PLEASE NOTE: The currency in Turkey is the New Turkish Lira (I will refer to them as T$s). At the time of writing, US$1 = T$5.82.
We are making our way slowly up the Mediterranean (Turquoise) Coast from Antalya to Istanbul. Our last stop was Canakkale:
Finally, we go east to Istanbul (via Lapseki and Bandirma) …
I believe that the local bus from Canakkale to Lapseki leaves from the Minibus Terminal located at the junction of Ataturk Cd and the riverside. I have seen it driving along the D200. Ooops!
At 10:40am I left my hotel and walked 100 metres to the nearest bus stop on the D200 and waited. After 1 hour of waiting, I gave up.
For safety, we need to get to the nearest C9 Bus Stop on Ataturk Cd (the D200 main road through town). A bus to the Otogar (located 5 kms away near the E87-D200 junction) should pass every 20 minutes. The price is T$2.75-T$3.00 (depending on where you get on). The trip takes 20 minutes.
We walk through the terminal to the bus bays. Wait at the right-most bays. This is where the smaller short distance buses stop. I was lucky. I only had to wait 5 minutes. Buses to Lapseki leave every hour on the hour. I left at 12 noon. The price is T$10. The trip takes 35 minutes.
The bus stops at several Bus Stops along the D200 as it goes through town – just ask him to stop near your hotel. The terminus is at the Lapseki Otogari in front of the Ferry Terminal.
We are only here to use it as a base for a day trip across the Dardanelles to Gallipoli.
There are not many accommodation options listed on the standard internet hotel sites for Lapseki Town nor Gallipoli Town. You may need to get inventive and search in Turkish sites like ODAMAX.COM.
MY ADVICE: Do not do your Gallipoli Peninsula / ANZAC Battlefields Trip from Lapseki. Do it from Canakkale (see, below).
HAVE A LOOK YOURSELF:
If you do end up in Lapseki, this is what you can get …
REMEMBER: You cannot use BOOKING.COM whilst within Turkey. Use HOTELS.COM instead.
For what it’s worth, I booked early June when prices were still being discounted. I used HOTELS.COM. I booked a Twin Room (single occupancy) with a Private Bathroom at the Kiraz Hotel. I paid T$104 / US$19 per night including Breakfast.
The in-room wifi signal was good. The hotel’s wifi, in general, was ‘OK’ in all areas but it ‘dropped out’ now and again.
Before boarding the ferry I plugged in my music. I play all of my music (of over 6,000 songs) on a random setting. As I boarded the ferry, the ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ album (Pink Floyd) came on. Eerily, as we landed in Gallipoli, ‘Us And Them’ started to play …
My plan was to visit the museums … I wasn’t overly concerned about seeing fields of gravestones.
I hadn’t done my research properly!
The museums were closed. With no museums to visit and the ANZAC sites all located at the south end of the Gallipoli Peninsula, my only options were to either:
- Pay for a taxi to take me around the Gallipoli Peninsula to the battlefield sites
- Catch a local bus to Eceabat and try to get to the battlefields sites from there
MY ADVICE: Do not come on a Monday.
MY (EVEN BETTER) ADVICE: Do not do the ANZAC tour from Lapseki at all … do it from Canakkale.
I pre-booked a ticket to Bandirma on the Kamil Koc bus line for T$33. These are 2×1 seating buses, the T$33 price was for a single seat. The double seats go for T$28-T$30 (depending on exactly where you sit). The buses leave regularly: every 45-60 minutes between 7am and 10:30am. About every 90-120 minutes in the afternoon / evening. I booked a seat on the 10:30am.
The trip takes about 2 hours. Each seat gets a personal entertainment screen and a power (not USB) socket.
We walk out the front of the Bandirma Bus Terminal to the carpark and catch a small local bus to the Ferry Terminal (price T$3).
In fact, the whole area around the Ferry Port has lots of ‘nooks and crannies’ with little cafes.
MY ADVICE: A ferry on the Sea of Marmara is a pleasant (and comfortable) experience (see, below). But, you don’t need to come to Bandirma to experience it … catch one from Canakkale instead.
I do not recommend that you come to Bandirma.
HAVE A LOOK YOURSELF:
For what it’s worth, I used HOTELS.COM. I booked a Twin Room (single occupancy) with Private Bathroom at the Sahil Hotel. I paid T$50 for 1 night (Breakfast not included). I chose it because it was opposite the Ferry Terminal. The Sahil has 7 floors. I was on the 4th floor … surprisingly, the hotel had a lift!
The beds were OK.
Even the wifi worked! Amazing!
I tried to buy my Fast Ferry ticket in advance on IDO’s website. They had promotional prices available with a promo seat going for only T$53. Alas, it wouldn’t take my NZ credit card.
So, I went to the Ferry Terminal and physically bought my ticket at their counter. The price was T$78. You can pay more for the better seats. For T$78 you get a simple seat in a row at the back. There are 2 ferries per day: 10am and 2pm. I booked the 10am.
The trip is very quick and comfortable. We arrived in Yenikapi (Istanbul) 2.5 hours later at 12:30pm.
From the Marmara Metro, you can connect to anywhere in Istanbul.
The Istanbul public transport system doesn’t take cash … you need a pre-paid travel card. Enter the Marmara (or any) Metro Station and find a yellow and black dispensing machine displaying ‘Istanbul Kart’. Alas, the machines are in Turkish (of course) so ask someone for help. For T$9 you can get a simple 3-trip cardboard card. The IstanbulKart (magnetic card) costs T$6 and you put on as much credit as you want – how much you put on depends on what you plan to do. I put in a T$20 note.
This gave me T$14 in travel credits. The card allows you to travel on all forms of public transport: Metro, Bus, and Tram. With this card, you get discounts. Each trip normally costs T$3; with an IstanbulKart your first trip costs T$2.65. If you transfer between modes of transport within a 2 hour period, the 2nd trip is discounted down to T$1.85, the 3rd down to T$1.40, and subsequent trips down to T$0.90.
This part of my Turkey trip didn’t go to plan.
MY ADVICE: For the best ‘experience’, visit the ANZAC sites on an organised tour from Canakkale. This means that there is no need to take the long trip by land to Istanbul. Take the Fast Ferry from Canakkale direct to Istanbul.
MY (EVEN BETTER) ADVICE: I have been travelling in Turkey for 6 weeks now … I am absolutely convinced that the best time for GRANDPAckers to come here is mid May. Period.