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Best of Turkey March 28 to April 9, Completed Successfully!

I'm here to report the successful completion of RS's best of Turkey in 13 days tour, March 28 to April 9th, 2022! Everything went exactly on schedule as per the Itinerary, with extra bonus sightseeing too! We were 16 tour members, all healthy and able-bodied from start to finish, no one missed anything and there was no illness.

Tour guide Yarin was absolutely fantastic - stellar quality and full of enthusiasm, passion for her country, compassion and care of us tour participants, and ever patient and accommodating to all questions and special requests.

All sights were open as predicted, except for a few under renovation which we knew about beforehand. There were too many 'favorite' places to mention! Turkey is amazing, the layer upon layer of history is mind-boggling and so many ruins are in impressively good condition. I can highly recommend this tour and all I can say is, now I know why Rick Steves himself puts Istanbul on the same 'must-see' level as Paris, London and Rome!

This was my first Rick Steves tour and I'm definitely looking forward to booking more of his tours in the future. Well done, Rick!!

Posted by
933 posts

Thanks for the trip report! I remember when we went on our first RS trip and how excited we were about doing more, now we are getting ready to take our 8th tour this July.

Posted by
1348 posts

Thanks for posting. We are taking this tour in September (our first RS tour). Glad to hear it went off without a hitch.

What was the extra bonus sightseeing?

Posted by
146 posts

thanks for sharing your experience. My husband and I are booked for Best of Istanbul in October, our first RS tour. It'll be the farthest east I've ever been and I'm so looking forward to it.

Posted by
5157 posts

It is great to hear such a positive report and that everyone stayed healthy!

I'm glad you took the risk and tried something new with a RS tour. I have also found them an enjoyable way to travel.

Posted by
2644 posts

Eileen L, I'm so glad to hear that your tour went well and that you had such a positive experience! I am just weeks behind you - also on my first RS tours - and have appreciated each of your posts, getting more excited myself along the way!

Posted by
54 posts

Hi Eileen L,

I did this same tour in 2019 and I absolutely loved it! Turkey is a beautiful country, and the people are lovely.

Happy to hear that you had a happy experience.

Posted by
46 posts

About the bonus sightseeing, there are so many extra things we saw and learned during the tour that were not specifically mentioned in the Itinerary, for example riding on the 'Tunnel' tram (second oldest subway in the world); walking over the Galata Bridge; a subway ride together (the many escalators down reminded me of the deepest subways in St Petersburg!); the since-ancient-times book market; and special meals at unique places like the dinner at Albura Kathisma, in the middle of excavated ancient ruins. All in all, this tour went above and beyond my expectations!

Posted by
16 posts

Hi Eileen,
Glad you had a wonderful trip. I'm planning to take this same tour this June. Looks the tour ends in Kusadasi, but the tour bus will take you to Izmir to fly out. I emailed RSE and they said the bus leaves at 8 and i should plan to book flights out of Izmir only after 11AM. Could you please share your experience regarding flying back after the Tour?
Thanks,
Priya

Posted by
46 posts

Several people had booked earlier flights out of Izmir and our tour guide helped with booking taxis to the airport for them by 7/7:30 before our bus left to the airport at 8. (Several were going direct to Greece and at least one back to USA or Canada i think.)

I booked the 11:50 am flight due to that same instruction to book flights only after 11. However once I reached the airport, at check in they offered me the earlier 10:35 am flight to Istanbul due to available seats and i took it. It had already started boarding when i reached the Gate AND i saw several of my fellow tour participants were boarding as that was the original flight they booked!

All in all, you can book any convenient flight on that last day as there are no activities and a earlier taxi can be arranged. Have a wonderful trip!!

Posted by
258 posts

Eileen, thanks so much for this. I am booked on the Oct. 17 tour, and while I've been a Rick Steves fan for years, this is my first tour and will fulfill my dream of seeing Istanbul. Your post made me more excited than ever to go.
Cynthia

Posted by
13 posts

Eileen, in flying into Turkey for your RS tour, did you fly Turkish Airlines. Am going to Bulgaria with RS in September and am looking at Turkish Airlines via Istanbul from JFK. Good price and good times. If you flew Turkish, any observations? Pro? Con? Also, how did you get from the Istanbul airport to downtown Istanbul. I am looking at a couple days in Istanbul on my way home. Thanks!

Posted by
46 posts

I used Turkish Airlines from Izmir to Istanbul this time; and I used Turkish internationally last time I travelled abroad in 2019 and both my sister and I loved it! The service was awesome, the food great and everything was on time. I can highly recommend Turkish Airlines! (This time I used Etihad Airways and they insisted on weighing all carry-on baggage which was irritating, plus their food wasn't so great, more stale and less flavorful.)

The new Istanbul airport is far from town and transport is confusing and chaotic if you try to do it yourself upon arrival, so I suggest contacting your hotel in Istanbul and asking them to send a taxi or shuttle to pick you up at the airport (rates are practically the same as getting a taxi at the airport). Be sure to get instructions on who to look for because no one holds up signs with our names on them, the hotel will email cryptic instructions for you, such as "look for 'CEO 34' after EXIT 9". That means go out of Exit 9 near Baggage collection, and look for the agent standing near a 'CEO34' sign.

Posted by
2644 posts

Our hotel, different than the start hotel for Best of Turkey, emailed a photo of the sign they'll be holding at the airport. As Eileen L said, it's cryptic, not our names.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks, Eileen. Thanks, CW. This info really helps. Now to decide what highlights to see in my brief 1-1/2 day layover in Istanbul.