Turkey is one of those places that keeps drawing one back time and time again .So when Mum suggested a trip last year and it included Cappadoccia there was no way I could say no. BUT saying that I still want to go back to TURKEY as I want to visit Konya and explore more of the only country in the world that is in both the Asian and European continents.
As I was travelling with Mum , I needed to ensure that everything was arranged and sorted prior to us actually travelling. Last year I found out that travelling with a parent is not as simple as travelling on your own and requires many more things for you to consider and do. Therefore the best option would be a group tour and an all inclusive package deal. Having only ever travelled solo, with family or on media trips , travelling with a group with defo be a new experience for us both. After some research and considering our budget, my time off from work and what we wanted to see the best option was One Stop Travel. What I like instantly was that literally everything for your trip was paid for before you left and that you did not need too much of spending money which meant you could save and budget for your trip accordingly. The Turkey Group Tour ticked all my criteria and needs and this was the holiday we booked.
I will be sharing my personal experience using One Stop for my trip to Turkey. My views are my own and this is not a sponsored post.
How to book your Turkey TOUR :
After seeing the newspaper adverts for this tour , I researched and found out that my closet branch was based in Chatsworth Centre. So taking our passports which is needed to book any trip we went in store and was helped by Shabar who answered all our questions ever so patiently and handled our booking.We were advised to come to the store closer to the time to sort out our visas and confirm out trip.South Africans do require a VISA but it is a free online visa that you can do yourself. Shabar sorted this for us. We were given company branded backpacks, passport holders and luggage tags.Which I must admit are rather snazzy !
The booking process was so effortless and easy that it made the whole process of planning and travelling a breeze.We were also given emailed copies of all documents and itineraries as well as hard copies.Prior to the trip , a briefing session was held for all those on the group tour. Unfortunately we were not able to make it but Shabar gave us all the information which included a final itinerary, tips for travelling in Turkey, conversions and what to pack.All the information was useful and helpful for any traveller.
All we needed to do was to pack , get to the airport and let of Turkey adventure start.
What is included in your Turkey Tour with ONE STOP
- International Flights on Turkish Airways
- 8 Night accommodation in 5* hotel on Bed & Breakfast basis.
- 6 Lunches and 4 dinners
- English speaking guide
- Transfers in air-conditioned coach for Istanbul – Ankara, Ankara – Cappadocia and Cappadocia – Istanbul
- Return Airport transfers
- Entry fees to tours mentioned in this itinerary.
What is not included in your Turkey tour price?
- Optional Hot Air Ballooning
- Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
- All Drinks and extras
Turkey Itinerary :
Our itinerary included us visiting Istanbul ,Ankara and Cappadoccia.
- Topkapi Palace
- Blue Mosque
- Spice Bazaar
- Grand Bazaar
- Leather Factory
- Byzantine Hippodrome
- Hagia Sophia Church
ANKARA is just an overnight stay with a city tour while on the bus.
- Agzikarahan Caravanserai
- Village of Uchisar
- Valley of Goreme
- Underground City
- Dervent Valley
Why book a group tour :
- Group discounts ,large groups of ten and more get better discounted rates.
- Meet different people who become your new friends.
- Always someone around to take your pictures.
- Safety aspect.
- Less to worry about as everything is taken care of by the tour company.
- Tour companies work with local guides to give you the best itinerary and information throughout your trip as well as hidden gems.
- A good way to organise a group tour with friends or family as your pick a tour and they each deal with the travel agent on their own.
- You get to experience places and things that only locals can and get access to special places.
- The cost factor becomes cheaper as entrance tickets and hotel prices are discounted because of the group size.
- All the planning and prep is done by the tour company so all you are left to do is enjoy your trip.
- You get to travel with people who have shared interests with you in common.
- Been in a group means you do not need to deal with any frustrating problems on your own as the local tour guide will be able to help you especially if the language is a problem in situations like lost passports and ordering of food for special diets.
To be honest I REALLY enjoyed the Turkey group tour for more pros than cons. My list of cons include :
- People ALWAYS late.
- Not much quiet time or free time to do as you please
- A very large group meant you needed to be on your toes all the time so you were not left behind.
My Turkey Group Tour Experience :
We arrived in Istanbul in the early hours of Sunday morning at roughly 5am, it was cold, dark and raining. We were met by our tour guides from Fez Travel who would be with us for the duration of our time in Turkey also with us were staff from ONE STOP . After collecting our luggage we were escorted outside the airport to our ONE STOP TOUR branded buses which took us to our hotel. A long drive and grumpy me who had barely slept needed a hot shower and coffee. As our inbound flight was so early we had to wait to check in but the staff were really helpful in helping everyone get checked in as soon as rooms were available. After a shower and coffee, and feeling somewhat human Mum and I headed off outside for a walk and to find a place to eat, we ended up at a local café where no one spoke English but we managed to get some food before we could go exploring Istanbul a city that never sleeps.
Our tour guides had planned an evening tour for us to Taksim Square and Istiklal Street for us to explore the nightlife of the city and have dinner. So while waiting we caught a taxi to a local mall and did a spot of shopping. We were ready to go exploring in Taksim and as it is a very busy area we were given a meeting point and time to meet the group. There are loads of places to eat at with food from around the world we settled on a traditional Turkish Food canteen that locals were eating at. I LOVED eating here as even though I do not understand Turkish I was able to identify the food and asked for what I wanted. We ended up having a mezze of food and were so stuffed. After eating it was time for some shopping before we headed back to meet the group and the hotel. A hot shower and bed was most welcome that evening.
The next day we headed off to visit the Topkap i Palace which was so beautiful. We got to wander through the grounds and it was amazing to see the fantastic Ottoman architecture and see how the empire actually lived. The mosaic work was breath-taking and it was impossible to not take a million pictures. It was then time for lunch at a local spot before we headed off to visit a Leather factory that produces good for all the designer labels. I was very tempted to shop here but the weather in SA is not leather jacket weather. And then we headed to the Grand Bazaar .
The bazaar is indeed a shopper’s paradise with so many lanes of beautiful shops with everyone wanting you to come buy from them. It is important to remember what entrance you get into the bazaar and don’t forget to haggle. The bazaar is filled with spices, Turkish delight, jewellery , bags and ornaments , the shop keepers are friendly and do speak some English and are always offering Apple Tea and water for free. Exhausted but so excited for the what the rest of our Turkey adventure would bring but to needed to pack as we had a half day of touring in Istanbul and then we were headed to Ankara and then to Cappadoccia where I would tick off one of my bucket dreams of going on a Hot Air Balloon
After a delicious Turkish breakfast , we loaded our luggage onto our coach and headed off to visit the Aya Sophia and the Blue Mosque. The night before we were reminded about dressing modestly and carry a scarf to cover our heads. Istanbul was overcast and drizzled as we got to both these beautiful landmarks, our lovely Turkish guide Goksu told us about the history of the Aya Sophia and we were given some time to explore at our own leisure and meet the group at an allocated time. It was interesting to see the architecture and find out that it was once a church then a mosque and finally a public museum.
A quick walk across a beautiful garden and we headed to the Blue Mosque which was and still is under construction. Ladies were asked to cover their heads with a scarf and men and women separated to enter the mosque. Cloaks were given to those who were not appropriately dressed meaning covered down to ankles and elbows. In our tour group their were several Muslim families, and the ladies from one of the families asked us if we would like to join them for prayer. Instantly we said YES as it would be such a privilege and honour to learn how they ladies conducted their prayers. We had to remove our shoes as we entered the mosque and placed it in a plastic packet that was provided. We made our way to the ladies prayer section and were taught how to pray. This experience gave me such goose bumps and made me rather emotional. After we prayer we wondered around the mosque took loads of picture , we left a small donation on exiting for the upkeep of the place of worship.Istanbul is such a amazinly diverse city with so much to see ,eat and do.
From here we headed to another delicious and traditional Turkish meal before we made our way out the city to Ankara from Istanbul. It was a very long drive and by this time I had fallen sick with the change of weather , so a long coach trip was not the best thing for a grumpy me so most of the trip I slept. We got to Ankara rather late that night so it was only time for dinner and bed which was all I craved .Early the next morning we headed to our Cappadoccia for our final destination.On route we stopped at the Agzikarahan Caravanserai which was basically an overnight place where the traveller merchants stopped overnight to rest the animals before continuing their journey. By mid afternoon we reached the magical town of Cappadocia .
The most talked about caves greeted us with views for days it was as we were entering a fairy tale , first stop was lunch and I loved eating all the Turkish food so mealtimes was defo a highlight.After lunch we headed to a family run pottery place that made the most beautiful pieces of authentic Turkish ceramics.
We headed to our hotel for an afternoon of leisure and dinner as we had a very early start for our hot air balloon experience.A bunch of nerves but oh so excited I barely slept that night.The experience was out of this world and a memory to last a lifetime.
After our magical experience we headed back to the hotel for a day off exploring the Underground cities ,Fairy Chimneys and a carpet factory.That night we headed off to a traditional Turkish night of Music and dance.By this time I was super ill and we decided on flying back to Istanbul rather than a 11 hour coach trip.But things did not go as planned and that is a blog post for another day.
Our last two days in Istanbul we went on a cruise which made me photograph a ton of beautiful mosques.And a visit to the Spice Bazaar was interesting and delicious.We got to use public buses and even a cable car to see stunning views of the city.And then it was time to head home and bid farewell to all the new uncles and aunties that adopted me on our Turkey Group Tour.I do recommend group tours and One Stop Travel for their excellent trip.
Have you travelled in a group ?
Be Inspired !