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All about our Turkey–Istanbul/Cappadocia–and Portugal Trip

All about our Turkey–Istanbul/Cappadocia–and Portugal Trip

by mccownFebruary 18, 2014
This entry is part [part not set] of 13 in the series Turkey/Portugal

The hardest part about planning any trip we go on is deciding where to go. Typically, we like to book 100% of the flights using points and use points to subsidize the hotels. The past few that we’ve booked have been using United Airlines MileagePlus miles, which allow you to have 1 stopover and 1 open jaw for free! We always try to take advantage of this perk when booking award trips with United miles. For example, this means your final itinerary could look something like:


Example of United award making use of stopover and open-jaw

Day 1: Fly Newark-EWR to Denver-DEN
Day 2-3: Spend some time around Denver
Day 4: Drive from Denver to Aspen, CO
Day 4-6: Enjoy skiing in Aspen for a few days
Day 7: Use open jaw on award to fly direct from Aspen-ASE to San Francisco-SFO
Day 7-9: Explore San Francisco
Day 10: Fly from San Francisco-SFO back to Newark-EWR, using your stopover

This example itinerary makes use of the stopover (in San Francisco-SFO) and then the open jaw (flying into Denver-DEN and then out of Aspen-ASE). This is how you can really maximize your United miles when award booking.

Anyway, this is something we’re always trying to keep in mind when booking and, as a result, generally end up brainstorming trips that work well with at least 2 parts. Using this idea, we came up with the following itinerary for this trip (after a good bit of planning and then changing plans again with United–more details in the next post):

chs-ist-lis-chs actual flown

Our flight itinerary

Sep 7: Fly from Charleston-CHS to Istanbul-IST via Washington-IAD on Turkish Air.
Sep 8-12: Arrive Istanbul, spend next few days exploring.
Sep 12: Fly from Istanbul-IST to Nevşehir-NEV. Paid flight on Turkish Air. Spend 2 nights in Göreme, Cappadocia.
Sep 12-14: Time in Cappadocia: hot air ballooning and exploring area.
Sep 14: Fly from Kayseri-ASR to Lisbon-LIS, via Istanbul-IST. Part of award redemption on Turkish Air.
Sep 14-17: Sightseeing in Lisbon.
Sep 17: Fly home: Lisbon-LIS to London-LHR (on TAP Portugal) to Washington-IAD to Charleston-CHS (on United).

1. Award booking with United miles to Istanbul/Cappadocia, Turkey and Lisbon, Portugal (click to view)

2. Turkish Air Flight TK 8 – Washington-IAD to Istanbul-IST (click to view)


First flight of the day … guess what city is featured in the seat-back magazine?

3. Exploring Istanbul – Hagia Sofia (Photo Tour) – click to view


4. Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici) – Istanbul, Turkey Review and Photo Gallery – click to view


5. Exploring Istanbul: A Tour of Turkish Food



6. Galata Tower Review – Istanbul, Turkey


The Galata Tower gives you some pretty awesome panoramas of the city

7. Best Areas to Shop in Istanbul, Turkey


If this looks like a cluster, it’s because it is…

8. Istanbul: Taking a Ferry to Asia! / Ciya Sofrasi Restaurant Review


In Istanbul, the next continent is only a 10 min boat ride away

9. Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Spice Market


The Grand Bazaar, line up for those souvenirs


Egyptian Spice Market

10. Blue Mosque (Photo Gallery)


The “Sultan Ahmed Mosque” aka The “Blue Mosque”

11. Dolmabahçe Palace (Photo Gallery)


12. Getting a real Turkish bath


13. Touring Göreme – Cave hotels, cave restaurants, caves everywhere!


14. Hot air ballooning in space!


15. Cappadocia Driving Tour

  • Göreme Open Air Museum
  • Derinkuyu Underground City

A whole city–underground!


Göreme Open Air Museum

16. Göreme to Lisbon (and how we thought we were kidnapped for a few minutes)


Portuguese coast

17. Exploring Lisbon – Free (!) Walking Tour

18. Exploring Lisbon – Alfama district and Fado music


19. Exploring Lisbon – Bairro Alto, the Bourbon Street of Europe

IMG_0002 2

20. Day Trip to Sintra


The Pena National Palace: summer residence of the monarchs of Portugal during the 18th-19th century

21. Flight back home: United LHR-IAD

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