Tourist First

Travel notes and advice from around the world. Above, the daily flight from Managua at the San Carlos, Nicaragua, airstrip.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Turkey: Wonderful Place for a Vacation

My wife, Jane,  and I just returned from a trip to Turkey. From our modern boutique hotel in Istanbul to a cave hotel in Cappadocia, to four nights on a gulet (traditional Turkish sailing yacht) traveling among ruins-filled islands off the Mediterranean coast, we had a wonderful time. A lot of Americans who visit Turkey do it as part of a tour. Invariably, they wish they had more time in one spot or another. We planned our trip ourselves with the help of Fodor's Turkey guidebook and the Internet. We didn't see everything -- but we saw much of what is unique to Turkey. Among the trip's many pleasant surprises was the friendliness we encounted everywhere. Turks seem to like foreigners and like to talk about their culture and country. The food, especially the seafood in Istanbul and on the coast, was also a revelation. There's much more than kebabs to be had -- though they're good, too. Try the fish sandwiches (about $2) from the floating fish grillers at the foot of the Galata Bridge. Grilled octopus salad, smoked eggplant and other treats are widely offered as mezzes -- appetizers or small plates.


  1. My girlfriend and I will have a two-day stopover in Istanbul in November. What will the weather be like? What are the turkish baths like and is there one that you recommend? Thanks.

  2. It's likely to be chilly and rainy during your visit. As your visit there gets closer, check Yahoo weather ( for a detailed forecast.
    As for the Turkish baths, which are called hamams, the two best-known ones are near the Hagia Sophia. Cagaloglu Hamami ( is one of the "1,000 Places To See Before You Die," and has had a lot of famous customers. The other is Cemberlitas Hamam ( My wife and I went to both. Each charged 95 Turkish lira (about $60) for the deluxe program -- heat, body scrub and massage. At Cagaloglu, the massage part was incorporated into the scrub. At Cemberlitas, an oil massage in another room followed the bath/scrub portion. Both are beautiful places with separate facilities for men and women. At each, the men wear towels for the whole process. At Cemberlitas, women are given panties to wear; at Cagaloglu, women are nude. At both, everything takes place in large rooms with other people. My wife and I agreed that we much prefered Cemberlitas -- the body scrub was better and the massage felt like a real massage. Cagaloglu does give you a souvenir, though: the rough silk mitt that was used to scrub you.