Istanbul Private Tour Operators
Need recommendations for private tour operators for Istanbul.
Kagan in Istanbul
Since we had been to Istanbul before and seen the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi emerald, we asked Kagan for something different and he did a wonderful job for us. However, I am sure he would also do a great job on the more "standard" attractions.
Check out our trip report and pictures at "Black Sea Cruise 2009" for Kagan's contact information.
Have a GREAT cruise!
Itsanbul Tour Service
Just recently returned from Med cruise with HAL.
We did five private tours in our 24 day cruise. Only one was a tour operator not reveiwed or recommended on Cruisemates message boards - that was this one.
We did Magnificents of Istanbul through Istanbul Tour Service (they also have another associated tour company). I haven't given them direct feedback yet but we were disappointed.
1. We were waiting for our guide at port- didn't see him - after a few minutes a guy showed up and seemed like he had a blank piece of paper held up - I thought that was starange - a closer inspection showed my name ( both first and surnames spelt wrong and written in yellow or light green pen - lucky to see it.
His name was 'Alp'.
Well - we went to Topkai Palace, Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosques and undergroun cisterns as well as a short look at Grand Bazaar - as it was a private tour we decided whatwe wanted to see.
All going well then we stopped at a little cafe for lunch - bought him his lunch - we had small serves, he had large. - no thank you or appreciation.
Call toPrayer occurred - he left us to go to prayer for 10-15mins.
As we had finished our sightseeing early, he said we could go for a drive around and view old fortresses - ok we said.
As we were travelling around in the mini-van - he was seated opposite us - he proceeded to fall asleep on a number of occasions with head drooping towards the seat - we were not impressed.
When we got dropped off at port the van couln't go all way to near ship so we got dropped off at a gate and walk about 400metres to ship.
What bugs me most is I gave him a tip- gullible me. I really am not sure of the etiquette re tips for guides - others we had I had no problem and no regrest on tips.
So the tour was ok but the guide poor.
If you use the tour company just be aware I had this problem:)
OTOH it seems he did not try to take you to a carpet shop. Now, we enjoy that but a whole lot of people object to it.;)
I do have to say that perhaps you are being a bit insensitive about his religious devotions. I really respect him for following his creed. Perhaps he should have been sure to have you at that time in some interesting place where you could look around on your own for a few minutes.
When we were in Egypt, it was Ramadan. Our guide took us around the pyramids and the temples in the hot sun all day and did not eat a bit or drink a drop of water. We felt that was admirable devotion.
We didn't object to the religous call - a thanks for lunch would have been nice but the sleeping on the job was a bit much.
He did take us to a carpet place - said he had to to save face.
We felt uncomfortable because we did not want to buy but did the viewing- it is just hard telling them we were not interested.
Telling the guide
Honestly I don't understand why some people hire a private guide and then don't like the places he takes them. He is YOUR guide taking you where YOU want to go.
Now it happens that we like carpet places and usually find them very interesting. However on our last time in Ephesus, we simply told our guide, "no carpets" and that was that. He offered instead to take us to a ceramic shop and we did take him up on that and it was indeed very interesting and we bought a few places. But we were very clear, and he perfectly understood, that we were going where WE wanted to go and that was his job. And for following our wishes he got a very nice tip at the end.
When I have hired someone and when I am paying the bill, I do not for a minute feel uncomfortable telling them where we want to go. And to go back to the original question, when we toured with Kagan in Istanbul, we designed the tour completely the way we wanted and he did an outstanding job of arranging just what we wanted to do ... with no carpet stop, incidentally.
I guess over many years of cruising and touring we have learned how we like things to work and have excellent success in finding guides.
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