Meet our expert, resident Program Directors
"Serif’s program was better than any graduate school seminar I’ve attended. He was a walking encyclopedia of information. He quickly got to know us all, started every day with humor, and was so kind!"
–Carolyn Fullerton, 9-time traveler, Redlands, California
100% of Grand Circle travelers rate their experience with Serif on this vacation as "excellent"
Born in: Odemis, Turkey (near Izmir)
Currently resides in: Istanbul, Turkey
With Grand Circle since: 1994
Languages: Turkish, English
Education: Degree in American-English Language and Literature from University of Istanbul
Hobbies/Special interests: Photography, tennis, Internet publishing, travel
Interesting Fact about Serif: He’s an accomplished travel writer. In addition to being the author of his own weekly travel column for a Turkish newspaper, Serif also writes travel features for magazines. Turkish Odyssey, his 560-page cultural guide on Turkey, was the first published travel guidebook about Turkey to be written by a Turk.
Memorable Group Experience: While driving through the countryside, Serif’s group saw people picking cotton and he stopped the bus so that he could show his travelers this tradition up close. The workers turned out to be a family and they were so surprised and pleased to have the group stop. The family members each shook all the hands of the travelers and even offered them food. “The warm welcome from complete strangers,” Serif says, “moved many in the group to tears.”
Serif’s Insider Tips:
Special Places & Pastimes: “Located in the Goztepe district of Istanbul (Ömerpasa Avenue Dr. Zeki Zeren Street No. 17), the new Istanbul Toy Museum is home to 4,000 toys and miniatures. The first floor is the former site of one of the country’s most famous toy shops from the 20th century. Opened on Children’s Day in 2009, the delightful collection includes modern toys as well as novelties two centuries old, and is the fruit of a vision by Turkish poet Sunny Akin who has loved museums since age 6. The museum is open every day except Monday.”
Local Culture & Etiquette: “When you are in Turkey, you will observe what may seem like a surprising cultural rule: We respect bread. Bread is considered sacred and many oaths are taken on it. If we see a piece of bread in the street, we would be likely to move it to a spot where it will not be stepped on. Even spare bread at home is never thrown into the garbage.”