A few notes about driving in Turkey. Rental cars aren't that cheap. The roads were pretty good in most places, better than California in some places, and at no time did the roads ever come close to dropping to Romanian standards. Traffic wasn't too bad in most places -- we mostly hit traffic going through cities, like Bursa and Izmir -- but driving in Turkey is not for the meek. Fortune favors the bold, as they say, and an overly defensive driver won't even get out of town. You gotta be prepared to take the offense as a driver.
Gas is literally just under $10 per gallon -- about 3.15 YTL (new Turkish lira) per liter, which works out to 12.6 YTL per gallon (close enough), multiply by 0.8 to get USD, and you end up with right around $9.80 per gallon. More than the rental car. At least gas was easy to find any time of day or night, unlike, say, rural Scotland.
This page is in chronological order (approximately). Starts at the airport (where our friend Karin was kind enough to drop us off on her way up to the City, thanks Karin!) but then United was not nice enough to keep us waiting for an extra 2.5 hours for our flight to Calgary (that's what you get with frequent-flier miles), boring, but fortunately we had a long layover in Calgary anyway, so our flight to Frankfurt was not endaangered.
Our flight to Istanbul from Frankfurt was also delayed, but we got there
eventually. We ended up in a "suburb
of Istanbul, close to the airport (or, at least, closer to the airport) to make it easier to pick up our rental car the following morning. It was actually pretty cool (we didn't take many pictures, unfortunately), a lot of young people out and about, not a touristy area, good restaurants.
After breakfast at the hotel and a Turkish coffee or two, we caught a cab, went back up to the airport. At that point, the journey really started.
NEW AND IMPROVED!
Here are the pictures John took -- I'll get them integrated in with the rest soon, but for now, here they are in their unsorted glory!