Savor Travels: Istanbul, Sophia and Barcelona
What’s great about traveling these days is you truly can find a food tour in most any major city you visit. Savor team member Steve recently traveled to parts of the Balkans and the Mediterranean and, of course, sampled a few food tours along the way.
Since he and his traveling companion, Anne, were visiting three different countries on this trip, they opted to try three different food tours in Istanbul, Bulgaria and Barcelona.
Steve has been on several food tours in the past, while Anne had never been on one even though one of her favorite things to do when traveling is to visit grocery stores and learn about the local foods. After three food tours in 10 days, Anne said it’s definitely something she’d consider doing on future trips.
First stop: Istanbul, Turkey.
While food was the central theme on this Viator Eat Like a Local food tour, both travelers were hesitant to call it a food tour in the traditional sense.
“We met in a square and learned about the area,” said Steve. “But the main event happened in someone’s home.”
“We had a traditional Kurdish meal in this person’s home,” said Anne. “We probably spent an hour there learning the customs of a Kurdish home and got to see how they live day to day.”
It wasn’t what Steve referred to as a “hyper-foodie thing” to do. The meal in itself was full of several courses and included a lentil soup, a yogurt soup, stewed chicken with potatoes and tomatoes, and eggy-bread toast, tea and more. After the meal, the tour ended their evening at a hookah bar.
“Seeing how someone lives in that part of the country was the best part of this tour,” said Steve.
Next stop: Sofia, Bulgaria.
One of the best things about the Balkan Bites food tour in Sofia was the price tag: free. The tour was on a first-come first-served basis (so show up about 15 minutes early), but it did not cost the tour goer anything, except, hopefully a tip at the end. And with the in-depth knowledge imparted about the city (did you know yogurt originated in Bulgaria?), and the variety of food and its relation to the culture, you freely wanted to leave a tip.
The tour consisted of about four stops over a 3-4 hour window and included tastes of a yogurt soup, a traditional wheat-based drink, breads and dips, a Banitsa (egg/cheese pastry) and other tasty items that the happy tour takers loved to sample, but can’t recall the names of.
When asked why the tour is free, the guide replied, “We do it for the love of the city.” And with a city that was founded thousands of years ago, there is a lot to love.
Third (and final) stop: Barcelona, Spain.
Several food and cultural tours exist in Spain. The now-weary travelers opted for one that took them to the area named Gràcia, district six, founded in 1626.
Through Devour Barcelona the Gràcia food tour visited five-six places. This food tour basically took the traveler through an entire day’s experience of eating in just a few hours. From a morning drink of kava to the second breakfast of sausage and tomato spread followed by a trip to the farmer’s market for samples of olives and cheeses, a bakery, a taste of stew and winding down at an Israeli spot for baklava and ending with vermouth.
The next time you’re traveling, we hope you’ll consider taking a food tour — you’ll never know just what you’ll find or where you might end up.