On Wednesday 2nd September a party of 7 Expats travelled to the Bulgarian Border at Derekoy to obtain a Passport Entry Stamp from Kusadasi.
Our trip was successful and details of our journey appear below. The journey was less arduous than travelling by Coach to the Border (although this can be arranged for Kusadasi Expats through Osman Zeybek if there are sufficient passengers: see his Facebook page) but this requires a minimum journey of 24 hours. We chose Derekoy Border as travellers from Dalaman had successfully completed the Border crossing last week. Other Borders did not allow the crossing but that was more in relation to the PCR test requirement which has now been lifted.
It is important to remember that the rules on this type of Border crossing can change at any time, and you always travel at your own risk.
We walked across the border on foot, walking from Passport Control in Turkey (where we were asked questions about why we were on foot rather than in a vehicle: we explained we were literally walking over the Border and turning straight round to gain our exit stamp). The Officials were pleasant but wanted to know if many more people would be doing this and it does raise the question whether they will close the Border if they are inundated with crossings of this nature! Therefore, it makes sense to not travel in very large groups of more than 7 so that they are not inconvenienced too much. We walked down to the Bulgaria Passport Control, which is approximately 400 metres, obtained our stamp and did a U turn back to the Turkish Passport Control on the other side of the road. There are queuing cars for inspections but you can ignore these and go straight to the Turkish Passport Control to obtain your exit stamp. The whole process took approximately 30 minutes. You can also do this by car or Bus, but you must have an International Licence and Insurance to clear Customs and this can be much more costly for a Transfer Bus, so we kept our costs down by walking over.
4.45am Depart Kusadasi Otogar by private Bus to Izmir Airport
6.00am Check in Pegasus Airlines Flight Izmir to Istanbul main Airport
7.00am Flight (no drinks or food served)
8.15am Exit Airport to pre-arranged Private transport to travel to Derekoy (water available on Bus)
11.00am Arrive Derekoy Border crossing
12.00pm Depart Derekoy
12.45pm Stop for Lunch and Drinks
14.00pm Leisurely drive back to Istanbul Airport
16.00pm Arrive Airport for check in at 17.00pm for return flight with TA
(plenty of time for drinks and snacks available in the Airport)
18.00pm Flight with Turkish Airlines to Izmir
19.15pm Transfer bus back to Kusadasi Otogar
20.30pm Arrive Kusadasi
ALL PASSENGERS must obtain HES codes to travel on Domestic Flights in Turkey. It is easy to obtain a code on your mobile phone by following the instructions on the Turkish Airlines Website. It is important to remember that your code must be valid for 7 days after the flight date.
Passengers over 65 should apply for a Travel Permit because of our 10am to 8pm restrictions/curfews. In practice, we were not asked for our Permits but they are not difficult to obtain. The easiest method is to telephone 199 and a text version of the Permit will be sent to your mobile. However, there are queues on the phone due to virus staff shortages (we waited 15 minutes) and you need to speak Turkish. We arranged for a Turkish friend to make the call with our travel details, ikamet and mobile numbers.
Finally, we travelled as a group of 7 to help keep our Minibus costs down as it can be expensive to have a Bus with a driver from 8am to 4pm in Istanbul. We were lucky, in as much as Osman Zeybek did our Kusadasi to Izmir Airport return journeys and put us in touch with a driver in Istanbul named Sefa who did the Border transfer for us at half the cost of some internet companies. The maximum number for Sefa to transport is 7 people. Obviously, if you travel in smaller groups, the costs will be higher as it is a minimum 2.5 hours each leg of the journey and you will need a stop over for refreshments. If you want to ‘go it alone’, just text Sefa Aydin on 0537 461 4097 for a quote. He speaks English. Mention my name and he will immediately understand what you want to do. We tipped Sefa well because he was so helpful and organised for our trip and took us to a safe place for lunch which was inexpensive.
There are currently 11 people asking me how to make the trip and I am sure there will be more. If possible, get together with others wanting to travel in groups of 7 to fill the Istanbul Tourist Bus. I strongly recommend you go to a Travel Agent as a group to book your flights as a first step. Availability of seats for people to travel on the same day can be tricky to deal with separately online. There is a very good Travel Agent in the street to the left of Ambar Clothes Shop and it is positioned on the opposite side to Siesta Restaurant about half way up the street. I am sure he will help you with getting your HES Codes and Travel Permits (for over 65s). Unfortunately, I was unable to contact Meander Travel to arrange a travel package so maybe their office is closed in the absence of Samos Ferries. Make sure you have your Passport/Residency Card/Mobile phone with you to book with an Agent.
It is impossible for me to give you an exact figure for the cost of the trip as it depends on how many people travel in the group, and the cost of your flights. I can say, however, that you can reasonably expect to pay less than £100 if you choose mid week flights, and the cost includes your transfers from a Central Point for your Kusadasi Airport Transfers and your Istanbul Return Transfer to Derekoy Border at Istanbul. Tips and refreshments are not included in the price.
Good Luck !
Source: Angela Hattley