Foodie Trip: Flavors of the Aegean (7 Nights / 8 Days)

Istanbul / Mudanya / Sigi village/ Zeytinbagi (Trigleia) / Bursa / Kazdaglari (Mount Ida) / Acropolis of Pergamum / Izmir / Ephesus / Sirince village/ Bodrum

 

Day 1: Arrival at Istanbul Ataturk Airport
Arrive at Ataturk airport and enjoy an included transfer to your centrally located hotel. Later, we will meet for awalking tour along Istiklal Street, a fabled pedestrian promenade for the last 100+ years.
This world-famous, two-mile long avenue, bustles with people enjoying its restaurants, bars, theatres, art galleries and boutiques. Stretching fromTaksim Square to the Galata Tower, the street offers some of the best well-preserved examples of late-19th-century Art Nouveau architecture. As we stroll along, you will marvel at landmarks such as The Flower Passage, The Produce & Fish Market as well as several churches and Consulates. We will also stop to taste some local “street food” and your guide will point out restaurants that you may enjoy for dinner.


Day 2: Istanbul – Full day tour
Our morning begins with an extensive tour of Topkapi Palace, the famous former residence of the Ottoman Sultans. Next, we visit Sirkeci Railway Station, the final destination of the Orient Express. We then continue to the Spice Market, one of Istanbul’s many mesmerizing sights, where we have some free time to explore this magical market for shopping as well as for lunch on your own. One of the many choices for lunch in this area is Pandeli Restaurant with its traditional Turkish menu served under a ceiling of turquoise-colored tiles and 17th-century bedestens (domes). We then enjoy an hour-long Bosphorus Cruise along the shores of the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, disembarking at Uskudar, one of the largest towns on the Asian side of the Strait. We will visit the produce and fish market and view the Mihrimah Sultan’s Mosque as well as the Maiden’s Tower, one of the most iconic symbols of the city. Finally, we return to our hotel with a steamboat ride of twenty minutes, 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 includes the opportunity to learn the preparation of some traditional dishes and seasonal recipes in an authentic Turkish home, enjoying the hospitality that is innate in Turkish culture. When we say "make yourself at home" in Turkey, we mean it! Our hostess, Selin, is a local cooking expert, and will guide you personally through a hands-on experience preparing a Turkish 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)

Culinary experience: Private cooking lesson and dinner in a Turkish home.

Day 3: Istanbul – Full day tour
This morning, we visit more iconic sites in Istanbul, including the Roman Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Basilica Cistern. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the Grand Bazaar where the opening scenes of the most recent James Bond movie, “Skyfall” were filmed. We have some free 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 classic Turkish kebabs.) We then drive over the Galata Bridge then drive to the Galatasaray neighborhood and walk to Pera. Notable buildings along the way include: several Consulates, St. Antoine's Catholic Church, the Galata Whirling Dervish Hall, the Tunel area, Neve Shalom Synagogue andThe Galata Tower . We visit Galata Tower 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 (small fish restaurant) or the Pera Palace Hotel’s own Agatha Restaurant. (B)

Day 4: Istanbul / Mudanya / Sigi Village / Zeytinbagi (Trigleia) / Bursa
This morning we travel, via ferry, to the city of Mudanya on the Sea of Marmara. Mudanya is one of the oldest harbor towns in the province of Bursa, dating back to the 8th century BC. After seeing the authentic local architecture, we will enjoy a leisurely drive to Kumyaka (Sigi), an old Greek village, visiting with sisters Nazligul and Aslihan, who will demonstrate how extra virgin olive oil is produced in the “old way”. We then continue toZeytinbagi (Trigleia), another former Greek town, for lunch and enjoy an unforgettable local meal beginning with traditional cold and hot meze dishes and some seafood as a main course, all served with wine. The 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 Tirilye. We will visit the Bakus Winery, owned by Melih Karaer, and taste their Bogazkere, Merlot, Cinsault and Cabernet-Sauvignon wines. We will then continue to Bursa, the former capital of the Ottoman Empire. Bursa is known for Mount Uludag, a ski resort towering over the city, early Ottoman Sultans mausoleums, forests, thermal baths, museums, and a covered bazaar famous for silk cloth. Bursa is also home to some of the most famous dishes in Turkey, such as: Iskender Kebap (named for Alexander the Great, who apparently loved this dish), iced chestnuts (kestane), peaches (seftali) and Turkish delight (lokum). While in Bursa, we will visit the Great Mosque, bazaar district, and the Caravanserai. We will have an included dinner and an overnight in Bursa. (B, L, D)

Culinary experience: Enjoy olive oil tasting in Sigi and lunch and wine in the old Greek town of Trilye.

Day 5: Bursa / Mt. Ida / Pergamum / Izmir
This morning, we leave Bursa and head towards Aegean coast of Turkey with a scenic drive and have lunch in a village at the foot of Mt. Ida. This is the legendary mythological mountain Homer wrote about where Paris grew up and judged the famous beauty contest. Our host for lunch is 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 ruin 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)

Culinary experience: On the way to Izmir we stop in a village at the foot of Mt. Ida to have a gourmet lunch featuring local dishes prepared with vegetables of the Aegean coast and wild herbs gathered from the slopes of Mt. Ida.

Day 6: Ephesus / Sirince Old Greek Village – Full day tour
After breakfast, we drive to the charming town of Selcuk, gateway to one of the most remarkable sites of antiquity in the world, Ephesus. It’s grand streets, agoras/markets, library, theater, the houses of the rich, and many other features, will show us what a Roman “metropolis” was really like. For lunch, we drive to an old Greek village in the hills near Ephesus, Sirince, which was originally a Greek-Orthodox village, and has a bi-cultural tradition today. From its beautiful hilltop location, we’ll enjoy impressive and soaring views of the vineyards and olive orchards surrounding the village. As we wander its narrow streets, lined with typical Greek houses, we come across local women selling handcrafts of all kinds and other local village products. Here, we have a chance to socialize with the locals and taste the 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)

Culinary experience: we will visit a typical Greek house in an authentic village where we will savor “gozleme”, a traditional homemade pancake stuffed with local cheese, “guvec” (a delicious oven-prepared stew) and freshly-baked “ekmek” (bread).

Day 7: Izmir / Bodrum - Drive to Bodrum
Visit Sultankoy in Camlik village where we have the opportunity to learn about local crafts, such as rug-weaving, and also taste local wine and canapés. We will then continue onto Bodrum (Halicarnassus), a charming coastal town situated in the southwest corner of the Aegean region of Turkey, which offers an excellent temperate climate. Famous for both its historical importance and natural beauty, Bodrum is very popular with both Turkish people and foreign visitors to Turkey. Upon arrival, we will visit the Museum of Underwater Archaeology in the Castle of St. Peter. Our farewell dinner will be served at a cozy restaurant in Ortakent, a small town located on the Bodrum peninsula. (B, D)

Culinary experience: in the small medieval town of Ortakent, we meet our host Chef Asli Mutlu and taste her Mediterranean fusion dishes prepared with local vegetables, herbs and custom flavors. Chef Mutlu’s passion for cooking is displayed as she uses fresh and organic vegetables of the region, and also she is known to experiment with different ingredients and methods, perhaps preparing pumpkins with walnuts, cooked in the Turkish way, and another day, perhaps an organic salad mixed with herbs. What is always included in her dishes is the local extra virgin olive oil. Chef Mutlu carefully researches old recipes and creates her own take, by using meat, fish and poultry to cook outstanding meals. The village ambience and outstanding culinary experience will make this a truly unforgettable night!

Day 8: Bodrum / Istanbul - Homebound Departure
After breakfast we drive to Bodrum / Milas airport for a flight to Istanbul, connecting with your homeward flight.

 

Prices are per person, in USD and based on double occupancy at hotels:

 

2 TRAVELERS

4 TRAVELERS

6 TRAVELERS

10 TRAVELERS

$ 4,690.00

$ 3,690.00

$ 3,190.00

$ 2,890.00

 

 

Subject to availability and dates selected


A discount (10 %) applies to the following period: November 15th to March 15th


Price of the trip package includes:


• Accommodations:


3 nights Istanbul: Pera Palace Hotel - Golden Horn View Room (or similar)
1 night Bursa: Hotel Kitapevi - Deluxe Room (or similar)
2 nights Izmir: Swiss Grand Efes Izmir Hotel - Classic Room (or similar)
1 night Bodrum: Hotel The Marmara Hotel - Luxury Sea View Room (or similar)
• Domestic flights in coach class (Bodrum to Istanbul).
• Meals as indicated by (B, L, D) - B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
13 Meals: 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 3 dinners (including bottled water).
• Service of a private, licensed, professional English-speaking guide throughout your trip.
• All transfers and travel by private, modern, air-conditioned, chauffeur - driven vehicles, appropriate to the size of your group.
• All entrance fees to the sites and museums mentioned in the program.
• Parking, ferry, and toll road fees.
• Gratuities at restaurants where a meal is included in the program.
• Porter fees at airports.


Price of the trip package excludes:


• Airfare for international flights.
• Beverages other than water during included meals.
• Optional gratuities to the tour guide(s), driver(s).
• Tipping for porters at hotels.
• Travel insurance.
• Visas, laundry, and personal items.


Alternative Hotels/Rooms:


Add or subtract the amounts listed to the rates quoted above for pricing with these alternate hotels:

 

Istanbul: Bosphorus Neighborhood


The House Hotel (Superior Bosphorus Room): -$125 per person double

 

Istanbul: Sultanahmet Neighborhood


Ottoman Imperial Hotel (Premium Room): -$500 per person double

We are happy to quote the program based on any of these hotels or others of your choice.

 

Call for more information: 1-888-711-4500 (toll-free in the USA and Canada).