Istanbul – My Local Guide Istanbul
Lee and I went on 3 tours in Istanbul: The Secrets of Istanbul and Istanbul Heritage, with Yunus. Both were excellent, he has such a broad knowledge of the city and its history and was very open to changing the content and route of the tour to suit us, given that were the only 2 people on the second tour. The Secrets tour gave a great overview and orientation of the old town and Yunus answered all our practical questions about tram cards and where to eat. The Heritage was a way of exploring a part of the city that is just not known by tourists. Yunus’s knowledge and comments on the social changes, from refugees to gentrification gave added depth to our understanding of this amazing city and, for us, the newly discovered ancient old Jewish and Greek districts.
The Taste of Turkey on two Continents was given by the owner, Salih and was superb. We started on the European side and had a very pleasant 15-minute boat trip over the Asian side to a part of Istanbul I would never have thought to visit. We wandered through a food market and into specialty shops to try Turkish and Kurdish delicacies, meat, pickles, cheeses, olives. There was no pressure to buy anything but I did and am still enjoying my purchases here in Amsterdam. We had a sit-down meal in a local restaurant with lots of explanation about the food we were eating. We caught a ferry back to the European side for dessert, perfect baklava and ice cream. This was all topped off with an agile/hubbly bubbly and tea and conversation late into the night in a tucked away cafe full of locals doing the same, and the friendliest and most endearing cat in Istanbul.