New and different: Azamara Insider Access Tour in Kusadasi
Kusadası, which is a popular resort town on Turkey’s Aegean coast, offers much more than tours to Ephesus. Most first-time cruise visitors will flock to the ancient Greek, later Roman, city of Ephesus. But not being one to follow the crowd, I opted to experience a new tour called Insider Access: Taste of Turkish Country Life.
Off the beaten path for total immersion
Our small group of 6 people, tour guide, and a representative from Azamara’s Land Discoveries team headed to the hills away from Kusadasi’s waterfront. After a twenty-minute drive we arrived at a lovely farm property set against the mountains.
Our hostess for the day was Alsi Kumari who, with the assistance of five staff members and the help of our local tour guide, helped us learn about life in Turkey, which included insight into the culture, food, history, and customs of the region.
The family’s home has a bountiful garden and open-air sitting areas. The kitchen and main home are separate, which is unique (especially for me who lives in a concrete jungle in Southern California). Before joining the family in the preparation of our Turkish meal, we toured the house, which has an impressive display of furnishings and antiques that Alsi’s mother has received as gifts and curated from around the world. Expect to see Turkish antiques, knick-knacks and cultural artifacts.
Cooking Class at a Local Turkish Country House
“Afiyet Olsun! (May this food be health to you.
Insider Access via Azamara
We began the day with tea and ended our stay with Turkish coffee. In addition, we also had a refreshing fresh squeezed tangerine juice from the trees in the orchard, and during lunch, we were treated to lemonade.
Using the freshest produce, some of which came from the nearby garden, our group learned how to roll dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) and got insider tips into making the perfect rice and local dishes that are typical of the region. I would suggest that people eat a very light breakfast since much of the experience centers around eating and drinking (not alcoholic drinks, by the way).
- Lentil soup
- Sauteed carrot with yogurt
- Stuffed grape leaves
- Stuffed peppers and tomatoes
- Sigara Boregi
- Split belly eggplant
I have been on tours to visit locals in their homes before, and in some instances, I have found that they were boring, scripted, and a bit of a dog-and-pony show. Bottom line, my Azamara Insider Access tour was engaging, entertaining and genuine. Probably the best gauge for me was the fact that after four hours I felt like I could have stayed longer hanging out in the comfortable outdoor living spaces while enjoying another cup of tea.