Off topic: Going to Istanbul
Thread poster: Lorenzo Lilli
I was wondering if someone could give me advice about travelling to Istanbul, as my brother is going there in November for a few days. Any advice is welcome, especially about the following:
- places to see (especially off the beaten track)
- the best location for a hotel with a reasonable price
- recommended hammams
- can you go around easily with the underground?
- are restaurants, means of transport etc. expensive?
Many thanks in advance!
I'm sure you'll get enough responses, as many people have been in Istanbul and have a lot to say! I wish I could go... Anyway...
The best thing is to get the map of Istanbul, small one you can find in all hotels in Istanbul, with marked tram lines (Istanbul has added new tram stations and you can now easily get from Sultanahmet (THE touristical sight) to Beyoglu - Taksim Square.
Sultanahmet is certainly a must, with Hagia Sophia and the Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque. There are lots of restaurants there, which are fine to visit when in a hurry, but if one has time, I recommend Istiklal Street and the wonderful passage called Cicek Pasaji (Flower Passage) with Anadolu restaurant there (not expensive, but mmmmmmm! tasty!). Istiklal Street also offers the pastry jewel, Dilek Patisserie, not to be missed!
There are many, many boutique hotels in Istanbul, prices may vary, but my husband and I stay at the Apricot Hotel (not sure if we can post hotel links here, so you can send me an email for details), small, clean and affordable. It is at Sultanahmet, near all touristical sights, yet in a quiet street, and near to the nice Arasta Bazar.
Where the tram or Metro (underground) do not go, taxis do. It's good to keep in mind and set the price *before* you actually enter the taxi. Taxi drivers are usually very busy but open for conversation and you may find out a lot about the city if you talk to them.
Tram and Metro and boats are, of course, cheaper than taxi, but sometimes you dont't have a choice (like late at night), so taxi is the option.
Bosphorus boat tour is also great! Recommended. And the visit to the Princes' Islands-- dreamy!
Visit to the Asian side (especially Kadikoy) is a must, too.
Istanbul is one of those cities which live until late at night. I usually go there to relax (hard to believe...), but you never feel the rush, actually.
Oh, I'm just sooo ready to go there!
[Edited at 2006-09-30 14:47]
[Edited at 2006-09-30 14:48]
[Edited at 2006-09-30 16:23]
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| Blue mosque/make sure to bargain || Sep 30, 2006 |
While this clearly falls into the "beaten track" category, the authentic blue Byzantine blue stained glass windows are breathtaking.
Also, make sure you bargain for anything you buy (except, maybe, food in a resturant or on a street) - the merchants really do expect it. They will be very very agressive, too, so you need to be firm to ward off their solicitations (anything from turkish delight to viagra).
spice market in the covered bazaar, as well as the variety of trinkets, are my all-time favourites, especially if you got someone to whom you could bring back beautiful shals.
Then I also love eating doners on the street (street food) - meat roasted on a spit, sliced thinly and stuffed into bread, along with condiments. This is something I, personally, miss terribly. And they are cheap, too. And shish kebab is great too. (All of it reminds me of my far-away homeland, Azerbaijan).
[Edited at 2006-09-30 16:03]
| | Faruk Atabeyli
Local time: 20:43
English to Turkish
| Places to go, things to do || Sep 30, 2006 |
I will skip the Sultan Ahmet neighborhood since your brother, just like any other visitor coming to Turkey, will probably visit anyway. It is the center of the old town with mosques, churches, museums, cisterns and hammams.
Outside the standard fare, one of the most fascinating yet relatively unknown sites is the the Byzantine Church of Chora (called Kariye in Turkish). Best preserved Byzantine mosaics I have ever seen. While in the neighborhood, he can walk the streets that run along the fortifications of the city and ask his way to Eyup, a half hour walk and he will end up in an exotic neighborhood with complexes of mosques, tombs, cemeteries and other relics of Islam.
He should also take the boat that runs once a day (I believe 10:35 in the morning) and goes criss crossing up the Bosphorus stopping at towns some of which are on the Asian coast and others on the European. When the boat reaches near the Black Sea, the passengers are let off for about 3 hours in the small town of Anadolu Kavagi where the Genoese fortress for centuries have been overseeing the entrance to the Bosphorus, protecting Istabul from pirates (and Soviet warships during the Cold War, or so we thought). Three hours later the boat returns to pick up the passengers and sails back to town. It is a must do and the tickets cost very little (approx. €4 for round trip) and you are back by 16:30.
Finally, he must visit Istiklal Street in the Beyoglu neighbourhood, as Seadeta mentioned. Best time to go there is early evening and stay until night. It is a bustling part of town that never sleeps.Best to go there with a companion and have dinner and maybe stop at a few of the cafes, bars, clubs etc. (Ara Cafe in Galatasaray is the best).
Please feel free to contact me via proz. If you want I will give him my telephone number, I can probably spend at least few hours and coffee and give him more tips.
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| one thing to add || Sep 30, 2006 |
When I first saw your question, I began writing something, but then stopped and thought I was in Istanbul for just four years and there were members living in Istanbul for more than 20 years. They would be of more help to you - and your brother.
Faruk gave great ideas, but he missed the point I would indicate first.
Your brother shall regret not having a tea in Pierre Loti Garden. He shall have missed the opportunity to have a great sight of Istanbul from the top of a hill.
For reaching there, he should use the telepheric near Eyup Graveyard, after going to Eyup as Faruk explained.
For staying, Sultanahmet shall be suitable. There are many boutique hotels (and therefore competition, reflected in prices) where many tourists stay. Sultanahmet is also close to almost everywhere, Taksim, Beşiktaş, Eyup, Eminonu (for crossing the Bosphorus and getting to Anatolia).
I wish your brother a good time.
| | Tuncay Kurt
English to Turkish
| | Lorenzo Lilli
Local time: 18:43
German to Italian
Thanks a lot to all of you, you've given me plenty of useful information! I'm sure he'll enjoy his trip
| Deep fried mussels || Oct 1, 2006 |
the one food item that I have found nowhere else and that I found astounding was the deep-fried mussels put in a small piece of bread.
Street and finger food, delicious.
My Turkish friend said "you won't dare to eat that!!! It's not safe!!!"
I did dare, and I still remember the taste (that was something like 15 years ago!!).
Tell your brother to dare....