turkeytravelplanner.com/go/med/Antalya/index.html

You mentioned Side but except for the Roman theatre and the Temple of Apollo and Athena I would give it a miss as it is very touristy and a little tacky.

Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
12387 posts

racquet588 and Steve; thank you. I will look up the places.

Steve, we are looking at arriving in Antalya about Noon on Tuesday
Wednesday all day
Thursday all day
Friday departing early morning.

Sound about right??

Posted by
12387 posts

Steve, I looked up the hotel you mentioned. Its beautiful and three nights is $145 total

Posted by
223 posts

Hi James
Re your time on the ground it should be time to see everything and maybe do a day trip as well. You can book a van trip to some of the archeological sites if interested. Are you leaving Turkey after your stay in Antalya?

That sounds like a good deal at the hotel> I hope you enjoy it.

Posted by
12387 posts

Steve, the trip begins in Budapest and moves to Albania and then Istanbul, then Antalya, and then back to Istanbul before heading home to the states. Got a bit tricky due to limited flights and Country A will allow you in if you come from County C, but not if you come from Country B sort of issues.....

I appreciate all of your help.