From Batumi in Georgia took a bus to Trabzon, then a Metro Bus to Ankara before finally ending up at Istanbul
Transportation Options and Experience
I took buses all the time in Turkey. There was an option of a train (fast and slow) from Ankara to Istanbul, but as Iwas staying close to the Central Bus station a bus to Istanbul made more sense for me
Walk-abouts in traveled through Cities
Three cities through Turkey, but spent the most time in Istanbul
Trabzon was the largest city to stay coming from Georgia. Speaking with folks in Georgia Trabzon was a "real city" compared to Batumi. Not many cheap lodging options and no hostels I stayed near the bus station. The trip across the border was a very interesting experience. Not only with the whole bus appearing to be smuggling cigarettes, but also noticing that I paid $30USD for an e-visa which cost was only $20USD. Posted warning on Facebook for travelers to be more alert than me.
Ankara is the capital of Turkey. I stayed at a Boutique Hostel which was a very good neighbourhood location. But I did not stay long and spent the day there trying to find a place that I could exchange my Georgian Lari and visited the main police HQ to make a complaint about the fact that I paid $30USD rather than the sticker price of $20. They were very friendly and one policeman took me to 3 different departments to "hand me off" .. ended with the advising me to write an email to the president, and giving me his website address. Any easy fix though. Either a cash register at the border or at a minimum a sign saying how much it should cost. Anyway .. a unique experience and they were very friendly. 🙂
VIRTUAL TOUR - Istanbul
There is a wow factor for Istanbul. Not only the impression when arriving there that this is a very big city, but it is also clean (for example the Grand Bazaar is like a mall), and surprisingly the people are friendly too with so many visitors coming in, tourism fatigue was not very evident although there were a few tourist scams on the streets. See post on Shoe-shine Istanbul (Right click for full-screen. Click photo and drag mouse to navigate the 360)
Less than $50USD/day
This was a close thing in Turkey. With bus fare, food and lodging I just made it under budget. Bus fares were 60Laris and 80 Laris from Trabzon to Ankara and then Ankara to Istanbul. The fare to Sofia by bus was 80TL. I stayed at the Sanli hotel in Trabzon for $26USD a night, The 14Inn hostel in Ankara for $16USD a night, and the Ararat Hotel in Istanbul for $20USD. Ankara was only hostel where was in a dorm and shared bathroom. All reviews of my accommodation on Google Maps and relevant booking site engines (Agoda and Booking.com). For food Istanbul can be cheap if you do the fast food places which are very good. But the quality restaurants especially in the SultanAhmet area are expensive. I blew my daily budget one day in Istanbul where food, transport and lodging totaled $75USD
My favourite memory song for Turkey ...