South African Archaeological Society
August 31st - September 18th, 2016
Dear Reinoud, Iffet and Bulent,I would like to thank you both for such a wonderful tour!It exceeding my expectations and this was not only due to the places we visited, but particularly the following factors that stood out for me:
The detail that went into organising the tour;
The quality of the accommodation that you organised for us;
The size and quality of the bus that was provided - it was comfortable, had enough space and the driver was very good;
Our Guide Bulent - he was so knowledgeable and shared his perspective and information in an interesting manner. He was never boring and his comments were always pertinent. In addition he knew local people and was able to communicate and adapt, as required;
Your contacts to be able to arrange for some of the lead archeologists to be on site when we visited their excavations;
The local dinners which allowed us to taste the local cooking.
Ensuring that we had adequate security when it was needed.
It could not have been an easy task to bring this all together in the trying conditions that existed in Turkey during our visit.Thank you so very much.
I know that you were upset at the missed flight near the end of our trip - that for me, that is just one of those unfortunate incidences and we all adapted well to it. Thank you for working so hard to recover the situation.Reinoud, you certainly squeezed a lot into our tour and now, in going though my pictures and trying to organise a presentation, I realise just how much we did!Iffet, I look forward to joining one of your other tours - my next one will be along the Black Sea and focusing on the Hittites.My main impressions of the tour were ones of the vast extent of history that has passed over and through and yet reside in Turkey. The critically important archeological sites and how they are being protected.The Fertile Crescent and Trade routes that cross the land [Silk Road].The high level of development within the country - excellent roads and museums.The concern about future development - may it all work out for your country.
I am now trying to make a presentation from all my slides, but also including a sense of history and development over the past 12 000!!I will sing your praises each time I show the presentation.
John RaimondoCape TownSouth Africa
PS please pass on my thanks to Bulent
Dear Iffet Ozgonul
Just to say a personal word of thanks for the work you did in organizing the recent tour of Turkey by the South African Archaeological Society. It was the first time I had visited Turkey, and I have to say the tour exceeded my expectations - in the variety of sites we visited, the landscapes we saw, the richness of the culture we experienced. And a special word of thanks to our guide, Bulent Sahan, who went out of his way to make sure that we were well looked after at all stages of the trip. I especially appreciated his talks to us on the bus about Turkish history and culture and public affairs: well-informed, insightful, thought-provoking. I felt we had a real professional at work here.I much hope to visit Turkey again before too long to see something of the parts we did not visit - including especially Istanbul. Something to look forward to.
Back home in South Africa and remembering daily our wonderful trip to your beautiful country!!I would like to thank you for making our trip so memorable and very full.Despite the problems at the very end, which by the way everyone involved handled with such calmness and efficiency.Thank you for making Bulent feel he was able to carry on and save the day.Please convey to the driver that I will forever remember his great courage in taking us half way through the country to get our flights. He was the hero of it all!!Once again thank you for your care and the whole country’s care (police and army), that were always in the background very discreetly.It was a trip I had always dreamed of as a young student of history and I got the chance to live it......
Warm regardsGinny Koumantarakis
I have travelled with Reinoud at least five times, but this was by far the most interesting, comprehensive and well-researched of all of them. I must congratulate you on the support you supplied, not only in the form of military or police protection, but when things went a bit awry at the end, you must have worked frantically to get us all aboard another plane, refreshed after a few hours in an airport hotel. All the hotels were excellent, except maybe one, which was ever so slightly run down, but not that our undaunted band of aged Archaeologists would care. They were all keen as mustard in spite of infirmities, chronic illnesses and the annoyances of old age. But the main purpose of this letter is to sing the praises of two very special people, our guide and driver. Both were exceptional in every respect, particularly when it was suddenly clear at 4pm that we had exactly 10 minutes to get to the airport in Kars to catch a flight to Ataturk Airport. I watched poor Bülent collapse into a melted heap. His body language was devastating to all of us and we felt for his pain. I know that if I was a guide, I would have had the time required to leave for the airport firmly fixed in my brain and would not have felt the need to check the tickets. There was too much else to do, just dealing with each and every question, describing sights, telling of the history and ensuring everyone on the bus was OK. It was completely understandable that he should assume that everything was as it had been in his tour papers. The fact that he had not been informed by phone of the change of the time of flight was the critical cause of the chaos that followed. But both driver and Bulent rose to the occasion and we were all delivered safely to our destination. They both deserve the highest praise. I will unreservedly recommend Peten Travels to anyone who wants to spend time in Turkey. I for one will certainly do so again. I would like to thank you too for the comprehensive notes you gave us at the start of the tour – completely unexpected, and all of the tour members spent plenty of time on the bus consulting the notes. I am sure when they all get home, your folder will be put to good use in compiling their own personal notes, diaries and captions to photographs.
With kind regards,
Dear Iffet and Bulent,
I have finally got back to my time zone here in Boston and so miss being in Turkey. Iffet thank you so very much for creating this jewel of a trip for us in Turkey which Bulent so wonderfully managed for you. Thank you both for taking such good care of us all through out the time we spent in Turkey and making sure we saw all the beauty that Turkey has to offer and ensuring that our safety was taken care of. It was done with such finesse we were largely unaware of just how much and what was being done to secure our safety and enjoyment. Words cannot describe how much I appreciate all that was offered to me in your country. It was done with generosity of spirit that has left a mark and will never be forgotten. You have a beautiful and wonderful country, with lovely people and I have been very lucky to experience it as I have.Bulent you were a wonderful person and guide that handled all so awesomely, especially all the various characters you had to deal with. So sorry you had to go through such angst in that final day. Yes we missed the plane but all was handled with such professionalism and amazingly you and our great driver got us safely across country. Iffet you got us flights (amazingly for so many of us) and between you all had us going on our ways to homes far away. Here I have to specially commend the awesome driver who not only drove fabulously the entire trip, managed to safely and quickly get us back cross country to where we started to catch those flights to Istanbul. Please let him know that he was greatly appreciated and what he did was above and beyond. What an adventure.This has been a memorable trip for me and I will certainly recommend Turkey, your company Iffet and Bulent if they can get you as a guide.
Many many thanks for all,