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Trip Report Turkey Tour by Bus - October, 2013

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My wife, Joanne and I (from London, Ontario, Canada) went on our first "Bus Tour" and our first tour organized by Gate 1 Travel through a recommendation of a friend, Larry (from North Carolina) in late October, 2014. We were very impressed with both Turkey and Gate 1 Travel.

First of all, the Tour company and the Tour:

The tour was a very reasonable cost, even when not on one of Gate 1's regular tour sales. It consisted of the flights out of JFK, Transfers in Istanbul, 13 nights in Hotels, most Breakfasts and Dinners with 1 Lunch and a couple of site tours when they were on the Bus route of the day. Optional tours were handled much like an ocean cruise, where you could purchase (or not) as you like, with all but the Balloon ride tour being in the $60 range. We only purchased the Ephesus tour ahead of time, but ended up on all but 2 of the optional tours, and the additional cost was very reasonable, adding about 30% to the total cost, including the very expensive Balloon ride in Cappadocia.

The whole tour was extremely well run, with a wonderful Tour guide, Metin, and a great bus driver, Kadir. Metin was very experienced, knowledgeable and quite proud of his country, with excellent knowledge of the extensive and varied Turkish history and culture. He speaks 6 languages! His presentation manner was polite and complete, with a good sense of humour. His instructions were clear and direct and his control of the group was good, without being stifling. He also gave reasonable quiet time when there was no commentary.

The wireless earphone "Whisper" system used at many of the sites to provide Metin's commentary was effective and worked quite well. You could wander a reasonable distance away from the group on your own without losing the commentary, and Metin did not have to yell over the frequent din.

The daily activities started on time and the rest and meal stops were reasonable elapsed times and again the trip restarted on time. The Bus was very new, comfortable and immaculate. The Hotels were very nice and well located. Many of the meals were included, and even though they were almost all typical Hotel buffet style, the food was excellent and interesting.

Now the "Turkish Treasures":

We were somewhat surprised at how populated Turkey was (over twice the population of our country, Canada) and how prosperous it seems (the 14Th largest economy in the world, according to Metin!) While we were somewhat overloaded with "a bunch of old stones" in the many historical sites, that was to be expected in this type of tour. We spent 2 nights in Istanbul, 1 in Çanakkale, 2 in Izmir, 2 in Antalya, 2 in Nevsehir (in Cappadocia), 1 in Ankara and finally 1 again in Istanbul. We had tours of Istanbul, Troy in Ìntepe, Asclepion at Pergamum, the Pamukkale hot springs, Hieropolis, Ephesus, Perge in Antalya, the Mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk in Ankara and a Bosphorous cruise.

The weather in late October was wonderful - 65-75 degrees with mostly clear blue skies, but I think we were quite lucky in this respect. I would not want to do this tour much later in the year (we passed Snow fences along the highway on the way to Ankara!)

For me, the highlight of the Tour was the Balloon ride in Cappadocia. It was expensive, but was more than worth the cost. Two second place highlights were the Bosphorous Cruise and the Tour of Perge, near Antalya. Ephesus was the "mandatory" tour that no-one want to miss, but Perge was unexpected and very interesting. I highly recommend it, especially if you include the Museum in Antalya.

Here are two links to our Trip photos, first on DropBox:

http://tinyurl.com/JohnAndJoanneTurkey2013

or, on Flickr:

http://flic.kr/s/aHsjPPCDP8

That's it for now. I'll come back later to tell you some of the problems we had with our flight travel arrangements (no fault of Gate 1!)

John

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