Today was a sleeping in day, as we hadn’t had much planned and had done pretty much everything we wanted in Istanbul, so we thought we would just take this day to get some prep work done for the rest of the trip.
So, we started with a brunch at “Ranchero”, yes it was a Mexican restaurant in Istanbul, Earl’s burrito was bad, but my nachos were not bad. The next order of business was getting some clothes cleaned, so we talked to the concierge and then walked to the first Dry Cleaner/Launderer and they weren’t able to put a rush on this to get it done today, so we attempted without an address to find the 2nd one circled on the map. After a lot of finger pointing, calculators, counting, etc. We had a plan to pick the clothes back up at 7:00 PM. Which the proprietor pointed to on the clock so that we would know what time to pick up.
The next task for the day was to figure out what to do with the 3 open days we have after Cairo. When this trip was originally booked, we left a lot of time in Istanbul in order to leave lots of flexibility to schedule the trip to Egypt and get the 5th continent in this tour. We had a ton of options, Pamakkule (salt flows), Ephesus (where the Ephesians lived), Bodrum (resort in south of Turkey and could take a ferry to Rhodes) or Cappadocia (rock formations/hot air balloon). With all of these options, we could fly, take the train and ferry, or take a bus and then had to decide where to stay, what tours to book, and which airport to fly out of (IST or SAW) etc. So after looking and studying on and running into some analysis issues, we decided to call a couple of travel agents and get some pricing and ideas. When they came back with quotes of $1500- $2000 total, or the other companies at 500 Euro/per person, we decided to go back to planning on our own. (These are good deals as they included hotels and private car airport transfers, and airfare but as we have been trying to reduce costs by using hotel points and taxis this was out of the price range).
Eventually, we decided to fly to Izmir and rent a car. You would never rent a car in Istanbul, but we were assured that renting a car in these locations would work. Izmir (Smyrna)
(Nicea) (Iznik is Nicea, Izmir is much further south, I got them confused in my research) is a good place to get to both Ephesus and Pamukkale, even though they are pretty long drives each day.
Once we got this all booked and squared away, it was time for dinner and to pick up the laundry. So we found a local cafe. Earl had a Turkish “chicken pot pie” and I think I had something that I think my mother would’ve thought up it was basically a bed of Shoestring potatoes, topped with marinara sauce and fajita meat. They put all of this on top of yogurt, but otherwise, this dish could become are real meal at my house.
After dinner it was time for laundry pick up and our guy pulled through and we had our washed folded and ironed stuff waiting for us.
Night ended with packing and prepping by reading the Egypt guidebook and getting all of the electronics charged. When packing I realized that they had forgotten one of my shirts, so after going and getting some language help from the concierge, this was delivered to the hotel.