My day with Emrah and Leila was perfect. I had already seen the major historical sites on previous visits to Istanbul and was hankering for this tour as advertised, a behind the scenes eclectic journey through antique shops, used book stores, cafes, and even one of the great flea markets of the world, accompanied by two incredibly personable and generous Istanbul insiders. Our day together was one delightful surprise after another, far surpassing any expectation I had. From the moment we met, they took incredible care of me, ensuring that we had the best outing possible. Upon our first meeting, Emrah shared several amazing scrapbooks that he had created from his personal collection of historical documents and photographs. What a great way to start! We first hit the Istanbul antique flea market, which left me slack-jawed with amazement at the incredible offerings (including museum quality Islamic and Christian relics from the region at incredible prices). This actually was a fantastic cultural experience unto itself and a true counterpoint to the frenetic Grand Bazaar experience that most tourists have. We then spent much of our time in the Kadikoy District on the Asian side of Istanbul, visiting antique shops and used book stores, checking out the copious street art, and enjoying an delicious seafood lunch at one of Emrah’s favorite restaurants. All the while, they shared their local insights and experiences, and provided ongoing translation for me with store owners and shopkeepers, ultimately helping negotiate very fair prices. Our day ended with an unforgettable ferry ride back to the European side of the city at dusk. This was one of the best travel experiences that I have ever had in my life. This is the real-world Istanbul tour that I wish I had taken years ago. I can’t recommend this tour enough!!
We thoroughly enjoyed Max's led hike of the Castro and Twin Peaks. Lots of local history and interesting stairways. Buns of steel. If Max can make a hike on the hottest day in SF history fun (when the entire Bay Area is enshrouded in smoke from fires in nearby counties), then imagine what a blast you will have in normal conditions. Don't miss this funky way to see the city. (PS - you may learn all the different ways to say "San Francisco")
It was great having Jeff for the tour. Thank you so much for coming!!
Had a fantastic time with Jeff and Monica! Time flew and great conversation.