I’ve travelled a bit for business. Usually you see little more than the airport, taxi hotel and then back again. However the trip we made to Istanbul In March was one of the most pleasurable overseas trips I’ve made.
This time I was here to write a bespoke treasure hunt. This package will be delivered in the summer for 20 teams. This package was designed to operate around a series of guided tours at the City’s most popular tourist districts, that being between the Blue Mosque and the Royal Palace.
We arrived at the airport at about 8.00 pm, once we got through passport control (you’ll need £20 CASH for your visa) we got a taxi (70TL) to the CVK Park Bosphorus Istanbul which was exceptional.
The next day we stepped out to Taxim Square to start writing one half of the package. The second half was due to be on the other side of the water. However in a very short time we could clearly see that this was not going to be easy.
To write a good treasure hunt the information needs to be “carved in stone” in London nearly every street has a blue plaque of memorial you can use. However in a non English speaking country you soon discover that information is a lot harder to find!
We took a stroll down to the River bank where there are a few tourist attractions but there simply wasn’t enough to provide the 3 hours worth of content we were looking for.
Homelessness seems to be a huge problem here too. Within 100 meters from out hotel little bundles of rags held out tiny hands in the cold; sometimes very late at night. While your heart really goes out to these kids, the adults that control them (I hesitate to say parents because I’m not sure they were) seem to be under a greater control. They were clearly not Turkish and sadly looked trafficked, destined to become professional beggars, or worse.
The result was that while the Hotel was fantastic, the area around it was not. So we decided to center the whole package around the old part of town around the Palace. (Sultanahmet)
And what a great place it is. History stretching back to the birth of Constantinople 1700 years ago and even beyond. Not to mention artefacts from the Temple of Apollo, Saints relics, personal belongings of Jesus Christ, The Banner, Sword, Bow and even the footprint of the prophet Muhammad.
This has to be the richest city I’ve ever visited in terms of history and historical wealth.
Every interesting place has information boards in Arabic Turkish and English making it so easy to collect information.
The Grand Bazaar is a must for any visitor, but show even the slightest bit of interest in anything and you’re going to get the undivided attention of some very friendly shopkeepers. Not that this was unpleasant, they really were a great laugh.
The food is always a highlight of any visit to a new city and Istanbul (almost) did not disappoint. The restaurants well stocked with amazing looking dishes, with flat breads being made in the windows of some. Kebabs are a staple and wonderful.
The Baklava is to die for, literally I could feel the diabetes coming on. The Turkish delight is fantastic, filled with nuts, honey, berries and fruit and nothing like your granny gives you at Christmas.
If you have a European team and need a city venue look no further, but make sure you get a chance to take in the sights, preferably including a Cluego Treasure Hunt, because I for one can’t wait to return.
Until the next time.
Jim Maynard has been writing treasure hunts for corporate groups for over 15 years. He has worked all over the world delivering events and his experience to customers throughout.