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Turkish Airlines connects more countries than any other airline worldwide, and has a business class product that rivals any we’ve experienced, which makes it an absolutely perfect option for a three or four night extended layover on your way to countless destinations.

To test out this theory, I recently flew Turkish Air nonstop to Istanbul to check out what a four day itinerary there would look and feel like – and I was totally and completely in love with the entire experience.

Day one: depart JFK in the late afternoon in complete luxury aboard an Airbus A-330. Turkish Air’s business class product includes completely lay flat seats with dedicated trunk space at your feet so that all of your belongings are neatly stowed within easy reach, and a state of the art oversized LCD remote- controlled screen for entertainment throughout the flight. The in flight meal service is exceptional and really distinguishes itself from other carriers in this same class – boasting a chef on board (our flight had two), a push cart trolley serving a selection of Turkish delicacies for appetizers and dessert, and soup, Turkish coffee and ice cream delights prepared and served seat side. It was truthfully like nothing we had ever experienced before. After a gorgeous meal and a restful six hour nap, prepare for arrival into Istanbul.

Day two: Enjoy a rejuvenating mid-morning breakfast in the outdoor courtyard at the Four Seasons Sultanahmet, and freshen up in your suite overlooking the rooftops of Istanbul before departing for meeting your private SeaSong guide for an outdoor walking tour of the old city and its treasures. Touring in Istanbul falls into three categories – the mosques, the palaces and the bazaars. This first day is well spent visiting Hagia Sofia (dating back to the year 360 AD), the Blue Mosque as well as checking out the cisterns underneath the city which have been recently renovated and are simply awe-inspiring. Early to bed to soothe your jetlagged soul!

Day three: Awaken to the sunrise over your balcony and the sounds of the call to prayer in the background. Today is for palaces! Visiting two of the residences of the Sultans gives you a full appreciation for the historic impact Istanbul had as crossroads of ancient society. Massive chandeliers, soaring entrance halls – one receiving room was over 21,000 square feet – opulent thrones and chaise lounges, a variety of specialty kitchens as big as city blocks… not to mention the exquisite tile work of alabaster, tortoise shell and marble. On adjacent display are the royal jewels (24 carat diamond, anyone?) as well as suits of armor and weaponry that was used to protect the royal family. This afternoon is a perfect time to stroll the Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar where you simply must bring home some Turkish delight, local tea and some artisan handiwork which could be Egyptian cotton or locally produced rugs. Many of the shops have artists on display, for example you can observe the intricate process of creating a woven rug and gain a better understanding of the creativity and hard work that goes into their production.

Day four: The Bosphorus is a strait that divides Istanbul’s two continents (oh, did I not mention that Istanbul is one of only a handful of cities that straddles both Europe and Asia?) and from the water you can view both sides of the city and it’s culture. Ending at the Four Season’s second resort in town, the Four Seasons Bosphorus, for a decadent traditional Hammam spa treatment where you will be buffed, shined and massaged into a trance. Enjoy one dinner at one of the more than 50 Michelin starred restaurants the city offers (we were privileged to dine at both Mikla and the Sunset Grill and would recommend either one without hesitation for phenomenal views, food and service).

Day five: Make sure to leave plenty of time for the airport experience – by which I mean, WOW. The airport in Istanbul is brand new, and features more luxury shops than Madison Avenue. The Turkish Air lounge which just opened is over the top, featuring a top class golf simulator, five star food and a flawless aesthetic. Fly home (or onward to your next destination) in style with your Turkish Air chef at the ready to serve you from soup to dessert.

Turkish Delight
Chef in the Sky
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