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Fascinating Istanbul

Magical Istanbul and Cappadocia Tour, October 25-30th; Special Offer

Fascinating Turkey; Magical Istanbul and Captivating Cappadocia, Land of Fairy Chimneys, Tour Brochure
Sunday October 25th through Friday October 30st, 2015SPECIAL OFFER!

Ozlem1

“We feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to see Istanbul and Turkey with you. You made it a uniquely personal and an unforgettable experience.”

The Spice Market, Misir Carsisi, Istanbl - feast to all senses.

The Spice Market, Misir Carsisi, Istanbul – feast to all senses.

Please join us at our tailor made tour to explore my homeland, fascinating Turkey together. I am delighted to host this exciting tour, covering off the beaten track sights, experiencing foodie heaven markets in Istanbul, private boat tour along the Bosphorus, Whirling dervish shows, exploring old and new parts of Istanbul to give you a real feel of this fascinating city. And food, the glorious Turkish food; starting from my favorite meal of the day Turkish breakfast, every meal will be authentic and memorable. You will also enjoy and discover authentic Turkish cuisine with our Turkish cookery classes and learn how to make this wonderful cuisine. Cappadocia Region, the land of fairy chimneys will be a special highlight. Exploring Goreme Underground City, optional hot air balloon tour over the fairy chimneys, visiting a local Turkish Ceramic Art Shop to learn how the world famous tiles and ceramics made and watch masters working, visiting traditional Cappadocian home to experience local cuisine and many more – all to look forward to. We will be staying at charming, boutique hotels with warm Turkish hospitality for 5 nights.

Special Offer: 1,850 USD or 1,200 GBP (per person sharing in double room)

Single Supplement: 410 USD or 265 GBP

Fascinating Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Fascinating Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Tour Includes:
Accommodation (bed and breakfast) for 5 nights in boutique hotels, All museum entrances,
All internal flights in Turkey, VIP minibus ground transportation for 16 people, Welcome dinner and Farewell Dinner, 2 Turkish cookery classes, learning 2 different regional cuisines (Istanbul and Cappadocia for Anatolian cuisine), All airport transfers, All guide services, Private Bosphorus boat tour in Istanbul and cocktails.

Not included in the tour:
Your international return flight to Istanbul and Visa (if needed), personal expenses, extra drinks and mini bar at the hotels, drinks at meals. Single supplement if requested. Whirling dervish show and Turkish folk night, optional air balloon in Cappadocia, lunches and 2 dinners in Cappadocia. Gratuities for our guide and driver would also be most appreciated.

Turkish Breakfast, delicious, healthy; a feast to all senses

Turkish Breakfast, delicious, healthy, irresistable; a feast to all senses

We will be enjoying the famous Turkish hospitality and learning how to make the delicious Turkish cuisine

We will be enjoying the famous Turkish hospitality and learning how to make the delicious Turkish cuisine

This bespoke culinary and cultural tour to Turkey is limited to 12 participants only and early booking is essential to guarantee spaces and availability for the desired hotels and internal flights. If you would like to join us to explore this fascinating land from a local’s perspective, please Contact me and kindly fill in the Fascinating Turkey 2015; Registration Form. I would also very much appreciate if you can kindly share this brochure with your family or friends that could be interested – this trip could be a wonderful, memorable present to someone, a trip of a lifetime.

Topkapi Palace by the Bosphorus, Istanbul

The delightful Bosphorus Boat tour is amongst the highlights of the 2015 Fascinating Turkey Tour.

Fascinating Turkey 2015; Culinary & Cultural Tour Brochure; October 25th – October 30st, 2015

ITINERARY

October 25th, Sunday: Arrival to Istanbul Ataturk International Airport (your arrival time is important to shape the activities of that day), transfer from the airport and check in to our charming Hotel Armada at the heart of Old Istanbul, Sultanahmet. Orientation tour in Sultanahmet, Old Istanbul. You may like to indulge in the famous Turkish Bath at the superb Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami. Private boat cruise along the Bosphorus to enjoy the beauty of Istanbul stretching to two continents. Welcome Dinner at the atmospheric Armada Hotel Terrace to enjoy delicious Turkish mezzes and kebabs overlooking the beautiful Old Istanbul and the Sea of Marmara.

October 26th, Monday: Leave hotel at 9 am after our delicious Turkish style breakfast and start exploring the fascinating Istanbul. We visit the Blue Mosque, famous for its turquoise Iznik tiles and frescoes. We will then continue to the breathtaking Hagia Sophia, a pioneer of architecture and the largest church in the world prior to St. Peter’s in Rome. After visiting the atmospheric Basilica Cistern, we will head to Nakkas Textile & Rugs to see their extensive collections on beautiful Turkish rugs (and experience how world famous Turkish carpets are made, while having lunch), tile, ceramics, print & calligraphy collection. Next stop is the magnificent Spice Market, to learn about and stock up on spices, Turkish delight, Turkish coffee and more. After all that festivity, we will take you to the New Town, Galata, Pera and Beyoglu area to introduce a different, another vibrant part of the city with its markets, passages, shops, mosques and sights. In the evening at 6.30 pm, we have a hands on Turkish cookery class where we learn to cook a delicious 4 course Turkish meal together and enjoy at the end.

October 27th, Tuesday: Check out from Hotel Armada and transfer to the airport to fly to Kayseri, Cappadocia region, land of fairy chimneys. Check in to our charming, beautifully decorated Peri Masali Cave Hotel with its rooms craved through hundreds of years and delicately restored with stones. Orientation tour and lunch to follow. Then visit to Goreme Underground City and Goreme Open Air Museum. Dine at local restaurant and learn about local regional cuisine during our meal.

October 28th, Wednesday: Scrumptious Turkish breakfast at our hotel to enjoy regional delicacies. Optional hot air balloon tour in the early morning, starting at 5 am (extra). At 9.30am visit a local Turkish Ceramic Art Shop to learn how the world famous tiles and ceramics made and watch masters working. Then we will visit a traditional Cappadocian home and will be treated to a special local Turkish cookery class by the village ladies who will teach the local cuisine of Cappadocia as well as other delicacies. Our day will end around 4 pm, giving you a chance to rest in your hotel or enjoy a Turkish Bath. Evening dinner with optional special Turkish Night to enjoy Folkloric Dances from various regions and live music with refreshments.

October 29th, Thursday: Early morning check out and transfer to the airport to fly to Istanbul and check in to Hotel Armada. Free time; perhaps a visit to Grand Bazaar for last minute souvenirs, we will gladly accompany you for this trip. As an alternative, visit the foodie heaven Kadikoy Market in the Asian side and lunch at Ciya Restaurant, famous with fine example of regional Turkish cuisine. Farewell Dinner at the Khorosani Restaurant.

October 30th, Friday: Check out from our hotel and transfer to the Ataturk International Airport for the return flight.

I have been organizing and hosting bespoke Culinary and Cultural Tours to Turkey for 8 years, aiming to show my homeland from a local’s perspective. This is the land I belong and love; a special land packed with history, traditions, beautiful landscape, fabulous Turkish food and wonderful, friendly locals. I would be delighted to explore my homeland with you and show this amazing country from a local’s perspective.

Stunning fairy chimneys at Cappadocia, over the hot air baloon; photo credit National Geographic

Stunning fairy chimneys at Cappadocia, over the hot air baloon; photo credit National Geographic

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, I look forward to hearing from you and hope to have a chance to explore my homeland together.

My best wishes for happy travels to you all, Iyi Yolculuklar,

Ozlem

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My Fascinating Turkey 2015 Tours; Can’t wait to get on road again

Ephesus - Izmir, Turkey

Ephesus – Izmir, Turkey

I have recently watched this wonderful video on the beautiful Izmir region; Ephesus, the turquoise Aegean Sea, inviting Turkish food, friendly locals to welcome you; video said “life is worth exploration; so much to experience, see, taste…” How very true. This has been the basis of my culinary and cultural tours to Turkey; a fascinating land with warm people, so worth exploring.

Fascinating Istanbul, Turkey

Fascinating Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Koftecisi, Istanbul - a fine example of Turkish hospitality

Sultanahmet Koftecisi, Istanbul – a fine example of Turkish hospitality

I have been organizing and hosting small scale Culinary and Cultural Tours to Turkey for 8 years, aiming to show my homeland from a local’s perspective. This is the land I belong and love; a special land packed with history, traditions, beautiful landscape, fabulous Turkish food and wonderful, friendly locals.

Fragrant Turkish spices galore at the Spice Market, Istanbul

Fragrant Turkish spices galore at the Spice Market, Istanbul

Turkish Breakfast, delicious, healthy; a feast to all senses

Turkish Breakfast, delicious, healthy; a feast to all senses

Here, I am delighted to present you my 2 upcoming Fascinating Turkey Culinary & Cultural Tours to Turkey. First one from Saturday, May 23rd 2015 through Saturday, May 30th 2015, second one from Saturday, October 24th through Saturday 31st October 2015. We have a very exciting itinerary, covering off the beaten track sights, experiencing foodie heaven markets like the Kadikoy Market in Istanbul, private boat tour along the Bosphorus, Whirling dervish shows, exploring old and new parts of Istanbul to give you a real feel of this fascinating city. And food, the glorious Turkish food; starting from my favorite meal of the day Turkish breakfast, every meal will be authentic and memorable. We will learn all about Turkish spices, Turkish coffee, Turkish Delight and stock up the finest examples of them at the Spice Market, Istanbul.

Bountiful seasonal produce at Besiktas Pazari, Istanbul

Bountiful seasonal produce at Besiktas Pazari, Istanbul

Locals making Gozleme, Turkish flatbreads with fillings

Locals making Gozleme, Turkish flatbreads with fillings

During our tour, we will have 3 Turkish cooking classes to explore regional cuisines – in Istanbul, Cappadocia and at the charming village Sirince, to learn about the hearty Anatolian cuisine and the Aegean cuisine, using region’s wonderful olive oil and fresh produce. In Cappadocia, we will be treated to a special local Turkish cookery class by the village ladies in a traditional Cappadocian home, an experience I greatly look forward to.

Stunning fairy chimneys at Cappadocia, over the hot air baloon; photo credit National Geographic

Stunning fairy chimneys at Cappadocia, over the hot air baloon; photo credit National Geographic

Cappadocia Region, the land of fairy chimneys will be a special highlight. Exploring Goreme Underground City, optional Hot air balloon over the fairy chimneys, visiting a local Turkish Ceramic Art Shop to learn how the world famous tiles and ceramics made and watch masters working and many more – all to look forward to.

Cooking delicious Aegean flavors at our Turkish cooking class in Sirince, Turkey

Cooking delicious Aegean flavors at our Turkish cooking class in Sirince, Turkey

And then beautiful Izmir region to follow; charming Sirince Village for our hands on Turkish cookery class, learn about the delicious and healthy Aegean cuisine; visits to the fascinating, ancient Greco –Roman city, Ephesus and Virgin Mary’s house.

Here is my Fascinating Turkey 2015; Culinary & Cultural Tour Brochure with the Registration Form. The tour is limited to 15 participants only and the registration started. Please kindly Contact me if you have any questions or would like to sign up for our tour.

Beautiful Pergamum, Bergama - Turkey, with spring blossoms - Turkey

Beautiful Pergamum, Bergama – Turkey, with spring blossoms – Turkey

The Willie Nelson song sums it all up for me –“On the road again; just can’t wait to get on the road again!” I really can’t wait and I hope you can join us too.

Happy travels, Iyi Yolculuklar,

Ozlem

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A Special, Flying Visit to Istanbul

 

Simit, Turkish sesame coated bread rings; a warm welcome home

Simit, Turkish sesame coated bread rings; a warm welcome home

We had a flying visit to Istanbul last weekend; packed with family and friends to see, my niece’s beautiful wedding and delicious Turkish food to savor; every minute of it was special. And what better greeting than of seeing Simit, Turkish sesame coated bread rings upon arrival, a very warm welcome that I couldn’t resist.

My dear sister Oznur and fellow blogger Senior Dogs Abroad timely informed me that the Yenikapi Metro train line is now connected to the Istanbul Ataturk Airport. It’s indeed joyful news; we took the metro train line from the airport all the way to 4th Levent – a seamless, smooth journey just over 1 hour and great value. I highly recommend using the Metro train line from Ataturk Airport to all the way to Taksim and beyond.

Kofteci Huseyin – Beyoglu, Istanbul:

Kofteci Huseyin, Beyoglu - Istanbul

Kofteci Huseyin, Beyoglu – Istanbul

Turkish meatballs, koftes served with piyaz, Turkish bean salad at Kofteci Huseyin

Turkish meatballs, koftes served with piyaz, Turkish bean salad at Kofteci Huseyin

Just before I departed for Istanbul, I got a note from a reader, Chris, asking if I can visit Kofteci Huseyin in BeyogluIstanbul (address: Sehit Muhtar Mah. Kurabiye Sok, Akgun Is Hani, 14/A – Beyoglu – Istanbul). Apparently he had one of the best koftes, Turkish meatballs there and the tomato based sauce served with the meatballs there was just amazing. Well, I had a packed schedule but now was so curious about Kofteci Huseyin that I had to make it and so glad I did. Tucked behind Beyoglu, Kofteci Huseyin is a tiny lokanta, serving the very best Turkish meatballs with fasulye piyazi, Turkish bean salad with onions, since 1958. You are greeted with a warm smile and your koftes are made to order in front of you and served with freshly baked somun ekmek, Turkish bread with piyaz. You can tell they are passionate about their kofte; sourcing out their meat from local butchers, prepared lovingly. Kofteci Huseyin says “They ask me why I don’t serve soup or desserts; making kofte is what I do best and that’s our specialty. Every day we make kofte out of 40 kg of minced (ground beef), onion and bread crumbs and once the meat is finished, our job is finished for the day too, around 4 pm. They ask me why I don’t serve in the evenings; well, there are friends and family to see, time to pause, until the next kofte tomorrow”. I liked his way of thinking.

Kofte, served with piyaz and somun ekmek, Turkish loaf bread

Kofte, served with piyaz and somun ekmek, Turkish loaf bread

Chris especially wanted to know how they make the delicious tomato based sauce served next to the Turkish meatballs, koftes there. It’s a secret recipe apparently, though they revealed there’s crushed tomatoes and Turkish red pepper flakes, pul biber in it. I have a feeling there’s also a touch of Biber Salcasi, Turkish hot pepper paste in the sauce, adding a spicy peppery flavor. Kofteci Huseyin is a delightful, small kofteci if you happen to be at Beyoglu area and I am grateful that Chris asked me to investigate. If you’d like to make kofte at home, here is my kofte, Turkish meatballs recipe 101.

Sahi Istanbul:

Meeting up with friends at Sahi Istanbul.

Meeting up with friends, Cicekten and Revan at Sahi Istanbul.

Have you discovered the beautiful Sahi Istanbul in Karakoy?  Founded by ex-colleague and dear friend Cicekten, Sahi Istanbul is home from home for me, offering the best of authentic , genuine Turkish design (as its name refers to), with traditional and contemporary objects, sourced from Turkish artisans all around Turkey. I love the beautiful hand decorated ceramics, locally sourced textiles and the authentic Turkish delights I long to taste there, whenever I am home. It was a delightful to stop by at Sahi Istanbul meeting with friends and Cicekten showered us with the best possible Turkish hospitality.

Irresistable baklava, the real thing from Gaziantep

Irresistable baklava, the real thing from Gaziantep.

 

Cay, boreks, pastries and home made Turkish Delights at Sahi Istanbul

Cay, boreks, pastries and home made Turkish Delights at Sahi Istanbul

Homemade Turkish delights (which you can have a go at making them at Sahi Istanbul – Karakoy); scrumptious boreks, pastries and the original baklava sourced from Gaziantep; we washed them all down with endless glasses of Turkish tea, cay and chats. Please pay a visit to Sahi Istanbul if you can, you won’t be disappointed. Sahi Istanbul’s website in English will also be available shortly.

Locally sourced, authentic Turkish textile, ceramics and many more at Sahi Istanbul

Locally sourced, authentic Turkish textile, ceramics, books and many more at Sahi Istanbul

Hand made Turkish olive oil soap

Hand made Turkish olive oil soap

Sahi Istanbul also very generously gave away their authentic Turkish bracelets and Turkish homemade soaps for my Turkish cookery classes at the Central Market Cooking Schools in the US in February 2014. Special gifts to showcase Turkish crafts and hospitality, I am very grateful to their generosity.

A Delightful Meet up over Turkish Breakfast:

Kahvalti Bahane, Sohbet Sahane; Breakfast is the excuse for a wonderful get together

Kahvalti Bahane, Sohbet Sahane; Breakfast is the excuse for a wonderful get together with Senior Dogs

No visit to Turkey is complete without a leisurely Turkish breakfast with friends and family, my favorite meal of the day. Just before our departure, we managed to sit at our local café by the Bosphorus with my parents, my sister and family and dear friends and fellow bloggers Senior Dogs Abroad.  Senior Dogs live in Istanbul and blogs about life in Turkey (as well as world affairs) and I have been meaning to introduce them to my parents. My parents were delighted and so impressed with their Turkish and even more that they will be traveling to Eastern Turkey shortly. We lived in Elazig at the southeast of Turkey over 8 years when I was a child and my parents were eager to give as many tips as to where to visit- we all look forward to their adventures up there, not to be missed! As always, it was a delightful few hours spent together with family and friends.

Turkish breakfast with a glass of cay; personal favorite.

Turkish breakfast with a glass of cay; personal favorite.

Menemen; Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers.

Menemen; Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers.

Menemen, Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers  is a favorite with us; delicious for a leisurely brunch or a light supper, it is so easy to make it at home too; here’s my recipe if you’d like to give it a go.

Overlooking Sea of Marmara from Sultanahmet, Istanbul

Overlooking Sea of Marmara from Sultanahmet, Istanbul

Boats and the Bosphorus Bridge, Istanbul

Boats and the Bosphorus Bridge, Istanbul

Time to say farewell and hope to see you soon, Istanbul; a special city that calls for us often.

Afiyet Olsun ve Yine Gorusmek Dilegiyle,

Ozlem

Peri’s Spice Ladle’s e-book, Spice Up Your Celebration is out now!!

spiceupyourcelebration3D-680x1079I really am delighted to see that dear friend and fellow blogger Peri’s Spice Ladle’s ebook, Spice Up Your Celebration; Indian Inspired recipes for Occasions, Holidays and Entertaining is out now! We have been enjoying Peri’s delicious and easy to follow Indian recipes for a long time and she really made me appreciate a variety of spices to incorporate our dishes through her wonderful, Indian inspired delicious recipes. This gem of a book is a great source to make and enjoy delicious Indian cuisine in the comfort of your home; it’s a keeper in our home and I hope you enjoy it too. You can view the details of the Spice Up Your Celebration ebook through here. Enjoy!

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