Boomeresque:Definition
1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

G Adventures – Best of Turkey Trip Report

by Suzanne Fluhr on April 23, 2015 · 32 comments

Ayasuluk Fortress at Selcuk, Turkey

When Mr. Excitement was invited to speak to his physician/scientist peeps in Israel, I looked at the map and realized this was our chance to travel in Turkey which had been on my list of places to visit ever since it was highly recommended by our travel blogger son, Mr. The World or Bust.

We could only spend a week traveling in Turkey, so I decided a tour was the way to go to make the best use of our limited time. I had heard of G Adventures, but initially I wasn’t sure if their tours were Baby Boomer friendly. After some research, I chose G Adventures, 8 day, The Best of Turkey tour.

I always thought G Adventures was a tour company aimed at younger travelers. Indeed, some of their trips are quite strenuous and more adventuresome than I’m looking for. I think my bungee jumping days are probably over ;-). However, they rate the physical requirements of each trip and “comfort” level trips are suitable for travelers of all ages who do not have mobility problems on uneven surfaces, who can handle their own luggage and who can at least sustain up hill walks of 20 minutes or so.

Ferry from Canakkale to Ayvalik, Turkey

On the ferry to Canakkale.

I was attracted by the reasonable price of our tour, the itinerary and the travel philosophy.  I realize that “reasonable price” is a relative term. You will have to look at the G Adventures website to check prices for any tours that might interest you. The prepaid price for our tour included all transportation in Turkey (including an internal plane flight and a ferry ride), all hotel nights, most site admissions and guided tours. It did not inlcude meals other than breakfast. G Adventures does not impose a single supplement unless you request a private room. They will assign you a same sex roommate unless there is an odd number of singles. G Adventures requires proof of medical insurance and a visa was required for us to enter Turkey which we were able to obtain on-line. If you’re so lucky as to be old enough to be a member of AARP 😉 G Adventures offers AARP member discounts.

G Adventures Tour Guide at Hierapolis, Turkey

Our G Adventures CEO, introducing us to the Roman ruins at Hierapolis.

G Adventures tours are led by a Chief Experience Officer (CEO). Our CEO, Gonça, was a competent, pleasant young Turkish university graduate with a good command of English who was eager to share her country with us, including answering questions about some of the current political and religious issues. She remained good natured and enthusiastic even when she developed a pretty miserable sinus infection. She had to take part of one day off to recover, but found us an excellent local guide to cover that day’s tour of Ephesus. Gonça is a licensed tour guide, having completed a rigorous study and certification process required by the Turkish government.

G Adventures tour mini-bus

At the ancient site of Troy, this was our mini-bus parked between the behemoth tour buses.

G Adventures specializes in small group tours. Our group consisted of 15 people, ranging in age from 24 to 60-somethings and everything in between. Six of us were Baby Boomers. In our group, there were 4 couples and 8 singles. We came from 6 different countries: the U.S., Canada, the UK, Bahrain, Portugal and Switzerland. When traveling with a group, the members of the group can make or break the experience. No one in our group was a “problem” and we all bonded nicely across age differences and nationalities.

At each location, Gonça, recommended several places to eat. We mostly chose to have dinner (and often, lunch) with her and the group; however, we were free to do our own thing if we preferred. One evening when dinner was postponed because some in our group were enjoying a Turkish bath and massage, Mr. Excitement, I and another group member used TripAdvisor to find a small, nearby restaurant with good reviews. (Personally, I’d rather have root canal than a Turkish bath and massage, but those who went gave the experience high marks). Gonça also arranged dinner at a private home in a farming area one night which was one of the highlights of the tour.

Although our itinerary stated that we would travel by public bus on some days, in fact, we used the same mini-bus and driver for the entire trip. Our bus driver, Genghis, was a cheerful sort and a nice addition to the group. Every seat on our mini-bus was occupied. It felt a little cramped on some of the longer travel days, but it was certainly tolerable. There were sufficient stops to prevent deep vein thrombosis or uncomfortable bladders.

We arrived in Istanbul a day early and booked a room at the same hotel being used by the tour, the Centrum Hotel in the atmospheric Old City neighborhood of Sultanahmet. (I obtained a better rate for our extra night than had we booked the same hotel through G Adventures). The Centrum was within walking distance of the major sites like the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace and the Archeology Museum, all of which we visited on our own. (Istanbul blog post coming soon).

Ayasuluk Fortress at Selcuk, Turkey

The Ayasuluk Castle-Fortress being restored in Selcuk is mostly of 14th century Ottoman origin, but there are also Byzantine ruins there, including those thought to be the remains of a 6th century basilica dedicated to John the Baptist. Archaeologists have found evidence of even earlier civilizations, also attracted by the strategic high ground.

 

The quite amazing ruins of Ephesus.

We were all quite agog at the  extensive ruins at Ephesus, I felt I could imagine life there when it was a bustling Greco-Roman city.

A closer view of the restored facade of the Ephesus library.

A closer view of the restored facade of the Ephesus library. We were told that by doing our tour in mid-March, we enjoyed some blossoming wild flowers and we avoided the crowds and unpleasant heat of the summer.

We stayed at a different hotel every night except for two nights in the town of Selçuk, our base for touring the quite amazing ancient Greco-Roman city of Ephesus. The hotels were basic, clean 2 or 3 star hotels with en suite bathrooms, except for one night spent in a 200 year old Ottoman house converted to a hostel/inn in the old town of Ayvalik . We had our own room, but a shared bathroom. I decided several years ago that I’m fine with basic, clean accommodations as long as we have our own room and bathroom. We survived sharing a bathroom for one night and the earth did not stop spinning on its axis. Our penultimate night in Pamukkale was in a 4 star hotel. All the places we stayed had free wifi, varying in quality from quite good to maddening.

As a recovering lawyer transitioning to travel blogger, I am perhaps a tad over fond of words, but on this occasion, I am persuaded that pictures are worth thousands of them.

Our first stop was the Gallipoli Peninsula, the site of bloody battles between the Turks and the Allied Powers for most of 1915.

Lone Pine Cemetery , Gallipoli, Turkey, Canakkale

ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand) graves at the site of the battle of Lone Pine on a ridge that saw very bloody trench warfare during the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915. The Turks respect these fallen ANZAC soldiers and there is a ceremony conducted for Australians and New Zealanders on ANZAC Day, April 25th at ANZAC Cove. Although Turkey was on the losing side in World War I, their successful defense of the Gallipoli peninsula is a matter of great national pride.

Weaving Cooperative in Turkey.

We were shown beautiful rugs at the weaving cooperative, but there was no hard sell.

Street leading to the Taksiyarhis Pansiyon in Ayvalik, Turkey

The pedestrian only “street” leading to our Ayvalik pension and one of the reasons decent mobility is required for participants on this tour.

After a night in Çanakkale, we visited a weaving cooperative and the 9 layers of ruins of the ancient city of Troy on our way to the town of Ayvalik on the Aegean Sea.

Ayvalik, Turkey on the Aegean Sea

View from the back porch of our 200 year old pension (hostel) in Ayvalik, Turkey looking over the rooftops to the Aegean Sea.

After our two nights in Selçuk, we spent the penultimate night of our tour before flying back to Istanbul in Pamukkale, the town adjacent to the UNESCO World Heritage Site containing the ruins of Greco-Roman-Byzantine Hierapolos and striking white travertine calcium carbonate terraces. Swimming in hot springs is also possible at the site.

At Pamukkale, Gonça took us to see a ceremony by followers of Sufi Islamic mysticism, commonly referred to in English as “whirling dervishes”. She arranged for just our group to stay after the ceremony to be able to ask questions of the leader/teacher.

Sufi Whirling dervishes at Pamukkale, Turkey

Yes, the photo is out of focus because the dervishes were whirling. No photography was allowed during the actual meditation session when the lights were dimmed.

Travertine terraces at Pamukkale

Travertine terraces adjacent to the ruins of Hierapolos.

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Based on a few comments on this post, I think I need to add that I am not in this photo and that is not Mr. Excitement’s hand on her belly—which perhaps raises the question, “Where the ^%#$@ is Mr. E’s hand?!?”

As a contrast to the stoicism of the whirling dervishes, after dinner that evening, we were entertained by a belly dancer. Since Mr. Excitement doesn’t have a blog, I get to include this photo while concealing the video of me being forced to show off my belly dance moves.

I am not a brand ambassador for G Adventures and we paid for our own tour. I wish we had had the time to do the G Adventures 15 day tour of Turkey which also includes the beautiful and fascinating Cappadocia region.

Have you been to Turkey? If so, what were your impressions? If not, do you think you would be interested in traveling there?

 

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Roz Warren April 23, 2015 at 10:12 am

LOVE that big smile on Mr. Excitement’s face in the Belly Dancer photo. I’ll probably never get to Turkey but I always enjoy Arm Chair traveling via your Blog.

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avatar Cari Sultanik April 23, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Wow, amazing photos and those ruins!!! I never had Turkey on my bucket list, but I do now. And I love how you refer to yourself as a “recovering lawyer.” Loved reading about your adventures!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 23, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Cari, maybe I should now add “Certified Zentangle Teacher” to my list of attributes along with “recovering lawyer”. 🙂

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avatar Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru April 23, 2015 at 4:02 pm

This sounds like a wonderful tour. I wouldn’t hesitate to book a smallish comprehensive tour in order to cover a lot of ground in-depth in a destination I’d consider to be a challenge. I know people love Turkey, and I would love to be able to give it another chance after a not-so-nice experience in the Istanbul airport. Great write-up!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 23, 2015 at 4:30 pm

I know of some others who have also had a bad time in the Istanbul airport. Fortunately, all 3 of our trips through it went smoothly—but airports are always a crap shoot.

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avatar Shelley April 23, 2015 at 6:22 pm

We loved Turkey and would go back in a heartbeat. Outside of Istanbul, we really only saw Ephesus, which was awesome, but I would like to see Pamukkale and Cappadocia next time around. G adventures sounds like a good option for a tour like this compared with the megabus tours. On a side note, it was interesting to learn your son is a travel blogger too!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 24, 2015 at 12:05 am

He was actually a travel blogger before I was, so in our case, it was that the tree didn’t fall far from the apple.

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avatar Billie April 23, 2015 at 6:25 pm

As you know, we honeymooned there (before JFK, Jr. made it chic to do so!). We were fortunate to have a private tour guide in our personal friend, Yakup. He took us to towns along the west coast where he had friends or relatives and knew the best restaurants and dishes to order. We hit many of the same spots which you’ve brilliantly described and photographed, with the addition of Izmir and Bursa and a ferry boat ride to the Greek isle of Samos, off the coast of Ephesus. For less adventurous travelers, several days in Istanbul, alone, would be worth the trip.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 24, 2015 at 12:08 am

Your honeymoon in Turkey sounds like it was like our honeymoon in Peru — before it was cool—when we were babies. http://www.boomeresque.com/our-peruvian-honeymoon-1982/

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avatar Patti Morrow April 23, 2015 at 7:05 pm

I’ve been waiting for this post! I’ve been wanting to go to Turkey for the last three years, but hesitate because of the unrest there. It sounds like you felt safe on a tour, which is how I would go as well. Very evil of you to mention your belly-dancing video but not let us see it.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 24, 2015 at 12:12 am

There is unrest in Turkey as there is in much of the Middle East and, at the moment, in Baltimore. The good thing about having a guide is that 1) they usually know where the trouble is and can avoid it, and 2) they really, really don’t want anything happening to you on their watch. They earn their living as tour guides, so no tourists=no jobs.

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avatar Suzanne Stavert April 23, 2015 at 7:57 pm

At first I thought it was you in the photo with Mr. Excitement! 🙂 Great post, I would love to go to Turkey, but I don’t know the first thing about where to go. Several of my friends have visited and have loved it. Your photos were fabulous, but if I had to pick a favorite, it is the view from your pension. #likeapostcard

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 24, 2015 at 12:18 am

Suzanne, I was in the same “I don’t know where to go other than Istanbul” boat and I knew we didn’t have a lot of time to flounder about in. If you have the luxury of doing slow travel (i.e. living there for several months), you can “waste” a day. If you have 7 days, not so much. Based on our experience, I feel comfortable recommending a G Adventures tour with the caveat that there’s no guarantee you would have the same guide and/or there would not be an incredibly annoying person in your small group—-unless you could put together your own small group. (Maybe not. Then, it there’s an annoying person in your group, you’ll be wondering why you thought they should come along. 😉

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avatar Karen Warren April 24, 2015 at 6:59 am

That tour looks like a great way of seeing lots of different places and things in Turkey. I’ve only been to Istanbul, which I loved, but I want to go back and see some more of the country.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 24, 2015 at 2:05 pm

I also want to return to Turkey and see some of central and eastern Turkey–but not too far east or south because then you start getting uncomfortably close to war zones like northern Iraq and Syria.

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avatar Irene S. Levine, PhD April 24, 2015 at 7:51 am

Sounds like a great tour with a mix of being guided and being independent. Changing hotels every night is tough, though! Loved your photos~

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 24, 2015 at 2:07 pm

Irene, you’re right You really have to pack strategically if you are changing hotels every night so you don’t have to completely unpack and repack each day.

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avatar Jacqueline Gum April 24, 2015 at 12:02 pm

This tour looks amazing! Sounds like you chose well, and that’s not always easy!! I had to laugh when you admitted that the world did not stop spinning when you had to share a bathroom. LOL I think it might for me:) The pictures are amazing. I really would love to visit Turkey someday.

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avatar Carol Colborn April 24, 2015 at 12:21 pm

I have been to Istanbul many years ago. Did you wish you just toured Istanbul? Were the days outside the city worth it?

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 24, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Carol, we did have two days (well, a day and a half) to tour Istanbul on our own. We could have gone on a half day walking tour with Gonca on the last day of the “official” tour, but we had already been the places she was going to cover.

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avatar Patti April 25, 2015 at 7:36 am

We have the same requirements. As you know we are walking (limping) the Camino and we both agreed our accommodations could be small and basic, but they had to be clean and have a private bathroom. So far so good. Turkey is on our list, but not before I get to Italy and Greece, maybe we could do all 3 at once?! Let me know if you ever find out where Mr./Dr. E’s hand was. 😉

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 26, 2015 at 6:23 am

Patti, apparently, his hand was nowhere. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it. 🙂

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avatar Debbie D. April 25, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Loving this virtual tour of Turkey, Suzanne! ♥ We stopped at Ephesus as part of our Greek Islands cruise and it was the highlight of the entire trip. Mind blowing! I wish there had been time to visit more of the country. It’s great that the tour operator rates the physical requirements. I wish Greek companies would do that! Much as we loved that trip, it was more rugged than we had anticipated. Many of us were struggling, but of course it was completely worth it!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 26, 2015 at 6:26 am

Thanks for stopping by, Debbie. If you decide on a tour for a particular trip, choosing a tour company can be a challenge. It’s best if you can obtain information from a friend who has used that particular company. Alternatively, read as many reviews as possible, even reviews of tours by the company other than to your intended destination. That will give you an idea of how well they run they run their operation overall.

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avatar Marilyn Jones April 26, 2015 at 8:50 am

I really enjoyed your narrative from beginning to end; practical information and your adventure! Beautiful photos — worth a thousand words!! 🙂

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avatar Sand In My Suitcase April 26, 2015 at 8:38 pm

Turkey is a fascinating country. There’s so much diversity! The amazing ruins of Ephesus (which you know about), the beaches of Bodrum, the east-meets-west city delights of Istanbul and its mosques and palaces. Interesting that the whirling dervishes don’t perform a “dance” (which we expected) – it’s very much a spiritual/religious ceremony, which we are permitted to observe.

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avatar Kay Dougherty April 28, 2015 at 2:46 am

I went to Turkey in 2002 and just loved it! Your pictures brought back a lot of fond memories. I did it with my sister and not as part of a group as we wanted to put our own itinerary together but there’s also a lot to be said for turning it over to someone else to take care of! Did you get to Cappadocia? That was a highlight for us.

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avatar Corinne April 28, 2015 at 11:03 am

I’m glad you finally got to Turkey. Maybe it will encourage you to go back and see some more.

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avatar Myrna` May 18, 2015 at 10:18 pm

I’ll love to go there next year I might not be as fit as a 24 year old person but so far i have manage. So maybe my dream will come thrue

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avatar Christine Greaves May 28, 2015 at 3:52 pm

We have visited Turkey twice. The first trip in 1992 was just myself and our son who was aged 7 at the time. It was a last minute all inclusive beach hotel deal in Marmaris. My overriding memory is of the very friendly locals who made such a fuss of our son. Well he was rather cute – and still is!

The second trip was in June 1999 with husband, son and myself. The primary reason for our return was to visit Ephesus. That was jaw dropping. We hired a personal guide for a couple of days, and she was so knowledgeable and fun. I brought a signed painting of the library, by artist Susanna Berman Omac http://www.art-in-ephesus.com/ , which I look at every day as it’s in our bedroom.

Your pics and blog took me right back to our lovely holidays, Suzanne.

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