My partner and I travel a lot but have never done a group tour and were a little worried about the strictness of it, the pack mentality like feeling you are in school. We were pleasantly suprised that it wasnt like that at all.
There were no problems at all on the tour. Easy airport pick up - Lufthansa lost our luggage and we were waiting an hour after landing to try and figure it out - but our transfer bus driver was there waiting for us with a sign. Luggage came 2 days later.
we only had 12 people on the entire tour, so im sure that is rare. So check ins at hotels were very smooth. all the rooms were amazing (Pammulke not so great, you can read my hotel reviews separately). Food varied (also, Pammulke Pan Thermal not so great) but by and large was decent or sometimes amazing (Cappadocia's Lykia Lodge).
The bus was temp was perfect, we stopped as needed for bathroom breaks and snacks (and lunch), and there was always communication if a stop was not needed (because we were such a small group).
Our tour guide, Ali, was young and well versed in all things Turkish, from history to current events, geography and ethnography. She was personable and approachable. Our driver did his job well, as did Turguy the driver's assistant who was at our beck and call whenever needed. We would see him cleaning and scrubbing the bus every night, even though it gets washed at every gas station stop!
We got this trip from a groupon and it was well worth the money. The hotels were all very expensive (posted prices) and the museums and attractions that are ALL included would add up quickly.
Believe it or not, i only spent $50 the entire 2 weeks. i only ate a few lunches because the breakfasts were huge and I'd usually grab a piece of fruit or a yogurt for the road. I dont buy many souveniers, but did buy a scarf some candies, magnets. i got a few drinks, lots of water, bathrooms (they cost 1 TL/ $.50 even at rest areas and some restaraunts), we went out to eat 2x in Istanbul, a few doner kabobs - all for $50! when everything is included you really dont need much extra cash.
none of the sites were packed except Ephesis and Pammulke, but even then you could find an area not as crowded.
there was plenty of time given to see everything, and sometimes we would ask for more time if we all agreed we needed it.
It is a big country and wake up calls can be early, but that is the only way to see it all. To maximize drive time lunch would always be at roadside restaurants and 'truck stops'. they dont do 'fast food' or 'to go' premade stuff in Turkey, so these were all sit down meals - that i usually skipped to go expore the area or pet a friendly stray dog or cat.
Ankara was the only visit that was 'boring' compared to the amazing other cities/towns. but Ataruk's masoleum was cool, and it is half way from Cappadocia and Istanbul, so the stop is needed. The hotel in Ankara is next to a HUGE mall, and the saunas and steam rooms (included!) are the things to do.
Our travel agent Vicki Sachs from Key Tours (Neon's american partner) was great and answered every question and email so promptly! She even, without my asking, got us a flight from PHL (where we live) so we didnt have to get to JFK for NO EXTRA COST! that is service, and that is what makes you use the same service/agent again and again.
in all we had a great, stress free time and would do a group tour again in a heart beat esp if it is thru Neon Tours.
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