I have long considered Turkey one of the most rewarding and exciting places I’ve ever been. I first visited in the 1970s, and I went back every year through my twenties. For me, Turkey was always the natural cherry on top of all my European adventures. But the predictable question I’d always get from loved ones was, “Why are you going to Turkey?” With each visit, my thoughts were: Why would anyone not travel here?
Good travelers strive to get out of their comfort zone. When we travel, like a balloon lifting off a wild Anatolian field, we are — at least for a while — free from the bonds of our culture and ready to experience our world with a different perspective.
People-to-people travel is more important than ever, and I am proud to have offered tours in Turkey for almost 30 years through my company, Rick Steves’ Europe Tours. Our Best of Turkey in 13 Days Tour connects Americans with Turkish culture in intimate ways other tours do not. From artisans to imams, our travelers experience legendary Turkish hospitality firsthand, all under the guidance of Turkish tour guides. Together, they marvel at Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace, and Grand Bazaar, Cappadocia’s “fairy-chimney” landscape, the azure water of the Mediterranean, and the ancient Greek sites of Ephesus and Aphrodisias…and come home with a broader perspective of our beautiful world.
This tour is one of my personal favorites — and truly the travel experience of a lifetime. And that’s why I subsidized the trip for 25 of our European guides. They just wrapped up their 13-day adventure, and by all reports, the trip was a huge success. There’s no doubt that our guides really know how to have fun — and they love to travel, even when they are off the clock. But for many of them, this was more than just a fun vacation. They got to experience a country many of them didn’t know before, while actually being tour members themselves — an important and valuable learning experience for any guide.
In these photos, you’ll see 25 Rick Steves guides (from about a dozen different countries) enjoying our Best of Turkey tour under the leadership of their fellow guide, Mert Taner. If you are a Rick Steves tour alum, see if you can spot your own tour guide — and be sure to say hi to them in the comments below.(Thanks for the photos, Lale Aran, Andy Steves, and Cristina Duarte!)
BTW, all of these guides — and about a hundred more — will converge on Edmonds, a town just north of Seattle, later this month for our annual tour guide summit, tour alumni reunion, and Test Drive a Tour Guide event. Want to come along? We’ll be teaching free travel classes all day on January 26, and we’d love to see you there. Register here.