Monday, October 8, 2012

Istanbul by Buket Sahin

I S T A N B U L Daily Tour Programs prepared for BOHP Fundraising Event

by Buket Sahin Researcher / Travel Writer

Pera, ‘Old City’ and Galata

Istiklal Avenue is the liveliest and most colorful area of Istanbul. It has been pedestrianized since 1988.

During daylight Istiklal is home to many historical embassy buildings, fancy hotels, apartment buildings, streets, theatres, restaurants, shops. For over 150 years it has been the center of the city’s nightlife. Hundreds of taverns and clubs shake this downtown area in the evenings.

Our tour begins in the heart of Istanbul -  Taksim Square – where you meet Buket, your Tour Guide. You will stroll on the exciting alleys, little side streets of Istiklal Avenue, sit in one of the intriguing coffee shops and talk with Buket, see the amazing Embassy buildings and gardens, experience the booming art scene and visit the galleries, Armenian and Romaic churches, ancient districts, impressive alleys, a hamam and the Pera Palace Hotel where Orient Express passengers stayed and then you will head to Galata…

In the Byzantine period, the hillside - where Galata is located – was covered with orchards and was named Sykai (The Fig Orchard), or Peran en Sykais (The Fig Field on the Other Side), referring to the "other side" of the Golden Horn. It was in the Byzantine period that the area began to be called Galata and a fortress was built by Emperor Theodosius II. Galata was a Genoese colony from the 6th to15th centuries. This walk circles  around the famous Galata Tower and covers the area, where we see churches, synagogues, hospitals, bank buildings, ancient walls, schools; and a multitude of stories, myths. We will also follow the traces of legendary historical figures such as Hemingway, Lizst, Trotsky and Agatha Christie…

Notes: Appx an 8 hour walk and tram ride being the sole mode of  transportation of this area.
Available any day of the week

Seven Highlights of Istanbul, The City on Seven Hills
  • GRAND BAZAAR and its hidden `Hans` and alleys…

This tour is a must in Istanbul. You will begin the day with Hagia Sophia – The Church of Divine Wisdom.

Next, you will visit the German Fountain by Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Hippodrome, where chariot races were organized by the Romans and Byzantines, and The Blue Mosque- the only mosque with six minarets and their surrounding area will be the next stop.

We will stroll around Topkapi Palace Museum, the residence of the Ottoman sultans for 600 years and visit Archeology Museum, Sogukcesme Street of Ottoman Pavillions and Cafer Aga Medresesi built by Mimar Sinan to see workshops of traditional Turkish Arts, the best commentary on Ottoman history, art and its culture. After seeing these magical monuments documenting Byzantine and Ottoman architecture, you will never be quite the same again.

Following this  tour,  Buket will take you to the Grand Bazaar  where you will find yourself in a sea of Turkish treasures, colors, jewelry, handcrafts, rugs, and many other amazing items of historical and cultural significance.
Notes: Appx an 8 Hour 
Available except Mondays

Villages on the Bosphorus
A magical boat ride on the Bosphorus. A relaxing escape from the city madness…

Buket will meet you at Eminonu port to hop on `bogaz vapuru` organized for tourists. While enjoying the wooden seaside mansions on the shores of the villages that adorn the  Bosphorus, with Buket’s insider information, you will sip delicious turkish tea  and taste simit, and later the famous Kanlıca yogurt on board and a fish luncheon at Anadolu Hisarı.  Thereafter you will walk up the Byzantine fortress to see Black Sea, and to enjoy watching fish boats entering the Bosphorus strait. 

This is the only cruise that gives you the chance of visiting the peaceful fishing villages on the banks of the Bosphorus. You will also have a chance to visit Rumelihisarı built by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453 and Kuzguncuk, a virtual artists’ colony on the Anatolian side on the way back. 

Notes: Total 8 Hours with 3 hours boat ride around the Bosphorus with small excursions at each stop.
Available any day of the week 

Tasting ISTANBUL, best `STREET FOOD` in the world! 

When the best cuisines in the world are judged it comes as a surprise to most people that Turkish cuisine has been rated as one of the three great cuisines of the world, along with French and Chinese. However, if you take a look back in time, the explanation for the extraordinary Turkish food is more understandable.  It was during the 500 years of Ottoman rule that Turkish culinary skills were developed.  Access to fresh ingredients was easy and infinite varieties of fish, poultry, fruit and vegetables and a countless number of spices were used. At the same time many people from different cultures settled in the country and this brought further inspiration to the cooking. Among the Turks, food is like a symbol, establishing social order, with a long history reflected in rich culinary culture. This wealth is evident in the rich variety of street foods. In addition, patterns of behavior have developed in relation to all foods and drinks.

Whether it's the giant bagel-style sesame bread (simit) while you sip “çay”, Turks’ traditional drink or  turkish delight while sipping  turkish coffee in a 600 year-old otoman house, or large baked potatoes (kumpir) covered in a multitude of toppings in Ortakoy while sipping  yoghurt drink, a traditional döner kebap served in pita bread, or balik ekmek (fish sandwich) or wet hamburger with beetle juice, or delicious baklava treats…

Istanbul's ubiquitous street stalls are a welcome sight and smell to hungry visitors. Buket, a street food passionate, will take you on a walking route in both Asian and European street food rich towns of Kadıköy, Karaköy, Beşiktaş , Ortakoy. Then finalize the tour in Istiklal Street in the Taksim neighborhood, a pedestrian-only street with plenty of food vendors and full of nightlife taverns while enjoying sunset and drinks over Golden Horn at the terrace of Great London Hotel in Pera…

(Buket Sahin was the local producer for “Street Food” documentary for Travel Channel.)
Total “8” Hours with “2” 20 minute long boat ride
Available except Sundays

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