The Travellers' Club - Holidays for discerning travellers Halnaker Park Cottage, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0QH
Telephone 01243 773597

A FEW DAYS IN ISTANBUL

12 – 17 April 2011

with John & Karen Osborne

To book this tour, click here

COST: Including flights, accommodation in twin bedded rooms with breakfast at a converted Ottoman mansion centrally located in the Old City, 3 dinners, transfers, guided visits         £1085

EXTRAS: Insurance, Visa on arrival (£10), Single Room Supplement £245, additional meals, some transport within Istanbul (by inexpensive shared taxis), some entrance charges.

ISTANBUL must surely be one of the most fascinating cities in the world. It has a beautiful site, straddling the Bosphorus and Golden Horn, with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia. Its history and diversity of cultures; its beautiful buildings: churches, mosques, palaces; its bazaars and fine cuisine all mean there is too much to see and our visits must be highly selective.
Above all, Istanbul is a city of overlaying cultures, each revealed by the wonderful monuments that survive (in many cases) in such a remarkable state of preservation.  Old Constantinople was capital of the Roman Empire in the East. In its last phase as a Christian capital it stood against the might of the Ottoman Turks. When it fell, the Turks absorbed rather than destroyed: much of Byzantium can still be seen in churches with fabulous mosaics, the great Hippodrome and the astonishing cisterns. The Old Ottoman city survives in many quiet and even secret corners as well as the superb monuments. The grand mosques and Hagia Sophia (once the old Byzantine cathedral) riding above the Golden Horn are the outward image of an intense life with its markets and trades still active to this day. Topkapisaray (the Sultan's palace) is a treasure house in which to pick and choose. Other museums are rich and unusual like that in the former palace of the Grand Vizier Ibrahim Pasha, or the undercroft of the famous mosque of Sultan Ahmet I.  The castle of Mehmet II, the Conqueror, or the university complex of Süleyman the Magnificent, all reflect a sense of the grandeur of the Sultanate. But intimate corners include the almost rural dervish mosque of Ramazan Efendi or the old Jewish Quarter of Balat.  We shall also have time for bazaars, cakes and restaurants!


PROVISIONAL ITINERARY:

12 April 2011 Tuesday - Arrive at Istanbul Ataturk Airport. Transfer to a ‘Special Category’ hotel, in a restored Ottoman style building in the Sultan Ahmet district and only a few minutes walk from many major sites . Five nights’ accommodation there. Dinner at the hotel.

13 April 2009  – Wednesday Morning visit to the Hippodrome, where chariot races took place during the Roman period, and the Obelisk of Theodosius, which has some superb 4th century carvings. Nearby is the Blue Mosque, built in the early 17th century, distinguished by six slender minarets and walls covered with blue Iznik tiles.  Visit to the amazing Topkapı Palace, former residence of the Ottoman Sultans, including the Harem and Treasury. Afternoon visit to the Underground Cistern, and then to the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. Dinner at Hamdi Restaurant, overlooking the Golden Horn.

14 April  - Thursday Morning visit to Ayia Sophia, the Emperor Justinian’s magnificent 6th century Cathedral, converted  into a mosque  after the conquest of Istanbul. Continue to the famous Archaeological Museum and to the Cinirli Kiosk.  Afternoon visit to the Church of St Saviour in Chora, now known as the Kariye Cami, which has marvellous mosaics and frescoes from the 14th century, depicting the lives of the Virgin Mary and Christ. Continue to the Land Walls, which defended the city for a thousand years on the land side. Dinner independently.

15 April  - Friday Drive to Dolmabahce Palace, the last  residence of the Ottoman Sultans. Embark on a private motorboat for a cruise on the Bosphorus. Imperial palaces are interspersed with wooden waterside mansions, the twin fortresses of Rumeli Hisar and Anadolu Hisar, and the two 20th century bridges that link Europe and Asia. Afternoon shopping at the great Covered Bazaar, where you will have the opportunity to find souvenirs, leather goods , jewellery and carpets. Dinner independently.

16 April – Saturday  This morning drive to the Asiatic shore. Visit the Beylerbeyi Palace, the summer residence  of the Ottoman Sultans, and the Camlıca Hill for a panoramic view of Istanbul. After lunch, visit the busy and attractive Spice Market, and then the Rüstem Pasha Mosque, famous for its exquisite 16th century tiles.  Farewell dinner at Balıkçı Sabahattin Restaurant, a fine fish restaurant near our hotel

17 April – Sunday Free morning and then transfer to the airport for our return flight.

PRACTICAL MATTERS: Flight times may change and other factors may cause us to change the sequence of the itinerary (it can even rain in Istanbul!). We cannot attempt to see all the delights of Istanbul in a short tour – the city has an enormous wealth of museums and monuments - but if you want to explore a particular interest, please ask to be directed! Some travel within the city will be by tram or shared (inexpensive) taxis. Several monuments are within walking distance of the hotel. Meals will vary in price – places to eat are chosen for local colour and reasonable prices. There are also grand restaurants and more modest cafeterias. Regrettably, there is a £10 visa charge on arrival in Istanbul. Bring comfortable walking shoes and umbrella/clothes in case of rain or a cold wind! Obtain some Turkish Lira and preferably some cash in $US before departure. Plan to change half of your needs at the airport (we will be short of time to visit banks). Credit cards are widely used but not in small shops or some restaurants.