What would you have in mind for your Istanbul trip? regarding such a unique and generous city?
As a historian tour guide designing and performing “tailored tours” in Istanbul and all-around Turkey; been working for many prestigious global and local academic institutions, business organizations and individuals. All in all, helping the visitors to avoid sloppy, shallow standard travel packages by offering special routes through not only several historical places but also actual neighborhoods and culinary spots. More specifically, my primary goal is going beyond the boring data concerning the old buildings around, like the number of rooms or chandeliers in the palace, or how much meters high the ceiling is. Observing the historical layers of different centuries, or synthesis of various cultures and eventually meaningful stories of human beings just like us will be forming my major concern.
Occasionally, I am also giving lectures about Istanbul and its Cultural Heritage to university students, especially mixed groups of international students. So far, I have been working several good quality travel agencies as well as academic institutions.
The concept that I would like to use for my style is “tailor-made”! I am really experienced for dealing with the expectations and needs of various types of individuals and groups according to their interests. For instance, a University Board of Trustees group, a professional business organization or a family, they all require a different kind of course regarding their priorities.
For the first-timers, I would suggest a tour around the imperial downtown of the city. This one will cover the very fundamental pieces in monumental scales from several centuries, or ages. More particularly, this would include the famous Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. Blue Mosque might be a significant addition along with the Basilica Cistern as the time you have allows.
Second, I might focus the group on a specific theme such as Byzantine remnants, or the Ottoman Mosques. For the first one, Chora Church (Kariye Museum), the Hippodrome and the floor mosaics of ancient Byzantine Palace will be included. And for the latter, the Mosques of Suleymaniye, Rustem Pasha might be added to Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Meanwhile, The Grand Bazaar and/or the Egyptian/Spice Market should be essential for many isitors. Or we should concentrate on/around one of a unique neighborhoods like Galata or Eyup with their authentic atmospheres and architecture, respectively in their Islamic and western traditions.
On the other hand, the culinary side must be another essential element while making plans about Istanbul. Seeing it like “all about Kebabs” is missing too much! So, The lunch and/or dinner places will be picked among a adequate variety of choices as the local culture deserves. Basically, a seafood restaurant or an kitchen based upon a vegetarian culture (and of course olive oil) are the first alternatives to the Kebab phenomena.