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story by Tamaris Martina

This story is about a destination in Istanbul Turkey, where as a group of students we went to do a project called Tourism Experience. Here during the visit, it was very important to do some research into development and how each group can market their target group and create a great experience.

My name is Tamaris, and I am a fourth year Bachelor student in Tourism Management in the English program of the Creative Business faculty. I study at IN Holland University of Applied Sciences. One of my hobbies is traveling and getting to know the culture and local people around the world. Furthermore, I have visited 20 countries so far where I saw various cultures and experiences but, in this story, I tell you my story of Istanbul. I hope you like my story and once again thank you very much for your support.

Since I was raised on the small island of Aruba, I must admit that I never imagined seeing a country so far from the Atlantic Ocean. I have visited 20 countries so far, and I have encountered so many diverse cultures, cuisines, and people—it has been incredible. As far as I’m concerned, memories are the greatest treasure you can have one. However, 2023 was a different year. I traveled to Turkey in November as part of a university project on tourism experiences. Every group had to plan an activity in the stunning city of Istanbul.

When I traveled to Turkey, I was excited to explore a new nation and culture. Of course, I had watched excellent Turkish TV dramas for many years. As soon as I stepped outside the airport, I realized I was a royal because I had never seen a shuttle bus or, to put it another way, a taxi that looked like a VIP. The bus boasts cozy seats and lighting that resemble nightclubs.

The driver wanted to offer me and my other classmates a taste of a Turkish song, so we listened to some great Turkish music while driving to the hotel. We even danced our way there. Along with other classmates, I stayed at the Depiero Hotel. They would fill you up with extremely good tea, which I recommend, when you arrive in Istanbul be prepared. Although I stayed there for a total of seven days, each day offered its own experiences.

On our first day, we went to the Fatih Mosque and the spice market. The spice bazaar was nice; we sampled a variety of tea flavors and were required to determine the names of the spices by scenting and tasting them. Since I cook for myself, I knew about three of them. After the spice bazaar, we walked up a little hill to the faith mosque, which was lovely since it had a perspective of the entire city, and you could clearly see Asia and Europe together.

We went on a cruise later that evening and had dinner as a group. At first, I believed the boat would only sail and serve food, but the cruise company quickly introduced various types of shows. More than three distinct styles of Turkish dancing were present. The three male dancers pulling a knife and perform shocked me, but it was great to watch how they performed—from a solo dance to a belly dancer—to cap off the first day.

On day two, we made a visit to the Hagia Sophia. The Hagia Sophia is a cathedral that has undergone so many transformations—from Christianity to Orthodoxy to Catholicism to mosque—that it is stunning to me to see all these diverse religious traditions merged under one architect, particularly considering the structure is older than a century.

Day three one of the project groups organized a sultan day, Sultan was an emperor in the 1600’s who was a very powerful man in the city of Istanbul, well we visited the sultan’s castle, but of course before entering there is a lot of security. For protecting the things in the museum and of course each material has its historical value. After the castle we went to eat in a restaurant that had a terrace on the top and it was beautiful to see all the sea view of the city. But while sharing the meal all the mosques called and the waiters remained silent until the mosques finished the call to prayer. After the call they continued to share the food. But the food is fresh and plentiful, and everything is natural and for me I loved how they make everything by hand. After lunch we went to have our pictures taken, they were so nice they called each of the girls’ princesses, they put crowns and dresses on us because they really wanted to take us back to the sultan’s time, which was amazing.

On the fourth day it was my group’s turn to do the experience for the class and we organized a coffee workshop. But first in the morning we went to one of the tourist attractions called the basilica the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul, Turkey. After that we took a ferry and went to the other side of Istanbul. The Asian side is more local it’s you can experience the local life. The European side is where all the tourist attractions are. The coffee workshop has been held at the Fabrika is where they do Turkish coffee and fortune telling workshop. The first thing they want is for visitors to pay attention, as learning the culture is a very important factor. The story begins more than 100 years ago as coffee was imported and exported as only the sultan was the only one who drank coffee and over the years everyone drinks coffee. I learned how to make coffee by hand, there were no coffee machines like in school, everything was made in the traditional way. The guide also explained to me that if you drink a full glass of water, they must feed you. On the other hand, if you drink half the glass, it means you are not that hungry. I found it amazing because it is a way of showing their hospitality.

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