We decided fairly last minute that we wanted to spend a night or two somewhere else and settled on visiting Izmir and seeing Ephesus. I was overwhelmed with planning another 12-day international trip I was staffing before, so it was up to her to take care of all the details. She reached out to several groups and Best of Ephesus got back to us right away and were exceptionally professional and prompt in their communications. The cost of a 5-6 hour tour, door-to-door, with a car, driver, and personal tour guide?? - $150 for both of us! We booked it right away and were very excited.
This particular tour was the most enjoyable because our guide, Ender, had just the right balance of information, suggestions, and personality. The guides in Turkey have to be licensed by the government and are very well educated. They know their history. In each of our tours we asked the guides to pick a local non-tourist place for us to try the local cuisine and Ender pick a very nice place with dishes we've recreated at home. Besides the ruins at Ephesus we also visited the village of Sirince and the Ephesus Archaeological Museum, both were very interesting and enjoyable.
Our tour guide Işiķ (pronounced “Ish-ick”) spoke excellent American English and all were able to clearly understood her. We had excellent directions and met her just outside the cruise terminal. Işiķ was knowledgeable about the places we visited and pointed out particular points of interest. She and our driver let us spend as much time as we wanted, and even took us on an unplanned stop.
We flew from Istanbul to Izmir and our tour guide Hakan and our driver (who didn't speak much English, but was the absolute best, opened the door for me at every stop and let me borrow an me an umbrella) met us right at arrivals with a sign and took us on the hour drive to the House of Virgin Mary. Hakan made us feel comfortable right away, told us about the area we were driving through and answered all of our questions. In all of our stops - the House of Virgin Mary, Ephesus City, the Terrace Houses (which are the best and worth the extra 10/15 lira in admission) and Temple Artemis - Hakan was extremely knowledgeable about the history and details of the place. He showed us the coolest small things we never would have noticed on our own, and let us have ample time to wander around, and pointed out the best spots for pictures (he knew the best views down to which tree we should stand next to so we could get the whole amphitheater in view).
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