Thanks you so much FEST Travel team
Thank you so much and wish everyone in the Fest Travel Team a wonderful holiday ...
Meltem is very knowledgeable, beyond the usual stuff she had deep knowledge of history and culture and is very passionate about it. Very courteous too helped us understand a lot about the ottoman empire and its way of thought. Many thanks for all your ...
I just got back early this morning.
I bit jet lagged but the flight went well. The trip went very well. Everyone had a wonderful time, and several people showed interest in coming back to Turkey for another trip next year. I will keep you informed as it develops. Serhan did an excellent job guiding. His expertise and explanations were top notch as well as his humorous personality. He keep everyone well entertained... The driver was also very good, always very courteous and helpful with the group... I have to say all in all it was a great trip for ...
I highly recommend FEST Travel as an outstanding travel agency for group educational travel. During the summer of2009, Mr. Zekeriya Şen, executive manager of FEST Travel, organized a customized tour to Turkey for our group of teachers. We found that the entire tour was extremely well organized, and the agency’s personnel were outstanding. The requirements for our tour were extremely complicated, yet Mr. Şen and the agency handled the arrangements perfectly. Our trip was a four-week Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad educational seminar for 12 teachers and 2 university trip ...
Our party just got back to the USA yesterday from our trip to Turkey and Greece. Sorry I could not respond earlier, but I did not have my laptop computer with me. Let me say that our party of 13 people had a wonderful time in Istanbul and in Ephesus. The arrangements made for us by FEST were perfect. We saw all of the key features and everything went off like clockwork. I want to give a special complement to the two guides you provided to us, Mr. Serhan Gungor in Istanbul and Ms. Deniz Harput in Ephesus. Both were very professional, punctual and ...
We just returned from our vacation and I received your email. I can only say the nicest things about Yigit and the job he did as our guide. He was personable, incredibly knowledgeable, flexible, funny and caring. We couldn't have been happier with any other guide. We had a great time and learned so much from him. He was very proud of everything related to Turkey from its history to the current culture and that pride came though so well. It was a pleasure to meet him and we all hope that his path crosses ours again in the future. We loved everything ...
Dear Mr. Sen, I apologize for taking so long to reply to your question about our trip. In short, it was fabulous! We thought all the arrangements made by Fest Travel were excellent. Serhan was a really perfect guide, who not only knew almost everything about all the sites we visited, but also was a fine historian on the Ottoman Empire, and gave us wonderful lectures on modern Turkey, the geography, the politics, the challenges, etc. The bus you provided was perfect, and the driver, Ilian (I have probably misspelled his name), was a master at getting us ...
It was a pleasure to meet you at our farewell dinner in Istanbul last week, I so appreciate you providing us an opportunity to "weigh in" with our impressions and thoughts about our extraordinary Turkey trip.
Superlatives abound regarding every aspect and every detail of our tour. The itinerary was very well balanced, it was both intellectually and aesthetically stimulating and rich with a sultan's banquet table of unexpected delights, historically, culturally, politically, socially and recreationally.
The accommodations were delightful and well selected for each stop...
Dear Mr. Sen,
It was a pleasure to meet you at our farewell dinner. We have heard so many good things about you from Mimi Braverman.
Thank you for organizing such a wonderful trip! For years I have been looking for a tour that includes all the places I am most interested in - the Neolithic site of Catal Huyuk, the great Bronze Age sites of Hattusa, Alaca, Kultepe, and Troy, and of course the spectacular Greek and Roman sites of the south and west coasts. Your itinerary was perfect, and Serhan was a masterful guide who made the most of visits that sometimes had to be brief. Even more remarkable than Serhan's knowledge and enthusiasm is his ability to bring both ancient and modern Turkey to life.
Thank you, too, for our comfortable home on wheels and the superb driving skills of our driver Elias.
Many of our days began at 9:30 and I would have preferred earlier starts to give us more time in places like Ephesus and Istanbul.
I was lucky enough to extend my stay in Istanbul and share your fascinating city with my husband, sister, and brother-in-law. But even with four extra days, I feel like my trip to Turkey was much too short! I hope I can return soon.
Please feel free to post any part of this message on your web site. Cok tesekkur ederim,
Dear Mr. Sen,
You certaınly are prompt ın your correspondence. We are stıll ın Istanbul waıtıng for the taxı so I thought I would respond to your questıon. Fırst of all, thank you for comıng last nıght to our dınner. That was thoughtful of you. As you could tell we all had a marvelous tıme. My husband had never taken a trıp lıke thıs before and he ıs now more anxıous to travel. We partıcularly loved hearıng the hıstory of Turkey and gettıng a present day perspectıve of the government and news of Turkey that we had never known. The bus was very comfortable and the drıver so skılled. The ruıns were the best I had ever seen and we had an archeologıst wıth us and she was blown away....and that ıs hard to do. You dıd an excellent job wıth everythıng...I ate too much, but can go home and fast for a month... Thank you...
Our trip was fabulous; we couldn't have asked for more. I even worked up the courage to take the Cappadocia balloon ride, which was the highlight of the entire vacation. (You will recall that we spent a week in Israel after leaving Turkey, and thus I am only now having an opportunity to reply to you.)
Our guide, Ali, was enthusiastic and knowledgeable--and when he didn't know an answer, he looked it up on his computer! He was well matched to a couple like us, who were interested in antiquities. So were the other tourists on our bus--two Canadian couples and two Australian groups.
I was worried that some of the travel plans wouldn't work, but everybody was prepared for us--even the driver who had to pick us up at 4:30 in the morning so that we could get to the Istanbul airport. The hotels were as advertised--clean and comfortable, but hardly luxurious. In short, just what we wanted.
Thank you ever so much for helping to make possible one of our best vacations ever.
We just returned from Turkey last night and everything was wonderful. The accommodations you made for us were excellent. We enjoyed Mustafa very much as a guide. He was knowledgeable and sensitive to our interests. He was also flexible and had a good sense of humor. Also, our driver, Omar was excellent. We were in very good hands and appreciate the professional service you provided. The balloon trip was one of the highlights of our trip. I will recommend you to our friends and colleagues.
As a summary = Impossible to do better !!!!!!!!
Mustapha was perfect, the feeling between him and the group was at the top !
This group was also extraordinary very good, = nice people No complain at all regarding Hotels, restaurants, food or what ever !!!!!!!!
In addition, I think that the impact of meeting local people (my friends from Turkey) as well as farmers, dealer in Urfa, is adding a real plus compared to a normal tour .
Then the dinner in Zafiri was also a high light of the trip (far away from "clichés")
Again Mustapha is a Great great Guide .
Also Ahmet last year and Sinan this year were 2 outstanding drivers.
As you can see I cannot add anything else !!!!!
If somebody ask me about travel agencies, guides or drivers I know who I'll recommend.
We had a lovely trip. We thought the Arena Hotel was very nice and appreciate your making that reservation for us.
The other hotels were great and all three guides shared a great deal of historical and cultural information with us.
I hope that I can return to Turkey soon.
We all made it home safely and have agreed that the best part of our trip was Istanbul.
We absolutely loved our guide, Lale. She was so well-spoken and intelligent. More importantly, she was very patient with us and I would be happy to use her again. Everyone loved the Sarnic Restaurant (yes, they did give me mine free-thank you for that!) and it was a perfect (and very close) place to spend our last night. We all agreed that we needed one more day in İstanbul! Many people told me that they loved the boat ride and that it gave them a real idea of how hugeyour city is and how modern, in so many ways. A little bit smaller boat might have been nice but everyone enjoyed the cruise.
Your buses were very clean and comfortable also. I would use FEST Travel again and plan to do so when I next have a group to Istanbul.
Thanks again for everything.
We are back in Solvang since yesterday.Our trip in Turkey was very good. We were picked up in Izmir by a very friendly driver and taken to our hotel, Valide Sultan Konagi which was also very comfortable, the breakfast buffet also had many delicious fruits ,vegetables,breads.. We would highly recommend this Hotel to our friends.
Our daily side trips by bus & boat were also very pleasurable and informative.
Thank you very much for taking care of our needs in every way.
We enjoyed Berrin and her family in Izmir,great hospitality and found your country very interesting.It will leave us with great memories .
We will recommend your Fest Travel agency to our friends.
Helmut & Doris Holzheu
I wanted to thank you for the recommendation of Fest Travel and I wanted to make sure you continue to recommend them to other Microsoft people. As you know my mom was here last week and I organized a tour for her with Fest Travel. They did a great job and she was very happy and impressed with the tour.
She even got lost and separated from the group for a brief period of time but Mr Zekeriya, did a great job in working with me to help her to get back together with the rest of the group.
Just wanted to pass along these comments.
I have nothing put praise for your assistance in making travel, hotel, and other arrangements during our visit to your wonderful country. As you know, we are accustomed to doing our own travel planning and arrangements and wanted everything to be perfect according to our way of travel and budget. You were very informative and accommodating of often changing needs and desires. You took our suggestions, allowed us to research our preferences without regard to your company’s benefits, and answered my multitude of questions promptly and thoroughly. Your patience with me was endless, thanks! You were also a great help being available during our travel and we are very pleased with your assistance getting us a refund when we were overcharged at an attraction. We believe that we had the best of both worlds in travel planning; access to travel information from the internet and a personal professional travel expert through Fest Travel. The trip was perfect.
Thank you very much.
My husband and I have returned from our trip to Turkey, and we are very grateful for all you did to make our experience a pleasurable one. Our memories of a wonderful time will remain with us for a long time.
Thanks you again.
ANATOLIAN ARTISAN'S FIRST CULTURAL TOUR A WINNER!
Imagine a land of lush greenery, rocky beaches, tea plantations, valleys and mountains in ochre colors with historic settlements, churches, monasteries and mosques dotting the countryside and towns. The Anatolian Artisans tour of the Eastern Black Sea (Karadeniz) region provided all this and more. Anatolian Artisans first cultural tour visited these sights during an eight day trip, June 24-July l, 2006. The trip was designed to raise awareness of the arts and culture in a special area of Turkey and to support Anatolian Artisans' mission of product development, marketing and training for creators of handicrafts. Travelers were introduced to local crafts, history, regional food and drink, diverse architecture and an extraordinary landscape.
Quoting from the Anatolian Artisans tour flyer, the participants will encounter a fascinating mix of tradition, history, architecture and natural beauty. The Hittites, Miletians, Phrygians and Amazons colonized parts of the coast. Alexander the Great conquered the area and the Romans and Byzantines followed. In the 15th century, most of the area became part of the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Mehmet II.
Organized by Faruk Pekin, of the FEST Travel agency, a leader in the development of cultural tourism, the tour provided a diverse and varied experience. Flying from Istanbul to Trabzon, and traveling by bus to Artvin, with significant stops along the way, allowed the group to see local artisans producing crafts and products in their homes, workshops and bazaars. Carpets, jewelry, weavings, dolls, fabrics, musical instruments and other handicrafts were just a few of the products observed, admired and bought when possible. While history, geography and scenery were emphasized, we also learned about local music (bagpipes and the Black Sea Fiddle), dance, native crafts, folklore and customs (the Laz people), unusual summer festivals (bull fighting) and seasonal events (moving the cows to the high pastures for the summer - "yayla") all native to the area.
Starting in Trabzon, we visited a local workshop for weaving "kesan" cloth, a design unique to the area, of stripes primarily in white, black, and red with some yellow. Watching the shuttle fly and the young weaver produce cloth from a workshop set high on a steep green hill top created for us a sense of admiration and respect for the women who add to the family income with their work and keep local crafts and skills alive. For the rest of the day, we visited some of the ancient churches and buildings in Trabzon including the Hagia Sophia and the Church of St. Anna, the bazaar and Ataturk's mansion.
On our second day, we drove through the Zigana Pass to visit the famous Gumushane Karaca Cave with limestone formations like dripping candle wax. Back in Trabzon, we watched women creating exquisite and unique locally designed and manufactured gold jewelry made from weaving thin gold thread into necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Shades of Rapunzel spinning gold out of straw.
Moving East from Trabzon, we went to Macka and Uzungol to visit the famous Sumela Monastery. The architecture and awe inspiring cliff side location were remarkable and some paintings inside still vivid. Since our visit, the Turkish Tourist Office announced that the renovation still going on during our stop has been completed now after forty years of work. After Sumela, we wanted to see another famous monastery (St. John of Vazelon) but only a lucky few caught a glimpse of this fugitive building in the fog and some have the photos to prove it.
Next a drive to the Uzungol-Ikizdere area focused on different architecture. Wooden mosques in the area provided a look at different building materials than are normally used in mosque construction. The mosques had beautifully dovetailed and detailed work inside and out with carvings and scroll work. Both the _mihrap (niche pointing to Mecca) and the mimber (imam's pulpit) were of exquisite workmanship. The chestnut wood added a golden brown sheen to the ornamentation and building. Moving further eastward, we traveled through valleys and passes to reach Alpine meadows where cattle were pastured for the summer. Rushing rivers and streams added to the beauty of the landscape.
Our final eastern most stop on the Black Sea coast after traveling through the Coruh Valley, was Artvin, capitol of an old Georgian kingdom. We descended to view the renowned Georgian churches in the area. Ishan, Osk Vank and Haho, examples of early church architecture, were impressive and the remote locations in the woods added a mystical element to the buildings.
Our last day of touring allowed for visits to a few of the most interesting sights in Erzurum before returning to Istanbul. In close proximity were the Turkish and Islamic Arts (ethnographic) Museum, formerly a medrese and near by three old mausoleums. Our tour ended with a visit to the Rustem Pasa bazaar, (a former caravanserai), still in operation today. The famous local stone, "Oltu" (black amber) is worked and sold there.
In our own caravan, across the Black Sea region, we experienced the wide variety of weather changes associated with the area. During our week on the road we experienced fog, clouds obscuring mountain tops and passes, sudden showers, incredible greenery associated with frequent moisture and humidity and brilliant sunlight and shadows along the way.
Flying back to Istanbul brought a flood of memories of the tour and our common experiences, the connections formed and friendships developed along the way as we shared meals, walks, paired off on the bus and marveled over the region's scenic diversity. The congenial group, mostly Turks and Americans with a soupçon from France (Chantal, who hiked in the most flimsy and fashionable shoes and put other hikers to shame) were a solid group discovering much in common including "six degrees of separation" connections through conversations on the trip. For some, it was there first trip to Turkey, others were old hands such as Peace Corps volunteers, and frequent tourists, or born in Turkey. Nevertheless all were linked by our incredible experience of visiting the Black Sea region together.
Our visit was reported in the local Trabzon paper with photos so we felt like special visitors helping the Anatolian Artisans cause. A film of the trip was recorded by our two youngest travelers and hope that a short version of highlights of the trip will be used to promote the tour and the work of Anatolian Artisans.
I'm ready to sign up for the next Anatolian Artisans tour. Yildiz, please tell me where and when.
Thank you for helping us plan and carry-out such a successful family tour through Turkey! We had very high expectations of this summer's three week, 5,000 km private trip for our group of six and the tour certainly exceeded our expectations.
We were referred to FEST through our family in Istanbul. Just as they described, we found your firm to be exceptionally well suited to arranging a deep cultural tour of the country: you have the resources to do this well, you are excellent at customer service and are great communicators. You made the arrangements very easy for us. You understood clearly what we had in mind for our family trip; you were responsive to our desires and you helped us to plan a trip that met our unique interests. We asked you to recommend historic, well-located boutique hotels with as few rooms as possible, and your suggestions were right on target. Our guide was outstanding, knowledgeable, spirited, intimately familiar with the local specialties and attractions, and constantly engaging the local people, making memorable moments, and drawing out the unique spirit of ordinary Turks. We loved our driver as well. The vehicle was great.
We're completely satisfied with your services and would be eager to work with you in the future. We enthusiastically recommend you to others who are looking for a high level of service and a very knowledgeable and capable team to help plan a tour through Turkey.
Sincerely, Len Lehmann Palo Alto, California, USA
On behalf of Anatolian Artisans, I wanted to thank you personally for the wonderful Eastern Black Sea Region tour that you organized and conducted for our group of twenty, from June 24 through July 1, 2006. The places that we visited were fascinating, and the scenery was spectacular. We particularly appreciated your willingness to identify the several local handicrafts sites that we could visit, as additions to the original itinerary.
Our driver was extremely skilled and courteous, and the bus was most comfortable. The accommodations were the best available and were highly satisfactory. The food was good, and the local Black Sea dishes in the hotels and restaurants were particularly interesting.
Working with your helpful, cooperative Istanbul staff in organizing the tour was a pleasure. Your prices for the tour were most reasonable and a great value.
But by far the best part of the trip was the knowledge and explanations that you brought to our understanding of the region and of the places that we visited. Your expertise and enthusiasm made it a fabulous experience for all of us.
We hope to work with you again on future tours for Anatolian Artisans in Turkey.
Best regards. And thank you again. Sincerely yours, Malcolm R. Pfunder
Overview of the Boston Group’s Visit to Turkey May,
After about 15 month’s planning, a group of 34 Bostonians, mainly people associated with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, took a twenty day journey through Turkey beginning in Ankara and ending in Istanbul. The itinerary was ambitious, traveling by bus, and covering about 5000 kms, visiting well-known and some little known sites. The final itinerary was a product of my original suggestion and Mr. Sen’s added proposals. The guide, Serhan Gungor, found some wonderful lunch stops along the way. All in all, the plans and the impromptu arrangements were perfect.
In summary, I commend you for an excellent job. From the early stages of our planning, you have been efficient and responsive to my requests. I will be happy and eager to recommend you, Fest Travel and Serhan to any and all.
Congratulations and I wish you continued successes.
Miriam Braverman, Boston