If you enjoy great food prepared with detailed attention, Istanbul is the city for you. At the crossroads of East and West, ancient and modern, European and Asian, Istanbul is a treat for the dedicated foodie. Merve took us to some truly superb places where people enjoy eating. On our won, we would have missed many of the places we sampled. With Merve's guidance, we were able to see and enjoy all sorts of taste treats, from savory to sweet. She was able to describe many of the seasonings and styles of preparation of the dishes we sampled. We learned so much from Merve that when we were on our own, we were able to order the dishes we enjoyed with her.
Our exploration of the Asian side of Istanbul was a memorable experience. Merve met us and off we went across the water to the Asian side. We went to places where almost everyone you saw was not a tourist. We enjoyed panoramic vistas, all sorts of tasty treats, and most of all enjoyed an evening going to the places that locals frequent. The views, the tastes, the experience of seeing where locals go, riding the ferries, all combined to create a magical evening. Merve is charming, bright, intelligent, and made us feel like we were long-time friends.
My husband and I did the "Let's Shop and Bargain" tour with Merve, and are so glad we did! We were really trying to make the most of each day we had in Istanbul, and the Grand Bazaar is quite big and overwhelming the first time you go in - we honestly didn't have an entire day to devote to going to each stall and trying to figure out who had the lowest prices. Merve knew where to take us for each item on our list, so we never got lost once. Also - don't underestimate how helpful it is to have a native Turkish speaker to bridge some of the language gaps and negotiate the prices (most of the sellers spoke some English, but there were times when we were describing what we were looking for in detail, and she was able to convey that with no problem). Finally, let me just say that Merve is such a genuinely sweet person. We left feeling like we had a friend in Istanbul! Don't miss out on this tour!
Merve is a great guide! Not will you hang out where the locals do and eat where all the locals eat on this tour, you will have great fun and enjoyable conversation with Merve. Thank you Merve for showing me around charming Istanbul! I hope I can come back soon.
Wonderfully upbeat, totally accomodating, willing to put up with 40 degree heat, Merve guided me along the Bosphorus from Besikas to Bebek, giving me a little history, local gossip, companionship, and tons of snacks. A great introduction to some of the less touristy but beautiful areas of Istanbul.
The touristy areas of Istanbul are... painful at times. Merve can help you remember why you wanted to go there in the first place. She is a living Rough Guide, but so wondefully kind and giving and... so Turkish that she makes you feel like you are a part of the family. I feel guilty--I think I took from her far more than she took from me. Show Merve love!
I had a great afternoon with Merve! We went to quite a few cool places and spots that I wouldn't have found on my own. It was raining, and Merve was really flexible, so we did some other things I had on my to-do list, such as go to the Grand Bazaar and spice markets, and she even helped me bargain! And the hookah place was really cool! I totally recommend this for anyone looking for a really personal experience with a really great local.