Travel & Eats: The Magic of Istanbul and Egypt
If you’re considering the trip of a lifetime, you’ll want to include Turkey and Egypt on your list of “must visits.” Check out the recommendations below for a vacation experience you won’t soon forget:
Where to stay: The Mosaic Hotel. This hotel has great rates and is located in the center of everything. You are within walking distance from the Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace, and the Hagia Sophia Museum. You can relax on the hotel’s spacious sundeck that has excellent city views of Istanbul, or you can indulge your senses at the spa, which features an indoor swimming pool, sauna, and traditional Turkish bath. I got the best massage ever at this spa for $50 – a very reasonable price.
Cost: Room rates at the Mosaic Hotel are as low as $103, and as high as $385.
What to do: Cruise down the Bosphorous River at night and you can enjoy a Turkish meal, dancing, an energetic musical performance, and views of the city. Shop at the Grand Bazaar, where you will find over 3,000 merchants who are selling carpets, spices, lamps, gold, silver, and anything else you can possibly imagine! You will find great bargains at the Bazaar. Visit the Topkapi Palace, which was once the home to Ottoman Sultans, and marvel at the architecture and gardens. See the Hippodrome – an enormous amphitheater where chariot races took place during the Roman times. You should also be sure to see the Egyptian Obleisk, a column that was brought to Istanbul from Egypt, which bears hieroglyphics that tell the story of the sacrifices Pharaohs made to the God Amon-Ra. Istanbul is a romantic city with a lot of history, and the streets are so full of energy.
Food: Try some Turkish tea and the fresh fruits & juices in Istanbul. Bread is baked twice daily on the streets, and it is crisp and delightful. Taste the popular Turkish snack – fried dough filled with cheese – it is absolutely delicious. And how could I forget, the kebabs and meatballs must also be sampled.
Where to stay: The Pavillon Winter Hotel (formerly known as ‘Sofitel Pavillon Winter Luxor’).
Cost: Room rates at the Pavillon Winter Hotel are as low as $57 during the hot summer months, and rates may be as high as $400.
What to do: Visit the Karnak Temple, and see the sound & light show. Learn about the pharaohs who built the necropolis as you walk through the illuminated monuments at night. It is definitely a sight to see.
Food: The Pavillon Winter Hotel has five restaurants featuring French, Italian, Egyptian, and International cuisine selections. My husband and I ate poolside at the Egyptian restaurant at night – it was very romantic. There was an exotic musical performance in the restaurant, and we were surrounded by beautiful gardens.
Where to stay: The Mena House Oberoi Hotel allows you gaze up at the Great Pyramids while sitting poolside, and even from your own hotel room. The Mena House has hosted Princess Diana and a number of celebrities. It is an extremely tranquil environment – and surprisingly the room service was reasonably priced – which is always a plus.
Cost: Rates as low as $170 for a Garden View Room during the summer, and rates may be as high as $974 for the Palace Deluxe Suite.
What to do: Take a camel ride around the Great Pyramids, see the Sphinx, and visit the Egyptian Museum (where you can view King Tut). Take a trip to the open air market, where you can purchase spices and jewelry. Also, see the Citadel in Cairo. At night see the sound & light show at the Pyramids of Giza.
Food: The Moghul Room Restaurant, at the Mena House Oberoi, cooked the best Indian food I have ever tasted (the Chicken Tikka Masala was especially delicious!). There was a musical performance throughout our meal, and the service was incredible.
What cruise line to take: The Sonesta St. George Nile cruise is a great experience. The ship only holds a small number of people, so it is a very intimate setting. The bathroom in your cabin will include a spa with a steam bath and Jacuzzi that has colored lights (purple, red, and blue) glowing from the Jacuzzi jets! It is definitely nicer than any bathroom I have ever seen on a cruise ship.
Cost: Rates as low as $280 per night for a Single Cabin on the Sonesta St. George during the summer, and rates as high as $3,850 per night for the Royal Suite.
What to do: The cruise provides several tours. See the Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Hapshepsut (the longest living female pharaoh of Egypt). Relax on your balcony, and take it all in! As I was standing on my balcony, I saw fisherman and farmers working on the Nile as our cruise ship passed by. It really made me feel like I was a part of everything. During your cruise, take a short flight to Abu Simbel, and see the temples dedicated to Ramses the Great.
Food: Every meal on the cruise was spectacular. There was International Cuisine and Egyptian Cuisine, as well as a tasty breakfast buffet every morning.
About the author:
Jacqueline Shaprow, J.D., earned a degree in Psychology from Yale University and has published articles in the Los Angeles Daily Journal, California Family Law Monthly, Awards Picks, Music Publications, and The Journal of Health Psychology (where her article ranked among the “50 Most Frequently Read Articles” in 2008 and 2009). Her writing has also been featured in a book by Kaplan Publications about the diversity of experiences among female lawyers and legal scholars in America. Her Psychology Study on Weight Stigma and Discrimination was published in a number of different languages and presented at the North American Association for the Study of Obesity. Her findings on Exercise Motivation and Behavior have been housed in University Libraries around the world, including the Ritsumeikan University in Japan and the Universidad de Madrid in Spain.