I recently had the pleasure of joining A&K on an amazing trip to Turkey. We would experience Istanbul and its amazing history and Cappadocia where the scenery leaves you speechless.
We flew to Istanbul to its newly opened airport, sleek and modern and easily navigated. Our first two nights would be at the Four Seasons Sultanahmet, located in centre of Istanbul’s ‘Old City’. This amazing hotel is in a superb location, whilst being just steps away from top historic attractions such as the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
Day one, a full day exploring….
Firstly Hagia Sophia, often referred to as the eighth wonder of the World, the Hagia Sophia in Sultanahmet is easily one of Istanbul’s most impressive sights. It also must have one of the most turbulent histories of any museum in the world. Initially a Greek Orthodox church, later an imperial mosque and now a museum. The “Shrine of Holy Wisdom of God”, known for its large Byzantine dome, was truly magnificent.
Then on to the Topkapi Palace, it was the primary residence of Ottoman Sultans for more than 600 years. Starting with the exterior and interior courtyards, followed by a visit to all the rooms such as the imperial kitchen, treasury, arms room, and the Imperial Harem.
A short walk from Topkapi is the Basilica Cistern, it is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city that provided a water filtration system for the buildings nearby. A huge underground chamber with its ceiling supported by 336 marble columns. It’s dark and damp, lit with low level lighting & music, I’ve never experienced anything like it.
This afternoon we took a short ferry over to the Asian side of the city where we walked through the bustling streets & market of Kadikoy, an insight to a normal day for the locals.
Day two, a day of two halves. This morning we were whisked off to Chora Church, on the way we get a chance to see the city walls. Chora is considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of a Byzantine church, and well worth a visit first thing in the morning to escape the crowds that flock here later in the day.
This afternoon we took a short 1-hour flight to Goreme and checked in to our next hotel for 2 nights. Argos in Cappadocia was once a monastery and has the most breathtaking views of Pigeon Valley. The hotel offers a variety of rooms and suites all located in several different buildings. There are beautiful walkways and gardens for you to relax and take in the panoramic views of the Cappadocia Plateau.
World Heritage site containing many ancient churches and interior frescoes. A busy attraction but definitely worth visiting!
Then on the return to our hotel a stop to see the Fairy Chimneys of Pasabag, a cave town with curious rock spires, how they stay up is unbelievable, unfortunately the climate will eventually see a lot erode, so amazing to see them now.
A new day and we were off to see the underground city of Kaymakli, this has to be one of my highlights. One of 36 underground cities it was opened to the public in 1964.The city has low, narrow and sloping passages. It consists of 8 floors below ground, only 4 of them are open to the public in which the spaces are organized around ventilation shafts. A true feet of engineering when carved by hand from the volcanic rock, it is so vast and it was incredibly interesting to hear how life was lived underground.
My last few days were back in Istanbul where we stayed at the Ciragan Palace Kempinski. Converted from a 19th-century Ottoman palace, and located directly on the Bosphorus. In the city centre district of Besiktas it is only short a drive from the old city and some of the trendiest shopping areas.
This afternoon we visited the Dolmabahce Palace only a few minutes’ drive away. Built in 19th century it is one of the most glamorous palaces in the world. It was the administrative centre of the late Ottoman Empire with the last of Ottoman Sultans residing there. Look out for the 4.5 tonne chandelier, in the ceremonial hall it was a present from Queen Victoria, and is the world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier. Headphones with running commentary will give you all facts & history about the various rooms and buildings of the Palace and Harem.
My Last day…. The Spice Market and the Grand Bazaar, definitely a favourite for all you people who like to shop and I know I do!
The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops. A great place to get your last minute souvenirs, you can pick up anything from beautiful jewellery, leather goods, carpets, ceramics and of course Turkish Delight & Tea.
In conclusion this trip was full of amazing sites, attractions and history all put together amazingly by luxury operator Abercrombie & Kent. Special thanks also to Turkish Airlines, a great service & very comfortable. Lastly to Toplum from Dolunay Travel Design our tour guide whose knowledge was endless and who expertly guided us from start to end.
For more information about this luxury trip please feel free to call in & see me.