First off, the half day trip really isn't a 'tour'. It's just transportation from Geneva to Chamonix on a mini-shuttle bus, drop off with tickets to Telepherique, and then return transport on the bus with everyone who took the full day tour that departed earlier. That said, a visit to the CHX and the top of Mt. Blanc is simply stunning and this is a simple way to do it. If you want a 'tour', take the earlier trip so you can have guided tour comments on the drive out. Don't forget your passport and Euros.
This full day outing takes you through some spectacular Swiss countryside. The guide, Maggie, was very friendly and fluent in 5 languages. Our weather was perfect and we did not want to leave the incredible view at "Le Deck", where we could have lingered until sunset. About 3 hrs of his trip is on a bus, which accounts for the full day, but well worth it.
We booked this two days ahead while already in Istanbul to fill up an otherwise open Monday. When we found out that Dolmabahce Palace was closed on Monday, we contacted Viator and were able to change it Sunday instead - Thanks. Note to Viator, don't sell this tour on Mon/Thur when the Palace is closed.
Here is your day:
Pickup in shuttle van in the morning. Taken to muster point where a number of tours then reassemble and depart on two decker tour buses (open upstairs).
First stop is the spice bazaar. You're given about 45mins to stroll around. Once you've been in the first shop or two, it's more of the same.
Next up is the 90 min Bosphorus cruise. Hopefully you'll have a fine day where you can enjoy the terrific sightseeing up one side and down the other. The boat was clean, open and offered great views.
After that, you're taken to a "leather demonstration". This is no more than a cheesy leather jacket fashion show, after which, you're hustled to their showroom where 50% discounts off inflated prices are offered. We chose to sit outside in the sun instead.
Conveniently, the lunch restaurant is next door. Lunch is simple and everyone else in the restaurant is doing exactly what you are - taking a break from their tour.
After lunch is the Palace. This is truly a highlight of the day (along with the cruise) as you gaze in awe at the amazing splendor that rivals anything in the world.
When you reassemble after some free time in the palace gardens, it's off to a trip over the Bosphorus Bridge, then on to a snack restaurant that overlooks back to the European side. There were no available tables or chairs for our tour, so everyone just milled around for 45 mins.
You are then dropped back at your hotel around 6p.
This is a good way to do both the cruise and the palace, along with some guided narration. The leather demonstration was meaningless and if you don't want to make the trip to the Asian side, you can always leave the tour after the palace.
This tour was everything we expected it to be, and more. Thanks to our helpful and knowledgeable guide Omer, we saw and learned about all the major historical sights. To be sure, it is a very full day so be prepared for a cultural inundation. Omer was able to get us at the front of some very long lines which made the process quite effortless. Having a private guide made us feel special, in particular among the hordes of people who would not have the benefit of immediate facts and knowledge provided by Omer. One thing to note is that it is not permitted for the guide to accompany you inside the various wings of Topkapi and provide any narration. This they must do before you enter so you get a preview of what to look for.
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