Lale Sürmen Aran
What is Rick Steves guides doing?

Dear Reader,

Slower winter months give all of us, guides, a chance to focus on meetings, plans and professional training. Rick Steves annually holds a reunion for tour members, and workshops for guides in January.
Turklish guides in Seattle
During the past January, more than 120 of us from different countries in Europe gathered in Edmonds, WA to celebrate and evaluate the past season and be prepared for the upcoming one. For about two intense weeks we participated in meetings in which we handled different aspects of our work. We also got together with our tour members during reunion parties spread over to two days. Our hard work during the day was awarded at the evening, there were social events almost all nights including a big party at Rick’s house.


Training session
Lale (me) and Rick at radio interview
The big event for us was the cultural experience we were provided with. As we introduce our cultures to travelers as we work, Rick Steves staff decided to provide us with a similar experience. They embellished our visit with a cultural activity, a chance to observe the “tailgating”. On that particular day Seattle’s Sea Hawks had a game with Green Bay Packers. Early in the morning yellow school buses pulled in front of the hotel we stayed at to take us to Seattle.
During the drive, our volunteer guides -Rick Steves staff members- provided us with the cultural background and insight for the American football and tail gating. After a drive thru the city and a stop at the Space Needle, we got off the bus in the city center to walk to the stadium for the party and people watching. We were properly prepared with accessories given to us, blue and green bead necklaces!
Bus snack! Donut with Sea Hawks colors.
Our day proved to be a true NW experience as rain started to pour down. Most of us took shelter in coffee shops, crowded the window front seats to watch the Sea Hawks fans not minding the rain to support their team. 
Socializing with locals!
Honestly, the football game didn’t matter much to me, I am not a big soccer fan in Turkey either, but the chance of sharing that festive time with my colleagues and Seattleites was priceless. It was amazing how much the game helped us bond faster with the new guides and new friends we met in Seattle. I am so glad we got to do it. Eventually, I was happy Sea Hawks won, the glory of the day carried joy for the entire following week, during our meetings:) 
Rick Steves guides in Seattle

Inside our school bus.
Of course, thru all of this we learnt about the famous 12th man of Sea Hawks, the supporters. When Sea Hawks people learnt who we were and what we were doing in Edmonds, they gave some 12th man flags to be passed on to guides so we could take them beyond the borders and share photos! After we returned to Turkey, we posed with the flag in Cappadocia, on the Bosphorus and Ephesus. We still have the flag and we will keep taking the 12th man flag to tours with us. Enjoy the 12th man photos below, I exercise my guiding skills explaining the locations of photos1.
From now, knowing the value and meaning, I will be on the watch out for similar chances to share with American travelers in Turkey.
Happy Travels to all,
You see two continents in this photo. Our guides are next to Bosphorus. On the background there is the Bosphorus Bridge and a late Ottoman period mosque. They are all in Europe. The land across the water is the Asian continent. 
12th man in front of the Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul. This structure is from the 6th century and was the ONLY grand cathedral for about 1000 years until the Reneissance in Europe. Today, it is one of the most popular sights in Istanbul and serves as a museum.
 12th man in Ephesus. At the back is the Roman theatre from 2nd century. It can seat about 25,000 people! St. Paul wanted to peach Christianity from this theatre, he couldn’t and had to run away, thus he ended writing “Letters to Ephesians”.
12th man hanging onto the basket of a hot air balloon in Cappadocia!