Bite-size Break Istanbul
3 days with Intrepid Travel Rating:
Day 1: Istanbul
Hosgeldinz! Welcome to Istanbul, a beguiling mix of cultures and traditions, a continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans have called home. This 12-million strong, east-meets-west mega city has a rich history and food scene just waiting to be explored. This Bite-sized Break kicks off at 5pm today. When you arrive, check at reception for a leader note with itinerary and meeting details. Meet your leader at the hotel and begin your Istanbul exploration with a walk across the Golden Horn-spanning Galata Bridge. From Karaköy, board one of the world’s oldest funicular railways for the short journey to the heart of Istanbul’s food scene. Join Istanbulites at a traditional meyhene (tavern) and learn about these establishments’ fascinating history while sampling meze served with a glass of raki. Next, stop by a hidden teahouse, a former Young Turks meeting place (an early 20th century political reform movement that brought multi-party democracy to Turkey). Continue feasting with delectable treats from locals’ favourite street food carts, including içli kofte (deep-fried meat balls) and midye dolma (mussels stuffed with rice). Then, no Istanbul visit is complete without a stop at the famed entertainment district of Taksim Square, where late-night revellers flock for the delicious Islak Burger – guaranteed to defeat any hunger! For dessert, it’s Turkey’s famed baklava and çikolata (chocolate) or ice cream from Maras. Finish at an alfresco café and bar. Order a coffee and dig into your delicious purchases. Linger as long as you like and soak up the atmosphere, or return to your hotel. (Dinner)
Days 2-3: Istanbul
This morning, head to the Spice Bazaar, also known as the Egyptian Market. Enjoy a local breakfast of ‘su borek’ (‘water’ pastry), ‘peynir borek’ (feta cheese pastry), and tulip glass of sweet tea. Once sated, meet a spice merchant who’ll share the secrets of the best spice blends and teach you how spice is used to elevate Turkish dishes. Then learn to make the perfect Turkish coffee and satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to a ‘Turkish delight’ merchant. For an insight into Islam, visit the magnificent Ottoman-built Suleymaniye Cami (Suleymanie Mosque), which sits high above the natural harbour of the Golden Horn and is the largest mosque in Istanbul. Then, enjoy a local lunch of kuru fasulyeci (Turkish baked beans) in a historic han (inn). After refuelling, explore the labyrinthine Grand Bazaar, maybe getting into some good-natured haggling with local artisans at one of over 3,000 stalls of handcrafted jewellery, textiles and books. Then stop by the jaw-dropping giant church/mosque/museum of the Aya Sofya, touring a building whose stunning construction is said to have changed the history of architecture. In the evening, discover Turkish life when you join a local family for a home-cooked meal. Turkish people’s sense of hospitality is world famous, and you’ll have the opportunity chat and get real insight into family life. After dinner, take a stroll through the streets of Sultanahmet to a hidden teahouse and watch as local life unfolds around you. Finish your Bite-size Break with a cup of Turkey's favourite drink, a game of backgammon, and perhaps a puff on a nargile (traditional water pipe). Your Bite-size break comes to an end after breakfast on Day 3. There are no activities planned for this day so you are free to leave at any time. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
All This Included
Experience an in-depth insight into Istanbul’s vibrant local cuisine on this short but sweet food exploration of this ancient city. Explore the aromatic Spice Bazaar, visit the ancient Aya Sofia, sail down the Bosphorus and wander the streets of this great city all the while tasting its diverse and delectable food treats.
Hotel (2 nights)
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