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Best of Turkey in 2018, just booked it!

I'm so excited about this adventure coming next fall. One of my friends will be traveling with me and we will room together as well. Anyone else out there who has signed up for Turkey? Or, any other tour?
There is something so satisfying about knowing I have a wonderful trip on the horizon. Actually, I have 2 for 2018 - going on an independent trip to Paris/Amsterdam in April and now, Turkey, too. Things are good in my world right now. Thank you, Rick, for these opportunities!

Posted by
2525 posts

Years ago we took that trip. Marvelous. The political situation may have a minor impact as locals may be less forthcoming with personal views to strangers.

Posted by
4481 posts

Congratulations, Judy B. You're right about having a tour (or two!) to look forward to. We're still trying to decide when and where...

Posted by
1910 posts

Scotland tour-September, 2018 with a a number (?) of days in London before. Going with my sister and a couple of friends we met on the Greece tour in 2010. Also thinking of a 10 day trip, just Sis and me, to Paris, a city I can return to over and over and see new things every time. It's always so much fun to have a trip or trips to plan ahead for and read what others are doing.

Posted by
600 posts

That tour sounds awesome! You'll have a great time! We were excited to book Greece in April and Portugal in October. It's surreal for us to be planning two trips at the same time! It definitely gives you something to look forward to though!

Posted by
15 posts

We are confirmed on the Greece tour in April, can't wait. It is our 3rd Rick Steves tour, they're always fantastic!

Posted by
1791 posts

So glad to hear everyone's plans for next year! There is something about traveling that lifts my spirits. Not sure exactly what it is, the opportunity to see new and interesting places I have always read about, the history and culture that has created our world- I sound like Rick! And the opportunity to meet new people who live differently from us. What do y'all think is/are the reason(s) for you?

Posted by
366 posts

I am going to Paris this Christmas with the Paris city tour. I am very excited. I have lots of plans. Of what I am going to see. I travel because it keeps me sane. I love visiting other countries to see what is there . I especially like seeing the local handicrafts.

I quilt and knit so I love the craft type things . Olive wood carving in Italy, petit point in Vienna , pottey etc. Always try to bring back some unique fabric or yarn. Then when I use what I make with it I always remember the trip.

Of course there is always food and the scenery....

Posted by
1791 posts

Barbara,
I think the Paris tour around Christmas will be wonderful, with all the lights, decorations and special events! I'm sure you will love it.

Posted by
7205 posts

Well I hope you got a greatly discounted deal. Turkish hotels are at rock bottom prices because of the turmoil in the country. I just booked a hotel for a friend in December 2017 - the same hotel I stayed at several years ago. That same hotel is astonishingly cheap now.

I'm sure it's not just Turkish hotels that have bottomed out in pricing.

Posted by
1068 posts

Enjoy Turkey. I took it a few years ago and it was one of my favorite tours! What a blast (especially loved the hot air balloon extra trip in Cappadocia.) Have 2 RS tours and an extra week coming up soon, great to look forward to.

Posted by
1791 posts

Ray,
Where are you going on your upcoming 2 tours? I will look into the hot air balloon ride, not sure - I'm a little fearful of heights.

Posted by
882 posts

Yeah for you! That sounds awesome. Hubby, MIL and I are headed to the GAS tour 2018.

Posted by
1068 posts

My next 2 tours are Best of Sicily and Best of Holland/Belgium with 4 days in Malta and 3 days in Brussels in between. Am tacking on a day at the beginning and end as well. Really looking forward to them.

Regarding the hot air ballooning: it is an optional experience. The balloon people meet you at your hotel around 4:30 or 5:00 am. They take you to the area where they assemble and the pilots decide if the weather is "good to go." Cappadocia is the largest (by volume) hot air balloon site in the world and the weather is usually pretty good. While the pilots are meeting you get a continental breakfast. Then you are organized into balloons (about 12-15 per balloon as I recall) and go to a van/bus for a short ride to the launch site. The balloonists begin filling the balloon and once it has enough air to be vertical you climb in. They get you up right around sunrise, floating over the "fairy chimneys" with the rocks painted red by the sun. We saw some cool birds and foxes as we went up. The pilot was humorous and very competent. He turned the balloon in the air so people in the front were in the back etc., so everyone had great views. There was some hovering, floating and going up and down slowly for different vantage points. After (as I recall) an hour, we got set to land. He told us the landing position (basically a crouch) and we settled down pretty easily with a minor bump. The ground crew was right there when we landed. They serve champagne, cake and beverages (a tradition as that is how the first successful hot air balloon flight [in France] was celebrated) and we had a group photo taken. I believe it was the "Central Turkey" show by Rick Steves will give you a pretty good idea of the experience (in fact, his pilot in the show was our pilot when I was there.)

Posted by
85 posts

Was last there in 2007. Look forward to your update

Posted by
1791 posts

Ray,
Thank you for your detailed description of the hot air ballooning event. It sounds doable to me now. I am a little queasy with heights and need to take something when riding in a vehicle on twisty mountain roads.

I'm excited about Turkey, so many on the forum have commented favorably too.

Posted by
1068 posts

My pleasure. It has been a few years so take with a grain of salt: 12-15 per balloon and about an hour in the air. However, the experience was amazing. Also note that when I say "if the weather is good" that refers to very low wind, nothing like rain or storms etc. About 3/4 of our tour group decided to go and, after hearing our description and enthusiasm, most of the rest of the group wished they had. Do watch the "Central Turkey" video as it will give you a great idea of the event. But whether you balloon or not, it is a fantastic tour. I am confident you will enjoy it!

Posted by
85 posts

Enjoy...if you buy anything, pay in lira to take advantage of the cheap exchange rate...and know the conversion

Posted by
1791 posts

Ray,
I will look for Rick's program on Central and Western Turkey he did a couple years ago. Good idea.
By the way, I received my initial tour packet in the mail yesterday with the 2018 patch! Two red British phone booths. Cute. Now I have 6 and hopefully more to come.
Scott, I usually get some of the local currency from my bank (I'm an employee) before a trip so I will try to get lira when the time comes. You mean use lira instead of a credit card?

Posted by
85 posts

I doubt that you can get lira in the US, and would not want to anyway because of the conversion cost. The machines at the airports will give you lira, dollars or euro, but you should confirm as I was last there 10 yr ago. Anyway, the lira has collapsed against the dollar and euro, so you should be able to buy things much cheaper than they were a few years ago, so bargain hard for rugs, etc. All your food outside the tour should be priced in lira, avoid the tourist places as usual. If you get a hotel before or after, they will quote you a price in dollar or euro, but negotiate this down also. You are not taking advantage by doing this--all their costs are in lira, and if you pay inflated prices you are just giving the vendor free money.

Posted by
1791 posts

Thanks, Scott. I will keep that in mind. As the trip draws near, I will find out the particulars about getting lira.

Posted by
9 posts

Hi Judy - of course you can get Turkish Lira in the US. Just ask your bank to order it for you, which is what we did. I always like to have at least some local currency when I land in a new country - and then get money out of a bank ATM.

Posted by
6609 posts

I've been to Turkey three times and honestly had no issue whatsoever getting money out of the airport ATM each time...I don't think there's any need to order lira prior to the trip. There were no crazy lines at the ATMs either, which is a fear that many people have. Maybe 3 people at most. Since you're out of Atlanta, Turkish Air is a great choice (I've flown them every time and have been happy with everything).

I think this will be a great tour. I'm a bit surprised they did not decrease the tour price a bit (from prior year prices), since the prices in Turkey have been falling precipitously over the past few years. The price of travel inputs like lodging is really low even for high-end properties. I would guess that this (and the Bulgaria tour) is one of the more expensive RS tours, given how really inexpensive Turkey is (and has gotten even more so). This tour covers a lot of ground and this is reflected by the long hours on the bus. You'll enjoy the scenery though, Turkey is gorgeous (I saw the southwest coastline mostly).

Posted by
1791 posts

Beverly and Agnes, thanks for your input. I usually like to get a couple hundred of the local currency from my bank so I don't have to fumble around at the airport upon arrival in a jetlagged state. I'm an employee so I get a small discount.

Agnes, yes, I was a little surprised that RS did not decrease the price of the Turkey tour but that is his business decision and I don't know all the costs that go into crafting a tour. It is still a very moderate price for 13 days. I've already checked airfares and they seem to be fairly reasonable which probably reflects the slump in tourism there. I have to wait till November before my travel dates will be available. I'm excited!

Posted by
6609 posts

I'm honestly not sure you'll even have the chance to spend a few hundred lira in Turkey. It really is cheap (unless you're in the modern district on Istanbul which has all the luxuries you'd find anywhere). I used my credit card most of the time, except for small villages. If you do order money beforehand, I would go on the low side so you're not stuck with lira at the end of the trip. I think Rick (rightly) wants to keep good relationships with the local guides from SRM...I'm sure they were not happy when all the tours got pulled last year (and the year before?...I can't recall). So that's probably why the tour is rather pricy by Turkish standards. It's a fascinating country though, I'll have to go again sometime in the next few years.

Posted by
1791 posts

Agnes and Kaeleku, maybe I will get just the minimum from my bank so I will have lira to pay for a taxi to the hotel. We're going to research Delta and Turkish Air for flights, we live in Atlanta so Delta is dominant here. Plus we both have FF miles. We will see which airline has the best route and price.

Posted by
9 posts

Don't know which airline will be cheaper. We flew Turkish Airlines a few years ago and they were great - much better than any "American" airline.

Posted by
6609 posts

I paid < $600 each for two different trips (about two years apart) via Turkish Air. From DC, the Turkish Air flights are always red eyes (leaving about 11 pm) and direct, which works for me. The food is much, much better than any American Airline - I pre-order the vegetarian meals.

Posted by
1791 posts

Beverly, I have heard good things about Turkish Air so we are open to flying with them if their flights are better than Delta's.

Agnes, I will keep in mind Dulles to Istanbul non-stop - of course, we have to get ourselves to Dulles first. But, <$600 is a very good price. At least, we have options. RS says to fly from Izmir back home but I put Izmir in Delta's software and it was not found. Where to fly from in Turkey?

I'm assuming Dulles perhaps it's Reagan National?

Thanks everyone for your help!

Posted by
6609 posts

Judy,
Turkish flies non-stop straight out of Atlanta, no need to go to Dulles (IAD). Only smaller non-US carriers, including Turkish Air and Pegasus, serve the Izmir-Istanbul link, and I am not sure if Delta codeshares with any of them. Either way, you won't be able to fly home directly from Izmir (you'll have to go through Istanbul first - either on a single ticket or two separate tickets with plenty of room in between). It may work out cheaper to do a round trip plus a single one-way from Izmir to Istanbul, but of course it all depends on the schedules. You don't want to miss your international flight if anything goes awry with the Izmir to Istanbul leg (you could build in an extra day or few in Istanbul at the end of the trip - that's one option, since even the tour cannot do justice to such a huge city). In any case, nothing you need to worry about this early on.

Posted by
1791 posts

Agnes, thanks for your excellent advice. Obviously I did not check Turkish Air's flight schedule from Atlanta. That is indeed good news, a direct flight to Istanbul! So we will need to figure out the Izmir leg to Istanbul.

Posted by
6609 posts

FYI...I've been following the Turkish Air expansion, so here was the notice for Atlanta back from 2016. I don't know if they still have two flights or just the overnight one since I'm sure they would have to tweak based on experience in a new market.
http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2015/06/15/turkish-airlines-starting-atlanta-to-istanbul-flight/

On my one RS Village Turkey tour, the tour ended in the seaside resort of Bodrum so folks either 1) paid for that short leg and spent a few more days in Istanbul, 2) paid for that short leg with enough connecting time, then flew home on a separate ticket, or 3) used Turkish Air or the like to fly back on one ticket (open jaw fare) that had enough connecting time in Istanbul. There should be plenty of flights from Izmir to Istanbul so you can "time" your connection back home. Happy planning!!!