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Paul B

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Paul B

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Sep302012

Tour/Activity

Kusadasi Shore Excursion: Ephesus Sightseeing Tour

Kusadasi, Turkey

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

We met our guide at the cruise terminal and again an easy access mini-bus vehicle, very clean and right on time. This time six people took the tour and we were to meet at 9:00 am and one couple's voucher indicated 10:00 am. They had the good sense to come early to the meeting point. One point of concern is to always confirm your voucher by email when booking tours. I can sometimes easily check email as opposed to calling in a foreign city.
Our guide was a very pleasant man called Murat but had an accent and you had to listen closely to understand. He and the driver worked well together to get us in and out of tight spots. He was very knowledgeable about all three of the sites we visited.
He began by asking to see a voucher to see what was included in this tour. The voucher does not indicate what is specifically included so in the future I will print out what is included in the tour. We began with our visit to Virgin Mary's House and at that time is wasn't overly crowded. On our way to Ephesus , at my husband's request, we stopped to take pictures of the area-beautiful countryside pictures. It was very crowded in Ephesus and Murat had to find small areas to talk to us.. I think we could have spent more time there as we just moved along with the crowd. In leaving Ephesus we were walking toward the exit and one couple was not with us. They stayed briefly to watch a short reenactment of Cleopatra enter Ephesus with her slaves. It might sound cheesy but our guide should be aware of these 'happenings' in case we want to view the reenactment. We then journeyed to Basilica of St John and Murat explained the importance of the site. We had lunch in a garden setting which was attached to the carpet school. The Turkish meal was very good although we had to pay for drinks-including bottled water. The carpet presentation was interesting because it is an educational training school for adults 18 years and older. There was no high pressure to purchase but seeing the complex designs of the carpets one realizes they are a work of art!
Friendly guide but would have liked more time and detail in Ephesus as the trip finished very early,. around 3 p.m. so it was not 8 hours as stated. Overall though, a worthwhile excursion.

Sep222012

Tour/Activity

Istanbul Shore Excursion: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour

Istanbul, Turkey

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

We met Omar at the cruise terminal and again an easy access mini-bus vehicle, very clean and right on time. This time 12 people from the ship joined in this adventure. Price was less than half that from ship based tours. Group was smaller and more personable. Omar and the driver worked well together in some really tight traffic situations. Omar was very professional, a wealth of knowledge and gave us a lot of information with good explanations and illustrations/examples. While we were driving to the first location he talked to us in the van and explained the agenda for the day. It was a crowded day but he managed to move us into specific areas to explain what we were seeing without all the noise of the other tours. He gave us ample time to view different things and indicated where and when to meet again. He was always visible to the group. Tour included a pleasant lunch at a harbor side cafe.
He made sure that the tour was structured around what everybody wanted to do and we decided as a group the time needed at the bazaar. Due to the fact that our group was so much smaller than any cruise excursion, we were able to get more information, insight and a more customized tour. Great value for money- We highly recommend this company, very professional and reliable.

Sep212012

Tour/Activity

Istanbul Shore Excursion: Istanbul by Night Turkish Dinner and Show

Istanbul, Turkey

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

This being our first Viator Tour we didn't know what to anticipate. We were on a HAL cruise and usually used the ships tours but in comparing the pricing for the same venue we decided to try Viator and we were glad we did. We were met at the pier by the driver and much to our delight three additional couples also booked this tour. Good driver, clean comfortable mini-bus type vehicle and right on time. We did get to see some of the city on our way to the show. We arrived at least 30 minutes before the other big group tours and were seated on the balcony overlooking the stage. Our delicious meal and drinks were served in the normal sequence in a relaxed time frame. The big tours were jammed into long tables on the main floor and we observed the meals being served out of sequence. Talked to passengers later who took the ship's tour and they were disappointed at their seating and not receiving the complete meal.
This was a great introduction to Turkish food and excellent entertainment - belly dancers, knife throwers, folk dancers (even some audience participation with the belly dancers if you are brave enough! ) It was concluded by an entertainer who sang songs from around the world, based on the nationalities in the audience. As we exited the building our driver was there to meet us and a short walk to the van and we returned to the ship. Excellent night, great ambience, hospitality, food and we do recommend this trip.

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