A First In The World Tour Istanbul

TURKISH AIRLINES IS OFFERING AN ISTANBUL TOUR CUM LUNCH OR DINNER TO ITS INTERNATIONAL TRANSIT PASSENGERS WITH A MORE THAN SIX-HOUR LAYOVER. .

Completely free of charge from guide services to museum entrance fees, the offer is without match in the world. We head for Ataturk Airport to experience the future of airline transport service in situ. Our meeting point is the Hotel Desk in the International Arrival Hall. Our group of close to 20 includes people from all over the world, from Uganda to Singapore. Passengers can also bring their children on the tour. To join Tour Istanbul, you only need to fulfill two conditions: First, to have purchased your international tickets, both departure and return, from Turkish Airlines. Second, to have a layover of 6 to 24 hours in Istanbul.

IN THE HEART OF THE CITY

After meeting our smiling and friendly professional guide, we are briefed about the tour. Passengers who wish may check their luggage at the Hotel Desk for a nominal fee. Our group takes off at exactly 9 a.m. A product of Plan Tours’ extensive international experience, our special buses are extremely comfortable. Depending on the weather our 27-65 passenger capacity buses may be either open or closed on top. We’re in luck! Our bus is open since today’s Istanbul weather is excellent. What’s more, thanks to special wind protection panels we can enjoy the tour in complete comfort. Besides the tour guide , those who wish can also get information about Istanbul from a microphone-equipped electric panel on the back of the seat in front of them. All guide services are in English. Our first stop is the coast at Cankurtaran where we are served a Turkish breakfast on the Sea of Marmara shore to give participants the energy they will need for the tour. Now we are ready to tour Istanbul. The minarets of Sultanahmet are already coming into view! This six-minaret place of worship, aka the Blue Mosque, is a 17th century Ottoman masterpiece. After being bowled over by the splendor of this mosque adorned with over 20,000 Iznik tiles, we stroll around the Hippodrome. Ancient Egyptian obelisks brought here during the Ottoman period, the spectacular German Fountain and the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art all stand on this square. But one of the tour’s biggest attractions is the Hagia Sophia. Seeing a Byzantine fresco of the face of an angel only recently uncovered is a truly exciting experience. Following a close to three-hour tour with free time and shopping opportunities, it’s time for lunch. We eat surrounded by historic venues in an old Ottoman mansion at Sultanahmet. Following fava, hummus, baba ghanoush and savory pastries, the biggest surprise of the lunch is stuffed melon, which, we are told, was traditionally served at circumcision parties for the sons of the sultans.

MYSTERY OF THE MEDUSA

After lunch our first stop is the Yerebatan Cistern. Dating back to Byzantine times, this mysterious structure impresses immediately upon entering. As you stroll over the platform between the giant columns, you’ll enjoy watching the fish swimming in the shallow water beneath your feet. But the biggest surprise of this historic venue, where you can have your picture taken dressed as a sultan, are the Medusa’s heads. Positioned at the base of two different columns in a far corner of the cistern, one of these heads is upside down, the other turned on its side. With the taste of Sultanahmet still on our palates, we head now for Eminönü. No tour would be complete with seeing the Yeni Cami (New Mosque), which stands on a square thronged with pigeons. The foundation of this mosque, whose dome rises in the shape of a pyramid, was laid in the 16th century at the behest of Safiye Sultan, wife of Murad III. The area around the mosque is a shoppers’ paradise with live birds, flowers, fresh fish, cheeses and glassware markets, all in close proximity. And the immediately adjacent Egyptian Bazaar is a virtual repository of Istanbul colors. With a past going back four centuries, this market is part of the New Mosque Complex, construction of which was commissioned to Mustafa Agha, chief architect of the period. It is known as the Egyptian Bazaar since most of the products sold here in Ottoman times were shipped in from Egypt. Boasting everything from a thousand and one spices to dried fruits, colorful textiles and handmade lamps, it is a drawing point in every season. But everything good comes to an end, and our tour too is over all too soon. After having a souvenir photo taken with our group, we leave Tour Istanbul as pleased as pie.
INFO


ISTANBUL IN 12 ITINERARIES

Tour Istanbul has a total of 12 tour programs that change daily. Offered every day 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 12 noon to 6 p.m., the tours focus on three different parts of the city: Sultanahmet, Taksim and Eyüp. For information: 0212 463 63 63 /Ext. 11879, or email: touristanbul@thy.com

www.turkishairlines.com/touristanbul

A FROM GALATA TO PİYER LOTİ

Tour Istanbul’s Taksim tour goes to the Galata Tower, Dolmabahçe Palace, Beyoğlu-Pera, İstiklal Street and Ortaköy Square. The Eyüp tour includes the Golden Horn, Eyüp Mosque and Piyer Loti Hill.