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“Excellent day in Istanbul with Arzu”

Context Travel - Day Tours
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Private Walking Tour: Venice's Jewish Ghetto
Ranked #128 of 407 Tours in Istanbul
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Owner description: We organize small-group (6 people max) walking tours of Istanbul, led by scholars, professors, and experts in a given topic. A finalist in National Geographic's Geotourism Challenge, Context walks offer a sustainable alternative to large group tours.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Level Contributor
34 reviews
29 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“Excellent day in Istanbul with Arzu”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 6, 2012

We booked a full day private tour in Istanbul for our family of 7. Our guide was Arzu Toraman and she was excellent in every way. She engaged our children, was friendly, and knew just the right way to explain things so that everyone understood. Our kids are ages 11-18. They all enjoyed the day very much. We visited the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Hippodrome, the Grand Bazaar and the Underground Cistern nearby. We had lunch at a great restaurant our guide recommended, Caferaga Medresesi, which is located at an art school. After lunch we were able to go into one of the small classrooms and watch two artisans work. We saw more than we ever could have on our own. Highly recommended!

Visited June 2012
3 Thank Worldgallery
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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62 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
London, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Istanbul walks”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 19, 2012

Early in June this year we booked two private walks in Istanbul, the first to the Topkapi Palace and the second to Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Hippodrome and the Underground Roman Cistern nearby. Our children are 13 and 16 and interested in history, but my husband was not really looking forward to spending 3-4 hours of his holiday being talked at by a guide! I explained all this in advance to the helpful Context representative, Ceylan Zere, and we booked private tours so we could go at our own pace. In the end everyone was really happy. The two docents were very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, so the more we all learned the more we found we wanted to know - and of course the sights themselves were spectacular. The weather was hot, and there was a great deal of information to take in, but no-one became bored or disengaged. I would recommend both these walks to anyone, but if you have limited time and could do only one thing then Hagia Sophia is completely unique and unmissable. Context do these tours very well - there is no standard patter and the docents are always specialists in their field. It was a real pleasure for us all to spend two mornings in this way, and the knowledge we gained stood us in good stead when we went exploring on our own. All in all, time and money well spent!

Visited June 2012
3 Thank Sara N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Basking Ridge, New Jersey, USA
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Istanbul walks”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 15, 2012

I thoroughly enjoyed my two walks with Clare (Topkapi Palace and Crossroads of Commerce). She was incredibly knowledgable and very personable. I learned much and would most definitely use Context again. My only complaint is that the method used to schedule and confirm walks left me in a bind. The walks were not confirmed until the last minute and I had already secured a different guide for some of the days when the walks were finally confirmed, so I had to decline to participate in a couple of them that I had really wanted to join.

Visited May 2012
3 Thank Christopher Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
somewhere on the gulf
Level Contributor
11 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Best tours ever!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 4, 2012

My husband was skeptical about participating in a "tour" since he usually finds them dreary and uninspired, but our two Context tours changed his opinion completely.

Our first tour was the "Markets of Istanbul." Several years ago in Canada, we met the docent, Huyla, and so we were thrilled at the opportunity to go food shopping and tasting with her. Her knowledge of the Turkish language was invaluable, as was her knowledge of Turkish cuisine and ingredients. Navigating through the aisles of several markets, she pointed out delicious treats in various nooks and crannies. We tasted unusual fare that we would never have known to try on our own--pickled walnuts-in-the-shell, preserved caviar, seasonal fruit, pistachio paste, exotic spice blends like Ottoman and Janissary, etc... She introduced us to high-quality roasteries, spice merchants, bakeries, candy shops and many stalls selling cheeses, fish, meats, dried fruits and nuts and sublime Turkish delight. The tour includes a half-hour ferry ride across the Bosphorus from old Istanbul to the Asian shore. Drinking tea and eating some unusual treats she had bought en-route, it was a lovely way to punctuate our discoveries to date. Huyla really knows her way around the food scene in Istanbul, and we were delighted to finish the tour at a restaurant that serves old-style traditional Turkish cuisine. I'm still swooning over the food, and can't wait to return to Istanbul to try more of their menu! Huyla gave us invaluable restaurant tips for other meals in Istanbul--all winners!

Our second tour was "Byzantium on the Golden Horn" and again we were absolutely delighted. Our docent, Haluk Cetinkaya, had done his PhD dissertation on one of the sites we visited, and knew his subject thoroughly. But there was nothing dull or professorial about Haluk. He loves his subject. And he articulates the Byzantine history he knows so well, with a sense of humour, and wonderfully relaxed attitude. While we were in the Chora museum, we overheard other guides trying to explain the exquisite frescoes, but they didn't come close to Haluk's concise and clear descriptions. We were in awe! We wished that he could show us the whole city--he knows it in depth both literally and figuratively!

As for our arrangements with Context, all went smoothly and both of us would highly recommend these tours. In fact, we'll look around for Context in other cities we visit. We have the impression that the guides, or "docents" as they are called, are chosen for their deep passion, their ability to articulate their subject matter, as well as their easy way with people. It's a winning combination.

Visited April 2012
3 Thank Papiliuncula
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kas, Turkey
Level Contributor
34 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Reliving a book”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 4, 2012

I went on a Context tour with Ebru to Chora Church soon after reading THE ABYSSINIAN PROOF by Jenny White. One of the "characters" in this historical novel is the church itself, so it was a real thrill to have such a knowledgeable guide for an in depth discovery of the church, it's history and of course the fantastic mosaics. We then walked downhill through the old Jewish ghetto ending up at the Greek patriarch, which as they say is a walk through a living history. This was my third Context tour, two others were in Rome. I look forward to others in Istanbul!

Visited October 2011
2 Thank PennyLibrary
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
paul_bennett_123, Owner at Context Travel - Day Tours, responded to this review, April 6, 2012

It was lovely having you on our Byzantium walk in Istanbul. The area of Balat that you walked through is an amazing palimpsest of Istanbul history. We're glad you enjoyed it so much.

We look forward to seeing you on one of our other tours in Istanbul, or wherever your travels take you.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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