Experience Turkey through the eyes, lives and tastes of its people. Sample its diverse food and culture. Meet local people and share their stories, cuisine and passion for living - like you have never done before. Visit local markets and ethnic restaurants and delight in the sounds and sights at the meeting of two continents.
Arrival in Istanbul, the only city in the world built on two continents, providing a unique link between East and West and guardian of the treasures of three empires of which she has been the capital. Napoleon said that if the world were a single state then its capital would be Constantinople. Even today, amid the traffic-choked streets of modern Istanbul, among the high-rises, the steep alleys and the glowing ancient churches and mosques, you can still feel exactly what he meant. Welcome dinner will be at one of Istanbul’s award winning restaurants - Neolokal.
Today you will visit the , a famous 17th century mosque that dominates the Istanbul skyline. , the church of the Divine Wisdom, which was a church (circa 548 AD), then a mosque. The Theodosius Cistern (known as Şerefiye Sarnıcı in Turkish), which was built by Roman Emperor Theodosius II between 428 and 443 to store water supplied by the Valens Aqueduct. The area is about 148 by 82 feet and the roof is supported by 32 marble columns about 30 ft high. For lunch you will taste delicious kofte -meatballs- at a specialized restaurant operating since 1920. Then you will drive to the pier for your . Upon disembarkation you will proceed to a Turkish home to enjoy a hands-on cooking class learning to cook home-style, family recipes and taste what you have cooked. A truly unique opportunity to experience Turkish hospitality and local home life.
Today you will visit the residence of the sultans for almost three centuries. It is located on the promontory jutting out between the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. Being the imperial residence of the sultan, his court and harem, the palace was also the seat of government for the Ottoman Empire. In the Treasury section, you will see the 7th biggest diamond in the world, the “Spoonmaker’s Diamond” and the Harem is a vast labyrinth of rooms and corridors once occupied by the black eunuchs, concubines, the Sultan’s mother and the Sultan himself. The Palace Kitchens comprised of buildings arranged along a 170 meter-long courtyard/street in the 2nd courtyard of the Palace facing the Sea of Marmara appear as a separate neighborhood with their attachments. Although the architecture of the kitchens, built in the same place during the reign of Fatih Sultan Mehmet, is not known, it is known that the first two domed structures adjacent to the Cooks' Mosque has remained from this period and that the kitchens were extended due to an increase in the palace population during the reign of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman (1520 - 1566), that the kitchens and living quarters were renewed by Chief Architect Sinan after the fire of 1574 and that the street in front was widened and the porticoes were brought to the front towards the courtyard. You will visit The Palace Kitchens, Helvahane and Quarters and learn about our culinary culture of 400 years. After lunch you will visit the Rustem Pasha Mosque, another skillful accomplishment of the architect Sinan, the was built in 1561 on the orders of Rustem Pasha, Grand Vizier and son-in-law of Suleyman the Magnificent. Exquisite Iznik tiles panel the small and superbly proportioned interior. Then you will walk through the , an extensive market which was built in the 17th century to finance the upkeep of the nearby mosque - Yeni Cami. You will stop for a spice tasting session in a Spice shop that has been there since 5 generations. A baklava shop where you will taste the best Baklava in town will be your last stop for the day. Dinner will be on own.
In the morning you will visit and explore the famous Grand Bazaar. Then we will depart to visit some specialty shops walking through the colorful market of Kadıköy - an open air street market, very different from the Spice Market and more in tune with the way most Istanbulites cook and eat. Lunch will be served at one of Turkey’s foremost cooks: Çiya Restaurant. The chef is devoted in letting the world know about the glorious food of his homeland. The ingredients used in the dishes travel from South Eastern Anatolia to arrive at your plate in Istanbul: aromatic red pepper, pistachios, chickpeas, olive oil and pomegranate molasses. After lunch we will head for the airport for our flight to Cappadocia. We will be transferred to our hotel upon arrival. A light dinner will be served.
In Cappadocia we will focus on the very particular culture and foods of Anatolia. Today we will be cooking in a village home with local village women. They will show us how to make stuffed vine leaves and manti, a traditional dish whose heritage stretches back in to the Central Asian origins of modern Turkey. You will taste what you have cooked for lunch. After lunch will introduce you to the lunar landscape of Cappadocia at , and we head on to , which is one of the earliest inhabited and latest abandoned monastic settlements of Cappadocia. Seeing the best examples of the fairy chimneys at , we drive further to , a centre of terracotta art since 2,000 BC, for a demonstration in a traditional pottery workshop. Then we will try our hands at it under the supervision of a master potter. We will end the day by relaxing at one of the most spectacular valleys of Cappadocia with its different rock formations in a variety colors and enjoy the sunset while sipping delicious Cappadocian wines.
Early morning optional - transfer to the balloon launching site to meet the balloon crew. The gentle and stable wind conditions are ideal during the first few hours of the day in Cappadocia. It is also the ideal time for photography, with splendid colors and contrasts. The deep canyons and gentle winds carry you over places that could never be reached except by balloon. After flying over Cappadocia for about one hour, you will land to an awaiting champagne breakfast! After breakfast you will visit the famous to see the best examples of Byzantine art in Cappadocia. These are found in rock-cut churches with frescoes and paintings dating from as early as the 10th century. After lunch in a local restaurant you will then explore the , one of the largest and deepest of Cappadocia’s many such settlements. Then while sipping your wine you will enjoy a demonstration and explanation of Turkish carpet making techniques, symbols and different types of carpets.
After a leisurely morning, join a Turkish Art of Marbling (Ebru) workshop. Rest of the day on your own. In the afternoon we will drive to a village where they will show us how they do grape molasses and homemade baklava. After a light dinner, we will take an evening flight to Izmir. Overnight in Selcuk.
After breakfast we will proceed to visit , one of the most incredible archaeological wonders of the world. We will then proceed to Kusadası for lunch in an ecological farm that houses the best restaurant in the area and visit the Oleatrium, an Olive and Olive Oil Museum where we will be travelling 2500 years in time. After having a feast, we will take you around the farm so you will see how they dry their vegetables under the sun, how they make tomato or pepper paste, and the making of many different organic jams. The farm tour will end at the museum where you will see how mankind first discovered that olives were edible and how olive oil was used from the beginning of time until today. We will drive you to Bodrum after your visit.
Today after breakfast, we will go around the Bays on a Gulet. Gulets are traditional wooden yachts first built in Bodrum for fishing and sponge hunting, but with the rise of the Blue Cruise concept, Gulets became spacious motor-sailing yachts for people to enjoy a cruise in the untouched bays around the Aegean coast of Turkey. It is a perfect way to enjoy swimming in the blue waters as well as to try more of the local cuisine on board. After the cruise we will return to the hotel.
Enjoy a lazy breakfast and a day of relaxation... Late morning we may get together to drive into Bodrum to walk through some of the shopping areas for a couple of hours. Then you will visit the center of Bodrum to visit the famous Crusaders Castle and the Underwater Museum. After spending some leisure time in town, we will be heading to Selia Artisanal Farm, producing wine, goat cheese, olives, jams and bread using traditional methods. Enjoy a leisurely supper together before taking your flight to Istanbul. Overnight in Istanbul.
Take the flight back home.