Our 16-day visit to Turkey was one for the books. We visited four regions; the trip started and ended in Istanbul with stops in Cappadocia, Fethiye, and Kudasi. My best friend organized this trip and worked extensively with Ertunga Ecir (http://privatetours.wordpress.com/). Tons better than a predetermined, big bus, 60-people type of trip, for sure.
Ertunga helped her (and us) map an amazing trip and personalized our itinerary, accommodations, and transportation within every city. He checked in with us daily to make sure everything was going well. He was easy to reach and open to any suggestions we had to improve future experiences. Through this whole trip, we had the opportunity to see some hidden (and not-so-hidden) gems of Turkey.
Though he met us at our last stop, Ertunga worked with specific tour guides within his network to give us an experience of lifetime. Each tour guide was extremely well versed in their region while weaving in their own experiences to further customize our stops. They were also willing take the cheesiest, tourist picture. All were friendly, accommodating, and easy to understand. Special shout out to Nidjima (Niji) in Cappadocia, and Yesir, in Istanbul.
Some highlights from this trip include the Blue Mosque, Chora Church, shopping at the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market, Fairy chimneys, Imagination park, witnessing handmade pottery, paragliding over the Mediterranean, visits to underground cities, an intimate tour of Ephesus, and a visit to Mary's house and the soul-touching prayer wall. To close our trip, we visited a Cagalogcu Hammam (http://www.cagalogluhamami.com.tr/) in Instanbul. Don't skip this part and save it for the end, if possible!
As for the people, Turkish citizens, from the regions which we visited, were nothing more than gracious, kind, and proud of their beautiful country. We never once feared for our safety, felt that our attire was at all inappropriate, nor were treated like "those Americans." Do note that there is a lot of walking and climbing to do, depending on the region. Bring comfortable shoes and loose clothing. The regions we visited were more "Western" in their mentality but I would suggest keeping inline with modest attire.
Dining was also great. It's not to say you don't miss your creature comforts of home. And I would recommend some pocket-sized snacks as there's not fast food around any corner. But the food was very tasty, fresh, and readily available. The food was different within regions with the constant being hot and delicious black Turkish Tea.
We also experienced some Turkish nightlife, courtesy of Ertunga and friends. The intimate bars and the energy within was electric. A drink and chat in the courtyard of the Ottoman Caravanserail, a neighborhood bar with grapevines (and grapes) growing from the ceiling, and a typical Turkish restaurant with musicians playing at your table and customers singing every word. Fun, fun, and more fun.
If Turkey has ever been on your radar, visit it. If it's not's been on your radar, put in on there. For the time and money spent planning, traveling, and experiencing the trip, it was well worth every cent/Lira. And go to Ertunga. He honestly helped us build an amazing trip!
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