Seems I just got back from South America, and I’m already just a few months away from my next adventure to Turkey and the Caucasus.
I settled on my plans sooner than normal, because I was concerned about rising airline prices. And now it’s just about 3 1/2 months until I leave.
So here’s the plan:
My travels begin with twelve nights in Turkey, starting in Istanbul. I got some recommendations online and read a lot of reviews about several tour companies in Turkey, and after contacting three different ones, I settled on Turkey Insiders. I worked with a woman named Zerrin Yalçın, and she was absolutely delightful, accommodating all my requests and making whatever adjustments I asked about.
The only thing I booked on my own was my accommodation in Istanbul.
|1||Fly Volaris, Guadalajara to Mexico City||izZzleep Hotel Aeropuerto Terminal 1|
|2||Fly Turkish Airlines, Mexico City to Istanbul||On the plane|
|3||Arrive Istanbul||Doruk Palas Hotel|
|4||Tour of Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hippodrome, and Grand Bazaar|
|5||Tour of the Spice Bazaar and cruise on the Bosporus|
|6||On my own|
|7||On my own|
|8||Fly Turkish Airlines, Istanbul to Ismir, transfer to Kuşadası||İlayda Avantgarde|
|9||Tour to Pamukkale and Hierapolis|
|10||Tour to Ephesus|
|11||Fly SunExpress, Ismir to Antalya, free day in Antalya||Elegance East Hotel|
|12||Tour to Perge and Aspendos|
|13||Fly Pegasus, Antalya to Kayseri, tour of Cappadocia North||Hasse Cave Konak|
|14||Hot-air balloon ride; tour of Cappadocia South|
|15||Fly Turkish Airlines, Kayseri to Istanbul|
Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia
For “Part Two” of my trip to Turkey and the Caucasus, I worked with JayWay Travel to make all the arrangements. This is my third JayWay trip; I used them for the Balkans in 2014 and Central Europe in 2019. They have always been great to work with, and their recommendations for lodging and tours were spot on in the past.
JayWay offers a number of optional tours for days when I’m free (of which there aren’t many). They also suggest some activities I can do on my own. I have a little time still to decide on any of the optional tours, but I need to start doing my research so I can figure out what I want to see besides the things that are included.
|15||Fly Turkish Airlines, Istanbul to Baku||Two Seasons Boutique Hotel|
|16||Baku Highlights Driving & Walking Private City Tour|
|17||Highlights of Baku’s Surroundings Private Day Trip|
|19||Car transfer, Baku to Sheki, with stops at Diri Baba Mausoleum & Shamakhi Juma Mosque|
Sheki Private Walking Tour
|Sheki Palace Hotel|
|20||Car transfer, Sheki to Sighnaghi||Hotel Brigitte|
|21||Sighnaghi Private City Tour|
Car transfer, Sighnaghi to Tbilisi, with a stop at David Gareja Monastery
|22||Tbilisi Private Walking Tour|
|23||Kazbegi Private Day Trip|
|25||Car transfer, Tbilisi to Kutaisi, with stops in Gori, Chiatura, Mgvimevi Monastery & Katskhi Pillar||Hotel Solomon|
|26||Kutaisi Private City Tour|
|27||Car transfer, Kutaisi to Batumi, with stops at the Batumi Botanical Gardens and Petra Fortress||Hotel N16|
|28||Batumi Private City Tour|
|29||Car transfer, Batumi to Akhaltsikhe||Hotel Julia|
|30||Private day trip to Rabati Castle, Vardzia and Khertvisi Fortress|
|31||Car transfer, Akhaltsikhe to Yerevan, with stops in Gyumri and Dashtadem Fortress||Hotel 14 Floor|
|32||Yerevan Old Town Private Walking Tour|
|33||Garni Temple, Geghard Monastery and Master Levon’s Cave Private Day Trip|
|34||Khor Virap and Noravank Monasteries Private Day Trip with Wine Tasting|
|35||Fly Pegasus, Yerevan to Sabiha Gokcen Airport, Istanbul|
Transfer to Istanbul International Airport
|On the plane|
|36||Fly Turkish Airlines, Istanbul to Mexico City|
Fly Volaris, Mexico City to Guadalajara
There are a lot of places, especially in the Caucasus section of my trip, about which I know little or nothing. So I’m going to need to do a lot of research before my trip starts. I’ve been reading Lonely Planet’s Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, and that’s been very helpful.
I’m going to follow up this post with some specific destination posts. That should help me expand my understanding of the places I’m visiting. And it should give you, my readers and fans, a good idea about why I’m going to these places.