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“Jewish Tour July 2013”

Istanbul Life Jewish Heritage Tours - Senguler Travel
Ranked #120 of 443 Tours in Istanbul
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Owner description: We are doing Jewish Heritage Tours since 2007.and we are ready to help you.We have more than one tour options about Jewish Heritage Tour .Our agency is recommended in TripAdvisor by our clients
Reviewed August 5, 2013

We spent a great half-day touring some of the Jewish sites in Istanbul with Alp and driver Hakan.
They were very accommodating in setting the tour up again after an initial cancellation.
Alp was very knowledgeable about Jewish life in Istanbul, and provided information and explanations in a very clear, understandable fashion. I was grateful to be able to join morning services at the Ashkenazi shul and say kaddish for my recently deceased parents.
Alp was friendly, courteous and fun, and gave us glimpses not only to Jewish life and history in Istanbul, but into his own personal experiences growing up in Istanbul.
All aspects of the tour were excellent - from the synagogue and museum tours to the delightful stop for tea and pastries. Our tour ended with a visit to the Spice Market where we got to spend time with the shopkeeper sampling spices and Turkish delight, and ended up spending far too much ($$) on bringing back our favourite samples to Canada. Oh well! All in all, a fabulous half day, and we highly recommend this tour (especially with Alp) to any visitor interested in Jewish heritage in this fascinating country.
Joe and Karen
Toronto, Ontario CANADA

1  Thank rangerjoe63
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 30, 2013

We spent a marvelous day with our guide Alp and driver Hakan(?). Our guide was warm, friendly, knowledgable, courteous and accomodating as was the driver. We had a private tourwith just Alp and the river and learned a lot about Jewish history in Istanbul as well as present day life in Istanbul and Turkey. Our first time in Istanbul and a very pleasant experience which we highly recommend. It would not have been possible for us to see all the synagogues and historical sights on our own.
Gordon and Eve Kramer

3  Thank gordeve
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 29, 2013

Wherever we go we make it a point to visit Jewish Communities. In Istanbul, it is necessary to set up the tour in advance through the rabbinate of Istanbul for security purposes. We sent copies of our passports to Hakan who took care of this for us. Our guide John met us at our hotel along with Hakan who would be our driver from site to site as needed. We chose the whole day tour which included: Ashkenazi Synagogue, Ahrida Synagogue, Ortakoy Etz Ahayim Synagogue,Jewish Museum ( Zulfaris Synagogue ),Neve Shalom Synagogue, Spice Bazaar and a Mosque. Mid morning we stopped at a local pastry shop to sample some local pastry with tea.. The logistics of the tour went very well going from place to place and John was flexible as we stopped to take pictures along the way. He was a very pleasant person but did not have in depth knowledge Jewish history or the Jewish community other than to repeat that he had some Jewish friends. Fortunately there was a lot to read at each site to explain what we were seeing. There were security guards and/or representatives at. each synagogue who accepted Tzadaka (donation) but did not contribute to the tour. At the Spice Bazaar, John brought us to a vender at the entrance of the Spice Bazaar from whom we purchased local spices and Turkish Delight.

3  Thank Ellen J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 28, 2013

Please do not hire this company. You will be really disappointed .
I am a Travel Agent from Florida and have been going to Europe (super deluxe) for over 40 years.we traveled on the new Royal Princess's July 5,2013 sailing from Venice to Barcelona in the mini-suite category..The ship was fabulous and I highly recommend it.
On July 10,2013 we were going to be in Istanbul Turkey. We are 3 couples who travel together and we have been in Istanbul 6 times prior so we were looking for a Day tour that offered partial Jewish Heritage,lunch and grand bazaar and sightseeing..
After doing research I decided to hire Alp and Hakan from Turkey Life tours.
We corresponded for several months and agreed to a lovely days itinerary.(I have hard copies of all the emails)
Firstly, they required a copy of our passports for the Jewish Heritage portion of the tour and they promise to return them when you take the tour. We were a little Leary,but I read that everyone had to do this and they received their copies back with no problem.
This company required a pay pal deposit of. 200 euros.we complied,although most reliable tour companies don't require pay pal, they take your credit card as assurance and don't charge you until the trip is over then it is usually in Euros and you are given back your paperwork.
We gave Hakan and Alp our 6 cell phone numbers in case of emergency .
On July 10,2013 we meet 2 men Not Alp or Hakan as promised. The driver didn't speak a word of English and Alp who was supposed to be our guide was a NO SHOW.
I was told Dont worry everything is set for your trip. Since we had paid some money we went.
The day went from bad to worse.
The new guide wasn't very knowledgeable in Jewish history,He was taking notes from the objects on the walls
Lunch came,he took us to the restaurant.there were many guides there explaining trays of food to their groups. Our driver and guide sat down at their own table and ate. We asked what is this,what are we entitled to,what is on the other trays. No response.3 of us didn't eat a bite.
We told the guide we shouldn't pay,but he insisted that everyone had to pay. We didn't want a scene there so we just went along with him
Then we went to the bazaar.we couldn't find what we wanted He told us he knew the spot in the bazaar where we could go. At that moment he gets a call from the driver that he is waiting and can't park there anymore so we have to leave.
We canceled the day 2 hours early,went back to the boat, paid the other550 euros no tip ..and asked for our paperwork again.
He told us he had no passports and didn't know what we were talking about.
I immediately emailed the company from the ship, telling him about the horrible experience.
He apologized to me,asked how he could make it up(I have copies of this correspondence)
When I came back we called Pay Pal. They helped me work on this
He now is offering me 50 euros back( what a joke)
Perhaps if you get Alpand Hakan your day will be okay, but don't take the chance.
The bait and switch is terrible,a rip off and ruined our day.

7  Thank BBBB0708
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 24, 2013

Whenever we visit a new city, we try to find the Jewish tour if there is one. Istanbul has several. I believe we found this one thanks to Uncle Google. Anyway, it turned out to be an excellent choice.

Our guide, Alp, showed up precisely at 8:30. Young, energetic and ready to show us around. Because there was just my wife and me, we had a small car instead of a van. That worked out well when trying to negotiate the narrow, winding streets of old Istanbul.

Our first stop was the Ashkenazi synagogue. We arrived in time for morning prayers, so I just joined in, donning a talit, and staying until the end (about 15 minutes). No matter where you are in the world, it sounds the same.

We went to the Ahrida synagogue, which would normally have been closed, was opened especially for us. Founded in 1430 (yes, 1430) it was restored in 1992. It features a bema shapeed like a boat, which might represent Noah's ark or the ships that brought the Jews to Istanbul.

We visited the Jewish Museum, while not as spectacular as some, taught us a lot of the mostly positive connections between the Jews and Turkey (and the Ottoman Empire).

Along the way, our guide located a shop that sold a four-port USB charger that allows my wife and I to charge everything at the same time. I had been trying to find one for some time as the mish-mash of adapters and cables was making it difficult to keep things charged.

We finished on time at our hotel, though since this was a half-day tour we could havae been dropped just about anywhere we wanted.

2  Thank Bigkabloona
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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