I booked Mahir by email, which was really easy as he is well travelled and speaks excellent English. Mahir is an official guide of Istanbul and seems to have stayed in many countries and has a great range of vocabulary, stories and history to impart.
There were four adults, none of whom had ever visited Istanbul, let alone Turkey so we were keen to get the best and most from our 5 day visit and boy did Mahir deliver, bypassing the tourist queues, finding toilets and giving us loads of advice on our first full day.
No payment is required until you have completed the tour with him and we had no problem in giving Mahir our hard earned cash for an excellent day in the city.
Mahir met us at our hotel (Hotellino; more reviews on this excellent hotel elsewhere) in the old city, Sultanahmet at 9am for an all day walking tour as Istanbul is very accessible by foot and took us on our tour at our pace.
Mahir made sure that we were all ok, stopping for coffee\tea\water breaks as well as taking us to a superb lunch spot, which we would have never, ever found on our own. Whilst the more cynical of us may suspect some collusion in the shops, stalls and stops he took us to, we were never disappointed in any of them and at no time was there any lack of respect.
We got to Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque, the Spice Bazaar, the German Fountain, the Needle and the Hippodrome, as well as walking many streets and stopping at shops and stalls, plus the ones we wished to browse in. Mahir also gave us lots of other ideas and information on means of travel, eating and drinking in Istanbul and we did take up the Bosphorous Cruise suggestion, which is well worth the effort. Mahir also booked us a reserved time to visit the Dolmabahce Palace on the north side, which again saved us loads of time.
So although we were in this fabulous city for 5 days and we had the benefit of Mahir on our first full day we still have lots that we want to return for and I would have no qualms about re-booking Mahir when we do get back to Istanbul.
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