Steven Moseley , January 23, 2008; 10:59 A.M.
Went to Istanbul last year, spent 5 days and wish I had twice the time there. Watch out for dodgy taxis who take you all round the place to increase the fare instead of taking you direct.
Avoid the leisure boats, use the ferries instead. We spent one and a half hours shuttling back and forth using different ferries, cost a tenth of the leisure boat price and saw just as much.
Stay in a smaller local turkish hotel rather than a large chain one. We stayed in one right in the heart of Sultanhamet, amongst all the sights, within 300 yards of the blue mosque, it cost half of a chain one and had twice the size room, with rooftop restaurant overlooking the Bosphurus..fanatstic.
Turkish food is great almost everywhere. Go to small side street local restaurants. Drink the tea.
Spend AT LEAST a full week there and even then you will only scratch the surface...I desperately want to go back. Do not expect US/UK standards of 'cleanliness' when you go off the beaten track!..but DO go off the beaten track anyway..especially with a camera.
cheers Steve.M. (UK)
Why do they always take tourists to see Sultanahmet? Why they make people endure the big city to see history that is not even close to what they have in eastern Turkey is a bigger question, I guess.
I never took tourists around. A lot of my friends did. Americans, British, Germans and French mostly. They always take them to Galata, Sultanahmet, maybe take them for a stroll through Taksim, have them ride the ferry across the Bosphorus, etc. I was born and raised in this city, traveled to most of Europe and a couple big cities stateside; and I have this belief that is reinforced by my Turkish friends who drag their asses back from the States - you can't leave this city.
What they show tourists are boring stuff that were turned into tourist attractions long before I was even born. You haven't experienced Istanbul if you haven't passed over the Bosphorus via the bridge on a foggy winter day. You haven't experienced it if you haven't started your Sunday with a breakfast along the Bosphorus that is literally less than a meter from the sea. You haven't really seen Taksim if you didn't run across groups of people singing and dancing at 5 a.m. You haven't ended a proper day in Istanbul if you didn't watch the sun rise from the Beşiktaş coast, Çamlıca hill, Cihangir steeps, and (probably the only time I agree with my friends in their tours) the Galata tower.
We wanted to leave. Most of us tried. There are three factions left now; those of us who are making six figure salaries after an Ivy-League college are still in the States, those who got bored with college life are traversing the globe, and those of us who want to live their lives now, all came back.
p.s. I go to the gym at least 4 times a week @ Kanyon, the facts are;
1 - those $10,000 clothes are fabricated in China or right here in Turkey. You can buy an original for a fraction of its price tag if you know where to look. If you really want that designer garment, that is. Celebrities and rich people don't shop there anyways, they go to Paris. You are in the wrong place if you are after designer clothes 2 - The $7 ice cream cones are not real ice cream. Real ice cream is the kind you might have seen in Taksim where a couple of burly guys go red in the face trying to cut a little slice of the huge slab for you.