This tour was so fantastic! From meeting us in a huge gold mini van at the port where our cruise ended, to bringing us to our hotel afterwards, it was luxurious and showed great hospitality. Our guide had arranged for us in advance to visit inside two synagogues and with all the security it is clear we could not have done this on our own. She knew quite a lot about the history of Jews in the Ottoman Empire and had spent a few months on a kibbutz in Israel. She knew her stuff. We started with a visit to Galata tower, which was beyond what was advertised. That gave us a terrific orientation to Istanbul. We saw five synagogues all together in real working class neighborhoods, and we felt like the only tourists on the street. It was so special! We stopped for coffee in a neighborhood shop that had so much character. It was really a remarkable experience, worth very penny!
Very interesting and we enjoyed it a lot. It would have been even better if the guide was Jewish or knew more personally about the Jewish community, past and present, but he still did a very good job. It was great having an air conditioned car to take us around.
Very well organised and will recommend your company to anyone who is thinking of going on a guided tour
The guide and driver were first class. Lawrence kraft
Our guide was brilliant, and the driver was polite and efficient. We could not have asked for a better introduction to Istanbul's Jewish Quarter. We loved Istanbul and are hoping to return again soon.
We took this tour because we wanted to visit synagogues and we knew the security issues make it difficult to arrange. Apart from anything else the synagogues are not obvious even when you are standing in front of them. You need to take your passport to gain entry to the Sephardi synagogue.We saw two synagogues and the Jewish Museum; the large Sephardi synagogue (Etz hachaim) at Oberoy was particularly impressive and the museum was fascinating. Our guide (who was not Jewish) was most helpful; the minibus was comfortable and carefully driven. A very worthwhile morning and we would thoroughly recommend the tour.
Our guide was wonderful. He wqs very warm and inviting. It would have been better, however, if a representative from each of the synagogues we visited had been able to tell us something about the congregation and not merely ask for a donation. Speaking with a congregant would have greatly added to our understanding of the Istanbul Jewish community - their customs, issues, etc. This, however, was not the fault of our guide.
FIrst I want to give the highest praise for our delightful,knowledgeable helpful, sweet, chic,friendly tour guide, Mine pronounced Meenay (hope her name is correct) This is a must see for anyone interested in Jewish Heritage. Our tour was half a day and fine for us.we had read of one dissatisfied traveller's opinion and were concerned. We were so interested in the three Synagogues we saw. Each with a different story. at Neve Shalom the Rabbi himself met with us. The tour for two was so well organized with our guide and driver. I don't know how much you want to read but The tour as set is wonderful and then we were given options of certain sites to see. A tour is a must as it is difficult to get from one area to another unless someone really directs you and takes you. It was surprising to learn that the Neve Shalom Synagogue ( I am pretty sure that is the one) does not have dues but is supported by contributions. Mine told us a great deal of information about the Jewish Community (24,000 Jews) and 16 active Synagogues as well as about Istanbul itself especially since we had just arrived the day before. Be prepared to do some walking on cobblestone streets...some of the fun about this through streets with much to see en route.
THe security is very tight as we appreciated and as it is necessary so plan ahead to send your passport information at least a week or more ahead of your tour.
Marcia and Richard Schaefer Delmar (near Albany) New York
Tour interesting. Guide knew his history of Istanbul. Knew a lot about the synagogues etc, but was not Jewish so perhaps we missed some of what life inTurkey was like before and after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
Wonderful tour guide, would definitely recommend her to other tourists. We got done a bit early, so she took us around a small market and towards the water.
was in icu in American Hospital istanbul and had to miss everything
Nat K USA
Jewish history in Istanbul seems limited....the synagogues were important for us to see and the guide made them as interesting as possible.
The half day tour could have been completed in 2 hours. Two synagogues..... Synagogues actually charged us to go in rather than wait for tzeduka. I was very surprised. Perhaps the Jewish museum could have been added to the tour, or another synagogue?
if seeing some synagogues is the only way to go then this is the trip for you. Not exceptionally exciting but we enjoyed the tours of the 3 synagogues.
we did a Jewish heritage tour.
we visited a couple of synagogues and the Jewish Museum, which were interesting
we did not get many details about the history of the Jews in Istanbul or Turkey, how or where they live now, their contribution to the current community, how many Jews live in Istanbul.
thus I was very disappointed with the tour
The guide was a good guy, but has no idea about history of Jews in Istanbul. He didn't make any comments in place we have visited and just let us explore the place ourselves. Couple of synagogues were closed at the time of tour, as a result we were not able to visit it. Generally, I would describe the tour and organization of it as unacceptable. We could easily arrange the same excursion ourselves, and the result would be completely the same. Taking in account the cost of the tour, I had a full right of expecting way more interesting and professional trip.
This tour was very disappointing. The tour guide did not appear very knowledgeable about the Jewish community in Istanbul even though she had said she took a special course. She also mentioned she had only called the synagogues the day before to arrange our tour. It was a morning tour and it was supposed to include three synagogues. One of those mentioned is only open in the aft. which the local tour company should know and therefore not advertise it as part of a morning tour. We went back on our own in the afternoon to see it. One we couldn't see but she was unsure of the reason. That left one, the Jewish museum and the Jewish hospital where there isn't much to see or anyone to talk to. A member of the one synagogue told us about a special exhibition in a restored synagogue which was very pleasant. The local tour company was also bad about followup. Viator had to get them to answer emails I sent before I left and they said they would send a fax to my hotel with a pickup time which they didn't do. The hotel called for me. (Later they sent the fax). This was a very expensive tour that was not worth the price paid. I would definitely not recommend it to anyone.
Jill S USA
We felt that we were taken. The guide knew very little of what she was doing.