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Destination of my 4th RS tour: Turkey or Portugal?

So far, I've done two MyWays -- Spain and GAS -- and the fully guided Sicily tour most recently. While I loved the freedom of the MyWays, I have to admit that I enjoyed the Sicily tour most due of the unique experiences that only the fully-guided tours can offer (farmhouse visit, visit to a countess's palazzo, winery tour). But maybe the Sicily tour was unique from all other fully guided tours this way? I am now trying to decide between the 13-day Turkey and 12-day Portugal tours. Has anyone here been on either and have opinions on which one to choose? Here are some considerations:

  • I am a 44-year-old single woman (and get the single supplement)

  • I love good food -- which country has the more interesting/delicious cuisines?

  • I'm a city girl -- while I enjoy seeing quaint villages, I prefer the hustle and bustle of cities

  • When available, I enjoy active pursuits offered on tours -- hikes, etc. I don't go on vacation to relax

  • I do appreciate unstructured time so I can roam sites/cities freely to take photos

Thanks in advance!

Lori

Posted by
1175 posts

While I have been on 13 RS tours, some twice ( I went twice on the Florence, Paris, Rome tours) I have not been on the Turkey or Portugal tours, but do suggest that you look at the RS scrapbooks of the Turkey tour ( don't think anyone ever submitted a Portugal scrapbook) to see where and what the RS tours did. You may also want to go on YouTube and see videos of where each tour goes. The Turkey tour does go to Istanbul for a few days and I went on the week long tour of Istanbul. It is an amazing city which I think you will most enjoy and it has what you like, plenty of things and places to take photos and the hustle and bustle of a big city. I found the food nice but I find the best cuisine to be in France and Italy. You will be busy and see tons on either tour ( I looked at each tour). I have been on 3 of the RS bus tours and they are wonderful. Always an adventure. There is an optional balloon ride on the Turkey tour which may peak your interest. I will say on any RS tour, you really don't relax, it is go, go, go. I am sure whichever tour you take, it will be amazing! Have a great time.

Posted by
2526 posts

While I really enjoyed Portugal on our own, Turkey via Rick's tour was more impressive. We loved the fresh, tasty and healthy food. Amazing sights and welcoming people rounded it out. We will go back.

Posted by
62 posts

thank you, ann and bruce!

ann, i took your advice and browsed all the photo album contest entries for turkey and portugal in 2013 and 2012, and the turkey sights and images definitely spoke to me more. so when bruce expressed his preference, that just confirmed that i need to go to turkey next!

bruce, upon completing the tour, did you take the provided shuttle from izmir back up to istanbul or take a ferry to the greek isles/athens to make your way back to the states (as the "pre-tour information" suggests)? if the latter, i'd be interested in hearing how that went.

thanks again!

lori

Posted by
16883 posts

I believe the Turkey tour is one of our most exciting, most varied tour itineraries! It will provide the biggest change of scenery versus the areas you've already visited. The guides are very knowledgeable and the food is delicious. The tour does include a home-cooked lunch in a private home, a much simpler and different experience from the countess's place in Sicily. When the tour ends at Kusadasi, you can easily fly from Izmir back to Istanbul for another night or two in the city.

Posted by
260 posts

a comment on singletons (I did one RS tour on my own, others with husband). I think the single supplements should be significantly cheaper. Just sayin!

Posted by
2526 posts

Hi Lori. At the end of the tour we took the ferry from Kuşadası to Samos for a couple of days and utilized a rented car. Samos was pleasant enough. A short flight to Athens for another few days followed. Athens has some incredible sights, but otherwise....meh. For a first timer, I would do the same. If doing again, I would stay in Turkey after the tour and see more. Also, the one regret was that we did not book the available hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia. Enjoy!

Posted by
62 posts

Not only have I reserved a spot on the April 27 tour, I have even booked my flight (no small feat since I was using frequent flier miles)! So thank you, Bruce -- your thoughts on Samos/Athens actually made me decide to keep it simple and fly back out from Istanbul so that I can spend a few more days in Turkey. The New York Times just published a 36 Hours in ... article on Izmir, so perhaps I will not just hop on the next flight to Istanbul.

And I keep hearing about this balloon ride -- I will be sure to book it!

Laura, it's great to hear that you (of all posters, a RS's rep) consider the Turkey tour to be one of the most exciting. I take it as even more confirmation that I've made the right choice.

Thanks all!

Lori

Posted by
210 posts

Having done both tours in successive years, they are quite different……but I really liked both. Turkey is a culture shock. Loved that tour. The Turks were VERY welcoming and friendly. You will wear out your camera. Lots of ancient history. If you want to buy a carpet…..trust me, you will find someone to sell you one….rather they WILL find you :-) The Turkish cuisine is interesting. Lots of variety/options.

Portugal is a little bit more "predictable". A little laid back…..but definitely not boring! An "overlooked" country with a fascinating culture and not so well known history……beyond the Age of Discovery. If you like seafood….you would like Portugal. We were there during two different festivals…..so that really made it special.

I returned to Istanbul for a couple days after the tour and flew out from there. Great decision on my part. So much to see. I enjoyed just soaking up the sights, sounds, and smells of that great city.

You made a great choice! I would not hesitate to re-do either tour!!!!!!!!!

Posted by
17 posts

Turkey is a TRIP! We did the fully guided tour of Turkey a few years ago and it was FABULOUS! We love cities, too, but the off the beaten path stuff in Turkey is SO worth it! And it is so different! The food was great, too! The only tour that I have ever put weight on!

Portugal is beautiful, though, too. Great food there. Probably more unstructured time there. Just so much covered on the Turkey trip!

I have looked at the My Ways, but would almost rather plan my own trip using RS books than have them make the arrangements!