Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

After a rough start due to some miscommunications, Karen did a fantastic job setting up an excellent tour for us through Turkey, creating an itinerary that allowed me to enjoy several regions of Turkey in a short period while keeping my preferences in mind. She was responsive to safety concerns (mostly around earthquakes), had excellent guides, and set up a fantastic tour of Ephesus, which was my personal highlight. She was also able to make on-the-fly adjustments when I decided I wanted to stay an extra night at a charming inn. Would love to go back to visit the far south beaches/coast someday, and the megalithic sites.

On Tuesday, April 23 through Thursday, May 2, we made a trip to Turkey. We were coming off an outstanding ancestral trip to Hungary and Romania, so something totally different was in order.

I contacted Karen Fedorko and spoke directly with her. My initial conversation with Karen was terrific. She very gently advised me that we couldn’t do everything we wanted to do in five days. She was so right, so our trip expanded to ten days. What a wonderful tour Karen ultimately prepared for us.

Karen’s confidence and experience told me I need not worry about arrangements. Even though we went to three different cities, which required different guides and vehicles, everything was handled and went smoothly. The reserved accommodations were very good and the restaurant recommendations right on point.

Karen took care of it all and our little group of three simply sat back and enjoyed it. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Hakan Imrek, the assigned support individual for us. Wow! He was so good. The work they did on our behalf was spectacular!

Our arrival in Istanbul was perfect as not only was a driver there, but also someone to help with our luggage. What a relief as we were loaded! We were dropped off at our hotel to rest up and get ready for our cruise on the Bosphorus with “Ash,” our guide. A must! “Ash” was wonderful!

The next day we had a full day of sightseeing at the St. Sophia Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Basilica Cistern (amazing!), the Blue Mosque and the Hippodrome. Once finished, we went to the rooftop bar of our hotel to view the Bosphorus from afar and enjoy the view as well as some libations. Nice!

On the third day we were off to the Suleymaniye Mosque, the Spice Bazaar (a favorite), the Grand Bazaar (never guessed it was so large) and then walked up to the rooftop of the Bazaar and imagined us being James Bond as he rode his motorcycle on that very same location in the movie “Skyfall.” (We failed miserably but it was a fun experience!)

On our last day we continued touring and one of our goals, the Galata Tower, was closed. However, our guide had adjusted our schedule and worked on the days’ activities to incorporate other things we wanted to do, primarily shopping. We came back to our hotel with treasures, for sure.

On this last day we had the surprising opportunity to meet Karen and Hakan in person since their offices were in Istanbul. This was a great and unexpected treat and opportunity to see what a big organization it was. Impressive!

The highlight of this day was experiencing a Turkish bath. If you have never done it, you should absolutely do so as it is divine! Just research what to expect. (We did not, and after a few minutes of utter surprise, we relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed it.)

Then we went off to the airport to fly to Ephesus, another one of our requested locations. Here, once again, not only was our driver there but a young man to help us with our luggage. Visiting Ephesus, for us, was a very moving experience as we went to the house of the Virgin Mary and the ruins of the Basilica St. John. One of our favorites was visiting the ruins of the terrace houses. There you could see the framework of three-story houses with many details still showing: mosaics, wall scrollwork and some of the original paint. Of course, these were the remains of the Romans, but it was still amazing to view these.

After two days in Ephesus, we flew to Cappadocia. Once again, we were greeted by a new and delightful guide, Ramazan, and a wonderful driver. We were blown away by Cappadocia. The pictures do not do it justice! Ramazan patiently took us from site to site. We marveled at the spectacular and beautiful rock formations and the caves within them. It was magical.

We also visited one of the several underground cities in Cappadocia. To be able to actually see this city which contained a mill, a wine making area, a cellar and storage area and a place for animals was incredible. Even more astounding is how they figured out how to get water underground as well as ventilation! When they needed to escape to their underground cities, they had a very large round stone which they rolled to seal the entrance. Quite a feat.

Our only disappointment was not being able to go on the hot-air balloon ride over the area. Unfortunately, the weather was simply not conducive to flying the balloons, but Ramazan took us to as many high locations as possible where we could see practically the same thing as we would have seen from the balloon.

We had requested and received a wonderful hotel room in a local cave. But this was no ordinary rock cave. The inside had been restored to accommodate a huge bedroom, a large sitting area and a huge bathroom, complete with a jacuzzi! We certainly were not traditional cave men and women!

Our trip was over and after almost four weeks on the road, we were ready to get home. However, we will always have a warm spot in our hearts for Karen’s team, and Karen and Hakan in particular. They put together a dream vacation for us. Thank you!

Karen was helpful in creating an itinerary that allowed me to enjoy several regions of Turkey in a short period while keeping my preferences in mind. She was able to make on-the-fly adjustments when I decided I wanted to stay an extra night at a charming inn, and the tour she arranged of Ephesus was spectacular.

We loved our Turkey trip! We wanted a cultural experience, and we got it. With the help of Karen Fedorko Sefer, our Itinerary was created to give us, as first-time Turkey travelers, a two-week introduction. It was a busy but exciting schedule in late September 2023. We wouldn’t change a thing!

Our trip had us starting in Istanbul experiencing all the wonders of the city at the crossroad of the world. From there to Cappadocia, Izmir, Pamukkale, and finishing in Bodrum. Every area offered us a wonderful view of the history, culture, food, and especially the wonderful people of Turkey.

There were many highlights of our trip, and several stand out.

While in Istanbul we had a private tour of a carpet store where we were treated to a demonstration of traditional Turkish rugs being hand woven. Our last night in Istanbul was spent on the banks of the Bosphorus for a seafood dinner and then a private sunset cruise.

Cappadocia was a magical fairyland, and our Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride made it even more amazing. While there we had a private tour of a well-known family-owned pottery store where we had the opportunity to have a hands-on clay pot making experience.

Walking in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul on the streets of Ephesus and visiting the home of the Virgin Mary were incredibly special.

Pamukkale’s travertine thermal pools and terraces were like nothing we have ever seen. It is like polar ice caps in the middle of a rural agricultural area.

Bodrum Castle’s Museum of Underwater Archeology was fascinating, as one can see up close the many artifacts including ships hulls which have been recovered from the nearby seas.

Finally, we were most impressed with the four different guides we had. Hulya in Istanbul, Faruk in Cappadocia, Bilge in Izmir and Pamukkale, and Derya in Bodrum. They were all incredibly interesting and fun to be with. We learned that being a licensed Tour Guide in Turkey requires extensive training and it was apparent by each of their vast knowledge. They left us with a greater understand of their country and the pride they all had of being Turks.

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