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What was the old Istanbul tour like? Questions on reappearance of Istanbul tour

A little backstory: My H is well traveled so to lure him back to Europe takes some carrots. His only tour in Europe was on a bike tour in Europe around age 60. He just turned 78. My issue is I don't understand how age affects travel to some degree. I am 65. I went on the Greece tour where there was an 87 year old man who I never saw having a problem. People are surprised my H is his 'age', when they find out. We've recently had company and we walked around Boston, hills, etc. for 6 and 7 miles on days, only broke for lunch. No issues...slightly slower than his age 70 before he had a debilitating illness (He's a miracle really), but now not a mope speed, IMO. Too much info, I know. So based on present health for both of us, here are my questions:
1. Am I nuts to let other's influence 'age' perception about traveling on a tour? I know Istanbul has at least one hill and one has to keep up, but the 'strenuous' on the Greek tour, was only strenuous if you did the optional, free time, tours, IMO. The rest he could easily do (my reference point for definition). It looks like there isn't a lot of free time on this tour. Also, on a city tour, one can always leave for the day, right?
2. How much time would be best to stay before or after the tour in Istanbul? I know this is arbitrary, but... We always break our flights in London, so I'm thinking arriving in Istanbul the day before is sufficient, as London with the overseas day flight will help us adjust.

3. Did you really get more vaccinations? I've never looked at vaccinations recommended in traveling to Europe before. Just now I compared France to Turkey, and not too much different, but a little. We get the basic US vaccinations. I'm thinking there isn't really any we need, but what did you do?
I hope that's not too many questions for one post. Thanks for any informative feedback.

Posted by
2361 posts

We went to Istanbul in 2012 and it didn't occur to me to investigate the vaccine issue. And we usually get almost every vaccine there is. Although I had gotten them for a trip to Guatemala earlier in 2012, I now think that everyone should get vaccines for Hepatitis A and B-outbreaks regularly occur in the US.

Posted by
95 posts

We did RS Istanbul in 2015 when my hubby was already past 70 and we did not train before the trip. It wasn’t too bad, as there were several gents in the same age bracket and our guide accommodated is with lots of rest stops during our walking tours. The only part that was hard for us was a steep “hill” walk from the hotel to the Sultanameht area. It was our choice to walk there as it was shorter than the longer walk.

No vaccinations taken before the trip. Quite a few couples got GI issues, but we were extra careful with what we ate and drank. No problems. Make sure brush teeth with bottled water. We even ate ice cream with no issues. However we skipped salads just to be sure. Ate cooked vegetables to make up for raw greens.

Posted by
2411 posts

Thanks Cala,
The Hep A recommendation was the one that made me think, too. I think we'll each ask our doctors about that one.

Ssk, Thanks.

Good to know there are periodic breaks. I think that would be all he might need, and maybe not them. We live on a large hill, so we can always practice! Good to know I shouldn't listen to ageists.

Posted by
3226 posts

Only the two of you can know what your activity level can support. From the sound of it, neither of you will have any issues on any RS tour. Age is just a number, it means nothing as far as how fit and able any one person is. Some people 90 can walk a more challenging route than many people in their 30's I know.

Posted by
2411 posts

Hi Mark,
Intellectually I know that, but my competitive streak always feels RS is basing their very strenuous and moderately strenuous ratings on 30 year olds, not 60 year olds. So thanks for your reminder and encouragement. I hate to fall behind in any endeavor so I guess I needed to make sure my thinking wasn't completely off. After all, my H can climb Blue Hill here, just at a reasonably relaxed pace. LOL

Posted by
11153 posts

I can't speak to RS tours, as I've never taken one.

Much of the tourist area of Istanbul is relatively flat. For getting between Istiklal Street/ Taksim Square (which themselves are flat) and the waterfront level, there are funiculars (or VERY steep streets!). Note that the Galata neighborhood is very hilly. Transit in Istanbul makes getting around easy; most things of interest are a short walk from a tram stop, so high stamina is not required.

Since this is a city tour, it should be very easy to just break away from the group and go back to the hotel if you or your husband need rest. By all accounts here, as long as you let the tour leader and your tour buddy know (so they won't think you've gone missing), you can always opt out of group activities, then meet up with your group later.

As for vaccinations, I did not get any new ones for Turkey. Whether or not that was a good idea I can't say, but I did fine.

Six nights in Istanbul is a good amount of time, so I don't think you'll "need" extra. Of course, you may want to take advantage of being close to other places in Turkey or the region. Istanbul airport has flights all over the place, including many places that aren't so easy to each from the US.

Posted by
16766 posts

I agree with asking your doctor about the hepatitis vaccine. I think it's now recommended even for non-travelers. It takes two vaccinafions (I think 6 months apart) for full coverage, but you still get.some protection if you can only get the first one before your trip.

I.also made sure I was up to.date on whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria and typhoid before last year's trip to Ukraine.

Posted by
2411 posts

Thanks Acraven and Harold. I'm going to disregard any reference to my H's age regarding activities. I know his father's first cousin was still traveling alone at 95, after that he brought a companion. And mine was still climbing onto his roof at age 88, so going to not listen any longer to naysayers or worriers (who make me worry). My mother used to tell the neighbors if he fell off the roof at age 88 then all the power to him. So, I'll take that approach.

Will discuss vaccines with our doctors at our annuals. This trip wouldn't be until 2020, which seems a long time from now...

I think we'll get to Istanbul one night early, and then perhaps go somewhere else afterwards...Normandy is still on his list...

Posted by
6148 posts

Six nights in Istanbul is a good amount of time, so I don't think
you'll "need" extra.

I guess that depends how much you're interested in seeing the huge swaths of the city outside the major tourist zone (the small sliver called Sultanahmet). For a city as densely populated and geographically extensive as Istanbul, 6 nights is really not much at all. I spent over two full weeks and a couple of layovers and didn't see everything I wanted to. I also took a cruise out to the Princes Islands, which was really lovely. It's up to you, but if you like to spend a lot of time at museums, any amounts given to them on the tour will not feel like enough. I easily spent almost a day at Topkapi Palace, and almost half day at the Archeological Museum (on my own). There are also private museums along the Bosphorus that the tour won't visit (Sabanci Museum, Istanbul Modern, and Dolmabahçe Palace, to name a few). And I just like poking around different local neighborhoods to get a feel for them, which I'm sure many people would not find interesting at all.

Yes, there are some incredibly hilly parts of the city across the bridge in the Galata/ Beyoglu area and surrounding neighborhoods. They were a workout for me (I'm in my 40s and can do hills easily). From what I remember, the walk to the Süleymanye mosque was steep too.

I didn't take any special vaccinations or avoided certain foods when I went (last trip was in 2015). The only thing I didn't do is drink tap water (I don't drink tap water anywhere unless it's particularly good). But I would be more careful if I had a different age/ health profile, there's nothing wrong with being cautious.

Posted by
2411 posts

Agnes,

Clearly, we'll need to review what we might want to see and develop our own time line. We are usually slow travelers and really enjoy getting to know a city, which usually comes down to at least 10 days for major cities or at least two visits. Much reading of guide books along with history and literature will be done before any final timeline is made... of course, we/I can always return. Thanks!

Posted by
1845 posts

Hi Wray. I took this tour 3-4 years ago and found it fascinating, rewarding and educational. I was in my late 60s and had no issues with hills (at least I really don't remember the city being particularly hilly so must not have been too daunting!) or keeping up with anything else the tour offered. Keep in mind any tour member can always opt out of any activity you don't care to participate in. Just remember to let your guide and/or tour buddy know. We spent 2 days before the tour and one extra day after in Istanbul and wished we had stayed longer afterwards. There was so much more we wanted to see and do. We didn't do this activity (only because I didn't think of it until it was too late to sign up!) but a couple of the people on our tour had pre-booked and taken a cooking class near our hotel and had a truly wonderful time. You might want to look into that for a pre or post tour activity if it interests you. We were advised not to drink the water or even brush our teeth with tap water, so we didn't. Bottled water is cheap and we bought big bottles (and refilled small ones for carrying) at the little store up the street from the hotel. We ate everything (fabulous food!), including street food with no repercussions. Didn't get any vaccinations other than the annual flu shot before we left. This was my second trip to Istanbul and I loved the tour, the city and the people. I was so happy to see this tour come back; I bet you both will really enjoy your time in Istanbul.

Posted by
6148 posts

I think the cooking class idea is really great. I really wished I was able to do that (It didn't occur to me back then). Just going to the markets and picking out the food would be a total treat. There are many outfits and even private persons who conduct these classes, even in their own homes. It's a great way to learn about local culture, and the food will be delicious.

Posted by
2411 posts

Thanks all. We just purchased our first guide book! After reviewing all your wonderful posts, I don't see my H having any issue with the pace of this tour. I'll check with our doctors about Hep A. And much reading will be done to see how long we stay after the tour. We are use to traveling independently so a nice mix might be good.

Posted by
110 posts

I would get Hepatitis A and make sure your Tetanus is up to date. I would do both for travel to anywhere. Enjoy Istanbul! I have been there many times.

Posted by
187 posts

I went on the last RS Best of Istanbul tour that was offered in 2015 and LOVED it. Yes, there are hills in Istanbul, but we often took the easy-to-ride tram system to avoid them. Our tour group included a family with a grandmother in her 70’s who charged up and down the hills with the best of them. I was 64 at the time and, although I am not much into regular exercise (LOL), managed just fine.

The most “strenuous” days were at the beginning of the week. There was more free time as the week progressed and we became more oriented to the city. Yes, you can skip anything if you get fatigued (just be sure to inform the guide and your buddy), but you probably won’t want to miss anything!

I arrived the day before the tour and was glad to have some time to settle in. I also stayed an extra day at the end of the tour. I was especially glad to do this because, by the end of the week, I knew exactly what I wanted to do/see beyond the tour. Also I avoided having to leave really early in the morning right after our wonderful final evening together. Istanbul is an amazing city. I returned solo for a couple of days one year later (a layover on another trip) and saw even more. I hope to return someday again.

I did not get any special immunizations for this trip but, because of my work in a school system as well as several trips to China, I was pretty much immunized against most everything (Japanese encephalitis, anyone?) I always have an appointment with a good travel clinic here when traveling anywhere “exotic.” They are very up-to-date with useful information on recommended immunizations, medications, food or water issues and so on. I find they are much more knowledgeable than the average doctor. You might want to consider this.

I am so glad they have revived the Istanbul tour. Have a fabulous time!

Posted by
2411 posts

Thanks Renee. That type of information is exactly what I was hoping to receive.

Posted by
690 posts

Wray,
Since you mentioned possibly getting Hepatitis A vaccine...
I also suggest you consider getting the oral Typhoid vaccine. It is called Vivotif. It is available at local pharmacy with a prescription and a Single Care coupon fro $85.65.
My son and I are going on Turkey in 13 days tour and (after getting input from MD) have both decided to take the oral vaccine. It protects against Salmonella typhi which is water borne. It is on the CDC's list of recommendations.

I know that most forum members have not taken the vaccine and had little to no trouble, but it will give me peace of mind. Especially since I plan on enjoying the good food (including raw vegetables) that Turkey has to offer.

After I take my vaccine I will return to my original thread and give an update of any side affects etc.

Also, I know that you love Stockholm (as do I). It will be interesting to see if we have similar reactions to Istanbul.
Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
2411 posts

Thanks Vandrabrud,

I think I'm going to go to one of the travel doctors in the area and I'll see what he says about the Typhoid pills as well. Medicines/vaccinations usually make me ill to some degree, so I like to do much research before I move ahead. LOL

Yes, I love Sweden as well. I saw where Sweden is in your genes as well. I will be interested to hear how you like Istanbul. I'll see if I can find your original post. Have a great trip!

Posted by
13930 posts

I visited Istanbul on my own. Nothing was as strenuous as the RS Greece tour. There are a couple of hills but nothing to compare with the Acropolis.

The only health advice is to avoid tap water and raw street food (because it is likely to be washed in tap water - hotels and restaurants filter their water - so no carrot juice, but fresh squeezed orange juice and pomegranate juice (preferably strained for aesthetic reasons) should be fine.

Posted by
2411 posts

Excellent Chani! That comparison was perfect. He'd have no problem with the Acropolis.