Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

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.

The plan was to spend 3 days in Istanbul following a Ponant cruise in Greece. Midway through the cruise the anti Israel and antisemitism demonstrations in Europe caused us to reach out to Karen over our concerns for safety in Istanbul. She outlined what was happening in Turkey and emphasized that we would be okay and that it was business as usual. Our 3 days were memorable. Cenk is a phenomenal guide. He is charming, knowledgeable, fun and warm. We enjoyed learning about Turkish history and were surprised at how little we knew. The tourist sites were crowded but we were able to get in and out without waiting. The shops in the Grand Bazaar were fabulous and our cooking class was fun and yummy. One of the best organized cooking classes we have taken. We were worried about visiting Jewish sites but there was no issue. The Bank Hotel was an excellent choice. A lovely oasis in a bustling city of 20 million people. Once again another terrific travel specialist referral. This might be our 8th or 9th trip with your recommendations. Next trip to South Africa in the spring.

We recently returned from an incredible journey through Turkey this past September. The timing of our trip was perfect — the weather was gorgeous every day. What an amazing country it is! Karen planned a busy and exciting itinerary for us that began in Istanbul. There our well-educated and delightful guide, Cenk, led us on a walking tour of the most important and beautiful mosques (Hagia Sophia is spectacular!), Sultan Ahmed’s luxurious Palace (the Treasury and Armory containing many of the Sultan’s treasures, caftans, dining and smoking paraphernalia, etc. left me in awe), as well as the colorful Spice Market and Grand Bazaar. It was at the Grand Bazaar where Wendy and Karen surprised us with a very special WOW Moment. We were taken to the roof of the Grand Bazaar, escorted by security, and allowed to walk on a narrow catwalk on the rooftop of the Bazaar! The views were amazing as we personally lived a “James Bond” moment. Many thanks to Wendy and Karen! Cenk also escorted us on a very relaxing and beautiful boat ride on the Bosphorus where we saw the Istanbul skyline from a different perspective.

From Istanbul, we flew to Cappadocia to see the other worldly landscape of this ancient land. We debated whether or not to include this area in our travels. Karen encouraged us to see it and we are so happy she did! It is definitely not to be missed! Nowhere else can you see the unusual fairy chimneys, cave dwellings in the hundreds and carefully carved pigeon houses. The sunrise balloon ride was a highlight of the trip! Well worth the early morning wake-up call! We also visited a ceramics factory where my husband even learned how to throw a vase!

We then flew to Ismir, the business center of Turkey. There we drove to Ephesus to see the Virgin Mary and St. John’s home, St. John Basilica, and the Temple of Artemis. This was a very special day seeing both Pagan and Christian ruins, all still very well preserved. Our guide, Bilge, was extremely helpful, informative and enjoyable to be with.

Our tour of Turkey ended in Bodrum, which is incredibly beautiful and relaxing. We toured the Bodrum Castle, which has a storied past but served as a home for the Knights of St. John, among other things.

Karen did a wonderful job in creating a very special itinerary that catered to our interests. In addition, she chose a perfect variety of delicious restaurants, many with lovely views. This was an extremely memorable trip. We just wished we had planned several more days to continue further south along the coast to see the beautiful landscape there. A perfect reason to return someday!

The WOW List: Best Local Travel Fixers Worldwide

by Wendy Perrin | January 30, 2024

How to Get an Extraordinary Trip: Wendy’s WOW Approach

by Wendy Perrin | January 1, 2023

Wendy Wants To Amp Up Your Trip!

by | January 1, 2023

Where and When to Travel in 2024

by | January 31, 2024

How to Get More For Your Miles and Points in 2023

by | January 31, 2023

10 Top Dream Trips for 2023

by Brook Wilkinson | February 1, 2023

Our Latest Newsletters