Since we were driving ourselves around western Turkey, we already had our own rent a car, so we were glad that OTTI has a "guide only" option. So we did not need nor did we want to pay for OTTI's minivan, which I hear is very nice.
We arranged to meet our guide, Banu, at a central location in Selcuk first thing in the morning. Of course Banu was there right on time and she joined us in our car to the Ephesus gate. She was very helpful in making sure that we had an enjoyable day making sure that before we went into the ancient city that we had plenty of water and had gone to the toilet, etc. These seem like details, but it is very helpful to have someone who knows these tips to avoid discomfort later, especially since we were traveling with our 6 year old and it was over 40 degrees C.
Banu's English is outstanding, as well as her knowledge of Ephesus, Selcuk, and Turkey in general. She knew all the best places in the ancient city of where to stand for the best views and pictures, and how to avoid the some of the larger groups. We toured the "apartments" which no one should miss. We were amazed how few people toured the apartments given how many people were in Ephesus that day. They really missed out on the best part.
After we finished Ephesus and Banu made sure that we had plenty of time to take all the fantastic photographs we needed, Banu then recommended that we have some Ayran at a traditional Turkish roadside cafe where we sat on pillows on the floor.
Banu informed us that we had her for the whole day so she could take us anywhere we liked. So Banu took us to the church of St. John, the Temple of Artemis and inside the old mosque of Selcuk.
After that it was about time for lunch so she recommended a restaurant which was so good we even bought their cookbook.
She then recommended a ceramic making school and a rug making school where we learned hands on how to make Turkish rugs and how to throw a pot. Our 6 year old painted her own pot and we were able to take it home with us. At the rug school we saw and learned about silkworms and the process for making all the varieties of Turkish rugs. The staff at each of these locations also spoke excellent English. We bought a Turkish rug which we now have hanging on our wall at home. Our 6 year old still asks when we can go back and work on the loom.
The best part of our experience with Banu was how her #1 concern was our enjoyment. She made sure we had plenty of time to see what we wanted to see and take as many pictures, or to shop as long as we want. The whole day was at our pace and our discretion and not what a group wanted to do. If we wanted to sit and have a cold beer and enjoy the view of the peach orchards, then that's what we did.
I highly recommend OTTI and recommend Banu as a guide.
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