TURKISH EXTRAVAGANZA – 9 Days of WOW! Part 2

Many thanks to our guest blogger Adrienne Lee! Adrienne and Robert Lee traveled on our travel agent fam trip February/March 2017. Click to read Part 1 of Adrienne’s post

Library of Celsus, Ephesus

Library of Celsus, Ephesus

HISTORICAL SITES

We expected to visit sites like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia and Grand Bazaar – and all were amazing. But they were only the beginning…Each of the historical sites/ruins revealed layer upon layer of civilizations past, complete with massive theaters, towering columns and even latrines. It really felt like we were walking back in history. Since none of them were very crowded we were treated to what felt like private tours. That was definitely the case at Alexandria Troas, where the site was opened up just for us; talk about VIP treatment! Robert and I had visited Ephesus in 2011 (with throngs of other tourists), so we knew what to expect. But on this visit we could see how much more of the ancient city had been excavated.

Many of the sites had added wooden walkways and they made it easier to get around – much easier than crossing uneven and sometimes rugged terrain.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

The customer service was top notch throughout the trip, beginning with the Turkish Airline flight attendants. The staff at each of the hotels went out of their way to make our stays enjoyable. Our luggage was even transported from the bus to our rooms at each one. The attentive service at each restaurant was quite notable. It was helpful that everyone we met spoke English, especially since we spoke very little Turkish. Merhaba, gunaydn and tesekur ederim were about the extent of our vocabulary – and I’m sure that our pronunciation was atrocious. But we never had a problem with communication.

YA’LLA TOURS

This trip was our introduction to the company and we were very impressed. Every detail of the trip had been planned and well thought out. The coordination was like clockwork.   We were never left waiting or wondering what to do – and there were lots of moving parts; buses, in-country flights, ferry rides, funicular, tractor-pulled trams….each one was on time. The trip kept building and each day was better than the last. Every day offered something that surpassed the day before…building up to the pièce de résistance – Dinner at the Ciragan Palace.

There were even several extra special treats like candy at the Marmara Hotel, the gift/wine basket at the Hilton, the yacht cruise on the Bosporus, the special gift on our last day.

The travel documents were detailed and even included historical information, packing tips and Turkish vocabulary.

The Saturday seminar was very informative. When we saw that there was going to be a mandatory daylong seminar, we expected it to be a typical seminar – long and boring. On the contrary, it was filled with many insights and valuable information. It also stimulated our thought processes with regard to marketing Turkey, Israel, Cuba and our own business.

Due to recent events, many people are apprehensive about visiting Turkey right now. Even our friends and associates questioned our decision to go. However, not once did we experience anything that made us feel unsafe or in danger. The presence of security personnel and metal detectors added a measure of security. We’re aware that many American travelers are fearful, and we are committed to dispelling those fears.

Turkey is a rich travel destination and we look forward to returning and sending clients to the region. We have seen quite a bit of the world and have taken many familiarization trips, but this was by far the best trip ever.

Adrienne and Robert Lee at Aphrodisias, March 2017

Adrienne and Robert Lee at Aphrodisias, March 2017

Foto Friday – Zoom 4

Chora Museum, Istanbul

Chora Museum, Istanbul

Cienfuegos, Cuba

Cienfuegos, Cuba

Athens Acropolis

Athens Acropolis

Fez, Morocco

Fez, Morocco

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem - photo by Noam Chen, courtsey of Israel Ministry of Tourism

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem – photo by Noam Chen, courtsey of Israel Ministry of Tourism

Knossos Palace, Crete

Knossos Palace, Crete

Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene, Jerusalem - photo by Noam Chen courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism

Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene, Jerusalem – photo by Noam Chen courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece

Spice Bazaar, Istanbul

Spice Bazaar, Istanbul

Foto Friday – Zoom 3

Church of All Nations, Jerusalem - photo by Noam Chen, courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism

Church of All Nations, Jerusalem – photo by Noam Chen, courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism

Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca

Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca

Chora Museum, Istanbul

Chora Museum, Istanbul

Cienfuegos, Cuba

Cienfuegos, Cuba

Bou Inania Madrasa, Fez

Bou Inania Madrasa, Fez

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Havana, Cuba

Havana, Cuba

Holy Sephulchre, Jerusalem - photo by Noam Chen courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism

Holy Sephulchre, Jerusalem – photo by Noam Chen courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism

Chora Museum, Istanbul

Chora Museum, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Knossos Palace, Crete

Knossos Palace, Crete

Foto Friday – Dome-a-lot

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Church of the Beatitudes, Israel

Church of the Beatitudes, Israel

Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), Istanbul, Turkey

Church of the Seven Apostles, Capernaum, Israel

Church of the Seven Apostles, Capernaum, Israel

Church of the Beatitudes, Israel

Church of the Beatitudes, Israel

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Israel

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Israel

Abuhav Synagogue, Safed, Israel, photo by Itamar Grinberg, courtesy of the Israel Ministry of Tourism

Abuhav Synagogue, Safed, Israel, photo by Itamar Grinberg, courtesy of the Israel Ministry of Tourism

Muscat, Oman

Muscat, Oman

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece

Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat, Oman

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat, Oman

10 Must-See Sites in Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

The Hagia Sophia is a 6th-century Christian basilica, converted to a mosque by the Ottomans, now a museum. If the word awesome still had meaning, I would use it to describe the Hagia Sophia, temple of Holy Wisdom. It set the standard for Byzantine architecture, though it was 1,000 years before another cathedral surpassed its size. From the outside, it’s a red-orange mountain that seems to anchor the city to the Bosphorus shore. It’s not particularly beautiful but the air of greatness can’t be missed. On the inside, it’s vast, immense, vast and vast and filled with the light of heaven. The massive dome practically floats above the wide-open enormity below. Interior surfaces are decorated with frescos, mosaics, calligraphy and marble.

 

Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), Istanbul

The Sultanahmet Mosque is just down the way from Hagia Sophia. Together they are like bookends to the Hippodrome (Roman entertainment center), sort of. The Sultanahmet Mosque is commonly called the Blue Mosque after the 20,000 hand-painted tiles on the interior walls. It pairs well with the Hagia Sophia, not only in proximity but also as a complementary experience. While Hagia Sophia draws the attention upward, the Blue Mosque induces inward reflection. Hagia Sophia makes me go Wow! Blue Mosque makes me go ahhh. One more… Hagia Sophia makes me feel small. Blue Mosque makes me feel peaceful. There’s a lot happening on the walls, with all the painted tiles, but the atmosphere is light and serene. Continue reading