I don't even know where to start! Finding KSG, Kagen and Lale were the best aspect of our five day trip to Istanbul. My only regret is that we didn't book Lale every single day. Hiring a private guide is expensive and you never really know what your going to get but I could tell from the start of my communication with Kagen that we had made a great decision. We exchanged numerous emails prior to our visit to Istanbul. Kagen was so welcoming, kind and considerate of my tendency to micro-manage things. He always responded promptly and with considerable kindness.
We ended up booking his wife Lale for two full days of touring in Istanbul. It was our best decision ever and worth twice what we paid! Lale is like a dynamic living Istanbul and literally brought each and every sight completely alive with her enthusiasm and charm. She had complete command of every detail and moved us through the sights at our pace. For example I told her that we were not shoppers. We expected to make some purchases at the Spice Market but not at the Grand Bizaar. She took us to the perfect spice stall at the Spice Market to get what we wanted and moved us through the Grand Bizaar without hesitation. We were able to keep our purchases at the market stall until we were ready to go so we didn't need to carry bags through the day which was really nice. It was perfect for us. Her knowledge of the sites and history of Turkey and Istanbul were perfect for my nerdy academic wife who had many questions. Lale didn't miss a beat with any her questions. She really is an engaging scholar and educator. She was especially skilled at discussing cultural, religious, and political similarities and differences between Turkey and the US which made for a very informative two days.
Lale took us to a few unexpected spots. My partner's favorite things in the world is Profiteroles. After finding this out Lale took us to a famous spot in Istanbul that serves the best Profiteroles in the world. It was like magic. She also took us to one of the oldest and finest rug shops in Istanbul where were able to see the fine art of rug making and some lovely rugs with out any pressure or obligation! We ended up with some extra time at the end of our second day so she asked us if there was anything else we wanted to do. I had been dying to try a Hookah (narghile) waterpipe but was completely intimidated to do this on my own. So off we went to a Hookah bar for some tea, backgammon and a little try of the waterpipe. We ended the second day on a very high note. Lale picked great spots for lunch, made sure we had ample stops for meeting all of our needs and made perfect use of our time.
Again, well worth twice what we paid and if we did it again we would book way more time with this delightful dynamic guide.
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