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Old 22nd January 2018, 16:52   #1
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Default A week in Istanbul - Turkey

Introduction to Istanbul, Safety and paperworks for travelling.


Historically known as Constantinople, Istanbul is a city that was in my wish list for years. The Christmas week of 2017 was the right time, my wife Soumya and I finally made it.
It was a week well spent visiting the bustling city of Istanbul and the magical landscapes of Cappadocia. This post covers only Istanbul. I will keep details of Cappadocia for another post.

Let me get this right upfront: While I thoroughly enjoy road trips (We did a 3500km Norway trip last year), there was no way we could make a road trip in and around Istanbul. Istanbul being a big city with millions of people and very good public transport system, it did not make any sense to drive around.
However I thought I will still try writing something up, it might still be helpful for those who have aspirations for Istanbul.

Known for it’s connectivity between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is the most known trade hub right from ancient times.
Istanbul has a lot to offer for tourists and travellers. You will need at-least 3 days in Istanbul to have a fairly descent visit.

Istanbul is a transcontinental city spread across Europe and Asia with Bosphorus strait in between connecting the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea.


A week in Istanbul - Turkey-imag0556.jpg
Istanbul Cityscape. Galata tower dominating the skyline


More on Istanbul’s history can be read in Wikipedia.

How Safe is Istanbul


I came across this question a lot of times and did a fair amount of research online and by talking to people before I planned my trip.

Now I have first hand experience, my answer is, it is a very safe place to be in. We have had absolutely no problems during our one week in Turkey.
We spent a lot of time at streets and city centres day and night, not even once we had to worry about anything abnormal.

Having said, In today’s world, its important to apply your common sense and be alerted while travelling regardless of your destination. We have come across recent terrorist attacks in London and Paris and similar things could happen anywhere – so the question of being safe and answers to such questions really boils down to the results of research you need to do taking latest political situations into account. Also important to note that news and social media in today’s world are something that cannot be trusted to 100%. Best would be to talk to people with first hand experience.

I have not been to any other places or cities within Turkey other than Istanbul and Cappadocia, so I cannot unfortunately comment on rest of Turkey when it comes to safety.

Finally, not related to the above topic of safety, but pay attention to pick pockets etc while being at crowded places.

Visa requirements
Being Indians, visa is a requirement to visit Turkey. Since my wife and I have residence permits from one of the Schengen states [We live in Netherlands], we were able to opt e-Visa for Turkey.

How to obtain e-Visa:

Steps are simple. Fill in your details in their online portal and pay the fees using credit card. Now you have a single entry visa with maximum 30 days of stay. Visa needs to be used within 180 days of issuance. There is no need to visit an embassy or wait for multiple days.
  • More details can be found in the e-Visa website.
  • For generic Visa/Entry related questions, refer this website.

Last edited by dileepcm : 27th January 2018 at 03:22. Reason: Splitting the content for better readability.
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Old 22nd January 2018, 16:52   #2
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Default A week in Istanbul - Turkey

City Center, Airport transit and public transport system


Most known areas within city center
There are two major locations of interests within the city of Istanbul. Its a good idea to do some research before you book your hotel.
  • In and around Sultanahmet: It is a neighbourhood in the district of Fatih. This is the more charming old city and is also where most of the tourist attractions are located. Almost all major ones are at walk-able distances.
  • Taksim square and around: This is the newer, more modern city centre where most of the business and night life happens. You will need to take a tram [or a taxi] for crossing over to Sultanahmet area where the majority of tourist attractions are located.

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City's birds eye view

Most tourists will land in of these locations. Travelling between these two is fairly easy with the metro/tram system – more on that later.
But I wanted to mention this upfront because its important to look at both locations before you pick your preferred location for stay.

Getting to Istanbul city from Airports


There are two airports near Istanbul.
  • Istanbul Atatürk Airport: This is most known, most used and nearest airport to Istanbul. However we did not use this one. Google has plenty of information on how to get into city from Ataturk airport. Here is one of such articles.
  • Sabiha Gökçen International Airport: This is lesser known one and is located a little further away from the city. This airport is on the Asian side of Istanbul. Our flights were operated by Pegasus airlines and it was the airport of their choice. There are multiple ways to travel to Sultanahmet or Taksim, however I strongly recommend using what is known as Havabus. They operate modern, air conditioned buses from/to airports. Our hotel was located at Sultanahmet. So we got into a Havabus [Bus number SG-2] which is parked just outside arrival area of airport and paid 15 Turkish Lira each to travel to Taksim square. It takes a little more than an hour depending on traffic. We got into a taxi from Taksim square and paid 30 TL to go to Sultanahmet [Driver initially demanded 60TL], which took about 20 minutes. This is probably the easiest and least confusing way for first time travellers to go to Sultanahmet. There are other ways as well, I will mention about the best way later on when I talk about my return journey.

That brings me to couple of points.
  • Turkish Lira: As soon as you are at airport, get some Turkish Liras either from the money exchange centre or from an ATM. You will need them. Not everywhere cards are accepted. However the exchange rates at the airport would not be the best. So do not exchange all your money at airports. I have seen better exchange rates deep inside local markets like in Grand Bazar. Money exchanges at touristy spots usually do not offer best rates. Most shops accept Euros and Dollars, we were lucky to get good exchange rates. Banks ATMs also offer withdrawal in Lira however exchange rates vary from bank to bank.
  • Getting Taxis: There are many apps including Uber. You can always wave one at road sides as well. For the most part, taxi drivers are good and helpful however there are a few who are looking to loot money from tourists. So do your research on taxi fares before getting into one. Also make sure that they run the meter while you are travelling.
  • Language: People speak Turkish. English works out in most touristy areas, shops and restaurants. However deep in local streets, you will find it difficult as English would not be an option. Some speak French or Arabic as well.

Weather

Our trip was in December 2017. Christmas week to be precise.
  • First day was full of rain. Trust me, rainy days are something you need to avoid while you are planning for Istanbul.
  • It followed by a mix of overcast or sunny days and fairly cold nights. At some point it was about 17 degrees around noon and needless to say, it felt so good in comparison with Netherlands where we live where the temperatures were below 10 most of the time.
  • People whom I spoke to said that winter of 2017 in Istanbul was mild. Usually winters are severe with sub zero temperatures across multiple days.
  • Peak summer could be really warm. Your own research is highly recommended depending on your time of travel.

Preparations
I am a big fan of tools and websites like Google keep, Google trip and google my maps, which I constantly use for planning and preparations.
I also heavily watch lots of Youtube videos from people like Mark Wiens while preparing for the trip and they are very helpful.

Why did I select Sultanahmet area for my hotel?
When ever we go to a new city, we like walking to all possible destinations and approach for Istanbul was not different.
There is no better way than walking along the streets if you are looking forward to have a good sense of directions and contacts with locals.
Since most of the tourist spots are in and around Sultanahmet, it made sense to prioritise it over Taksim or other locations. Sultanahmet is also the old city, that surely has more charm.

Public transport systems in Istanbul
I have already written in detail about getting to and from airports. Within the city, you will find almost all forms of public transport systems such as buses, subway trains, trams, funiculars, ferries and finally marmaray trains which typically connects European side of Istanbul to Asian side using under-water rail network.
Public transport system in Istanbul is very good.

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T1 Tram: Tram Route 1 - more that later.

To start using public transport in the city of Istanbul, First step is to buy an Istanbul Card (Istanbul Kart). You can buy them pretty much at any road side kiosks or shops.
Once bought, you will need to load it with enough money as it’s a pre-paid card. You can recharge your card at subway/metro stations using dedicated machines.
These machines usually accept only bank notes or coins. Alternatively there are also options to pay using pre-paid tokens, but I have never used one.
If you are a first timer, I strongly recommend going with Istanbul cart – it makes everything a lot easier. These cards can also be used at certain public toilets etc.

Tip: You will need only one card even if you are a couple, provided you travel together all the time. Typically, every ride is a fixed price – that means you need your card only at the starting point to enter the station and that is where you pay.
You can use one single card and pay twice by swiping twice for you and your partner and then enter the station. There is no check-out at the end of your journey.

Note: I have not used buses and marmaray trains, so I am not sure if they work differently.

Google maps was my obvious choice for figuring out the details of public transport routes when in need and it served me very well.
Routes and stops are clearly marked in English and you will enjoy using public transport in Istanbul.

Key route:

Tram 1 [T1] from Beyazıt all the way to Kabataş is going to be the most used one.
It not only connects most of the tourist attractions in Sultanahmet area, but also acts as a route that connects Sultanahmet to Taksim Square. Additionally it also helps to connect to ferry ports.

A week in Istanbul - Turkey-tram-t1-maps-view.png
Tram Route 1 - T1 map

I will try to stick to this tram route while discussing about tourist spots so that it becomes a little less confusing.

Travelling between Sultanahmet and Taksim using public transport:
T1 Tram from Sultanahmet takes you to Kabataş. After getting down at Kabataş, you will need to switch over to Funicular route F1 which will take you from Kabataş to Taksim Square. Funicular is a type of train that operates over steep slopes using ropes and wheels. Directions are clearly marked in English and you can continue using your Istanbul cart for Funicular as well.

Last edited by dileepcm : 27th January 2018 at 03:29.
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Old 22nd January 2018, 16:52   #3
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Default A week in Istanbul - Turkey

Major tourist attractions, food scene and conclusion

At this point, It is also important to mention about Museum Pass. It costs 85TL. While it covers not every major attraction, I would still recommend buying one. The point is, you can skip queues wherever it applies and trust me, its a big thing. Hagia Sophia would have otherwise taken more than an hour waiting in queue. Queue at Istanbul Archaeological Museum would have taken at least 30 to 45 minutes.

In peak seasons, these queues can get pretty long taking hours and hours. I bought the card at Topkapi museum counter.

Tip: Do not visit Hagia Sophia first if you are planning to get a museum pass as you can very well save the time you would spend in queue if you could get museum pass from a different, less crowed place and then head over to Hagia Sophia. Here are the locations where you could buy the pass. Moving on to major locations if tourist interests. I am not really going to elaborate on every spot, I believe Wikipedia is the best source of information for history geeks who are interested in digging deeper.


Topkapi palace:
  • Constructed over centuries, the palace today is a museum.
  • You will be able to walk through the court yards, huge rooms with royal decorations and so on.
  • Nearest tram stop: Gülhane istasyonu on T1 tram route.

A week in Istanbul - Turkey-topkapi1.jpg
Inside Topkapi Palace

Hagia Sophia:
  • It takes about 10 minutes walk from Topkapi palace to Hagia Sophia.
  • Hagia Sofia is an old Greek Christian church which later turned into an imperial mosque finally turning into a well known museum. It was worlds largest cathedral for several centuries and is considered to be one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture.
  • Nearest tram stop: Sultanahmet on T1 tram route.
A week in Istanbul - Turkey-hagia-1.jpg
Hagia Sofia

A week in Istanbul - Turkey-hagia2.jpg
Inside Hagia Sofia

Blue Mosque AKA Sultan Ahmed Mosque:
  • Standing just across the street in front of Hagia Sohpia, Blue mosque dominates the skyline.
  • Though it is a very touristy location, it still functions as a mosque.
  • So if you are a tourist, it would be a good idea to avoid prayer timings for going inside the mosque.
  • You will need to also remove your shoes while entering and carry them in a plastic bag which you can pick up at the entrance.
  • Entry is free at Blue Mosque
  • Nearest tram stop: Sultanahmet on T1 tram route.
A week in Istanbul - Turkey-bluemosqueexterior.jpg
View of Blue Mosque from it's center court

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Interior of Blume Mosque

Basilica Cistern:
  • A few minutes walk from Blue mosque or Hagia Sophia takes you to the entrance of Basilica Cistern.
  • You will need to purchase tickets as museum pass does not cover this spot.
  • A cistern is nothing but large storage spaces for liquids [usually water] typically built underground.
  • Its heard that there are several thousands of such cisterns beneath the city of Istanbul.
  • Basilica Cistern is most known and best preserved.
  • This cistern was primarily built for supplying water to royal palaces and surrounding buildings.
  • This was probably the most amazing site I have come across in the entire city of Istanbul.
  • There are 336 marble columns holding the cistern’s roof.
  • There are three columns of special importance.
  • The Hen’s Eye column: Believed to be the one that pays tribute to the hundreds of slaves who died during the construction of the Basilica Cistern
  • Two columns with Medusa’s head as their base: Medusa is a Greek mythological figure and its not known the exact reason for which the heads were placed as a base for the columns.
  • Nearest tram stop: Sultanahmet on T1 tram route.
A week in Istanbul - Turkey-basilica-cistern.jpg
Basilica Cistern

Hippodrome of Constantinople or Sultanahmet Square:
  • Located next to Blue mosque and Hagia Sofia, Originally constructed during Constantinople days, it was the place for horse races and other entertainments.
  • There isn’t a lot of ancient details left, however the Egyptian Obelisk is something you must visit.
  • Nearest tram stop: Sultanahmet on T1 tram route.
A week in Istanbul - Turkey-hipprodrom.jpg
Hippodrome of Constantinople

Istanbul Archaeology Museum:
  • One of the better known museums of Istanbul.
  • Nearest tram stop: Gülhane istasyonu on T1 tram route.

Bosphorus:
  • It does not require a special mention as you will cross this water body many time for sure.
  • The Bosphorus connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara.
  • Tip: There are numerous touristy boat trips that you can find ranging from 10TL to hundreds.
  • The cheapest way would be to use one of the public ferry services. Refer getting to Asian side of Istanbul as you read through for more details.
  • Nearest tram stop: Eminönü on T1 tram route.
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The mighty Bosphorus

A week in Istanbul - Turkey-bos2.jpg
Bosphorus bridge at the distance which connects Asia to Europe by road.

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View of Bosphorus while leaving from Asian side of Istanbul.

Galata Tower:
  • Originally built as an observation deck, Galata Tower provides breath taking panoramic view of city of Istanbul and Bosphorus.

Markets in Istanbul:
No one leaves the city of Istanbul with out visiting Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar which is also known as Egyptian Bazaar.
A week in Istanbul - Turkey-marketgeneral-mix.png
Markets in Istanbul are a must visit

Grand Bazaar is the biggest and most known.
  • Its a covered market with about 4000 shops.
  • It is also known as first shopping mall of the world.
  • It is also the most visited location in Istanbul.
  • As far as Bazaars are concerned, our strategy was to not to visit all them at a stretch.
  • We typically spent our mornings visiting different sites and afternoons were spent in one of the Bazaars.
  • You can almost find everything from spices to carpets to perfumes to clothes to ceramics and so on.
  • Do not forget to brush up your bargaining skills!
  • Its a good idea occasionally to enjoy a cup of Turkish tea from those small tea shops.
  • Nearest tram stops are Beyazit or Çemberlitas on T1 tram route.

A week in Istanbul - Turkey-gbentrance.jpg
One of the entrances to Grand Bazaar

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Interior of Grand Bazaar. There are about 4000 shops here under a giant covered roof.

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One of the many antiques shops

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Hole in a wall sort of tea shops, there are plenty of them.

Spice Bazaar AKA Egyptian Bazaar:
  • Smaller in size and bit more touristy when compared to Grand Bazaar, Spice bazaar sells of course all sorts of spice from around the world.
  • Lots of tea varieties, traditional Turkish sweets such as Turkish delights are most seen.
  • Nearest tram stop: Eminönü on T1 tram route.

A week in Istanbul - Turkey-spice.jpg
Interior of spice bazaar aka Egyptian Bazaar


Arasta Bazaar:
  • Located next Blue mosque, its smallest of the three.
  • It’s primarily driven by those tourists visiting Blue mosque and Hagia Sophia

Pro tip:
While being at these markets are really enjoyable, do not forget to walk along the streets just outside these markets.
They are less touristy, but acton packed areas. They also have higher local crowd shopping along and that makes it really great to get a bit of local touch to finish off your shopping visits.

Asian side of Istanbul:
  • Typically ignored by tourists, Asian side of Istanbul definitely deserves a visit in my view.
  • Kadiköy and Üsküdar are the two well known spots. We only visited Kadikoy.
  • Typically, Asian side is more for the locals and runs their daily life.
  • There are shops, apartment buildings and massive residential areas. The best way to travel to Kadikoy is to use a public ferry that takes you along the mighty Bosphorus and costs next to nothing.
  • I missed it, but there is also a huge open market at Kadikoy on Tuesdays.
  • How to reach: There are marmaray trains from Sirkeci station near Sultanahmet area which will take you to Karakoy which is on the Asian side, however my recommendation would be to use public ferry.
  • Eminönü station on T1 tram route is where you will need to get down for ferry departures.
  • Crossing the railway track takes you to the ferry stops and the one on extreme left is where ferry to Kadikoy leaves.
  • That is the one you will need to get on. The ferry costs [As of Dec 2017] about 3 TL [Less than a Euro] which can again be paid using Istanbul card and needless to say, enjoy the best view of the cityscape with Bosphorus Bridge at the distance with some excellent photo opportunities.
A week in Istanbul - Turkey-kadikoy-port.jpg
Kadikoy Port where you would arrive by ferry.

A week in Istanbul - Turkey-kadikoy-tram.jpg
It was a bit of a surprise to see such old trams still running around.

A week in Istanbul - Turkey-kadikoy.jpg
Streets of Kadikoy


Taksim Square:
  • Taksim square represents modern side of Istanbul.
  • Republic Monument being the key sight at its centre, Taksim is known for more of night life and shopping.
  • Istiklal Caddesi is the main shopping street usually filled with lots of street music.
  • I have already left a note above on how to reach Taksim square

A week in Istanbul - Turkey-taksim.jpg
Street near Taksim square

There are lot more that I have not covered here like Dolmabahçe Palace and Bosphorus Bridge.
The one final remark I have is about opening hours.
Please do your own research before finalising the plan as some spots have different timings/opening days during summer and winter/ramadan etc.

Food scene

If you are planning to visit Istanbul, its not hard to guess that food is one of your priorities and Istanbul will not disappoint you. Food scene in Istanbul is amazing with its Persian and Mediterranean tastes.

Food recommendations
Before talking about food, let me talk about drinking water.
Tap water is not safe to drink. Bottled water would be the way to go.
Depending on the area, a litre of bottled water can cost from 1 to 2 TL.
  • Turkish Breakfasts are typically a mix of Breads, honey, jams, sausages, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and a variety of cheese along with Turkish tea.
  • Menemen is a Turkish omelet which you must try. Egg mixed with fried onions and peppers combined with herbs and tomatoes makes it taste so good.
  • Kebabs: Who leaves Istanbul with out tasting the best Kebabs? Its probably the most known food in Istanbul. There are a variety of Kebabs on offer and every street literally has at least a few Kebab shops/restaurants.
  • Künefe, Turkish Delights and Baklava: Traditional Turkish sweets not to be missed.
  • Turkish Tea and Coffee: Turkish people love their tea and they keep drinking tea all the time. Turkish coffee is sort of similar to Greek one, very thick and typically served in small cups.
  • Lahmacun is the next one. Its pizza made in Turkish style.
  • Misir & Kestane: Roasted corns & chestnuts usually sold in streets.
  • Ayran: a traditional butter milk like [Yogurt with water and salt] drink.
  • Turkish lentil soup: Typically served with a slice of lemon, a warm lentil soup is your best bet on a cold winter evening.
  • Fresh pomegranate juice: Its something you will find all over the city, cheap and very refreshing.

A week in Istanbul - Turkey-delight.jpg
Turkish delight

Kebabs in Istanbul.
Next to spices, I think Kebabs are the next most sought after thing in the entire city of Istanbul.

Its next to impossible to visit all the restaurants and create a list, however here are a few I recommend for Kebabs.

Dürüm – Ocakbasi – Büfe: A small room with full of flavours. Its just outside the Spice Bazaar.

A week in Istanbul - Turkey-bufe.jpg
Kebab platter at Dürüm – Ocakbasi – Büfe

A week in Istanbul - Turkey-bufe2.jpg
Ocakbasi is a way of cooking kebab. Typically Ocakbasi restaurants will have a large, brass like hood at the centre where all the cooking will happen.

Sehzade Cag Kebap: Food was great. It is very simple and genuinely cooked with care, however service is just average. Now that is very typical in Istanbul as we learn. Also note, it is a bit pricy in comparison probably due to being a famous spot, however overall a very good experience.

A week in Istanbul - Turkey-horizkebabcooking.jpg
Cağ Kebap


A week in Istanbul - Turkey-horizkebabplatter.jpg
Cağ Kebap

Zübeyir Ocakbaşı at Taksim: This is a legendary place and cannot not be missed. They have some of the best kebabs on offer. Typically its very crowded and it would be a good idea to make a reservation.
A week in Istanbul - Turkey-zbeyir1.jpg
Kebab at Zübeyir Ocakbaşı

We also visited a lot of other restaurants and street side vendors and most of them were fairly good. In other words, you will not have a hard time finding out good eat outs. There are plenty. Same is the case with shops selling Turkish sweets and tea. So my recommendation would be to just walk along a local street and find out what’s on offer.

That pretty much covers our view of Istanbul. Here is a final tip before closing the post.

What is the best way to return to Sabiha Gökçen International Airport

Now you know how public transport works out in the city of Istanbul, Its time to make your return journey less boring.

I have mentioned earlier about how to go to Asian side of Istanbul. Follow the same route and grab a final hug of the Bosphorus and magnificent cityscape. Once you are at Kadikoy, hop on to the Havabus service that will take you from Kadikoy to the Sabiha Gökçen airport in an hour or so. It costs 10TL.

There are also local buses plying between airport and Kadikoy, they stop a lot more and takes more time. Additionally they do not have a space to store your baggages which Havabus has.

Finally, here is a link to the google my map I created for planning my Istanbul trip.

Thank you for reading! Drive safe!

Last edited by dileepcm : 27th January 2018 at 03:40. Reason: Drafting the post.
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Old 27th January 2018, 17:01   #4
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 28th January 2018, 11:24   #5
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Great travelogue with lovely narrative and a distinct personal touch.

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Old 28th January 2018, 22:24   #6
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Thank you for this wonderful thread! While I've visited Istanbul in 2017, I could never have documented it the way you have. The photos and the fish-eyes are great, they bring to life the place and the experiences.
With just google maps and no knowledge of Turkish, I also managed to get around.
Observed they have close affinity to Pakistan (they consider it a 'sister' country as I understood), and many-a-time shop keepers as well as people on the road (few who speak English) have asked me if I was from Pakistan.
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Old 29th January 2018, 01:36   #7
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Originally Posted by carradio View Post
Great travelogue with lovely narrative and a distinct personal touch.
Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by manij View Post
Thank you for this wonderful thread! While I've visited Istanbul in 2017, I could never have documented it the way you have. The photos and the fish-eyes are great, they bring to life the place and the experiences.
With just google maps and no knowledge of Turkish, I also managed to get around.
Observed they have close affinity to Pakistan (they consider it a 'sister' country as I understood), and many-a-time shop keepers as well as people on the road (few who speak English) have asked me if I was from Pakistan.
Thanks Manij. I had similar experiences of people asking me about my native! Felt a bit strange for the first few times, but became sort of normal there on.
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Old 29th January 2018, 02:27   #8
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Thanks!
Thank you for a beautiful introduction to Turkey.
As a seafarer, I have transited Istanbul countless times in my journeys to the Black Sea and always promised myself that I would visit Turkey at some later date.
Your thread is convincing me to get this item off my bucket list soon.
Lovely thread and this will help other members who would love to visit Turkey.
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Old 29th January 2018, 12:17   #9
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Great report! The detailed description of food deserves a big thank you!

Me and my wife had a long layover at Istanbul last year on our way to Austria. We even had an E-visa with us. We chickened out at the last moment as we didn't want to get caught outside the airport for any reason on the first day of our trip.

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Old 29th January 2018, 15:36   #10
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Great Travelogue! Very informative indeed. Thanks for sharing. Have always wanted to visit this place and witness the marvelous architecture.
Are there good options for Vegetarians or is it tough out there?
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Old 29th January 2018, 17:32   #11
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Are there good options for Vegetarians or is it tough out there?
To be really honest, the options are limited when it comes to local food except Turkish sweets.

Of course there are a Indian restaurants where you would be able to get all sorts of vegetarian dishes. I also came across typical ones like all sorts of fast food chains and salad bars where vegetarian options are available.
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Old 29th January 2018, 23:12   #12
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G
Are there good options for Vegetarians or is it tough out there?
I think there are loads of options out there...but not knowing the language puts one in a spot - not too sure what one is eating, even with the sauces. Personally I did not spend enough time there to get too fond of the food, even the kababs seemed bland, and some food while looking delicious, tasted so-so.

This street food is built around a scooped out potato - I guess is 100% veg, I thought it looked better than it tastes
A week in Istanbul - Turkey-istanbulfood.jpg

But then, many taxi drivers seem good (there are few who do the India type haggling in crowded spots) and google maps work - so could show the 'restaurant address' on phone to the taxi driver, so some research on places to eat will help.
The "Turkish Delight"s and "Baklava"s are really good though if you get it from the right place!
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Old 30th January 2018, 02:05   #13
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Default Re: A week in Istanbul - Turkey

Thank you dileepcm, a very helpful thread for those visiting Istanbul.

Did you visit any other places in Turkey apart from Istanbul?

Hope you visited the Spice bazaar as well, it's similar to the Grand bazaar, except that there are lesser number of shops and the prices are fixed most of the time. The Grand bazaar closes by 7 PM, while the spice bazaar is open until 8 PM. You will get the best selection of Baklava, Turkish delights, literally every sort of dried fruits and vegetables, tea, etc.

Presently I am in Turkey itself. I started from Istanbul, visited Bursa and now here in Izmir.

I agree with most of your views except for the taxi part. Istanbul taxi drivers do not carry a good image, even with the locals.

We had to haggle with the fares many times. Some of our friends were cheated too. Like when they were given a 100 lira note, the cabby did a sleight of the hand and said it was 10 liras. Our guide said it was a popular trick with them.

Uber is a safe bet and recommended. We found the prices to be fair as well.

On the visa processing part for Indian citizens, those who are self employed, it's a task to get it done as it requires attestation by the Mantralaya.

If you have a valid US or Shengen visa, your job will be easier as you can apply online for visa on arrival.

I plan to update more details later as it's cumbersome typing on the Mobile phone.
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Old 30th January 2018, 17:05   #14
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Default Re: A week in Istanbul - Turkey

Quote:
Originally Posted by KA18 View Post
Did you visit any other places in Turkey apart from Istanbul?
-- Yes, I did visit Capadoccia as well, but will keep the details for another post. Here is a teaser pic!

A week in Istanbul - Turkey-imag0798.jpg
Quote:
Originally Posted by KA18 View Post
Hope you visited the Spice bazaar as well
-- I did visit and I have details in my post above

Quote:
Originally Posted by KA18 View Post
I agree with most of your views except for the taxi part.
--I took taxi three times and never had an issue except for the first one where the driver initially demanded more money that what it would typically cost, but I was firm on my price and he agreed at the end. I would not call it too bad - because that is how typically taxis operate for the most part when it comes to touristy areas. The other two times, they charged round figure of what was in the meter which I think is fair. Having said, I have confirmed with them that they are going to run the meter before I even got into taxi itself. As far as we are getting into a taxi with a good level of awareness, I felt it to be manageable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KA18 View Post
I plan to update more details later.
--Kindly do, waiting for details of Bursa and Izmir in particular.
Thanks again for reading through and sharing the details. Enjoy the rest of the trip.

Last edited by dileepcm : 30th January 2018 at 17:06. Reason: Adjusted the font to be consistent
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Old 29th March 2019, 16:17   #15
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Default Re: A week in Istanbul - Turkey

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Originally Posted by dileepcm View Post
Introduction to Istanbul, Safety and paperworks for travelling.


Historically known as Constantinople, Istanbul is a city that was in my wish list for years. The Christmas week of 2017 was the right time, my wife Soumya and I finally made it.
It was a week well spent visiting the bustling city of Istanbul and the magical landscapes of Cappadocia. This post covers only Istanbul. I will keep details of Cappadocia for another post.
Nice information about Istanbul, Turkey given in the post. I will be in Turkey in mid May. I was searching here for information here and bumped into this thread. Thanks for all the details documented here.
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