Foodie Trip: Flavors of the Aegean (8 days/7 nights)
Istanbul / Mudanya / Sigi village/ Zeytinbagi (Trigleia) / Bursa / Kazdaglari (Mount Ida) / Acropolis of Pergamum / Izmir / Ephesus / Sirince village/ Bodrum
Rates above are per person, in USD, and are based on double occupancy at hotels
Subject to availability and dates selected
A 10% discount is applicable from November 15 - March 15
Single room supplement: +$990
Day 1: Arrival at Istanbul Ataturk International Airport
Arrive at Ataturk Airport and enjoy an included transfer to your centrally-located hotel. Later, we will meet for a walking tour along Istiklal Street, a fabled pedestrian promenade for the last 100+ years.
Istiklal is a world-famous, two-mile long avenue, that bustles with visitors enjoying its restaurants, bars, theatres, art galleries and boutiques. Stretching from Taksim Square to the Galata Tower, Istiklal offers some of the best well-preserved examples of late-19th century Art Nouveau architecture. As we stroll along, marvel at landmarks such as the Flower Passage, Fish Market (Balik Pazari) as well as several churches and consulates. We will also stop to taste some local street food while your guide points out restaurants you may choose to enjoy for dinner.
Day 2: Istanbul - Full day tour
Culinary experience: Private cooking lesson and dinner in a Turkish home
Our morning begins with an extensive tour of Topkapi Palace, the famous former residence of the Ottoman sultans for 400 years. Next, we visit Sirkeci Railway Station, the final destination of the Orient Express. We then continue to the Spice Market, one of Istanbul’s most mesmerizing sights, where we can explore the stalls and shop, and have some time as well for lunch (on your own). One of several choices for lunch here is Pandeli Restaurant, where they serve a traditional Turkish menu served amid turquoise-colored tiles and a 17th-century bedesten (domes). We then embark on an hour-long Bosphorus Cruise along the shores of the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, disembarking at Uskudar, on the Asian side. We will visit the produce and fish market there and see the Mimar Sinan-designed Mihrimah Sultan Mosque as well as the Maiden’s Tower, one of the most iconic symbols of the city. Finally, we return to our hotel by ferry, crossing the Bosphorus once more from Asia to Europe. Tonight, we’ll enjoy a private cooking lesson and dinner in a Turkish home. This unforgettable experience gives you the opportunity to learn the preparation of traditional dishes in an authentic setting, enjoying the hospitality that is innate in Turkish culture. When we say "make yourself at home" in Turkey, we really mean it! Our hostess, Selin, is a local culinary expert;she will personally guide you through a hands-on experience preparing a gourmet menu. Her recipes vary according to the season, using only the freshest ingredients available. Of course, the very best part is the result: the meal that you’ve cooked! (B, D)
Day 3: Istanbul - Full day tour
This morning, after breakfast, we visit more iconic sites in Istanbul, including the Byzantine-era Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia Museum and the underground Basilica Cistern. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the Grand Bazaar where the opening scenes of the most recent James Bond movie, “Skyfall” was filmed. We have some time to explore the 4,000+ shops and to also stop for lunch. (One of the many choices is Seyhmus Kebab restaurant where you can try a classic Turkish kebab or two.) We then drive over the Galata Bridge then drive to the Galatasaray neighborhood and walk to the Pera District. Notable buildings on our path include: several consulates, St. Antoine's Catholic Church, the Galata Whirling Dervish Hall, the Tunel neighborhod, Neve Shalom Synagogue and the Galata Tower, ascending to the top for a bird’s eye view of Beyoglu, the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus, and the historic peninsula. We end our walk at the Pera Palace Hotel and have a short drive back to the hotel. You may also wish to stay here and dine on your own at any of the local restaurants such as: Kivahan or Guney (Turkish/Ottoman cuisine), Fureyya (seafood) or in the Pera Palace Hotel’s own Agatha Restaurant. (B)
Day 4: Istanbul / Mudanya / Sigi village / Zeytinbagi (Trilye) / Bursa
Culinary experiences today:
Olive oil tasting in Sigi
Lunch and wine in the Greek town of Trilye
This morning we travel, via ferry, to the city of Mudanya on the Sea of Marmara. Mudanya is one of the oldest towns in the province of Bursa, dating back to the 8th century BC. After taking in its authentic local architecture, we will enjoy a leisurely drive to Kumyaka (Sigi), an old Greek village, to visit sisters Nazligul and Aslihan, who will demonstrate for us how extra virgin olive oil is produced in the old-fashioned way. We then continue onto Zeytinbagi (Trigleia), another Greek village, for lunch and to enjoy an unforgettable local meal featuring traditional cold and hot meze (appetizers) and some seafood as a main course; all courses will be served with wine. This area has been host to various civilizations since antiquity. Trigleia is the original name of the town, and, although the name has been changed to Zeytinbagi (olive orchard), it is still sometimes referred to as Trilye. We will visit Bakus Winery, owned by Mr. Melih Karaer, and try his high-quality Bogazkere, Merlot, Cinsault and Cabernet-Sauvignon wines. We will then continue to Bursa, the first capital of the Ottoman Empire. Bursa is known for nearby Mount Uludag, which towers over the city and is also home to a popular ski resort. Also in Bursa are many very early Ottoman sultan mausoleums, thermal baths, and a covered silk bazaar. Bursa is also home to some of the most beloved dishes in Turkey, such as: Iskender Kebap (named for Alexander the Great, who reportedly loved the dish), iced chestnuts (kestane), peaches (seftali) and Turkish delight (lokum). While in Bursa, we will also visit the Great Mosque, bazaar district, and the Caravanserai. We will have dinner together and spend the night in Bursa. (B, L, D)
Day 5: Bursa / Mt. Ida / Pergamum / Izmir
Gourmet lunch using local vegetables and ingredients
Gathering wild herbs from the slopes of Mt. Ida
This morning we leave Bursa and enjoy a scenic drive towards the Aegean coast of Turkey. We will have lunch in a village at the foot of beautiful Mt. Ida, the mythological mountain Homer wrote about where Paris judged the famous beauty contest. Our host for lunch is Mr. Erhan Seker of Zeytinbagi Restaurant. After lunch, and a short nature walk around Mt. Ida, we will continue onto Pergamum, once the Greek capital of Asia Minor. Here, we’ll take in the views of the magnificent Acropolis with its great open-air theater that seats 10,000 spectators, and the marble-columned Temple of Trajan. Below the theater lies the ruins of the Temple of Dionysus along with the Altar of Zeus. We continue on to the Asclepium, a sanctuary and healing center built in the 4th century BC in the name of Asclepius, the god of medicine. Later this afternoon we travel to Izmir where we will spend the night. (B, L)
Day 6: Ephesus / Sirince old Greek Village
Lunch in a private village home, with the menu consisting of: gozleme (homemade pancake stuffed with farmer’s cheese and herbs), guvec (traditional oven-prepared stew) and freshly-baked ekmek (bread).
After breakfast, we drive to the charming town of Selcuk, gateway to one of the most remarkable sites of antiquity in the world, Ephesus. Its grand streets, agoras, Celsus Library, theater, the houses of the elite, shows us what a Roman metropolis was really like by allowing us to literally being able to walk into it. We have lunch in the old Greek village of Sirince, and is a perfect blend of Turkish and Greek culture that is so characteristic of the region today. From its beautiful hilltop location, we’ll enjoy impressive and soaring views of the vineyards and olive orchards surrounding us. As we wander its narrow streets, lined with traditional stone houses, we’ll visit local women cooperatively selling handicrafts and other local village products. Here, we have a chance to socialize with the locals and indulge in a delicious Aegean-inspired lunch hosted in a private home. We’ll make a final stop to visit the Museum of Archaeology. Overnight in Izmir. (B, L)
Day 7: Izmir / Bodrum
Culinary experience: In Ortakent, Chef Asli Mutlu will prepare Mediterranean fusion with local vegetables and herbs for dinner.
Visit Sultankoy , where we learn about local rug-making proceses which include silk extraction, dyeing and weaving. Then, we will break for a fresh and organic al fresco lunch using ingredients from Sultankoy’s farm and orchards. We will then continue onto Bodrum (Halicarnassus), a charming coastal town situated in the southwest corner of the Aegean region of Turkey, which boasts an excellent temperate climate. Famous for both its historical importance and natural beauty, Bodrum is very popular with both Turkish people and foreign visitors. Upon arrival, we will visit the unique Museum of Underwater Archaeology in the Castle of St. Peter. Our farewell dinner will be with our friend and chef Asli Mutlu, in Ortakent, a small town located on the Bodrum peninsula. Chef Mutlu’s passion for cooking is evident, and she is renowned for her experimentation with ingredients and methods, with local extra virgin olive oil always being the star. Chef Mutlu carefully researches old recipes and the creates her own take on the original.The village’s ambience and outstanding culinary experience will make this a truly unforgettable night! (B, D)
Day 8: Bodrum / Istanbul - Homebound departure
Gule gule! Farewell! After breakfast, we drive to Bodrum Airport for a flight to Istanbul, connecting with your homeward flight. We look forward to welcoming you back again soon! (B)
Price of the package includes:
Price of the package excludes:
We are happy to quote this program based on these hotels or any other of your choice.
If an alternate hotel is desired, please refer to the quotes below:
Istanbul: Bosphorus neighborhood
The House Hotel Ortakoy (Superior Bosphorus Room): -$125 per person double
Istanbul: Sultanahmet neighborhood
Ottoman Imperial Hotel (Premium Room): -$500 per person double