Courtesy of the Regent Seven Seas inclusive business class airfare, we flew KLM to Amsterdam and then on to Istanbul. A few days later, we boarded the Regent Seven Seas Voyager to cruise through the Suez Canal to Dubai, stopping along the way in Greece, Cypress, Israel, Jordan, Oman and UAE. On the advice of our Fine Travel Consultant we extended our stay both at the beginning and end of the cruise which was excellent advice….and we flew Emirates business class home which included a limo to take us to and from the airport!
In Istanbul we stayed at the very quaint and comfortable Four Seasons Hotel in the old City Sultanahmet which is full of history and in easy walking distance to the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Grand Bazaar, not to mention some fabulous little restaurants. As good wine and food is high on our list, we sampled some very delicious Turkish wine – try the reserve Shiraz from the Mellen vineyard if you get a chance.
Our Istanbul Highlights
Three stand outs. Firstly, opening the hotel window on the night we arrived to hear the call to prayer from the Mosque wafting in on the warm night air against a backdrop of the Ottoman Places. I knew I had been transported to a vibrant and exotic land. Next, highlight would have to be the Spice Bazaar. Sampling the extensive variety of fresh dates, dried fruit and authentic Turkish Delight was an exceptional sensory experience. If you get a chance try the dried apricots. Nothing like those dried up ones in the supermarket! The last highlight has to be the shopping. This is a diverse city straddling two continents – Asia and Europe - and is an interesting blend of very old and very new. The shopping reflects this. If you are into glittering, medieval bazaars for rugs, gold and things Turkish, you are spoilt for choice. If you want contemporary boutiques there are very upmarket areas that are easy and interesting explore.
Istanbul is proving very popular with cruise companies as a place to start or finish cruises. Aside from the historic and cultural richness, Istanbul is also a modern city with a good range of shops, boutiques, restaurants. No problems with language as most speak English.