My husband and I recently took a private one day walking tour of the Old City with Mr Burak Degirel of SRM Travel that was recommended in Rick Steve's Book on Istanbul. This book is actually written by the husband and wife team that run this travel agency. We paid $325 U.S. as a couple for an intermediate guide for an 8 hour day-that was supposed to run from approximately 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Meals and museum charges were extra. Our guide, Burak, a pleasant young man spoke excellent English and picked us up at our hotel around 9:15 a.m. He gave pretty good explanations of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Hippodrome and Underwater Cistern. He explained to us how to travel around the city by tramway and we did so the next day with no problems. We were a bit disappointed that he did not come to the second floor with us at the Hagia Sophia. We later learned that many guides have this habit of providing "free time". At first we thought that our guide was perhaps not allowed upstairs. However, we saw other guides from other agencies wearing tour badges continuing with toursI This again occurred at the Underwater Cistern. Regrettably we think this "free time" is designed to let them have a cigarette and a coffee. At the price we paid, we were looking to soak up all the information we could gather. We had Rick Steve's book. We had paid to have a guide accompany us and tell us precisely what we were seeing-not just to receive a general overview-something we could have done on our own. We had a pleasant lunch near the Blue Mosque at a restaurant that specialized in meatballs. During lunch Burak explained the student protests in detail. After lunch we had a very brief visit of both the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market. Both tours were very perfunctory and we felt rushed. I told our guide that at the end of our holiday we would be back on a Sunday and I asked him specifically if the Grand Bazaar was open for business. My guide books had warned me that the Grand Bazaaar was closed on Sundays. Our guide assured us that because it was the busiest tourist season that the Grand Bazaar would be open on Sundays. Turns out that my guide books were right and that our guide was wrong. This was information that he should have verified before glibly giving the incorrect information. We then took the tram to the New District and walked along Istikial Street. It is a very modern street with the typical shops you would see anywhere in Europe or North America. It is hard to believe you are in Turkey. As we have travelled extensively around the world and particularly throughout western Europe, this was not something that thrilled us. However our guide was extremely proud and asserted that this was the "real" Turkey that we would see in Ankara and elsewhere. We then proceeded to Taksim Square. I was extremely nervous about going there, but it proved to be completely non eventful as this was mid afternoon. At 3:30 p.m. our guide wanted to call it a day as he lived nearby. I wanted to visit the Galata Tower and a few nearby sites. While he said that he would accompany us to the Galata Tower and even back to our hotel, it was obvious that he wanted to go home. I suggested that we stop for a coffee. I asked him some questions about other areas of Turkey that we would be visiting. He had some knowledge of Cappadocia, but it was rather limited. We parted company at 4 p.m. While we had a very pleasant day and our guide was a nice young man, we felt that we could have done equally well on our own.