Disaster in Turkey


Most of you know we went on a two week vacation recently. I wanted to post each day about our trips but the internet on the cruise ship was .79 cents a minute so that was a big NO. Our trip consisted of a night in Rome and then heading 45 minutes down to Civitavecchia which is the port town outside of Rome. We cruised on an almost brand new boat called the Celebrity Reflection which was just beautiful. We went to Sicily, Athens, Rhodes, Santorini, Ephesus( Turkey), Mykonos, and Naples (Capri to be exact, Naples is gross). I want to tell you the best and worst highlights of this trip along with pictures but first I’d like to tell you about Turkey.
I know you all have been waiting with bated breath

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If you haven’t ever been on a cruise, each time you dock at a new place you have a choice: do a provided shore excursion by the cruise line , hire a private tour (provided you have already booked), or just “wing it” and hope for the best. Before Turkey we had done one shore excursion and it wasn’t our favorite method. You are on a bus annoyed by all the people and then you get off the bus and you are still annoyed by all the people because you can’t seem to escape the crowds. In Athens, we hired a private car and it was the best money spent albeit expensive, yet still worth it. He would stop where we wanted, had the car cooled to a perfect temp, and bottled water waiting in our cup holders. ( Not to mention it was a Mercedes which I am very fond of.) He even took my to Starbucks! We really had pleasant excursions so far so for Turkey we decided to just “wing it” and hope for a private car or something. I had no high hopes for Turkey to begin with, its not a place I was dying to see but I was interested in seeing the Virgin Mary House which was said to be where she spent the last 9 years of her life before dying. The ruins were in Ephesus which was about 30 minutes from the port. We immediately unload from the ship at 8ish am and start scoping. We came across a business that offered tours with a maximum of 16 people and take you to see the ruins, virgin mary house and two other things. I don’t remember the names b/c we never got to see them…
Walking into the “tour” place already felt wrong but some other members of our cruise slowly trickled in providing me with a little bit of comfort. I mean you always walk into to a place HOPING their intention is not to kidnap you and sell your kidneys on the black market…
After a good 40 minute wait for enough people to sign up, we start climbing onto the bus. First error, they overbooked and there were not enough seats for us ( the first people to sign up, of course). They had miscounted but luckily the tour guide was willing to stand. The tour lady was really sweet. She was young and really knew her stuff about the ruins. She was on her first day with this particular company… and apparently her last.
The driver who spoke no English drove us to the exit of the ruins. Mind you this is about a mile of ruins that you walk through. You start at one end and end up in another ( the exit). So of course he wanted us to get out. She convinced him that we had to drive around to the entrance or they wouldn’t let us in. This is when we realized that this guy was THE biggest idiot in the world and it was only going to get worse. I need to also tell you that its really hot in Turkey and this AWESOME van driver turned the air on low which meant “barely running”. Already sweating we go through the ruins which was about an hour and a half. I was kind of bored after 10 minutes but Im not into history like my Dad always wanted us to be. I did however appreciate what I was seeing. After seeing things like Auschwitz concentration camps, nothing has captured my attention as much, especially a pile of rocks. We get on the van and we are missing two people. These two idiots were shopping for a good 10 minutes as we all waited about to die from the heat. I will say people are completely and totally oblivious when they are on vacation, like time stops and they are the only ones in the world

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We thought our next stop was to the Virgin Mary house but the tour had other ideas. They said they wanted to stop and let us “cool off”. The driver drives down the highway and the stops all the sudden on the side of the road and makes a phone call leisurely. He says something in Turkish and we finally figure out he has missed a turn. All the sudden this idiot flips it in reverse and backs up down the highway. Not for a split second but for about a half mile. (It seemed like 5 miles when you know your life is dangling by a thread. We kept telling him to “STOP!” and “Just do a U turn like a normal person!” but he of course didn’t speak English. Finally we arrived at our destination… A Leather and Fur shop. We get out (hoping to find a cab) but instead were greeted by a man and taken into a small room. They give us some kind of weird cold tea which I did not partake in. It could have been some sleepy serum they give you right before they cut out your organs was all I could think. All the sudden the lights go down and a fashion show of leather starts. Women and men flipping their coats about as if it is not 200 degrees outside. We were all laughing and at this point just so dumbfounded that this was happening. I mean we are all sweaty in shorts and tank tops at a damn fashion show!

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After the “show”, they led us down to the show room hoping we would purchase a $2000 leather raincoat. We stood outside and many of us were astonished. This is not what I paid for, I don’t want to shop, I came to explore Turkey not to be suckered into buying ugly leather and fur to which is irrelevant since I live in the effing desert!
We told the tour lady we were very unhappy and we just wanted to continue our tour or just go back to the port. We’ve had enough of the bad driving which led to extra time in the van. She basically relayed to us that not only were we going to visit these “shops” and had no choice but she was being told we could not come back. KIDNAPPED. Thats what it felt like. The next shop was a rug shop only made a little bit bearable b/c in the front was 4 ladies actually making the rugs, which was really neat to see. They told us we HAD to get out of the van and go inside. They tried herding us all in a room to shut the door and NOW sell us $15,000 rugs. Most of us had become completely defiant and wouldn’t enter the room while they are shouting in all directions, “Come! Come! I want to show you something.” Nothing ever good comes from that statement by an unknown man…

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We at this point are pissed, angry and want to go home, badly. We finally make it to the Virgin Mary house and the tour guide says its 10Euros to enter and she will take our cash. Its a tiny little house, Im not buying that its 10 Euros… As we pull up I see the sign 16 Turkish Lira to enter which equates to about 5-6 Euros. Hank and I were the only ones who didn’t give money and everyone else gave their 10. We stood up and said “Listen, you BLEEPS are charging us more to enter these places and stashing the extra! You have taken us to the stupid shops we don’t want to go to. We are tired, we are starving, and we have been on this tour for far longer than necessary and after this we want to go back to the port!” Everyone chimess in and we go pay our own way in. She wouldn’t give back money to the others but that wasn’t my problem.We already fell victim to giving her money for the ruins which most definitely shouldn’t have cost 12 EUros.

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Afterward we loaded the van for the last time but the THIRD time I had to ask the driver with hand signals to start the van while we wait. EVERYTIME he would be smoking a cigarette and intentionally not starting the van so we sweat to death. I started yelling even though he couldn’t hear me about how stupid of a man he was and that if my child overheats I will kill him.My blood was boiling I was so angry, plus It wasn’t anything someone else hadn’t already said…
Ah, we start the journey back to the port- wait, nope! Another stop, this time at a jewelry store. Everyone lost their minds. Hank and another older man on the tour both stood up and said this is enough! They grab all they guys and tell us women to stay in the van. No Turkish man can sell a necklace to a guy. As we waited, I ask the tour guide to tell the idiot van driver to turn on the air while we wait. Cruze was hot and sweaty asleep in my arms (don’t worry I checked his pulse since we hadn’t eaten since 7am and it was closing in on 4pm.) The driver says No that the “breeze is enough”. WTF? This guy was just being a douchebag. I realized at that moment I have never hated anyone more. We then see the tour guide pretty much freaking out. Some women who felt bad for asked her what was wrong and she said that her boss is screaming at her on the phone and told her she was probably fired and why weren’t any of us buying anything. They were trying to console her and telling her that it wasn’t her fault, she was just trying to do her job and that she should look for better employment. One that doesn’t rip off tourists.
We get back to the port and I wanted to kiss the damn ground. I had never been so glad to see our ship!

This story Im telling doesn’t even do it justice. The Turkish pester the crap out of you to buy their ridiculous “handmade” crap. We even saw one guy throw money at a man selling postcards just so he would back off. Every country has a way to rip off the idiot tourists but being “kidnapped” is by far the worst.
Everyone ended up back at the tour office flipping out on this guy. I almost taped the crazy yelling but I was too tired to breath. The basically told him to go “Bleep” himself. The best part was the old woman yelling at him telling him that he was a con artist, a thief, and I quote “fucking asshole”. She was like 68 years old and one heck of a firecracker! You can’t know how horrible this experience was unlesss you were there. Its really our fault for trying to save a couple of bucks and honestly both of us should have known better. But at least we have a story for the kids…

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One thought on “Disaster in Turkey

  1. Taylor, I’m just so very glad you 3 got out of there safely!! That’s terrifying! I’m literally allergic to the sun (yep) and would have been so sick from that heat. I nearly experienced the same, tho not kidnapped, just had to wait it out in the heat, in remote Mexico. I passed out! If a next time, fake something like that to scare the **BLEEP** out of them. Murder of an innocent American tourist while kidnapped….oh they better run!!!

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