Truthfully, it is difficult to find negatives about this trip. The Turkish travel agency (Altinkum) that put the trip together was found on the Tourradar site as one of the ten best trips to Turkey. It was very different from all of our previous tours in that they have individual tours that they string together to make two weeks in the country feel seamless. People can book one or more segments individually, which is why we had different people with us for each segment. It did make the trip more interesting and there were usually only no more than eight or just us traveling together.
Here is my list of awesome plusses (not in any particular order): 1. Traveling by comfortable Mercedes 15 passenger vans or domestic airlines; 2. Toilets with built-in bidets; 3. Turkish ice cream; 4. Knowledgeable English-speaking guides; 5. Responsive contact person at the travel agency; 6. Good food in general; 7. Good hotels; 8. Turkey’s well-maintained roads and updated infrastructure; 9. Very safe; 10. 80% of the population is vaccinated and all were masked inside, with many masked outside as well; 11. Kind Turks wherever we went; 12. Excellent weather and perfect temperatures (fortunately); 13. Most locals spoke some English; 14. Relaxing boat trip with a helpful crew; 15. PCR test available in our hotel at a reasonable price ($35 US); 16. Everyone was amazingly on time for pick-ups; 17. The hot air balloon experience was better than we expected; 18. The hot air balloon ride was scheduled weeks before, as recommended by the agency, to ensure that there were spots available; 19. The reasonable price included the hotels, in-country transportation, the guides, entry fees, some meals, and in-country airfare (airfare from Mexico to Turkey was additional); 20. Tolerance of every level of religious observance; 21. Incredible ruins; 22. Stunning mosques; 23. Cats everywhere, fed by locals (either a plus or a minus, depending on your love of cats)
Here is the short list of negatives: 1. The boat was older, the cabins stifling, and the bathroom not very good; 2. On the boat, only two people spoke English making it difficult to communicate; 3. Heavy traffic everywhere and crazy drivers; 4. Cats everywhere… That’s it!
We were surprised that there was little if any poverty visible, no graffiti, no homeless, no junker cars or people begging, Landscaping along the highways was beautiful, Neighborhoods were well-maintained with new construction all around the country. Turkey seems very progressive and is welcoming to all.