In September 2008, we were fortunate enough to visit Istanbul. We were with a group of friends from church and about to embarque on a 2 week eastern Med cruise. We were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and had just payed off our mortgage!! Freedom 58!
It was the second trip with these friends so we were accustomed to travelling together. We invited a travel agent specializing in group travel to help plan our trip: Magda Newman of New Wave Travel. Magda did a great job. We had a group information and sign up session. Then she provided all the tickets and documents needed. We had chosen Oceania Cruises as I had heard great things about them and they offered smaller ships.
It was a good time to go. Istanbul was considered to be a relatively safe place then for tourists. Since then there have been some terrorist incidents targeted at visitors but I believe calm has been restored again by President Recep Erdogan. Istanbul is where East meets West. It is therefore a very culturally exciting place to experience if you ever have the chance.
Another key element. We had prearranged for a 2.5 day private tour of Istanbul led by Gulgun Asutay, a highly rated local tour guide. We were not to be disappointed. She is very knowledgeable and is still in business today. Here is a link to a recent video she made of Istanbul. You may not understand the Turkish but you will understand the beauty that we saw there.
So the stage was set. We had done the planning, paid the bill and were ready for another great trip with friends. We flew Air Canada from Ottawa to Franfurt and then Turkish Air on to Istanbul. All went well.