I was apprehensive about the Circle Istanbul. The name made me think of other city tours, where you ride a red, double-decker bus and listen to a canned speech as you drive around the city. This is nothing like that. Polat took us to MANY places on both the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. We sat on his friends' outdoor patio enjoying the "million dollar view overlooking the Bosphorous", we visited a local music shop (where Polat played drum, improvising with the shop owner playing guitar, and they even convinced me to try the G clarinet used in Turkey), we visited a local artist shop and watched the talented artist demonstrate the Turkish art of marbling paper, we walked, we ate, we enjoyed the hammamm and ended the evening at a roof-top restaurant. It was a splendid time. At the end of the day, I realized that Polat made us feel like we had been with an old friend who wanted to make sure we saw the city of Istanbul in a very real, and personal way. I think each tour can be different. Polat knows many people and places in the city and the tour varies depending on the options available that day, but I'm sure he makes it wonderful for every group. I can't emphasize enough how this was a great way to begin our visit to Turkey. Thank you to Polat for your enthusiasm and to Cenan for encouraging us to take this tour.
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