I found The Other Tour when I was looking for an option to spend a day during a stopover in Istanbul. I had planned to cover the major historic sites on my own, so I looked for something different that would allow me to learn more about the Turkish people and their culture.
My tour day started pretty rocky. I got a call from Fethi about an hour before the scheduled meeting time to notify me that other participants for the day had cancelled out, so since I was the only one left, the tour might have to be cancelled. After a brief discussion, Fethi asked me if I would be interested in an adjusted tour day that starts later, if he could work something out. I didn't have any other plans, so I agreed with it.
We started the tour at noon (instead of 9:30 am), and it turned out that Fethi managed to get a Russian family (a couple with their 2-year old daughter) to also join the tour. It's among the smallest groups that they had for a tour, but it ended up to be a more personal, and very rich experience.
If you're looking for tourist sites or simply being a passive participant in a tour, The Other Tour would not be the right choice for you. Requiring audience participation is an understatement, as Fethi expects you to be engaged in discussions about various topics throughout the day. You also need to be open minded as you will not only meet a guide who has very strong opinions on some matters (but wants to hear your thoughts as well), but also other tour participants who might come from different cultures / background. In a way, the experience you will get depends on who you meet in your group.
The actual details of the tour is perhaps best left to be discovered when you go. But in general think of it as going around Istanbul with a local friend who shows you his hometown, neighborhoods, and the people and places in his life that represents the culture he lives in. By the end of the tour, you will get a view into a daily life in Istanbul beyond what you see in the touristy or commercial areas. And perhaps like our group you will learn more and be able to exchange ideas and cultural experiences with others you meet in the group, and even make some new friends.
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