I learned of this company here. Good reviews. The comparable cruise excursions involved "rug demonstrations" both in Istanbul and Kusadasi. Reviews of those indicated they literally locked you in a room for 90 minutes trying to sell you rugs. No thank you!! I don't want to waste valuable shore time saying "no" repeatedly to high-pressure sales people.
So I contact Ephesus Deluxe Tours, and they are very nice and accommodating. I'm assured there won't be any sales talks. Price is quite reasonable. So we go for it.
So first day is Istanbul. Guide is a little brusque, but I think that's more cultural than anything. He seemed to know about the sites we were visiting, and answered questions. Then towards the end of the tour he asked if we wanted to see pottery. Sure, why not. Well...we get a pottery demo and then an invitation to go downstairs to see their "collection". Uh...no. I can smell a sales pitch coming. We get out of there. The guide doesn't try to dissuade us, which is good. And he found us a decent place to eat lunch outside the Spice Market. Nothing fancy, but I liked it.
Second day is Kusadasi. Lunch is supposed to be included this day. So we go through the Ephesus site, and all is well. Until I ask about lunch. Care to guess where "lunch" was? At the rug store. And their idea of lunch was a glass of tea (which was pretty good, actually), and these fried bread things (which also weren't bad, but this is NOT a proper lunch). And of course an opportunity to "learn about rugs". The guide claimed that this is where they bring people for lunch on this tour.
Which part of "no rug demonstrations" didn't they understand? We were able to leave, but they never should have brought us there. They should have taken us someplace else to eat that didn't involve any sales talks. I'd go with four stars if it wasn't for this. The rest of the tour was interesting and enjoyable. But they must receive a deduction for, in effect, lying to us when we asked to be spared all sales talks.
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