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You know a trip has gone well when the travelers nearly mutiny and refuse to leave! That was the resounding message we received from our October guests onboard the season's last Turquoise Coast Odyssey, beginning with arrival to Istanbul on 4 October and ending with a very reluctant departure on the 18th. In between, 12 exceedingly happy travelers strolled through Istanbul's historic Sultanahmet district, spent 3 beautiful days exploring the underground cities of Cappadocia, hiking the lush river valleys and floating above the iconic fairy chimneys in a hot air balloon at dawn. But it was when they boarded the Kaya Guneri II gulet that things got really interesting!
Said multiple-time Wildland Adventures Alumni traveler Denise Hastings: The sailing was great! The boat was perfect, cabins are great with plenty of space, nice bathrooms. There was plenty of space to relax on deck, too. The crew was exceptional, and the food was wonderful. I don't know how the chef did it every day! We actually set the sails one afternoon, we were all so thrilled. Other passengers on neighboring gulets were jealous. Stopping at the villages along the way, walking to ruins was so unique. Lunch in the small village home was an intimate and lovely experience. We never wanted to leave!
When we asked Denise what stood out on the cruise, as always it comes down to the people: The "bar" at the top of the ruins (Simena). Imer from the boat carried it up to the top and surprised us with drinks...very special. And Ozlem (main tour guide) was perfect. We so appreciated the depth and breadth of ancient history/archeology at her command. She is so much fun!
Another guest onboard this sailing, Lauren Silva-Pinto, was even more enthusiastic: We had the fortune of loving every place we visited. Istanbul is so gorgeous and cosmopolitan and international and hip, Cappadocia was an astonishing blend of amazing landscapes and hidden churches and the Valley of Love - what a name!! The boat travel was perfection. We just fell in love with Turkey in its entirety.
We adored Ozlem! She is bubbly and positive and took everything in stride. She is also a walking dictionary - she knows Turkish history intimately - as well as things about plant life and geology and eggplant dishes. She is just fabulous. And we particularly liked the driver in Cappadocia - Mustafa. He was very kind, his van was immaculate, he had water always and even bought us all squash seeds as a treat. Also - the crew on the boat was perfect - discreet and sweet. And the cook- oh my! The food on board was extraordinary! And he prepared cakes - for a birthday and for our wedding anniversary.
When asked about personal highlights or insights experienced on the trip:
We had never done group travel before and really enjoyed learning from other trip members, who had areas of interest that were different from our own. It also helped that we were all on the same page politically and had a preference for good red wine!
As international journalists, Lauren and husband, Luis Fernando, know their way around the globe. Perhaps they are a bit more intrepid than most, but we love the perspective Lauren brought to this trip, during a particularly tumultuous time in Turkey: As journalists we pay close attention to what is going on everywhere we are; be it Toledo or Turkey. We followed the elections in Turkey and were disappointed to see the results. I told the man we bought a carpet from in Cappadocia that I would personally do public relations for Turkey, and I meant it! It is sad that many Americans are reluctant to adventure beyond the usual destinations, to know what a trip to a truly fascinating country like Turkey can be. I will do my best to talk "up" Turkey. My picky husband fell in love with everything in the country and we had the most lovely experience of meeting some artists in Istanbul and buying art! We felt very safe throughout the trip and the Turkish people could not have been more welcoming.
And best of all? Denise weighed in with this response to a final question: What advice would you give to travelers going on this Wildland adventure?
Trust them! It will be the best trip you have ever been on.
And Lauren again: What advice would you give to travelers going on this Wildland adventure?
Go - tomorrow!
We agree! What are you waiting for? Call us to talk about your own 2016 Turquoise Coast Odyssey
Your friendly Turkey expert,
Check out more Turkey guest review.