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Category 6. Turkey/Greece Sept 05
Rick Steves' 2005 Tours
Your Name: Gary G. Schempp
Your City/State: Cape May Court House, NJ
Date Tour Began: Sep 12, 2005
Name of Tour: Best of Turkey in 13 Days
Name of Lead Guide or Bus Plus Escort: Tan Aran
Name of Assistant Guide: Drew Dickson
1. What were the most important factors in choosing this tour (length, season, price, destination, village aspect, friend's recommendation)?
.........Answer: I had visited much of Europe on my own happily and successfully using Rick Steves guidebooks but had not been to Turkey. The price was right and the itineraries looked interesting. Figured a tour there might be better than travel on my own and this would be a good oportunity to find out about a Rick Steves tour firsthand.
2. Do you have a favorite "wow!" moment or magic memory from your trip? Tell us about it.
.........Answer: I probably was amazed most by our 3 hour hike in Cappadocia. But our accommodations, the sites and the history lessons from our tour leader "Tan" were all excellent...
3. Are there any hotels, meals or other experiences that stand out in your mind as particularly good or bad? Why?
.........Answer: Of course the home hosted lunch was my favorite,,, you can always get "buffet" food... But these events are always special... Good idea to fit it in!!! Bad,,, no nothing bad,,, everyone but me seemed to get sick for a couple of days in the middle of the trip... Perhaps someone should take a closer look at the food sources during this time??? (It followed Cappadocia)
4. Could we have used your tour time more efficiently? If so, how?
.........Answer: In my opinion, all time was used efficiently,,, Tan and Drew did a superb job of educating us while we traveled via bus and during site visits...
5. Could our office have better oriented and prepared you for your tour? If so, how?
.........Answer: It would have been more efficient to have a completely prepared list of all tour members filled out before orientation. We had lots of blank spaces and name guessing for some days but that's not a big deal.
I would have liked to had some formal introduction bewteen all the tour members right from the beginning during the first orientation. Perhaps just a few minutes for parties to tell about themselves briefly.
Overall preparations were more than adequate.
6. If you were misled in any way in the advertisement of your tour, please explain.
.........Answer: No, not misled,,, perhaps understated '-) but thanks for asking!!!
7. Comments on the Tour Leader?
.........Answer: Tan was a true leader,,, under control at every turn. Knowledgable of history and current affairs in all aspects of tour related information,,, You could not tell that his native language was Turkish as he spoke English so well and very clear, which is important on a tour. Thanks to Tan for a very successfull journey thru Turkey...
8. Comments on the performance of your assistant guide?
.........Answer: Drew was great!!! Very knowledgable, knew several languages and history of the region, easy to get along with, and made the perfect assistant!!! Good luck to Drew,,,
9. Comments on the performance of your driver?
.........Answer: Our Driver (Mesut) was excellent) well, except for the one morning he overslept??? He was obviously a very professional driver, polite and helpful. I liked him.
10. Do you have any more comments about your tour?
.........Answer: I would highly recommend a Rick Steves tour if your destination is Europe. Excellent guidebooks, excellent staff, and excellent tours... I have found all aspects of the Rick Steves Travel Company very professional, enthusiastic, responsive, dedicated and committed to excellence in Travel.
Great tour experience,,, Gary G. Schempp
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PS... due to formatting problems in copying the evaluation form not all comment boxes were copied... and some information was revised here post submission. Gary
The Picture below is a link to our Turkey Tour Group!!! Post a comment!!! Cheers!!! Gary
[photo id=tfksbwwfkkksss link=custom href=http://public.fotki.com/GaryGS1/travel_albums/turkey_-_greece/turkey_sept_2005/our_group/
Home Sweet Home!!!
Hi All... Got home this weekend!!!
Geeeeeezzz,,, I'm bushed!!! I just read over so many great comments from everyone... Thankyou so much!!! I will respond to all soon...
Right now,,, gotta put my head down!!! I'm sure the thump, thump of the washing machine won't keep me up!!! Thank God I travel light,,, there isn't that much laundry to do '-)
All went great,,, and safely home... Good night!!! Sweet Dreams!!! Gary
Hello Anyone??? Things are cheap in Bulgaria!!!
A piece of pizza,,, .50
A beer .70
Complete fish dinner with beer, bread, vegatables 5.00
One night stay in hostel 12 bucks
One night stay in room with Granny about 13.00 USD,,, etc...
Icecream cone .50 USD
Gyro .75 USD etc...
Bottled water .35 USD
Take a leak in horrible publice WC... .30
I have not met a person who does not smoke. Everyone smokes and it's a smoky place... Way more than France or Italy... way more... This internet cafe is a haze of smoke!!! People are amazed that I do not smoke... People are amazed that I am in Bulgaria!!!
Most people don't seem to know or heard of Nj-USA... but then how many of us know the capitol of Bulgaria is "Sophia" or even know where Bulgaria is??? Lots of Americans probably think Bulgaria is something in your nose... So that's not so stange... It's all relative...
There is alot of open territory,,, Seems most people live in cities where the jobs are... and the traffic "wow"... glad I'm not the one driving... Lots of country side... Sophia was huge... sprawling... Plovdiv is pretty big place too, but all the things of interest are concentrated in the "Old City Center"... Great big wide and open pedestrian plazas... with momunents... Huge... and back streets like catacombs... Forget figuring out the steets,,, you sort of just gotta wander,,, but that works for me... Gotta be carefull not to trip on the very irregular cobblestones in bewilderment of sights...
I have everything that I need to live indefinately ??? with me in my backpack... I keep it simple... It's nice to have a place set up to sleep and a bus ticket to somewhere... But the best times are when I am sitting on a park bench in some strange land with the warm sunlight beaming on my face,,, with everything I need/own simply beside me... and no place special to be or nothing special to do... and have the mental freedom to just "Be"...
With having said that,,, Anyplace can be home... But home is where the heart is... Like Dorothy from OZ said... "There is no-place like Home" (3x'S) And she was right... Be home soon... Gary
The monasteries of Meteora were phenominal!!! I stayed in Kalambaka, Greece nearby for that one...
Toured several Monasteries there,,, truely amazing places,,, I met a swiss guy (Andy) and we hiked back trails over the mountains to get to some closed and rarely seen by tourist monasteries,,, thanks Andy for a great adventure... Wow,,, we figured we walked about 15 miles (was all day till 5 PM) Then night bus to Sophia, Bulgaria... Gary
Now I am in Sophia, Bulgaria. I took a bus from Kalambaka at 7 PM to get to the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki (Greece's second largest city),,, but missed the 11:00 PM Train connection to Bulgaria so at 11:30 PM I took a taxi to the Greek/Bulgarian border (80 euro / about 100 USD,,, ouch),,, at 1:30 AM I walked across the border showing my passport to border control (took a picture '-)) and flagged down a tour bus and caught a ride for 20 euro. (The driver had one seat open!!!) wow was I lucky... Got to Sophia at 5:30 AM and planned my work here at the bus station (6 to 9 AM) until the museums opened... Used the bus station WC (bathroom) to get cleaned up and refreshed the best I could... days of travel on the road without a place sure can make you feel icky!!!
Work!!! YES,,, reasearch,,, my grandmother was chambermaid to King Ferdindand who abdicated from Bulgaria in 1918... and I have letters and postcards from him as he maintained correspondance with my grandmother. He died in 1948.
Today I have an appointment with the administrator of the Nationl History Museum of Sophia, Bulgaria. So that's next,,, gotta go,,,
PS,,, I am using internet service from a fancy dancy hotel here in Sophia,,, they think I AM CHECKED IN... Actually I am at the dump down the street... But even dumps have showers (somewhat) '-)
Bye for now!!! Gary
Greetings from Delphi, Greece!!! A real nose-bleeder!!! WOW,,, my room is on an overhanging cliff,,, like way up on an eagles nest... all to myself, 15 euro for the night includes breakfast!!! (about 20USD) It's great traveling in shoulder season!!!
Perhaps one of the most important and awe-inspiring archeological sites in all of Greece are the ruins of Delphi,,, I will explore after this internet upadate...
Then on to lands of Monasteries and more heights... Meteora in central Greece... My first day of rain in three weeks since I started!!! Just bought a cheap umbrella,,, no stopping the "Schempster"... Yia sou... (see you or bye bye in Greece) Garyhttp://www.garygs1.com/whatsnew.html
Santorini was the best!!! Now I am in Athens... 1.5 days was enough here,,, big sprawing city,,, but I saw all the sites I was interested in,,, fortunately for the traveler,,, everything of importance is within walking distance and my hostel was right next to the Acropolis!!! Only 22 Euro per night (1 night) about 26 USD... 6 people to a dorm room and very clean... breakfast included,,,
Got great shots of the "Acropolis" and other sites here,,, but time to move on,,, Next stop,,, Delphi... See you threre!!! Gary
Just arrived... What a place... I'm speechless!!! Gary
It's Tuesday morning here in Santorini... coffee time over,,, laundry is dropped of... all my things (except for the shorts and T I am wearing) 7 Euro about 9 USD wash, dry and fold... I'll pick up later today...
I just bought a ticket for todays adventure... 20 Euro about 25 bucks... full day tour... First a donkey ride in 45 minutes down to the old port where you catch the boat that takes you to the volcano nearby. There we will hike around it and go to the hotsprings for awhile and soak... Then we are supposed to visit some other nearby sights ending with a sunset picture spot on the end of Santorini called Oia...
Today will be my day,,, I will not be the only jackass in town... '-) Gary
PS,,, Will be here for two days. Tomorrow night I take the night ferry to Athens... Leaves around 11 PM,,, and arrives in Athens at 7 AM... 28 euro,, about 35 bucks... geeze,,, I'll save on lodging!!!
Greetings from the Greek island of Mykonos!!! Samos was stunning!!! Was there for a day and a night same thing with Mykonos now... Ferry was 7 hours and I got here last night at 11:30... People at the port of entry with signs for rooms for rent... A German gal who married a Greek had a room for 20 Euro (about 25.00 USD) 1 minute driving from the Ferry terminal... the place was stunning... top of the hill,,, view of all of Mykonos... and breakfast for 5 Euro... (about 6.50 USD)
Took a night walk to town at 11:45 PM about an 1 hour) and the town was still hopping - places to eat all open and shops and dance clubs/ for those interested) ( I had fun taking pictures of the Island Mascot - A very friendly and huge PELICAN... Took a taxi back to my room at 1:30... Bed at 2 AM... Up at 7:20... OVERSLEPT ;-)
Now I am touring the Mykonos town of Spectacular White Washed buildings and getting lost on the cobble stone alleyways that form a Labrinth of a small nesteled city... WOW,,, so cool just to wander,,, love to wander... A picture everywhere!!!
Later I take a fast ferry (3 hours) to the Island of Santorini... Everyone says it's a must see... I might stay there some days and rent a Vespa (small motor) bike... They are cheap (10 Euro or about 12 USD for the day)
The picture on the front cover of the Lonely Planet Guide Bool cover is from there...
Well,,, The URGE to get out of this internet cafe (3 Euro or about 4USD per hour) is coming to life... So I getta get out of here and GET LOST SOMEWHERE AGAIN,,, LOVE THAT!!!
Yia sou... (goodbye in Greece) YIA SOUUUUUUUUUUUU!!! Gary
The Rick Steves tour of Western Turkey is now complete. It was GREAT!!! We had 13 days of fast-paced, action-packed, sight seeing and learning experience of Turkish Culture, History, Current Affairs and FUN!!! Thanks to our tour leader "Tan" (sounds like Taaan) and assistant "Drew"... and all the wonderfull characthers that I had the privlage to travel with... thanks guys... Everyone ageed,,, it was a huge success... U-r all the Best...www.RickSteves.com
tours = highly Recommended... Gary G. Schempp
Visiting and Exploring the Ancient City of "Ephesus" was just incredible. Our last city stop was "Kusadasi"...
I am still in Awe...
This morning, from a ferry to Samos, I waved goodbye to a new Friend... the Country of Turkey and all the people along the way that made it so memorable.
I sent my 68 postcards out all around the world... Mostly to friends and family that don't have a PC... 10 PM to 2 AM WOW... talk about writers cramp... and $40.00 US for stanmps,,, ouch/// Still... I got up at 6 AM to catch the bus at 8 AM for the ferry at 9AM to the Greek Island of Samos...
Bye Bye Turkey,,, Hello Greece... I will do some Greek Islands first then go on to Athens and work my way thru some Greek sites, before heading up to Macadonia... The finish in two weeks will be in Bulgaria.
Like the colors of a rainbow each one complimenting the other with faded edges that meld together,,, so we are... partners on an Island... We Call Earth... Gary G. Schempp
PS... We are all more alike than different............
Still on the www.RickSteves.com
tour till Saturday AM... Then I will take a ferry to the Greek Island of Samos on my way to Athens.
But as for now... today we toured the Hellanistic and Roman Necropolis near where we are staying tonight... Pamaukkale... It is truely an amazing place... no idea anything like this existed... It's a giant graveyard of Ancient ruins... thousands of them... everywhere... can't believe it... A a very well preserved Roman Theatre and Stadium... The area is know for it's natural hot water springs which have been bubbling up hot mineral water since way before the Romans got here over 2000 years ago. The aquaducts and baths they constructed boggles ones imagination...
Most towns seem to have internet access so Ý have been lucky... It is after midnight now so Ý gotta go... Take care... Next stop... Kusadasi and Ephesus... then Ý will be leaving the group and going solo... Bye for now Gary
Hello anyone checking in!!!
It is Tuesday and I am in Anatalya, Turkey which is on the Mediterranean Sea... It is a beautiful place with lots going on... It is like summer time here with lots of people and tourists walking around... Like a hot summer night... And the near full moon over the Sea is beautifull...
Most of the day we were on a sail boat riding around the on Meditteranean Sea and getting a suntan... WOW... was the sun intense!!!
The Archeological Museum of Anatalya that I explored later showed Anatolian history from pre-history to current... Followed by a Turkish Oil Massage for 11 Turkish Lire which is about 8 bucks... 20 minutes or so... but was enough...
It is now almost 11 PM and I didn't eat dinner yet!!! Think I will go out and get a KE-BOB...
Tomorrow we move on West working our way to Kusadasi
Hi All!!! The last couple of days in Cappadocýa have been amazýng... We visited cave dwellings, went on a 3 hour hike thru ancient výllages now devoid of inhabitants and took a tour of a very well preserved underground city!!! I didn't even know these existed.
We also visited a pottery factory and got a really good demonstration as well as stopping by an 800 year old castle like stone structure (small city) along what was the SPICE ROUTE or TRADE ROUTE from Asia to Europe. It was used as a trading place for camel caravans selling their goods and wares and needing a place to hole up for a couple of days to rest as well as trade... Really amazýng...
Today we drove to the old city of Konya, Turkey... It is said that the oldest city on Earth is not far from here.
The people are really friendly and it feels very safe. All the hoopla about travel in Turkey and safety,,, well... you gotta be here to appreciate the culture... one of the oldest in the world... After all it was the craddle of Christianity for 1000 years. Transferred from Rome around 320 AD by Emperor Constintine who made ýt the official religion until the Ottomans took over after the middle ages.
I got about a week left in Turkey and then Ý will travel up to Bulgaria, over to Macedonia and down to Greece...
Bye for now!!! Gary
WOW!!! We made it to Cappadocia which is a region to the left of the middle of Turkey... i wish there was time and internet access availability to post some of the great pictures that i am getting... took about a 1000 so far... will only post the good ones of course...
Today we toured the cliff and cave dwellings of Cappadocia as well as having the opportunity to visit a Turkish Carpet Factory and see and complete demonstration from raising the silk worms all the way to watching the girls weave all those fibers!!! WOW... No i did not buy a carpet... but, it is tempting...
Our home hosted lunch was really special!!! We had a fantastic meal and conversation about village life in Cappadocia with the people of the house...
Dinner at the hotel was amazing and then a few of us went to the local village bar where we had beer and red wine and the owner put potatoes right in the open pit fire we were sitting by and watching... man were they tasty... after you scraped off the soot!!! And no charge!!! What a great place...
Tomorrow will explore the underground civilizations of Cappadocia!!! Now it is dinner time... and i am hungry!!!
Bye for now!!! Gary
These past five days in Istanbul Turkey have been a fantastic experience / Of course I did all the tourist things like the Blue Mosque / the Hagia Sophia / The Topkapi Palace / the Grand Bazaar / the Egyptian Spice Market / the Galata Tower / and more but the best has been mingling with the locals making some friends and having great discussions about just about everything!!
Hanging out in a city for a number of days gave me the opportunity to catch all the various lighting of dawn to dusk/// Wow what a difference a few minutes makes in getting that great picture / and when all the tourists clear out at the end of the day it is a different world
I hooked up with the Rick Steves Tour group on Monday and have been getting aquainted with the group and doing some tours with them / But I really like my solo time / and at my own pace to take my time with photography and not be rushed / I get rushed enough at home!!
Today we head East!!! We take a ferry across the Bosphros River to ASIA and the rest of Turkey / We will take a night train to Ankara and then work our way to Cappadocia / I wil write when possible///
The older I get the more I realize how YOUTH is wasted on the young!! Gary G Schempp Cheers!!!
Well - I got up at 720 not 700!!! But I got in 4 hours sleep / well almost/// Today = Sunday was awesome = The included buffet breakfast had some really cool foods = honey still in the bees comb to sweeten coffee - ceral - and other things / really good feta cheese and tomatoes almost as good as Jersey ones / an interesting assortment of funny looking olives / really good breads and various toppings that I still don't know what they were / tasty though!!! I was hungry and ate to last the day!!!
In brief, I visited all the local tourist must sees,,, the Blue Mosque, The Hagia Sofia = was a church then mosque now since 1932 a museum, the Topkapi Palace = a huge palace complex / remember they had Sultans here/// and the local Bazaar/// not the Grand one yet/// That's tommorrow when the Rick Steves Tour begins///
WOW,,, I must of had 50 guys trying to sell me 500 dollar rugs/// kept telling them they had the wrong customer!!! They don't listen but follow you down the block!!! I must say, however that the Turkish haggelars are the most polite, courteous and even helpfull,,, haggelars that I have ever met!!! I actually made some friends among them and had Turkish Tea and good converstatiion,,,
Well, tonite I'm gonna get to bed before midnight so I gotta go get a beer or something, tomorrow is another big day!!! Oh,,, for dinner, I had a donner kebab I bought and a peach I took from the buffet breakfast earlier today,,, I'll have good Turkish meals on the tour which are paid for so don't worry!!! C-ya soon/// Gary
Greetings!!! It is after 2 AM on Saturday night and I had a very full first day!!! Just finished a great night walk of about 3 hours/// and got some amazing night shots!!!
Got into Istanbul about 3 PM - Phila - Paris - Istanbul
I usually make a reservation for the first night so I know that I am not stranded to begin with --- The hotel gave me a free ride from the airport - has free unlimited internet access and a big breakfast included in the morning - which is like in 4 hours - 7AM - I will be there!!!
After I took a great shower and organized my stuff - yes - still organizing--- I signed up for a Turkish Bath and Massage at one of the local Bath Houses - It was great===WOW first a steam then a scrub down - a soap down -followed by a really strong rub down = was intense and great!!! They even come to the hotel to pick you up and drop you off!!! Yes - I got pictures!!!
No dinner - no time - too much to see for now - wow they sure have alot of Mosques here - and major ones!!!
Well - I gotta get to bed = 245 now!!! 7 hours time difference from EST
Bye for now - Gary
This years end of summer European Adventure Travels will take me into the region of Turkey / Greece... The plan is to take my first <a href=www.RickSteves.com</a>
" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://tours.ricksteves.com/tours06/home.cfm//>www.RickSteves.com</a>
tour for 13 days thru Turkey and then travel solo thru Bulgaria, visit Macedonia on my way down to Greece for the remainder. This is sort of a continuation of my 5 week Eastern Europe Trip of last summer when I got as far a Romania. (Bulgaria is right under Romania) My backpack and I are ready to go...
I depart September 9th 2005 (A Friday) for about a month.
More detalils and entries later,,, Gary