Lale Sürmen Aran

Turkish Coffee: From Ethiopia to Bosphorus

Coffee is a beloved drink and has a special place in the Turkish culture. A fruit indigenous fruit to Ethiopia, it has a long story before it became to be known as the “Turkish Coffee”. Coffee first appeared as a food item, then it became a drink. Out of Ethiopia, it first made it’s way […]

Impressive Video of Turkey

By the young Italian film maker, Leonardo Dalessandri, “Watchtower of Turkey” is one of the most expressive and captivating videos I have ever seen. In case you have not come across it yet:   Enjoy! Watchtower of Turkey from Leonardo Dalessandri on Vimeo.


Culture is strongly bound with language, food and beverages. Every good traveler knows that it is essential to taste and sip local delicacies.   The story behind the national drinks of different cultures can be amazing. In Turkey, mystical cloudy “rakı” takes the center stage. Once tried, travelers are guaranteed to remember the strong anise […]

Istanbul Off The Tourist Track, Side Trip to Asia

There are many benefits of staying in a city more than couple of days. It enables you to go behind the tourist scene to discover the living city, see the inhabitants in their daily routine, and be a temporary local. With a population over 5 million people, Asian part of the city hardly is “off […]

National Sovereignty and Children’s Day

95 years ago, on April 23, 1920 first Turkish Grand National Assembly opened in Ankara. This was a big deal for a people who had been subjects to the Ottoman Dynasty for 600 years and who walked out of the WWI as the defeated sick man of Europe. Bright days were ahead. After a 3 year War […]

Bosphorus Cruise

A visit in Istanbul is not complete without a cruise on the Bosphorus!   Asia and Europe connected with the Bosphorus bridge.   This is a top level experience and it is the best way to appreciate the massive size and scale of 15-million- strong Istanbul, and a convenient way to see many of its outlying landmarks.   In […]

Happy Easter & Meeting the Patriarch

Happy Easter & Meeting the Patriarch Diverse week long Rick Steves’ Istanbul tour aims to unfold the history of 3,000 years and the vibrant contemporary life of the city. Istanbul was Constantinople. It was first the capital of Roman Empire under the name Nea Roma, than the capital of Byzantines as Constantinople and finally the […]

Istanbul, March 2015 – Rick Steves Best of Turkey Tour

Istanbul, March 2015 – Rick Steves Best of Turkey Tour Join Rick Steves group as they discover Istanbul. All visuals are from mid March in 2015,  “fresh from the oven”!

Tour Season Started!

Mid March is a busy time for us in Istanbul. Rick Steves’ tours in Turkey start usually around this time of the year. First of the 2015 Best of Turkey tours started last week and the first Istanbul tour started yesterday. Both tours have two common components which stand out, that is the location of […]

Weekend in Turkey

Travelers ask me about when the weekend in Turkey is. As greater majority of population in Turkey are Muslims, they fairly assume that weekend is Friday, which can be considered Sabbath for Muslims in a “conventional understanding”. I said in a “conventional understanding”, as in the Holy Quran, source of Islam, Muslims are encouraged to […]

November 26 – Day 3: Istanbul and Ankara. Sleep in Ankara (1 night).

Official plan for the day: We’ll explore Istanbul’s more recent past and present today, beginning with the opulently-Ottoman Topkapı Palace and Harem. Then we’ll visit the New District, with its Art Nouveau façades, restaurants, and trendy boutiques, all along pedestrian-packed İstiklal Street, where you’ll have free time for lunch on your own. Afterward, we’ll board our bus for the drive to Ankara, Turkey’s bustling […]

November 25 – Day 2: Old Christian and Islamic Istanbul

Official plan of the day: Today we’ll focus on the era when the city was known as Constantinople, the eastern capital of the Roman Empire. We’ll start at the exquisite 400-year-old Blue Mosque and then move to the Hippodrome — the ancient racing course that was the social heart of Constantinople. We’ll also visit the 1,500-year-old Hagia […]