Rick Steve's Tours - the food

Jun 18th, 2009, 10:43 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.

It is part of the cultural experience. Im many countries it is also indicative of the social customs.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2009, 11:10 AM
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Funny, Zeus!
NanBug is offline  
Jun 18th, 2009, 02:40 PM
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re: food. While it is certainly not the main reason I travel, at this point in my life and in my travel choices, it is definitely near the top of the list. I agree with Aduchamp on this one - for me food is part of the cultural experience, a key into the people, a little sensory insight into other people's concepts of time, etc.

Some of my sharpest travel memories feature food: amazingly good or scarily strange meals; shopping in markets for food and then cooking it with friends; sharing food on trains with strangers; the gift of an invitation to someone's home for dinner.

I have not yet been to Turkey, but besides the sights, people, antiquities, and history, the fabulous food is one of the things I want to experience there!

Now I'm starving, darn it.
annabelle2 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2009, 05:25 PM
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Some people care about food. some people have more expeienced palates. Some people just use food for stoking up and being filling is most important.

We enjoy good food. Not just gourmet meals. I enjoy a perfect croissant and great coffee at breakfast. But I don;t want a stale one with poor quality jam and coffee like ditchwater.

It's perfectly possible to eat in lots of regular places in europe and get very good food. We do it on every trip. But to me, walking through a market ripping chunks of bread off a loaf and gnawing on a piece of cheese is NOT lunch. I am not MIckey Mouse. Lunch involves sitting down and ordering a meal - however simple - with a decent glass of wine (or beer) and chatting and taking an hour to enjoy it.
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 10:34 AM
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Just returned from Turkey, and I also agree that you shouldn't have problems travelling on your own. Airfare can sometimes be inexpensive also to travel between cities if you prefer not to drive. Drove the whole length of Turkey 40 years ago, now that was a different story!
Intex is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 10:50 AM
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Food is an extremely important part of travel for me. And no, not gourmet starred restaurants or even expensive food. It's all the about the cultural traditions, of which food is a HUGE component. I happen to love to cook, and no matter where I travel I want to find out what the locals eat, how they prepare it, what traditions it holds for them, how a recipe evolved, what variations on it there are, etc. I spend a good deal of my time on most trips visiting markets and local producers, scouring local food stores for unusual or traditional products, trying new things. Most of the time, if I bring back souvenirs, it's foodstuffs. When I'm back home I play around with them until my next trip.

If food isn't important to you, that's just fine. It's VERY important to me, and that's just fine too.
StCirq is online now  
Jun 19th, 2009, 11:21 AM
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I think we need to re-start this thread with the heading "do you travel to eat or eat to travel". Obviously we have a variety of opinions, for me, the food IS a major travel delight. Doesn't have to be gourmet - in fact the only Michelein starred restaurant I ever investigated turned out to be quite a chuckle. We went to the resturant early in the day to try to see a menu - the resturant was not open yet so we pressed up against the window to look inside. What did we see? a little dog up on top of a table, snarfing up the crumbs from the night before. He may have had a more discerning palate than I do - we chose to go elsewhere for dinner. But even tho many have encouraged "Turkey on your own"
I am still considering the tour - just hoping it includes some good ethnic food - doesn't have to be fine dining.
suec1 is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 12:12 PM
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I've been on 3 RS tours including one with that the man and his family joined us for. What makes the tours for me is the quality of the guide and the conviviality of the members. I love good food and the quality of the food on the tours is often about the guide and how he or she picks restaurants. But as others have said don't expect an evening at Guy Savoy. I will say that the quality of food when Mr. Steves was on our tour was better than the other two but whether or not that was due to his presence or not I can't say, thought I suspect it helped. And I have had amazing meals, usually in small family owned restaurants on the tours.
chevre is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 12:40 PM
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I understand your desire to take a tour in Turkey. We have traveled independently throughout Europe, but I didn't feel like trying it in Turkey. We tood a Gate One tour and certainly had much Turkish food -- many hotels where we stayed had large buffets with many (too many actually) interesting dishes. I know that doesn't answer the question about RS Tours, but I think it is likely in Turkey you will get alot of very Turkish food. We enjoyed it very much. I didn't realize eggplant could be that good!
Kristinelaine is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 12:41 PM
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PS -- I think also that food is an important part of travel for me.
Kristinelaine is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 12:55 PM
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I am a big fan of RS and his shows and guide. And would have to say I travel in about the same way he does. I have never been on one of his tours though.

If you are traveling to Turkey and are already comfortable traveling in Europe, Turkey is a very easy place to be a tourist, no harder than most European countries. People are very hospitable and make you right at ease and it is a fascinating and delightful country.

For one week we used flights and rental car and had a great time on our own in Istanbul and the coast. For the other week we had a sailing trip with www.seascape-sail.com which I would highly recommend as a great way to see parts of coastal Turkey that are not that easy to see by road and enjoy some great sailing and company. It's not the traditional gulet trip you might read about but a regular Mediterranean 55 foot sailboat. You can get a whole boat with friends or just two people in a cabin to be with others in other cabins(which is what we did). One of our best adventures ever.

But, if you think a tour might be for you, consider www.imaginative-traveller.com. We used them for a Japan trip and really liked their philosophy and arrangements. Groups are small. Hotels and restaurants are local. You have a lot of independence but also the benefit of a leader to get you from point to point and the camraderie of the group also.

(We are a couple of about 40 and both the sail trip and the Japan trip were a mixed age group, some older some younger.)

Have fun planning your trip!
laurie_ann is offline  
Jun 20th, 2009, 04:48 PM
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I am curious. Why have you chosen a Rick Steve's tour over say, a Trafalgar tour? Are they smaller? Are the people younger, more active? Thanks.

sjde53 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 08:43 AM
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Well at this point I have not booked anything but I am considering RS because I have used his books and watched his shows for years - he has contributed greatly to my travel skills and enjoyment so if I decide to do a tour - I am inclined to patronize his IF nothing else stands out as alot better. I do think his tours are smaller than normal and he uses smaller hotels and maybe more local resturants than the big tours. I am asking about the food because we have taken a few tours with GoAhead and the food was really lousy - they tend to serve food they think americans like and not the local cuisine. I was hoping for better from RS. But I have gotten a couple ideas from this board that I may check out before booking anything.
suec1 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 08:54 AM
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Just to clarify. I do like good food, I just don't plan a trip around it or even think about it much until it is time to eat. I like good pub grub. Baked chicken with veggies, fish and salad and other basic food. Rarely do deserts, sandwich from a museum cafe and a beer is just find for lunch.

I don't snack, 6' tall and 155 pounds and proud of it.
rogeruktm is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 09:03 AM
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We took a RS tour a couple of years ago -- food was OK, hotels were very good, guide was great, tour companions were excellent. You are given a lot of free time on the tours, which we appreciated, and it's great to have a 52 seat bus with only 26 people on it...really a lot of room to stretch out and relax. Our bus driver made sure that his cooler was always stocked with sodas, bottled water and Stella Artois, (all at 1 euro each on the honor system!) so that was good too.
azzure is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 09:38 AM
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I am not a Rick Steves fan BUT i do think as group tours go his are probably amongst the best in terms of being more client-oriented - thus the 1 euro Stellas on the bus instead of the tour bus stopping at some cafe where the tour company gets a cut of the profits and tourist trinkets sold

now i do not know if Rick's tours do that time-honored way of making more money as many mega tour groups do but i'd think not

For a tour i think you could do a lot worse than Rick Steves tours.
Palenque is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 09:47 AM
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Why don't you find out the names of the restaurants included on the tour and ask people to give opinions of them?

I do agree that Turkey is very easy to navigate independently. But if you want to take a tour, I think the issue might be that pre-paid, pre-ordered meals are just probably not going to be as good as meals that you seek out yourselves after doing some basic research. It might not even be the particular restaurant, it might be that the meal has been pre-arranged to suit the conception of what tourists want to eat.

Over the years I have shared restaurants with people on tour groups. The dishes on the group tour tables are often very different than the dishes on the tables of those who are traveling, and visiting the restaurant, independently.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2009, 08:16 PM
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Turkey has fabulous and varied food-- multiple regional cuisines, and Turks take real pride in sharing their culinary heritage with visitors.

Asia Minor Tours tours www.AsiaMinorTours.com is one boutique company that really makes an effort to introduce tour members to a wide sampling of Turkish cuisine.

AMT Tours(which emphasize archeology & culture) are very good value, for not only do they include many meals, but even if a meal is NOT included, staff make a point of giving tour members guidance and opportunities to try out-of-the-way restaurants. Their tours also include many ad hoc visits to artisanal food shops, markets, and agricultural activities.

Armies (and tourists)march on their stomachs!

Holly (at) HollyChase (dot) com
HollyChase is offline  
Jun 30th, 2009, 03:18 AM
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We just came home (last night -- I'm still not back on US time) from 3 weeks travelling on our own in Sicily, then a 13-day Rick Steves tour in Turkey, then another week on our own. We did a tour in Turkey for pretty much the same reasons you are considering it -- no Turkish language skills, less familiarity with the culture, and so on. For us, this was a great decision. I wouldn't use a tour in Italy France Spain or England, but in Turkey, we saw more in 2 weeks that I would have been able to figure out how to see in two or three times that amount of time. And I found that the Rick Steves tour members were more culturally sensitive and less American-centric that I had feared tour members would be. More, I guess, like me.

I thought the food on the tour was great -- not gourmet, and not fussy. Very typical of what Turkish people eat. I was always taking notes. And having the guide with us meant that she could tell us how ELSE something might be prepared, or could get the recipes, or could suggest specialties of the area or even the restaurant. We stopped at some truck stops, for example, and generally found that her recommendations were spot on. In rural areas, our meals were generally included -- generally peasant food that was well prepared. In urban areas, our guide would give recommendations (and would also say "that restaurant is ok, but don't order the fish there" or "if you want gozleme, try this place" or whatever).

Take a look at the Rick Steves website -- he includes the tour members evaluations (mine won't be on there yet since I just got back and haven't done it.) http://tours.ricksteves.com/evaluation/publicevals/

Have fun!
ocohen is offline  
Jul 8th, 2009, 01:43 AM
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One can travel with organized tours or on own independently, however independently does not have to mean you do everything on own, using Turkish agencies would help a lot as for itinerary planning, bookings including domestic flights which would be cheaper than you do it from home, and combination tours and self drive would be great combination of independent travel. You choose the restaurants and maybe get a bit of advice that's all. Package tours has cost conciousness and naturally they would choose the best deals for them and if it was not a gourmet trip they would offer standard food, nothing bad about it as Turkish food generally speaking something to complement for....Again before deciding on a package asking spesific questions always helpful, if independent ask locals after you observe what their tastes might be ! as it will be different for different individuals.

Happy travelling,

propertravel is offline  

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