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  • Writer's pictureKristin

Our Road Trip to Istanbul

After landing back in Izmir, we stayed at a highway hotel called Silos Hotel, which was an incredible hotel for the value we paid. For a family room (1 king bed + 1 twin bed) and including an incredible breakfast it was only about $60 CDN for the night. However, we have found that all our accommodations in Turkey have been a great value - both hotels and Airbnb. In the morning we got on the road shortly after 10 a.m. and headed off on our long drive to Istanbul - Google maps said it would take 4 hours 45 minutes.


A Better Idea Would Have Been....

We have to admit though, if we had done a little better pre-planning we could have avoided the almost 5 hour drive. There are tons of flights between Kayseri and Istanbul. So could we have arranged to drop off our rental car in Izmir and then flown from Kayseri to Istanbul. However, the addition of the Cappadocia portion of our trip was added after we had confirmed the rental car from Antalya to Istanbul, so we had to return to Izmir to get the car to drive to Istanbul to drop off the rental car. (We would spend our last couple days in Istanbul just taking public transit.)


Change in Weather

Today was one of the first days on the trip where there was a chill in the air - the wind was incredibly strong as well - so it was actually a good day to spend driving. When we left in the morning it was about 19 C and when we got closer to Istanbul it was closer to 16 C. At some points it was even hard to walk through the wind.


Price Comparisons - McDonads, Starbucks & Athletic Wear in Turkey

The kids were good little troopers....let's be honest, they got LOTS of iPad time today. Although not ideal, it does make the drive go smoother and a little more enjoyable. We stopped at one of the highway outlet malls at lunchtime with a food court in it. And there was a McDonalds. We like to do the McDonalds comparison in various countries and see if they offer any special items we don't have back home. We found they offered a very similar menu to the McDonalds back home. However the price was a lot cheaper - for 2 Happy Meals, 1 Value meal, a hamburger and a double cheeseburger it was only about 68 TL ($14 CDN).


They also had a Starbucks at the mall so I got a Tall Latte for the drive. However, it was the cheapest Starbucks I had ever gotten - 9 TL (about $1.75 CDN). When we had gotten Starbucks at the Izmir airport it was more comparable with U.S. Starbucks prices - around $3.50-$4 for a drink. The kids even got to ride a couple of the rides before we went back to the car.


They had a Columbia outlet store there as well so we did a bit of price comparison & see if we could find any good deals. However, the prices were quite inflated - a men’s fleece pullover that would be maybe $40 CDN back at home, was over 300 TL ($60 CDN). That in itself definitely shows the impact of the devaluation of the lira on imported goods. There was an UnderArmor store there as well; it was a little cheaper but still more than what we would pay at an outlet store back home. A long sleeved men’s shirt was about 175 TL ($37 CDN).


Toll Roads = Huge Time Saver

One of the biggest time savers on our trip was taking the toll road. We saved about 90 km of driving by taking the toll roads/bridges. It was about 91 TL to take the toll roads, but was worth it in our eyes to save an hour of driving with the kids. One of the cool things was that we officially drove to a different continent - from Asia to Europe.


Dropping Off Rental Car

One of the most difficult parts of the drive was just trying to find the car rental drop-off location. We arrived in Istanbul around rush-hour and it was some of the craziest traffic we have ever been in. We saw more accidents in 1 day than we had our entire time in Turkey. After navigating side streets and one-ways we finally got to the drop off location. However, all this had added an extra 45-60 minutes to our journey that day.


After finally finding the rental car location and dropping it off, we gathered our items and headed to the subway station to get to Taksim Square. From there we stopped for some doners for dinner and started our 20-30 minute walk to the Airbnb. This leg of the trip was extremely beneficial to have our backpacks instead of suitcases. We were able to put the backpacks on our back and push the strollers as we trekked through the hilly and cobblestone streets of Istanbul to our Airbnb. Although a journey to get here, the location was awesome!

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