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Turkey with RSE 2019

I am thinking about taking the above tour and would love some encouragement. I have been on group tours (solo supplement) to Ireland and Scandinavia and will be doing Best of Italy in September. I am having a great time and would like to take a trip every year until I can't (either physically or financially). I plan on doing more independent travel before and/or after the tour each trip. My husband is encouraging me to spread out from Europe, but it feels uncomfortable to me.
I was thinking about the Adriatic coast for 2019, but over the last few days I feel the pull of Turkey. There are tons of good reasons to go to Turkey including historic, architectural, and natural. However, perhaps the best reason for me at this time would be cultural. I unfortunately have had some very poor work experiences with Arabic/Muslim men. I would love to counterbalance those experiences with positive ones while increasing my knowledge and exposure to the culture.
I can be away for 20 nights at a time and was thinking of a 3-6 day layover in a new city for me like London.
Please comment about how a trip to Turkey helped you in your world view and encourage me to spend some time on my own in Istanbul. Perhaps it would be better for me to return to Istanbul after the tour as I will be more comfortable?
TIA.

Posted by
1955 posts

Hopefully some folks who have been on the 2018 tour will reply to your question. I am signed up for this tour in October. I would say if Turkey is calling to you, go for it! Part of the adventure of travel is experiencing the unknown and confronting our fears. When you do that, you will feel a wonderful sense of empowerment. For example, I went to Naples on my own for 2 nights/3 days after the 7 Days in Rome tour. Beforehand, everyone I know, practically, told me not to go on my own to Naples. Well, I did, and I had a marvelous time and felt a sense of accomplishment and empowerment.
I'm excited about going to Turkey but somewhat nervous because it is a totally different culture than I have been exposed to. I'm sure I will love it. I have listened to all of RS's podcasts on Turkey in which he interviews the Turkish guides he uses and that has given me a level of comfort. They sound like lovely people and they have convinced me that the Turkish people are very welcoming.
Now, to your comment about less positive experiences with Arabic/Muslim men, there are conservative areas of Istanbul and the country of Turkey as a whole, where it is advisable to dress conservatively. I'm sure you understand.

Posted by
873 posts

Thank you Judy for your reply. Please come back and share your experiences after your tour.
Conservative dress for me everywhere : ).

Posted by
16860 posts

Our Turkey tour is honestly one of my favorite itineraries, with no end to the superlatives that come to mind. It's wonderfully varied, with really some of the very best of everything, including cultural connection. The group interactions with locals are highlights for many tour members, such as the discussions with an imam and with the ladies who serve lunch in their home, but also on a really "ground-level" Cappadocia hike, shopping in village markets, and even the entertaining carpet demo.

I would do your extra Istanbul time at the end of the tour. You'll definitely be more comfortable and knowledgeable, and may also want to do a little souvenir shopping. You'll find Turkey different, for sure, but also part of the continuous spectrum of your European experience from corner to corner - north, south, west, and east. They're connected in ways that you'll continue to recognize on future European trips, too.

Posted by
1 posts

I am going on the first 2019 tour and can hardly wait. I am 68 and so do not expect anyone breathing down my neck. Three years ago I traveled in Spain with Rick’s team and had a safe marvelous experience. Why would Turkey be any different? Turkey is a civilized and secular country. I was in Kusidasi 20 years ago and have longed to return to see more and meet more of these kind people. I will be spending extra time on my own before and after the tour. Perhaps I will see you there.

Posted by
6718 posts

I would love to counterbalance those experiences with positive ones
while increasing my knowledge and exposure to the culture.

I think this is a really strong motivator for your trip, as it sounds like you're open and willing to challenge your assumptions. There are several that you made here that may not be generalizable. You mentioned work experiences, which probably come with a different set of expectations than travel experiences. You're dealing with people in a totally different context in your leisure time. You also didn't say "Turkish men" but rather "Arabic/Muslim men". Turks are not Arabs, nor are all Muslims interchangeable. Nor are all Turkish men the same. The Turkish brand of Islam is different than Saudi Arabia's, etc. even though they're both Sunni. As for the prior comment about Turkey being "secular", that's an overgeneralization for anyone who has been paying attention to Turkish politics (or been on the ground). It's as divided as the US in terms of secular/non-secular and urban vs rural...and then there is the issue of the Kurdish minority who have their own interests/ culture. You're going to be on a tour which shields you from all sorts of unexpected, unpredictable, or unpleasant experiences...so you really can't go wrong with the Best of Turkey tour. The reviews of that tour are really extraordinary, it sounds like the folks that went on the tour had a great time and learned a lot.

My personal experience in Turkey began on a solo trip to Istanbul where I spent over two weeks in 2011. It was a really enriching experience, and yes, there were some annoyances (the touts) and maybe an unpleasant encounter or two, but it was a fascinating place full of different complex layers. When you're a solo woman, you attract a lot of attention from anyone trying to sell you something, and it does take some getting used to. I also went on the Turkey Village tour (the only tour I took with RS) and it was wonderful. It really gave me a much wider breadth of experiences because it covered a large swath of the southwestern coastline (very diverse in terms of landscapes, sites, people, etc). Unlike many RS tours, this one was much more focused on local interactions with all sorts of people (the Europe-based trips - with the exception of Bulgaria - really don't have this type of element on their trips despite the advertising). I already had a positive expectation of Turkey before I went because my Dad went there for work several times and my parents traveled there and came away with really good experiences. I did tons of research before I went and combed through many books to learn about the culture and history. It really made my trips that much better.

I would not underestimate the cultural treasures In Turkey and that fact that they are so inexpensive to see, like Topkapi Palace or a boat ride on the Bosphorus or Ephesus. Plus Turkey is at the crossroads of two continents, which makes it very unique. In closing, I think "worldviews" can only expand if you're willing to expand the geographic reach of your travels, your comfort zone, and openness to learning about people unlike you. Europe is not representative of the world, and there are so many other interesting places out there worth seeing. I would highly recommend going to Turkey, and the RS tour is a good option if you feel some discomfort about the trip.

Posted by
1009 posts

We went to Turkey a few years ago by ourselves and for the most part had a wonderful time.While we did encounter some rude people(corrupt taxi driver, unbalanced woman in Istanbul and some touts that would not leave us alone, the majority of Turks were the kindest people we've meet. We met volunteers at the Blue Mosque that taught us about Islam, a bus driver in Selchuk that found our purchases we left on bus and wouldn't take any money when he returned it. Finally, there was the Izmir airport worker who when he found out we were trying to find a stamp and mail a postcard back home but no post offices were open because of a holiday, offered to buy a stamp and mail it the next day. After some trepidation, we agreed and even joked afterwards about how we'd never see that postcard again-after all who buys stamps for total strangers and mails it. Well a week and a half later, our relative received the postcard with the correct postage.

Just the chance to see how East and West mix, the Byzantium and Ottoman history and the beautiful mosques are worth it. Go-you won't regret it.

Posted by
2791 posts

Our family went to Istanbul on our own in 2012 and loved it. I chose it because I felt it was the most accessible(Europe-like) Muslim country. If you're trying to do the entire western civilizations thing( Athens, Mycenae, Rome, Florence, England) you have to include Constantinople (and we also took an overnight tour that went to Troy and Ephesus). I'm hoping we may yet make it to Egypt if it stays calm there.