Rick Steve's Tours - the food

Jun 17th, 2009, 10:52 AM
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Rick Steve's Tours - the food

We usually travel independently - big fans of taking the train - but we are thinking about taking a (gasp!) tour to Turkey. I know that meals provided on tours are usually pretty bad but I am thinking on a Rick Steves tour there might be better / local restaurants and food. Anyone with experience with a Rick Steve's tour?
suec1 is offline  
Jun 17th, 2009, 11:11 AM
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I have to ask: Why you are considering a packaged tour now, when you usually travel indepentently (successfully, I assume)? Is there a mobility issue? Just intensly curious, that's all.
bardo1 is offline  
Jun 17th, 2009, 11:17 AM
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Primarily because it is Turkey - I am under the impression that the train system is not very well developed there and honestly, it is a little further outside my usual comfort zone than where we usually travel - Italy, Spain, France - where I have some language capabilty to speak and read the language(s). We pretty much want to see the major sights without having to negotiate all the transportation connections on our own. Also our usual travels are pretty slow paced - this will be just a hit the highlights and move on to the next town type of trip.
suec1 is offline  
Jun 17th, 2009, 11:19 AM
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I think that Rick Steves has a fairly poor reputation for choices in restaurants, even among his devotees, or at least that's the impression I've gotten from reading posts on travel boards. I've also seen his videos where he's having meals, and none of it looked very inspiring.

And yes, if you usually travel independently, why a tour for Turkey?
StCirq is online now  
Jun 17th, 2009, 11:31 AM
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I like Rick Steves but am not usually favorably impressed by his restaurant choices in his books. Sometimes they are fine though. Is there any way to find out where he goes - surely those are planned out ahead of time.
flygirl is online now  
Jun 17th, 2009, 11:47 AM
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Could it be that 1 - really good restaurants are pricey

2- don't give group discounts and/or free meals for leaders

3- do NOT want dozens of Americans descending on their establishments?
Palenque is offline  
Jun 17th, 2009, 11:48 AM
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I took the RS Turkey tour in 2007. The the restaurants for group meals were average, not horrid, but not stellar either. I always research the cities on the itinerary so I know what restaurants I want to go to on the evenings there is not a group meal. I'm a budding foodie and like to have good restauarant recommendations and options!

In Turkey (and the other RS tours I've been on) it usually worked out that when in the larger cities we were on our own for meals and then in the smaller locations where restaurant options were slim we had group dinners.

I've been on 5 RS tours and each guide is given leeway as to which restaurants are choosen for group meals, so not every RS tour group goes to the same restaurants. You could go on the same tour a month later with a different guide and go to different restaurants. Some of the restaurants the RS groups go to are in the RS guidebook, and some are not. And yes, most of the restaurants were in the center of town or city within walking distance to the hotel you'll be at, no bussing around to some out of town location.

I did do a trip report of my trip to Turkey, if you click on my screen name a list of my posts will come up and you can find it there, I'm sure I listed the restaurants when I remember to get the business card.
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Jun 17th, 2009, 11:49 AM
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Dozens of Americans? They kill each other for that!
Robespierre is offline  
Jun 17th, 2009, 12:06 PM
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If you go on the RS website and click on 'tours' you'll find
a link to trip reports. A lot of folks mention the meals so
you should get a pretty good overview.

We took his Sicily tour two years ago and found the group
meals varied - a few restos were very good the rest were
okay - certainly not haute cuisine but not slop either.
immimi is offline  
Jun 17th, 2009, 12:20 PM
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hey, I'd probably take a tour to Turkey, also, you are not alone in that. I think I'd prefer one there -- true of some of those type countries. I took a tour to Egypt once, and it was great. I really like tours in some of those places, at least good ones. Sometimes it is fun to meet other people, also.

I went to Turkey but only a day, so don't know about that. I have only gone on tours where you were more on your own a lot, for most meals, etc. I don't think Rick Steves tours have dozens of people on them, though, I thought that was supposed to be why they are charging so much!!!
Christina is online now  
Jun 17th, 2009, 02:32 PM
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It was quite awhile ago ('94)... and maybe things have changed. But we had absolutely no problems traveling on our own in Turkey (after years of France, Italy, etc.) We flew into Istanbul for a few days and then ( it was a cheap add-on) flew to Antalya. Rented a car there and drove up the coast to Bursa. Dropped the car and took the hydrofoil back to Istanbul for a few more days. It was one of our favorite trips.
Gwendolynn is offline  
Jun 17th, 2009, 03:23 PM
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If I could afford a Rick Steves tour I would go on one. Rick has mentioned many times in his tour books (or advice on tours) that you don't have to stick with the restaurants mentioned. Granted you've paid for them but going to a different restaurant you've read about and has been recommended is a small amount of money. Of course, if you're going to a restaurant along a drive you can't deviate.

Another tour company you can check out is Pacha Tours. I've traveled with them twice (10 yrs apart) and the guides are excellent. The tour food is fine, not grand. But, do you travel to eat??
nancy is offline  
Jun 18th, 2009, 08:32 AM
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If i were running tours with meals included i would certainly encourage folks that they can go to other restaurants and pay for themselves, obviously saving rick's company obviously a meal fee - perhaps why he mentions that so much??
Palenque is offline  
Jun 18th, 2009, 08:43 AM
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You can do it yourselves, don't be nervous. Even if you are a bit anxious, I'd rather feel that way than be trapped on a tour, that's for sure!

I spent 3 weeks in Turkey in 1992 and had absolutely no problems figuring it all out. You won't, either. Remember, they're ready for tourists and everyone will help you figure out directions, etc. Even if they don't speak English and you only know a few Turkish phrases, you can usually get your message across somehow, someway.

I used buses (except for an Istanbul > Izmir journey when I used the train and then a one-way flight from Antalya back to Istanbul at the end). I found them very comfortable and cheap, with the driver playing Turkish music over the radio and bowls of lemon-scented water and towels offered to freshen up every now and then.

I always felt very safe. The people were the friendliest, most welcoming folks I've ever met while traveling.

I can't wait to go back. You will love it. Just go for it, you can do it!
NanBug is offline  
Jun 18th, 2009, 08:45 AM
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Nancy - was that a rhetorical question? but food is a BIG part of why I travel and how I choose my destinations! If the food does not appeal to me, I won't be going there!

And thanks to all who responded, especially with the suggestion to check out the RS website for tour reviews and the referral to Pascha tours. I have been considering RS just because he has been such a good guide to me over the years (well by book that is!) and his groups are not too large. I know he is big on low-key travel but I have thought his tours were actually fairly high priced.
suec1 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2009, 08:48 AM
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Based on the meals he shows on his TV shows you're not signing on for gourmet cuisine.
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 18th, 2009, 08:49 AM
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We are independent travelers who are considering Turkey next year. The advice on these boards is consistent and excellent. It seems some combination of flying and car rental is the answer. I have never been on anything more than a day tour but I would rather be lead by a rug thief than Rick Steves.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2009, 09:49 AM
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Based on what I know about Mr. Steves, I doubt that the taste of the food means all that much to a guy like him when he gets the munchies.
Zeus is offline  
Jun 18th, 2009, 09:54 AM
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Based on the meals he shows on his TV shows you're not signing on for gourmet cuisine.>

Well it is Back Door Travel, right - why would anyone expect anything but down-home restaurants - what else would Back Door imply - ordinary places with ordinary local food, wine, etc.?
Palenque is offline  
Jun 18th, 2009, 10:33 AM
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Why are people so obsessed with food? Even base a trip around it. Travel, to me, is to see new things, meet people and enjoy the sights. I don't mean to eat junk, just normal fare will do just fine.
rogeruktm is offline  

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