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Turkey - through the back doors of Truckstops and Business Hotels...

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May 25th, 2013, 05:49 PM
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Turkey - through the back doors of Truckstops and Business Hotels...

I will do a full report of our trip to Turkey soon... the Rick Steves Tour portion was only the middle 13 days. Before I went on this tour (we don't usually do tours) i found it difficult to find information from previous travellers. i read a post here at this site-- but it was quite old and the tour no longer uses a train for the longest driving section of the trip. perhaps this is where the problem is-- i think that there was so much (very pleasant) driving on this tour that it forced them to use huge truck stops for lunch over and over and over again... and business hotels that lacked charm.

it did seem just a little bit lazy as we drove hundreds of kilometers to stop only at huge 'autogrill' type stops. i know it's turkey-- and that it would be difficult to find a charming little town that could accommodate 20 travellers-- but nowhere in the r.s. books have i ever read him wax poetic about wonderful bus stops and their cafeteria style food, to stop for lunch day after day.

ditto for the hotels. two were historic and charming. give me a basic, tiny room that's charming and historic or has a nice view any day --over a business hotel with a view of the construction site next door. a little sour grapes here-- others in the group did have a nice view at a couple of hotels-- but our tour leader did not believe in helping to assign rooms (to share the wealth) as i had heard was the case with their tours-- and we drew the short straw 100% of the time. again-- maybe tours are not for us-- i carefully and meticulously plan our hotels to be (r.s. approved) charming, well located and with nice views whenever possible. even the breakfasts at most of the hotels were a bit below average.

group dinners were all average or below. yikes-- others on the tour would be shocked to read this, as my husband and i smiled through it. no whiners-- that's a policy the tour was clear about-- and it made for a fantastic group of people. our last dinner, in kusadasi, offered the worst 'corn dog-ish' local dish which was greasy and filled with lamb-ish bad minced meat. please don't tell me it's a local specialty-- i'm sure it's amazing when it's good quality ingredients and done right. at another very business/convention type of hotel, we had a buffet for dinner. salad choices were great-- but the mains were beyond poor. when i asked another tour member , the most sweet and smiling one on our tour,( without a hint of sarcasm) what meat it was in one of the giant catering pans, she quietly replied "dog food?" i was so shocked! she seemed like such a sweet midwestern girl!! but she spoke my mind...

so that's what we disliked about the tour. lunch after lunch at truck stops. hotel choices that were just ok. (one hotel room had 3 twins... the one my hubbie first tucked into ended up being just a box spring with no mattress. no kidding, no exaggeration! he quickly moved to the 3rd bed. ) the few, celebratory dinners as a group were average-to-poor. (i will report on the delicious and inexpensive dinners we did find on our own in my whole trip report.)

what we loved? the tour guide (after a rough start) was charismatic and interesting. he had lots of patience and kept the narration at museums perfectly brief and to the point. the people on the trip were all very likeable-- i think that telling people that they must be willing to carry their luggage up 3 flights of stairs (which we never had to do) screens out the complainers and spoiled attitudes. the bus rides were very long and frequent-- but always went by very quickly. we had been a bit nervous about so much time on the bus, but our guide and very comfy seats with lots of extra seats available, really made it easy and fun. the itinerary was well planned-- with interesting stops along the way-- to make the long days go by pleasantly. also-- i will say that, while most hotels lacked the charm/view factor, they were all really well located in the old parts of the cities and where one felt comfortable taking a late evening stroll. the tour goes to wonderful, ancient and scenic spots and we could never have arranged to see so much in such a short amount of time.

would i take another rick steves tour? maybe. others in the group who had taken several/many etbd tours felt that the other tours had, indeed, offered generally much better food options and somewhat more charming accommodations. full report of our trip will follow-- went to two amazing (and quite different) thermal spas before and after the tour.
kawh is online now  
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May 25th, 2013, 09:29 PM
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Thanks for the initial review. We don't hear much about Rick Steves tours, so this will help others make decisions.
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May 26th, 2013, 05:01 PM
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yes-- hope it helps. i couldn't find much info either, other than on his own web site.
kawh is online now  
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May 26th, 2013, 08:41 PM
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I'm interested to hear more!
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Jun 7th, 2013, 04:14 AM
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Thanks for sharing. I doubt I'll do another Rick Steves tour. My sister and I went to Spain on a bed, bus, and breakfast tour that Rick used to offer. We liked it a lot. All logistics were taken care of and there was usually a short orientation tour at each stop, but you were on your own for much of the time. That appealed to us and we really enjoyed it.

The group size, however, was a bit large for our liking - about 26 people. Plus, they don't offer BBB tours anymore. I wouldn't like the hotels you describe at all.

I've since done a couple of tours with Intrepid and G Adventures and have enjoyed them more for the smaller group size. We did Turkey with Intrepid and there were just six of us. It was wonderful. Looking forward to reading the rest of your Turkey report.
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Jun 7th, 2013, 12:24 PM
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althorn... intrepid looks interesting, should we want to do a tour again one day. their web site seems pretty unclear about what's included?? what was it like?
kawh is online now  
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Jun 7th, 2013, 02:43 PM
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Not very many things are included in their basic tours - buses/trains, hotel, sometimes breakfast. A guide who gives basic info and orientations at each location. More is included in their comfort tours and the accommodations are a bit nicer. Plus there are local guides at each location. It's a fairly basic, no-frills company. We enjoyed them quite a bit. They limit tour size to about 14, I think, which is nice.
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Jan 9th, 2014, 07:20 PM
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Thanks KAWH, not what I expected from a Rick Steves tour. What you describe is not at all what they have made their reputation on. Hope they make improvements to the Turkey tour.
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May 16th, 2014, 10:25 PM
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agreed.
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