DELIGHTS OF TURKEY TOUR IN 3 COURSES
This private culinary tour is designed to experience the gastronomic tastes of coastal and central Turkey enriched with detailed history, important archaeological sites, and natural beauties. The tour starts in Istanbul, titled honorably “Capital of Three Empires” and “European Capital of Culture 2010”, a unique city spanning two continents. The city, being at the crossroads of migrating tribes, has been absorbing innumerable cultural influences during her long history which is no different than today, thus generates diverse, colorful outcomes bringing together nations, languages, religions, and traditions, always synthesizing and re-creating.
Anatolia, on the other hand, has had its cultural differentials from region to region shaped by the terrain and climatic conditions and the variety of crops in accordance, also continuously interacted with the surrounding and passing cultures. Results of this evolution are observed in the present day cooking and eating habits in Turkey, in the recipes and ingredients, whether getting a fast bite at the corner or enjoying a zestful dinner at a gourmet restaurant.
In this specially designed gastronomic tour, you are going to experience mainly, Ottoman Imperial, Central Anatolian, and Mediterranean Kitchens. Our experienced staff will gladly advise you on the refined experiences of fine dining and wine as well as it will enable you to explore the delicious subtleties of peasant food and enjoy simple goodies. Please check our Delights of Asia Minor - Istanbul & Cappadocia tour (at the end of this page) for more details and examples of dishes with ingredients.
Delights are not limited to food in this vast country blessed with incredibly long history and pristine nature. The tour will take you to the most important and well-known historic sites from Ionic to Greco-Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman eras like the esteemed Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, glorious Ephesus in the Aegean, out-of-earthly terrain and admirable frescoes of the Christian art in Cappadocia, the all-time revered House of Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes, to the marvelous mosaics in Antioch Museum and more as you experience and enjoy Turkey thoroughly.
Course 1: Istanbul: As Cosmopolitan As It Gets
Day 1 - Arrive Istanbul and transfer to your hotel to spend the rest of the day at leisure. Meeting your expert guide in the late afternoon hours for a cocktail and a briefing on the tour. Dinner at Rami Restaurant to sample some of the specialties of Ottoman Imperial Cuisine in a unique atmosphere.
Day 2 - Visit the Ottoman Istanbul; the Topkapi Palace, official royal residence and administration center of the empire for 400 years. Harem which has inspired numerous novels, the throne room and the treasury of the Sultan are also included. Visit the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) renowned for its magnificent handmade blue tiles, followed by a delicious lunch at Aslan Lokantasi. In the afternoon we take a pleasant walk thru Istanbul’s old artisan quarters to Eminonu and visit the Rustem Pasha Mosque. Spice Market will be an unforgettable experience for cooking fans with varieties of Turkish delight, dazzling colors and exotic fragrances of spices and herbs, varieties of dried fruit and nuts. Tram back to our hotel for a well-earned rest. Meet in the lobby for a drink and your guide will talk about Turkish Cuisine and the reasons for its diversity. Dinner at Imroz Lokantasi.
Day 3 - Visit the Byzantine Istanbul; see the remarkable Hagia Sophia, a milestone in world church architecture, Obelisk of Thutmose III (also known as the Egyptian Obelisk), the Walled Obelisk, and the Serpent Column in the Hippodrome area and continue with the amazing Underground Cistern. Lunch at the famous Asitane Restaurant followed by a visit to the Church of Chora, (Kariye, and The Church of the Holy Savior in Chora) with magnificent examples of Byzantine mosaics and frescoes. Dinner at a kebab specialist to sample kebabs.
Day 4 - Morning is at leisure to explore the city and take splendid photos. We meet after lunch (on your own) and visit the flamboyant Dolmabahce Palace, Imperial home to six Sultans. Transfer to the pier at Eminonu to get on board the Bosphorus cruise which will take you amid captivating scenery of well-kept groves, Ottoman imperial palaces and traditional Yali type residences (waterside villas). Disembark at Kadikoy and explore the neighborhood; first a visit to Haci Bekir, the famous 200-year-old family establishment run by the masters of Turkish Delights, a briefing on marzipan, halvah, candies and other specialties including Turkish traditions of serving sweets. Dinner at Ciya Sofrasi specialized in Anatolian peasant cuisine.
Anatolian Cuisine: Lamb & Beef & Kebabs
Day 5 - Morning domestic flight to Hatay and visit the world famous Hatay Mosaics Museum in Antioch-Antakya to see the breathtaking collection of Roman and Byzantine mosaics. Lunch at Anatolia Restaurant with a brief on the impact of Middle Eastern culinary culture on Turkish Cuisine which also is a great place to try the popular dessert Kunefe (Angel’s Hair, shredded pastry, cheese and pistachio in thick syrup). Afternoon visit to Vakifli, a small Armenian village with a population of 150 to see house winemaking. Dinner at a local kebab house by the restful waterfalls of Harbiye.
Day 6 - Drive to Cappadocia via Adana stopping en route for lunch at the old blacksmith’s market to try the popular spicy-hot Adana Kebab and get a briefing on the use of cracked wheat, spices, pomegranate and peppermint in the South Eastern Cuisine. Visit Gumusluk Monastery at Nigde and arrive Cappadocia for dinner at a local restaurant and overnight. Try the famous traditional jug kebab.
Day 7 - Spend the morning visiting the peaceful old village of Zelve and continue the day at the Goreme Open Air Museum with the oldest Christian monasteries in the world and beautiful rock-cut churches with invaluable frescoes inside. The Dark Church from the 11th century is also included which is the ultimate example of the limitless beauty and fascinating detail in Christian art. Lunch at Avanos by the Red River (Halys-Kizilirmak). Visit a local pottery workshop in the afternoon to learn about the Anatolian red clay used for daily utensils since the Hittite times and the white clay used for Ottoman ceramics. Home cooked dinner at the Old Greek House.
Day 8 - In the morning visit Kaymakli Underground City, an impressive subterranean structure entirely carved out of volcanic rock and Soganli Valley which is one of the latest Christian settlements in the area, a pleasant walk among fairy chimney dwellings and rock-cut churches with colorful frescoes. Home cooked lunch at Aravan Village with a brief on peasant life in Central Anatolia: traditions, the tandoori, ingredients, and the dishes. Late afternoon, visit a local winery with a brief on Cappadocian wines and traditional methods of winemaking. A picturesque wine tasting at a valley during sunset to compliment the day. Dinner at a local grill bar.
Day 9 - Leave Cappadocia for Konya. Visit the Mevlana (Rumi) Museum and the house of whirling dervishes which has been a revered visiting center for peoples for centuries, inspiring the divine love for the Creator and kindness for all the created. Lunch at a local restaurant, sampling a variety of Central Anatolian dishes including brick oven-baked lamb and the meat bread (pizza-like Turkish dish). Continue Antalya driving by the Taurus Mountains, leaving Lamb & Beef behind and meeting Mediterranean diet, Fish & Olive Oil.
Course 3: The Coastal Areas: The Fish & Olive Oil
Day 10 - In the morning, explore Perge, the capital of Pamphylia region, cult center of Artemis in the Hellenistic Age and a significant Christianity Center in the 4th century. St. Paul visited Perge twice. You will see the Hellenistic Gate, Roman bath and the adjacent palaestra, agora by the colonnaded street, the Roman theater and the nymphaeum. Continue to the famous theater in Aspendos, one of the best preserved ancient theaters in the world, has a seating capacity of 15,000 and still in use with intact galleries, skene decorations, and perfect acoustics. Drive to the highlands of Antalya to explore a mountain village and the nomadic cuisine. The cuisine at the highlands of Southern Turkey differs dramatically from the coastal areas. Your guide will talk about nomadic tribes, the use of goat and goat’s milk dairy. Dinner and overnight in Antalya.
Day 11 - Drive to the town of Kas, exploring en route the ancient site of Myra (present Demre), see the necropolis of Lydian rock-cut tombs and the theater. Continue to Church of St. Nicholas who was known for his miracles and his kindness, was the patron of children, fishermen, sailors, merchants and more. The church has been an important pilgrimage center in the past, listed as the third most important Byzantine structure present in Anatolia and is contained in the tentative list of World Heritage Sites. Lunch on board a glass-bottomed boat while exploring the Sunken City at Kekova Island. Arrive in Kas in the afternoon hours to spend time at leisure. Dinner on your own at leisure.
Day 12 - Drive to Kusadasi, the first visit en route is Didyma, see the Temple of Apollo and the Oracle center with its colossal three intact Ionic columns of the 122 original ones and the enormous temple grounds. The sacred ceremonies and prophecies of the oracle were of great importance in the Hellenic and Roman ages. Continue to Priene, once a wealthy and vibrant Ionian city with two harbors where the Temple of Athena also attracted large numbers of pilgrims. This notable Greco-Roman city in Hippodamus plan displays beautiful examples of its time; Temple of Athena Polias, famous Alexander House, the theater, the Bouleuterion, and the adjacent Prytaneion are among them. The city is also known as the home of famous philosopher Bias. Visit the local fish market on arriving Kusadasi.
Day 13 - Visit Capital of Asia Minor Province of Roman Empire in the morning. Ephesus will take your breath away with its architectural grandeur and artistic beauty. You will see the State Agora, adjoining Odeon and Prytaneion, fascinating Terrace Houses of the higher class by the Curetes Street, Trajan Fountain, Temple of Hadrian, Scholastica Baths and the public Latrine. Continue with the world famous symbol of Ephesus, the Celsus Library, the Commercial Agora and the Grand Theater at the end of the Marble Street where a great riot against St. Paul had taken place. Walk the Arcadian Street towards the old harbor area to which Ephesus owed its wealth and prosperity. Transfer to the airport for your homebound flight or an extension stay if you would like to do something out of our gastronomic tour.