Regina FC

Mar 18 2001

Dear Rina and Suleyman,
I simply love the way you organise your individual tours and I always recommend your agency, when people here ask me about Turkey. After all Insight Travel did a fantastic job for me twice. What would I have done without your expertise?! And on top of it all, it was great fun to travel and work with you.

All the best,

Cathie & David F.

April 22, 2002

Dear Suleyman (x2) and Rina,

Just wanted to say thanks again for a wonderful time in your beautiful (adopted, Rina) country. Even after the grueling trip home (24 hrs!!), we're still excited about the events and experiences of the last week. Each activity in it's own way was very special, but the hikes through Cappadocia were pretty fantastic! Ultimately the best part of the trip was meeting such warm and friendly people, especially you three, "Tom" and the staff at Gamirasu! We hope that we can reciprocate if you are ever in our part of the world.

Again thanks for your efforts. That everything went so smoothly was due to your skills. We are happy to serve as references whenever you need that. Best wishes for continued success in your ventures.

Cathie and David F.

Victoria S. – San Francisco

May 31, 2002

Hello Rina,
Thanks so much for your email. I have been meaning to contact you too to say thank you so much for organizing such a wonderful tour for us. I think it exceeded our expectations and we were all sad to leave Turkey and say good-bye to Ayhan (I actually think I had tears in my eyes when I said good-bye).

Suleyman was so wonderful to shepherd us around the first few days and it really did ground us and give us a good sense of Istanbul. By the end, I really felt like I had a reasonably good grasp of the old town.

Highlights on the road: Assos was divine. We all wished we had spent another night there. Elkep Evi in Urgup was superb. The owner Hidir was absolutely charming and made our stay. Again, we wished we had more time there.

I can't say enough about Ayhan....he really went above and beyond the call of duty and was much more than just a driver.

Again, Rina thanks for everything. I am trying to convince my sister and her family to take a trip to Turkey. I would be happy to pass your name on to anybody I know that wants to go to Turkey...your service was excellent and I know we were a demanding group.

My best to you and Suleyman and I wish you much happiness, good health and continued success!


Mark A. – Ottowa, Ontario

July 29, 2002

Hi Rina,
We are both glad you liked the pictures. Please feel free to send them out, or use them any way you see fit. Linda is quite proud of her work. This is our first real trip with the digital camera, and we both love it.

We hope both of you are well, and would like to thank you again for the gracious hospitality and wonderful time we had. We have circulated all of your business cards, and given rave reviews to those of our friends who've expressed an interest. We expect to see you again in 2005 when we will do central Turkey and the Med. We may even do some of the Greek Islands.

Please feel free to use us as references.

All the best,
Mark A.

Amir S. – Maryland, USA

August 07, 2002

Dear Rina and Suleyman:
I wanted to thank you for the fantastic and first class service you provided us during our family reunion in Turkey. We all had a great time and we will definitely visit Turkey again and again. I have plenty of your business cards and I have already told my friends and family about Insight Travel. I hope to bring you much deserved business in the future. Once again, Thank you and best wishes.

Best Regards:
Amir S.

Sandee L. – Honolulu, Hawaii

22 September 2002

Hi Rina!
I am back in Hawaii. I loved the places you sent me to and can say Turkey is my favorite place to visit. Thank you so much for all your help.

Much aloha-Sandee

Vivian and Miranda T. – San Francisco

27 Sept 2002

Hi Rina and Suleyman,

Thanks again for organizing such a wonderful and memorable tour! Right now, it feels as if it was all a big dream -- that we were transported to another colorful world of adventure and excitement. We truly enjoyed every minute and are looking forward to a second gulet trip hopefully soon. We very much enjoyed meeting and dining with you, and would like to thank Suleyman for the inspirational tour in Istanbul! Please keep in touch and be sure to send us any updates on Turkey travels.

Take care,

Vivian and Miranda

Herve R. – France

October 08, 2002

Dear Rina,
Thanks for Gamirasu Hotel reservation, place and people were really delighful. We have enjoyed our trip a lot. Thanks again.

With best regards.

Wayne S.-California USA

October 13, 2002

Dear Rina and Suleyman,

It's been a long time. Hope everything is going well.

My uncle and aunt are planning a trip that will put them in Istanbul for 3 days next year. They're interested in a private city tour and whatever else you'd suggest. Of course I told them all about the two of you and that they could not do better in making arrangements to see any part of Turkey . Budget is less a factor for them than the quality of the experience, so beyond saying that I leave the rest up to you and them. I'm sure that they'll contact you directly. I told them about your house and I'm sure that's something they'd love to see. Is my picture still up in your book case?

Anyway warmest thoughts from Nancy and I,


Elizabeth K. – Illinois USA

October 08, 2002

Rina - I did not get the chance to see you on our last afternoon in Turkey, but I did want to tell you how much we enjoyed the trip and how much your efforts contributed to a great trip. Please feel free to refer future clients to me for a reference - I will definitely recommend you to people I know who express an interest in travel to Turkey and Greece.

Our last night, we went back to that restaurant we went to the first night with you and Suleyman. We had another great meal, this time all mezes - yum! The fried mussels were a real highlight, as was the restaurant's version of the tomato and pepper paste appetizer. If they will part with the recipes, we would love to have them (since its hard to pop over for a quick weekend...).

Anyway - thanks again, and we hope to see you and Suleyman again.

Elizabeth K.
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Cliff R. – Boston

October 22, 2002

Hi Rina and Süleyman,

Although it is long overdue, I just wanted to drop you a note to tell you what a wonderful time I had in Turkey. I spent the first several weeks back getting caught up on my missed work and sharing my pictures and stories of my travels. Turkey was definitely much better than Greece and Gerry (who traveled with me and is very hard to impress) told everyone it was the "trip of a lifetime." For that alone, thank you for making the impossible possible!

Through my bragging and enlarged photos on my office walls, I found out that one of my employer's vice presidents was just about to leave for Turkey and that another coworker was also going. As you know, she got swept up in my tales/pictures and followed my footsteps (somewhat) with your help. I saw her today and she just loved everything. Thank you so much for making her trip as memorable (or more) as mine. She even had the same guides I did for Cappadocia (Mehmet) and Mt. Nemrut (Pinar).

There's an article in the current edition of National Geographic on Istanbul. In case you haven't seen it, I've scanned text portion in the attached Word document for your reading pleasure.

Again, thank you for a perfect vacation.

Take care,

Andre G. – Arkansas

24 Oct 2002
Itinerary: Private Istanbul Tours

Dear Rina,

We made it back just fine, arriving yesterday, with memories of our wonderful "whirlwind" visit to Istanbul intact and cherished. Meeting you and Suleyman, and visiting with you was a highlight of our stay; what a wonderful, beautiful time in your lives this is--building a life together that is rewarding, and doing it in one of the great cities of the world.

I forgot to leave my copy of the Blue Guide to Istanbul with Suleyman before I left; I'd like him to have a copy, it might be of use in your work.

The photos of John taken at the Galata Tower restaurant, alone, were worth the trip!

Our very best to you both, and please extend our deepest gratitude to Suleyman for a first-class introduction to your incredible city and its people (I've been fantasizing about returning, and spending a lazy afternoon at that incredibly beautiful area, on the Asian side, where Suleyman took us to enjoy the spectacular view, high above the city--sipping tea and visiting with whomever happens to be there).

Andre G.

Clare G. – BC, Canada

10 Nov 2002

Dear Rina and Suleyman:

Arrived home last night feeling a little sad that it all had to end but brimming with wonderful stories to tell our friends and family.

We loved our time in Turkey - the tour plan was perfect for us and we can't thank you enough for all your care and concern in ensuring that we had a memorable trip. It's conscientious and dedicated people such as yourselves who make the difference and you sure made a difference with us. I guess what has happened is we consider ourselves to have made two new and dear friends and that is definitely one of the highlights of our trip. As I mentioned earlier, I will be passing along your name to anyone else we know who wants to explore Turkey as we have. Next time, a gulet cruise and the Mediterranean coast sounds just right!

After leaving you we toured the Peloponneses area of Greece and had a wonderful time. I had found a little stone bungalow in a small fishing village on the Mani peninsula for us to rent and it was perfect. Quiet time of the year so we had the beaches and little villages all to ourselves with lots of yard so the boys could work on their soccer skills. So much history and such nice people!

So, in closing the tours of Istanbul and Cappadocia were fantastic - you put together a plan that allowed us to really experience the culture and history of these areas and we plan on recommending you to everyone. We found the Hali Hotel to be great and in a perfect location to allow us to explore the city. The staff were very friendly and helpful and the breakfasts very nice. The Gamirasu Cave Hotel was like a dream come true and again we have only praise for the staff's friendliness and kindness during our stay. Suleyman was wonderful - is it something to do with the name? He thought the family room might be a little crowded for us so gave us two rooms instead which was nice. The food was fantastic and the location perfect for giving you a true sense of the lifestyle of the people of this area. I would highly recommend both places to anyone heading your way (as I would highly recommend Insight Travel). If you want us to write something that you can include on your web site, just let me know. Will do it gladly.

Best of luck with the business and we would be honored if you would visit us the next time you are in the Pacific northwest (and the boys would be doubly thrilled to see you again.) Thanks again for everything and take good care of yourselves.

Love, Clare Francis Teresa and boys

Tatyana S., Yakov L., Liana and Vladimir Z.

June 23, 2003

Dear Rina and Suleyman!
We would like to thank you both for the wonderful time we had in Istanbul and for the excellent service provided. Thanks to you we fell in love with your magic country. We will definitely recommend your service to all our friends and will post a recommendation on Frommers website.

Hope to see you again soon. Thank you again.

Tatyana, Yakov,Liana,Vladimir

Paul S. – San Francisco

June 23, 2003

Hello Rina,

Thanks for the email. I had been meaning to write you a quick note too after returning home, but got caught up in all the details of coming home and taking care of things that happened while we were away. At least I got to the unpacking and the laundry!

We had an excellent visit to Istanbul and are so happy to have chosen your agency for a couple of tours. Your husband is so knowledgeable and easygoing, and that made us feel very comfortable. If we weren't so jetlagged on that first all-day tour we might have learned much more, but Peter and I got a little sleepy wandering through Topkapi Palace.

You can be sure that I will recommend Insight Travel to any future clients I have going to Turkey. Thanks for all your help.

Paul Svedersky
Now, Voyager Travel

Dave B. – Livermore, CA

9 July 2003
Itinerary: Aegean, Pamukkale, Konya, Cappadocia

(A letter to Frommer's Guide)

My wife and I have just returned from a three week vacation in Turkey. We started out with some degree of anxiety, what with the international climate in that part of the world and the fact that our original plans were to be sailing the northern Greek Islands. The cruise was canceled, so we had 17 days to fill and no idea how. We decided to keep the flight to and from Istanbul and figure the rest out when we got there.

As we later found out, we crossed paths with several entities that you had covered in your book, and I want to say that each was well worth your recommendation. To start with, we decided to get some planning help in Istanbul so a person in my office sent us the name of Rina and Suleyman Tirosoglu at Insight Travel. They listened to our dilemma and objectives and helped us put together an absolutely fabulous experience. The only thing we knew going in was that we wanted to spend some time in Selcuk because a good friend's husband owned a carpet store there and wanted his staff to show us around that area.

After a couple of delightful hours, we had a car, ferry tickets, hotels, and an itinerary all set. Our route had stops in Assos, Ayvalik, Selcuk (3 nights), Pamukkale, Egirdir, Konya and Ayvali Village ... to stay in a cave for a couple of nights. We are interested in the ancient cultures, so we obviously saw all the sites, as well as some white pools and some lakes along the way. I won't bore you with the details because that's not my purpose. So often, people in your work only hear the negative concerning your references, so I'd like to provide some positive feedback.

I believe you talked about Insight Travel, and they are the best! We didn't know what we really wanted, nor anything about Turkey other than it had ancient Greek ruins. They took real interest in helping us see where we were and what our options were, then made a series of wonderful suggestions, leaving the three days in Selcuk for us to work out.

As it turned out, my friend from Selcuk also is in your book ... Authentic Art Carpet and Kilims. Arlson was (and is) in California but his partners were very warm and hospitable. Separately, we met with a Sandra Isaacs to get an Ephesus guide, and it turned out that she used to be a partner in the carpet operation, as well. Small world. Needless to say, we were wonderfully cared for.

During our time in Selcuk we stayed at the Kismet Hotel in Kusadasi. The staff there (Ebu in particular) was exceedingly friendly and the accommodations were outstanding. I will also add that they have the absolute best hotel bar for a warm summer evening that I have ever seen ... it's the front lawn under the pines overlooking the marina at sunset. The sea breezes wash over you while an Efes quenches you. Utopia!

We headed east after that and targeted the Gamirasu Hotel in Ayvali Village. What a place! From the time we set foot there, we were treated as good friends, not just paying customers. Suleyman Cakir (part owner), Birsen (manager) and the rest of the staff were just great. And Didem Kutur, our guide for two days in Cappadocia was (in deference to your article ... and Suleyman's ego :-) the best guide in the area and one of the two best guides we've ever had ... and that includes 15+/- guides from Greece, Italy and the Mayan Peninsula of Mexico. It was funny watching the good natured ribbing Suleyman and Didem exchanged when your book was brought out. That really is a fabulous operation.

I think those are the entities from your book that we experienced and we have nothing but good things to say about each of them. We went to Turkey in the middle of June knowing very little about the country or its people. We left on July 1 knowing that Turkey is a wonderful, warm and hospitable country full of people who want nothing more than for you to enjoy their world. The encounters (above) were all contributors to that new found perspective. And I would also say that you chose your references well.

Dave B.
Livermore, CA

Ilya Z. – Florida

October 02, 2003

Dear Rina,
Emma and I just came back home from our trip to Turkey and I'd like to express my gratitude for your job well done. Our trip was well organized, at every point we were met and assisted by kind and knowledgeable people, all transfers and services were on time, hotel rooms were clean and well equipped. Thanks again for your assistance with this trip.

Ilya Z.

John and Maria C. – Sydney, Australia

October 4, 2003

Dear Rina and Suleyman

Just about "resettled" back into my working routine. I was seriously tempted by Buzz and Sue to extend the trip and hear all about the joys of retirement.

The trip was fantastic - really loved Suleyman's relaxed approach - as I said to him on departure that he not only performed as a Guide but also shared himself with us all. This has given us a very personalised and real
experience of Turkey and the local culture. We have many memories which will last for years to come.

Our enthusiasm is "rubbing off" a number of people who have expressed a desire to visit Turkey. We have no hesitation in recommending Insight to these people.

Great to have met you both thanks again for your attention. If you ever are thinking of coming over to Sydney we would be more than happy to show you around.

John and Maria

John H. & Donald P. – New York

October 9, 2003

Dear Rina,

We had such a wonderful trip. Thanks so much for helping us at every step along the way.

Looking back, I would say your idea to have Ayhan drive us was the biggest key to making the tour a success. He looked after us very well. Almost like having a guardian angel. In retrospect, driving it ourselves would have led to divorce or, at the very least, tension filled days of trying to find the hotels, not to mention the sites.

We were very pleased with all of the hotels. The Elkep Evi in Cappadocia was especially memorable. They gave us a large, gorgeous cave room.

As for the sites, we should have allowed a full day for Pergamon. It was the place that most captured our imaginations. Less touristy and roped off than Efes. And of course it's huge. Note for future ruin buffs: None of the guidebooks emphasize how long it takes to see Pergamon. They all say to give a full day to Efes. We found just the opposite. Efes is easy to see in half a day being just one street with almost everything else blocked off. Pergamon, however, is sprawling and requires much time to wander and ponder. But this is a minor regret. And maybe a reason to return!

The Angora House hotel in Ankara was also very special. Fantastic old Turkey atmosphere. Like stepping briefly into another century.

As for Istanbul, we were captivated by the contrasts and textures of the city. The walk we did with Suleyman (looking for obscure mosques and churches) gave us a good feel for a part of town we would have missed otherwise. And we took his advice and spent the evening across the Horn, ending up in Taksim. So we experienced the crumbling conservative quarter and the ultra modern European town in the same day.

As for restaurants, we loved Magnaura. For our last evening I asked the Four Seasons to serve us a private dinner on one of their roof terraces. They were happy to comply, for no extra charge, and we were able to watch the moon sparkle over the sea. A sublime ending to a superb trip.

Once again, many thanks for all of your services. Best wishes to you and Suleyman and Emre.

John (+Don)

Rachel B. – UK

October 31, 2003
Itinerary: Istanbul

Dear Rina and Suleyman,

Thanks for your e-mail. We had a really great time in Istanbul. The two tours we did with you were the best days of our holiday. What was really good about them was that they took us to some fascinating places we would not normally have been able to get to easily. We thought the restaurants chosen to eat in were excellent too. Suleyman was a very well informed, patient and friendly guide! His real enthusiasm for Turkish history shone through.

I shall use your services again when I am next in Istanbul and I will certainly be recommending Insight Travel to my friends!.

Hope your winter won't be too cold and wet. It's like that here already........



Francine B. – San Francisco

October 30, 2003

Hi Rina and Suleyman,

I was getting ready to write you when I opened your e-mail.

My thanks to you both for making my second trip to Turkey a trip to remember. I can't stop talking about it and telling people that I recommend your agency most highly and would never use anyone else when I plan my next trip. You care about each individual client and it shows. Please do keep me informed as you plan trips to other areas of Turkey. A trip to the Mediterranean area sounds perfect. I climbed steps I never would have climbed, I walked paths I never would have walked and saw things I never would have seen. Suleyman, you proved that my short legs can get me anywhere people with long legs can go - as long as someone gives me some leverage and a helping hand. Thanks again for going the extra mile.

All my black and blue marks are fading (they were proof of all I did). I'm now back on California time but wish I was still in Turkey. There is so much more to see and the people are so nice (at least the ones I met).

Linda was an excellent guide on my tour of Jewish Istanbul. The museum was the highlight. It is beautifully laid out and tells a wonderful story. We also got to the Spice Market - a small version of the Grand Bazaar with not as much pressure to buy. I bought bookmarks for the people in my office and two pashminas (one to use under my new leather jacket and one for a gift).

Thanks again for dinner on Sunday. What a perfect farewell. The food was wonderful as was the company.

I'm glad you found my comments helpful. Of course I look at hotels in cities from the standpoint of a single person traveling alone and wanting to explore the area and be able to get back to the hotel easily. I know that there isn't much of a choice when exploring small villages and meeting the people (that was the most fun of all). As long as I have a clean bed and bathroom (one I can get into!) I'm happy.

Have a wonderful trip as you look for more places to take your clients. Please do keep in touch, I feel as if I've made two new friends. Let me know if you will be in San Francisco when you come back to the US in January. I'd love to see you both.


Francine B

Merrie S. – USA

November 20, 2003


I am still smiling about my trip to Turkey. I really had the trip of a lifetime and enjoyed everything so much! I do look forward to another visit in the future going to central and east Turkey and will continue to spread the word about how terrific my trip was. In addition, I will recommend you to anyone who asks and yes, you can give my name as a reference if you'd like.

Thanks again for helping me plan my trip. And, please tell Suleyman that all the presents were a big hit - but, I do wish I had bought more leather bags and fish bowls. ;-)

Take care,

Augustine F. – Bahrain

December 1, 2003

Dear Rina,
Thanks for the message. We did have one of our best tours in Turkey. It was great to meet your husband Suleyman who was a great guy. We appreciate the very personalized way he guided us during the tour. Our kind regards to him. Hope we get a chance to meet you again.

Kind regards,

Judy A. – New York

May 16, 2004

Hi Rina and Suleyman....

So, this was definitely a calmer week....nonetheless infused intermittently with ongoing memories of our time with you both, and especially with Suleyman. I was wondering if Suleyman was available for "group management" on behalf of our contingent. We are equally unruly in the U.S. as we were in Turkey. As a matter of fact, it appears that we are grossly unmanageable in the world as reports would have it, although our family seems somewhat more benign.

The first thing that comes to mind is that I am almost out of Ibraham's apricots. My co-workers think I'm crazy (which is not always debatable) as I manage my stressful moments by reaching into my black backpack for a dried apricot or two. It works better than valium and only has a few more calories. Please tell him at your convenience that our time with him was very special.... really not ever to be forgotten and his graciousness made us feel so welcome. We wish him well. While we have a few pictures that developed well at his hotel....we have a great picture of Suleyman managing a smile about ten minutes after balloon lift off.....and simply adorable pictures of our sweet time with Mustafa and his dear family. Mustafa was a hard act to follow but Nihat was so warm and considerate managing always to be at the right place at the right time. Rina, you and Janie look as great on the pictures as you behaved in person....loose, balmed and American style Turks.

So what shall I say....from the little sweet hotel in Izmir where we fell in after 24 hours of flying, dinner in Kusadasi where we had to learn about how to be more of a group and less of our individual selves in order to fit in to our "new culture". ....ruins, caravansaries, camels, sheep and their shepherds, foods, whirling dervishes, shopping, pit stops, skies, disappearing lakes, palaces, mosques, people....such lovely people, hot potatoes on a rainy day, Janie on a donkey, caves, tunnels, food, more food, perfect hotels, drinking before dinner, fabulous Cappadocia and all it has to share with us, ballooning, exhaustion, exhilaration, wonders three times a day, mountains, my wonderful piece of pottery which did not disappoint me when I got home, that cheese and pastry thing that I even went running around the airport for the day we left...and found it!, meze, I'm now hooked on yogurt...(every day), your office and and sweet home, the tiles (great pictures coming for your friend), unbelievable space and beauty in the mosques for me and God, unique time with our children that we have been lucky to find once in our lifetime which could never happen in the same way again, coupons, white cliffs and hot springs, a lady and her family with whistles and a colorful spring, lunch way up somewhere in a school, the people who had lunch with us, the school kids on Childrens' Day, Konya, the WEDDING!, those lovely synagogues which preserve our history and of course, getting lost in the taxi in Istanbul, the bazaar, spice market, cistern, Topkapi palace, tea and Turkish coffee behind the palace, great lunch in that interesting school building where we filled up on great food and bought the local wine so that there was no chance of our ever having of a sober evening, always running into someone who loves either one of you or both of you, David's sword, the Bosphorous/ferry/museum, understanding more about the sultans' history and a million others things that we learned (sometimes despite ourselves), having all of the Bible stuff fall into a meaningful coming together of history, a perfect vase in that museum on the Bosphorous that was thousands of years old, and then.....there is you managed us with patience, just enough rope, not too much or too little, gentleness, perseverance, sharing of so much, flexibility.....we feel much affection for you both....Rina ...asking the right questions....and planning this wonderful experience.....and finally spending time with us making us feel like family.....the words "thank you" don't do it ....but I guess it will have to suffice... please stay in touch...keep us posted....take good care of each other... and know that we all keep you close in our hearts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Noel M. – Australia

May 24, 2004

Hi Rina,
Thanks you for your email. We leave Istanbul tomorrow for Australia. Had a great time, but wish we had booked through your company for the total tour. Next time. We have been recommending you to all we come across and will continue to do so in Australia. Thank you once again and kindest regards to Suleyman.

Noel Milner and the group

Laura S. – New York

May 29, 2004

Rina and Suleyman,
We have really enjoyed our trip. Rest assured we will be your propaganda machine in the US. The guides were excellent and so was our driver, Neco.
Again, we leave with a great impression of Turkey. Thank you for creating such memorable moments for our family.

Laura, Bob, Alfredo and Claudia

Carol C. – Maryland

July 13, 2004

Dear Rina,
I have been meaning to write you. We had a wonderful time and really enjoyed the trip you arranged. Our favorite was perhaps Pergamon and the lovely little hotel where we stayed. It was very quaint, even if a bit outdated. Thank you for providing us with a rich learning experience and a fantastic introduction to coastal Turkey. We will be back!

Best regards,

Dara B. – Chicago

July 20, 2004

Dear Rina,

I just wanted to thank you for all of your help in coordinating this tour for me. I really enjoyed myself today. In addition to the cultural/religious aspect, the tour provided a nice overall introduction to Istanbul and its history and culture as I begin my brief stay in the city. Bulent was a wonderful guide-he made the day very informative and interesting, as well as enjoyable and entertaining. He was very responsive to my questions and interests, and his knowledge, enthusiasm, and humor made the busy day pass by quickly.

I will definitely pass on my positive experience to Lynn and anyone else I know traveling to Turkey in the future. Thank you again for everything!


Jennifer S. – Washington DC

July 30, 2004

I'm glad you emailed, because I had wanted to tell you how smoothly everything went on my travel. Your help was invaluable! Everything was just as you said, both hotels were perfect, in convenient locations, and had everything I needed. The plane ticket was ready and waiting for me at the Bodrum Airport. Thank you again for all of your help. I am already hoping that I can make the trip to Turkey again next year, I will be sure to ask you for help again. Thanks again Rina.


Tokyo Unity Church

July 30, 2004
Itinerary: 16-Day Biblical Turkey Tour

Some comments from a church group from Tokyo who did a Biblical Tour with Insight Travel in July 2004.

tokyo-church-3"Sulyeman the Magnificent": Thanks for all your great info and fun-you really made Turkey come alive. Best Wishes, Wendy

Thank you Suleyman. You have a wonderful country with so much history, friendly people and beautiful sights. Now I want to continue to learn about ancient history thanks to your inspiration! Sally

Suleyman the Great! Thanks for all the lecturing, the hikes, the cultural "B.C." immersion! It's been a great experience. You've been great and the best guide ever. Best Wishes. Sagulun. Jean

Suleyman-san: We appreciate your excellent introduction of your great country to us. Thank you very much. Jui & Keiko H.

Extremely happy and satisfied with our first trip to Turkey! Appreciate the coordination you and Rina had with the Thomas family get-together! The guide makes the difference- and Suleyman-san, you were great in encouraging and coaxing us into valleys, caves, ruins and sacred places! Thank you for the eye-opening adventures. Best Regards, Preman, Sajeeve, Anish, Preethi & Sarah Thomas.

Thank you for everything. You're the greatest guide. I really got to know Turkey and I appreciate your help. I'll never forget you. Kauru

Suleyman the Magnificent Guide! Thank you so much for making my first trip to Turkey so wonderfully memorable. Thanks for representing your country so beautifully. May

Dear Suleyman, I would like to say thank you very much for your help. We would not be able to enjoy this much without your help. I am still looking for the Iznik tiles! Nabuko

To Suleyman: Tesekkur ederim. Sayenizde iyi zaman gecirdim. Masako

Dear Suleyman, You are just great. May God bless you. See you in Tokyo. Suresh

Suleyman-Thank you for the wonderful introduction to Turkey. Wish you and Rina the very best in your future business. Best Wishes, Anna

Thanks for your patience, your generosity, and especially your sense of humor. It has really been a pleasure, and who knows, maybe we'll do this again when I'm at another church. And thanks as well to Rina for all her help in preparation. Craig H.

Murry & Carmen A. – Athens

August 17, 2004

Thanks Rina

We had a wonderful time in Istanbul. The tours were excellent, exactly what we wanted. Carmen went to the Turkish bath you recommended as well, and she had a great experience there. We walked Istiklal on both days and marveled at the pulsating energy of that pedestrian boulevard. What a marvelous city, we know we will be back and stay much longer next time. The And Hotel was fine, not the largest room but with a sublime view of St. Sofia. The staff was cordial and eager to please.

We had a blast! Thanks for all your help, you were great. Next time we will get together.

Murray & Carmen

Margy P. – Washington DC

September 01, 2004

Dear Rina,

We had a most interesting and enjoyable time in Turkey. The arrangements that you made for us were excellent. Car transfers went extremely well and were timely, guides were very well informed and anxious to make sure that we received as much exposure to sights and information as possible.

The Seven Hills Hotel and Esbelli Evi worked very well for us. We found them interesting places to stay with accommodating management. The Kismet was an excellent hotel, and the service was excellent including dining and room service.

We had a fascinating time in Istanbul and a friend drove us all over the city after we had walked for three days to most of the Sultanahmet sights. We also went out to Koc University where we have friends in the administration; they drove us along the Bosphorous, which was beautiful, and we had an excellent dinner over looking the sea. We loved the Turkish cuisine and enjoyed excellent and interesting restaurants at each of our stops.

All of our day at Ephesus, the House of the Virgin Mary and Artemis temple was fascinating. I particularly enjoyed the museum at Selcuk, it is a jewel. We loved Cappadoccia. Our guide there was excellent, we had him for two days. Our walk/hike through the Red and Rose Valleys was a highlight. The fairy chimneys, Devrent Valley were also very interesting. Ihlara was beautiful, but I should have gone with your recommendation for the Soganli valley. The sites south of Urgup sounded very interesting. We really loved our trip and you did a great job. I should have begun corresponding with you directly much earlier in the planning. We traveled fast and hard, so our three days on the Mediterranean coast were relaxing. By the way, our two nights at the International Hotel at the Istanbul Airport were outstanding. The hotel is beautiful and all of the service excellent. It really worked well for us with the early flights to Dalyaman and back to London and the States.

Thank you for all of your insight. We will recommend you to any friends interested in traveling in Turkey. It is truly an amazing country and we hope it will be asked to join the EU. I enjoyed reading Stephen Kinzer's book The Star and the Cresent and I plan to continue reading more Turkish history, novels and poetry.

Margy P.

Biraj & Suruchi M. – Foster City, California

September 04, 2004

Dear Rina,
Had a great time, really enjoyed our stay at Istanbul, I am still craving for all the good food we had in Istanbul, all credit goes to you and of course our handsome guide Suleyman. Will be looking forward to do another trip to Turkey sooner than later.

Thanks a lot,
Biraj & Suruchi

Diana M. – Hungary

September 7, 2004

Dear Rina,

We just came back from the vacation and would like to give you feed-back. Thanks to you, it was a success.

Letoonia was a very pretty place, the service was great, the peninsula was absolutely beautiful. The sports were well organized and plenty. Kismet-the very best in Kusadasi. The peninsula is very pretty, the hotel facilities exceptional. Overall a very high mark. Arena was very, very good and had very, very good service. We loved it. If I had to reschedule, I would have stayed one less day in Kusadasi and one more in Istanbul.

Again, many many thanks, it was great and everything you organized in good shape! We are all grateful.

Diana and family

Nina K. – Chicago

September 28, 2004

Dear Rina,
I want to thank you for choosing a very lovely hotel for me and my sister. The young team who work in the hotel were so friendly and dynamic. Even the misunderstanding about my last day was solved by your agency for my benefit, I found another beautiful hotel "Apricot" to stay at next time. Shortly, our trip was a sheer pleasure. We shall return.
Thank you again, for the beautiful hotel and tour package to Cappadoccia.


Stuart A. – Upland, California

September 28, 2004

Thanks for the nice note. We enjoyed our trip very much and appreciate your efforts in arranging things. We would certainly consider visiting Turkey again (ah, those wonderful tomatoes! those glorious cheeses!), and would use your services again without hesitation. Our best to Kunt and Mustafa. They are very fine fellows, and really made our trip. Again, thanks for everything. If Anne should decide someday that she wants to go birding in Turkey, do you know of any guides who have expertise in this area?


Pierre and Fran – US Consulate in Ankara

September 29, 2004

We loved it!! The cave hotel was wonderful and definitely the highlight of Turkey! It was different than anything I've ever seen. We had a great time - thank you again for arranging everything for us, it all went smoothly, and we are very happy.
Pierre and Fran

Kathy F. – Maryland, USA

September 29, 2004

Hi! Have just a moment - but wanted you to know that Georgen and I certainly enjoyed Serkan and our tours. You put together a great, great package for us. When I have a moment, I'm going to send a memo to ITN (International Travel News) re your company. I will copy you.

Take care, Kathy

Beginning Sept 17, 2004, my sister and I spent five days in Istanbul, Turkey. We scheduled private tours of the city with Insight Travel, Akbiyik Cad. No. 104, Sultanahmet, Istanbul. Our time limited, we toured only Istanbul, but Insight has a most interesting and informative website of their many available tour packages of Turkey.

Rina Svensson Tirasoglu, an American, and Suleyman Tirasoglu, Turkish, own the travel agency. We have nothing but praise for the very professional services that Rina provided us, from airport transfers, guide, drivers, to superlative, comprehensive tour itineraries. Our guide Serkan was excellent. He was a font of information on Turkish history and culture. Via emails, Rina answered all of my questions promptly and completely. I am not easily impressed, but I was with Insight Travel and Rina.

We had a wonderful time in Istanbul. We found the Turkish people to be friendly and kind. We never felt there were any security problems in the city.

Katherine F.

Carol H. – New York

29 September 2004

Dear Rina,

Sorry for the delay in replying to your kind email. It was fabulous, fabulous, ALL THE PICTURES CAME OUT!!!. I will send you some. You should see me atop Mt. Nemrut, frozen but happy. The mule experience was one I will have to describe in a separate email , I had the best trip I ever had despite the difficulties. All the hotels were good, the Palan was wonderful, I would hope that in future it will be a two night stop as they have such wonderful amenities. I loved the Gaziantep hotel as it has a lovely spa and pool and I had a great swim and sauna and the pool attendant was wonderful. But naturally the Daphne remains my favorite hotel of all. I have not known such loving attention and kindness anywhere at anytime, even at Kempinski. I will recommend them highly and hope they get lots of business. Did you know they stood outside when I left for airport and waved me off?

Food was great through out but I love Turkish food anyway as you know. We had some exceptional meals though, one in Erzerum in the restored house was the best in my opinion. Great grilled chicken. Also a great meal in I can't remember where, near a Mosque in a garden. I'll look it up in my trip notes and let you know. That was sumptuous, we all enjoyed it. Yashar the driver was superb, I have promised to find him an American wife and will start looking soon. We are very busy here and it's easy to see that being away three weeks sends everyone into a panic but I am already thinking about next year. Will write more later as I have detailed comments. All the best to you, it was great meeting you and I hope to see you again next year unless you come to NYC before then. Best wishes to Suleyman, he was tops.

Carol H.

Hi Rina,

Hope all is well with you. I am trying to get back into the swim of things but it's difficult. Here are the rest of my trip notes I hope they are useful: Lake Van was wonderful, I loved Akdemar Island and boat ride but every fly in Turkey seemed to be there. Next time I will bring some fly repellent. But it was a lovely, spot flies notwithstanding. Lunch was good too, very good chicken and salad was I think the best I ever ate. I loved the Buyuk Urutu Hotel, I loved the decor - very Ottoman and working refrigerator which was good.

Dogubayazit - what a great place. I loved the waterfall with it's little bridge. It reminded me of the rope bridges in Nepal, just a little more sturdy. The countryside around it was wonderful and beautiful. Lunch was boiled beef just like Mama used to make! What a good meal in a neat upstairs restaurant with grocery store downstairs where I was able to buy film and other stuff. What can I say about Ishak Pasha? Breathtaking is one word. My pictures from here are spectacular. The Sim Er hotel reminds me of mountaineering hotels in Switzerland. The atmosphere and friendly staff make it a great place to stay. The rooms are basic but it has a lot of charm. The dinner buffet was very good, a lot of variety. I got great pictures of Mt. Ararat - no clouds at all. We were very lucky and saw lots of large hawks which I thought were golden eagles, alas they weren't.

Kars reminded me somehow of Haifa Israel - maybe the steep streets. I liked it very much. The lunch restaurant was super duper, lots of variety and great food. If I weren't embarrassed I would've eaten more.

Erzurum is a great place. I enjoyed the place, the people were friendly and interested and inside the Medrese there was a market going on with lovely things. For some reason the women I talked to kept patting me, this happened in Urfa too, I can't understand it. The local stone from which jewelry was made was very lovely. Palan Hotel was first rate, I loved it, it had a wonderful breakfast buffet and I wish we could have stayed there a second night to use all the amenities.

Sumela was great but taxing, I didn't think I could make it all the way up but I did with Suleyman's help and Gene's help and Coleen's help. I did however do those steps all alone and I have a picture to prove it. Frescos in great shape as my pictures will attest, it is truly a very worthwhile site and I would love to go back there.

Then back to Istanbul, all flights in Turkey were perfect but my bag was the very last one. Back at lovely Daphne to a warm welcome and tea and rest and bath they very kindly put me back in my same wonderful room with the view of a minaret with a tree growing out of it. Next day spent at Arasta market finishing up shopping, as Grand Bazaar was closed. Good flight back to US with no problems.

Rina it was a wonderful trip. I had the best time I ever had on this kind of trip; you did a splendid job as did Suleyman and Eastern Turkey is truly wonderful, more Americans should go there and see. I can tell by the reaction to my pictures that people never saw such beautiful sights. The ones that made the biggest impression were of course Mt. Nemrut, also Ishak Pasha and Mt. Ararat and the Goreme Open Air Museum which is truly a jewel in its newly restored state. Yashar was the perfect driver even in difficult places, I hope he was satisfied with what we collected for him. He was funny and personable. Well Rina, that's about all I have to say. See you in Istanbul next time unless you come to NYC before next June.
All the best to you and Suleyman,


Frank R. – UK

1 October, 2004


Thank you very much for the email. I really enjoyed both tours. My favorite was the Byzantine tour on Sunday. As I told Suleyman, Byzantine history is one of my favorite areas of historical interest. During the tour, I mentioned two books to Suleyman on Byzantium that he might be interested in. Both books are by Steven Runciman, a Medieval historian at Oxford University. The first book is titled The Fall of Constantinople: 1453, discusses the great siege and its consequences. The second book is titled The Great Church Captivity: A Study of the Patriarchate of Constantinople from the Eve of the Turkish Conquest to the Greek War of Independence. Hope you find these references useful.

Best Regards,

Larisa R. – New York

4 October, 2004

I had very good and interesting time in Istanbul. Hazim was very polite, patient and quite knowledgeable. I like him. Say hello to him from me. You have assigned a good driver for me. Thank you. I will recommend your company to my friends when they will go to Turkey.

Thanks again,

Athena and Nils – Washington D.C.

5 October, 2004

Dear Rina,
My apologies for my late response. We had the naming ceremony of my first granddaughter after we arrived in DC, followed by the Annual Meetings of the World Bank (just finished on yesterday, Tuesday).

Thanks for recommending to us the Arena Hotel and arranging our reservation, it was exactly what we were looking for and we had a most wonderful stay there. First, it's location is within walking distance to Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi, Cisterns, Arrasta, Egyptian, Grand Bazaars, restaurants, etc. The staff showered us with attention and very professional service. We were given corner rooms where we enjoyed a view of the Bosphorus and a mosque. Overall, it was a great choice. Turkey's magic has remained with us until now that we cannot wait for a return trip. We hope we could make it soon.

Thanks once more and best regards,
Athena and Nils

Helge N. – Munster University Archaeology Dept.

5 October, 2004

Dear Rina,
My chef Prof. Salzmann and I are really very happy to have taken your travel agency. Everything was prepared carefully and well. The hotels, you have chosen, were agreeable. The chauffeur was a carefully driving person. Finally - you will expect - I was really happy to have my friend Ali with us, he was working like a lion all days (and half the nights). Altogether your arrangements have been perfect and I will give your address to all my colleagues who want to travel with a group to Turkey. Thanks a lot also to your husband and I hope we keep in contact


Marion R. – Australia

9 October, 2004

Dear Rina -

I seem to spend my days thanking you for one thing or another . . . . and again today. Have printed it out and it looks like just the thing I need.

Because we went to such a variety of countries on our trip - don't know if you were aware of this, but we went to Hawaii, Canadian Rockies (organised tour), Alaska (cruise) and then inland to Denali National Park in Alaska (organised tour), England (staying with friends), Ireland (touring with friends and we did all the driving and planning ourselves), Turkey, Thailand (only 2 days) - people are asking us which was our favourite country.

Because of, not only the variety of where we went but how we went, it's difficult to compare one with another . . but as an answer has to be given, Geoff and I both end up saying "TURKEY".

Coming from a country where our written history only goes back 200 years, we were overwhelmed with the history of Turkey; our first day tour of Istanbul with Ilhan was exceptional; staying in the old part of Istanbul was good for us; the affinity of Gallipoli for us as Australians was special, of course; Ephesus was something we hadn't researched, so it was mind-boggling to be walking through that kind of place; glad you were able to include Pamukale for us; and staying in Kusadasi was a balance for all the rest. Just the way Insight Travel synchronised all the pieces of our trip without a fault impressed us . . . . . and Hazim's lovely smile made us feel welcome from the time we stepped off the plane . . . . .

Rina, we've been singing your praises to all our friends here, so maybe the whole thing will have a flow-on effect.

In the meantime, it's been our privilege to have "met" you along the way.

Warmest regards
Marion R.

Yvonne G – SAS Airlines, USA

15 October, 2004

Dear Rina and Suleyman

Just a quick note to thank you for a wonderful trip you put together for my husband and I. We absolutely fell in love with Turkey. The people, sights, sounds, food, culture, history, religion....everything was amazing!

The hotels you picked out for us were perfect for our needs! The Daphne was in a good location and very clean. Gamirasu Hotel is one that we will probably never forget in our life time! Arriving at night into a cave hotel was a bit scary, but it soon turned into a warm and amazing experience. The help was fantastic and warm. The food was delicious as well! The Kayhanbey hotel was in an excellent location!

As for our tour guides and drivers... Let's start off in Istanbul. How could we go wrong with Suleyman and Hazim? Suleyman was informative and led us to each sight with good timing. Hazim was the nicest and most professional driver. He was very hospitable from the beginning to the end! He is an asset to your company. In Cappadoccia, the transfers were seamless. Our driver and tour guide there were fantastic as well! We were very pleased with them. Our tour in Pamukkale was perfected when they brought us to the Pam Hotel for lunch and time to swim and soak in the mud bath. That was a wonderful treat!

I don't know if it was because of the time of the year or if you really booked us for a private tour in Istanbul and Cappadocia, but it was wonderful just being by ourselves. Again, great choice in hotels and tours. It covered everything I wanted to see. I only wish we had just a bit more time to do some shopping in Kusadasi. I guess we are not done with Turkey and need to come back again! Isn't that wonderful? I'll get to deal with you again then. Thanks for all your help Rina. You can be rest assured that I will always recommend you and your company to anyone who wants to visit Turkey!


John H. – Spokane, WA

21 October, 2004

Dear Rina --
I share your hope that we might meet sometime. My wife and son and daughter-in-law had a very enjoyable time with Suleyman, who is a veritable fountain of information and a model of patience. I'm very impressed with your operation, and hope you grow and prosper. If you two ever get to Spokane, I'll give you a tour for free.

John H.

Murray H. – Canada

30 October, 2004

Dear Rina,

Thanks for the inquiry. Yes, we liked the Cekirge hotel in Bursa as it was right next the Murat I mosque and tomb and the bricked courtyard and wind in the trees were great However the modern Kent Hotel which we'd discussed was just fine despite being on the main street (the windows kept out most noise) because the Ulu Cami, the Koza Han and bazaars and the Orhangazi Cami were right across the street! Very central and much appreciated by us both.

Alia will no doubt have further useful comments but there were so many wonderful things and the ability to buy front seats on the buses beforehand was a real blessing, making the trips relatively OK for

We had a great time in in Cappadocia. Konya was great because of the Mevlana and a special night (Bayrat?) 15 days before Ramazan, Antalya was great too and the tours very good, including the trip to Kekova to swim (a high point for moi). The big thermal hotel Lycos River in Pamukkale was clean and the ruins were splendid. Canakkale was fun because we were right in the middle of things and yet not noisy and Troy with Mustafa Askin as guide was wonderful.

Bought his booklet on Gallipoli too and it supplemented the guide the next day. It was a memorable trip, every day a success, and thank you for the arrangements.


Cathryn K. – New Jersey, USA

1 November, 2004

Hi Rina,

I wanted to write to thank you and Suleyman for a wonderful time in Istanbul. It was something I will always remember. Suleyman is so knowledgeable and it was a real treat to have him for 2 days to tell me all about your beautiful city. I have been highly recommending your company to my friends and colleagues that have asked me about my trip.

Hope this is finding you well. Cathryn

Jenny S. – Melbourne, Australia

22 November, 2004

Hi Rina,

It was really nice to meet you!

Mum and I had a wonderful time in Antalya; Alp Pasa was a nice cosy haven. The tour to Myra was facinating, although it was a long drive. Lucky we were not in a hurry to move on the next day.

We had a wonderful time in Turkey. I wished I were able to spend another week in Istanbul just bumming around. I was forever amazed at how people were friendly but not sleezy (after Egypt ...) and it was so easy to strike up a conversation about all sorts of topics.

On the second leg of our tour, we joined up with a group of 24 people, half from Australia and half from the US. A retired philosophy professor on the tour asked a bunch of us what was our highlight. All the guys were coming up with this and that site and when it came to me, I said: "The people, no doubt".

Once again, thanks for your help. I'll keep in touch as I'm determined to drag Rob, my husband, over within the next couple of years.

If you are ever in Melbourne, contact me as I'll be happy to meet up for a drink or dinner.

Take care and all the best,

Cara H. – Alberta, Canada

22 November, 2004

Dear Rina,
Thank you very much for the amazing itinerary and tour. Everything was excellent! The trip was busy and packed, and the weather was beautiful! Mustafa was a great driver and guide. We all had a spectacular time.

The hotel in Kas was OK and it had a great view. The hotel in Istanbul was far above expectations, and of course also, the resort in Fethiye, I could have stayed there for a week. Thank you again, as all the transfers, guide and services provided were absolutely superb! I have already recommended you to two friends.

Thanks for everything,


Steve W. – Austin, TX

24 November, 2004

Thank you for all your help. Ilhan was a terrific guide. I enjoyed myself very much. I look forward to returning to Turkey with friends!

Thank you again,
Steve W.

Katie F. -Washington D.C.

30 November, 2004

Rina and Suleyman.
I wanted to send my sincere thank you to both of you. Our trip was perfect. Suleyman was a superb guide and we really enjoyed each day with him. My mom is telling everyone they must visit Turkey and they must contact you if they do. We were so impressed with everyone and everything. Ankara worked out well although it was a little colder. My mom's tour guide was quite ok, but not Suleyman (in her words).

Anyway, thank you again for all of your hard work and please know that I will be back.