The entire trip was extremely well organized from start to finish...I especially enjoyed the expertise and camaraderie we had with Faruk, our very knowledgeable Turkish guide. Not only was he a veritable font of historical detail and information at all the sites we visited but he also went out of his way to go the extra mile...we felt really well taken care of...He took us to a part of Istanbul off the tourist track where we ate in a local restaurant which was fascinating because we felt like we were in the real Istanbul, not another tourist around as far as we could see. We sat by a window and watched all the street activity while we enjoyed a typical Turkish meal. When I mentioned to Faruk that I had hoped to be able to buy a small rug but was intimidated by the whole process, he took me to a store where I ultimately bought a small rug. When it came time to leave for the Greek part of our trip and bid our Turkish guide goodbye, my son and I felt happy for the experiences he had ushered us through so capably but also sad because we felt we were saying goodbye to a good friend.
I'm glad we squeezed Greece in there at the end. It was short but very satisfying...one day and one night on Mykonos for the island experience and one day and the last two nights in Athens...the hotel on Mykonos was by far the coolest hotel we stayed at. I felt so special sipping my welcoming glass of wine on the lounge chair near the infinity pool which overlooked the Aegean. The manager couldn't have been warmer and more engaging. When we asked where we could get a bite to eat, he recommended a charming little restaurant on the beach right down the street from the hotel where I had tzatzikis (a yogurt and cucumber dip) with warm pitas, lightly deep-fried veggies and a Greek salad. The day in Athens was wonderful too. I would be remiss not to mention our charming drivers, both Theo and Hercules (where else can you find names like that?!)...and our able guide, Costas. Even though we only spent about four hrs. with him, he provided us with spectacular views and historical perspectives at each place we visited.
The exotic spice market and bazaar in Istanbul and the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace where we got an up close look at how the sultans lived...the cave churches and fairy chimneys in Cappadocia were fascinating as well. The ruins in Ephesus were equally impressive as well as the house of the Blessed Virgin Mary which was small but very spiritual.
Not much! It would have been great if we could have seen the whirling dervishes...I always wanted to...but not in a nightclub setting, more like in an authentic place, if such an experience exists...otherwise,I think we felt totally satisfied with our Turkish and Greek experiences.
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