I'm trying to get a feel for a typical day on the tour. What time do you start? Do you have breakfast before it starts? When does the day typically end? Are the included meals preset or do you order from a menu a la carte?
The tour alumni scrapbooks document the Rick Steves tours pretty well. You should be able to get a good feel of what the tours are like.
I've gone on seven Rick Steves tours and they all follow a similar format. You generally leave your hotel 8:00-8:30 am after breakfast and your tour activity is usually in the morning and have afternoons free. Sometimes things change and you will have a activity that goes into the afternoon time. The group dinners are later in the evening and usually you have a couple of choices to pick from. Rick Steves guides do an excellent job of mixing group time with free time so you can have a great tour.
Why have we done seven tours? For the money I have not found a better experience than he provides, the tours mix education, fun, experiences with locals and a comradery that appeals to my wife and I. We have made friendships on these tours that have lasted for many years, I think you will have a similar experience in Turkey!
Mary, thanks, this was a great reminder for me and I'm perusing some of the Best of Turkey scrapbooks where I'm finding comments such as these from traveler Ruth Fletcher:
today was an early start, because we have much to see. (time not specified)
Taylan [the guide] realistically thought we would have our best luck ordering lunch at one of the typical "point and choose" eateries. He pointed out several as we walked, then set us free. We all found lunch, and had a good time doing it.
Luggage was on the bus by eight so we could walk to nearby Topkapi Palace before the herds arrived.
Once out of Istanbul traffic, we made out first stop at a Turkish truck stop for lunch, much better than it sounds, and our driver knew where to find the best ones. Basically a big food court, with four or five restaurant counters with quick service, plus a 7-11 store. There usually was a point and choose cafeteria line where Taylan patiently explained to everyone, often one at a time, “…lamb…chicken…fish…eggplant…” and often a doner kebab shop and another serving Turkish pizza - pide. It was a quick way to accomplish a meal, and everyone got a choice. These truck stops always had good bathrooms. And the really good ones had ice cream!
On days like this when no group dinner was planned, the pattern was for Taylan to explain the options of where we could eat while we were still in a group. Some opted for the hotel dining room, and Taylan led the rest of us on a walk for a few blocks pointing out the choices, then let us ALL follow him to the Irish pub where he was headed. Good fish and chips and Turkish white wine!
I'm learning a lot about the wonderful day to day Best of Turkey experiences and getting excited for my own tour in less than a month!
Thank you for the suggestion about the scrapbooks. I had found a recent one earlier today but not the full set in your link. I love RS' approach to travel and his shows, podcasts, etc and we've used his guidebooks on our trips. We've just never done a multi-day tour as we are pretty independent. I also need my running time in the am as I'm training for a marathon (not super long when we'd travel but I'd need an hour or so in the am - I get up early normally and the timeframes would work). My impression has been that the tour participants are typically retirees - I'm a bit younger than that - but I enjoyed seeing multiple ages on in the group photos.
Full breakfast buffet every morning, though I think it we ordered in Cappadoccia. I remember that some of the lunches/dinners were buffet, some were preset but there were choices. There were no late nights.