Having a population of almost 12 million, Istanbul is a huge city, and one that bridges two different continents. It is quite easy to accept that there is so much to do in this city considering the fact that many tourists stay here for months to experience the entire city as well as expats buying property and settling here.
I along with a couple of my friends we have planned a holiday trip to Istanbul a few months back as part of our summer holidays. It was not difficult to chose our destination given Istanbul’s blend of awesome culture, tradition and urban life.
After we landed in Istanbul Ataturk airport. We had a quick breakfast and took the train into town, then caught a cab to the Four Seasons hotel. It was housed in the former Ottoman prison and is anything but a luxurious treat. There are many other budget specific hotels but we chose this on mutual consent as this is located in the best sightseeing location. We started our Turkish experience by visiting the famous shopping location, Grand Bazaar. I couldn’t believe the very sight of people working so hard to find a bargain. It has around 4000 shops and covers all varieties of items from household goods, sports, luxury items, perfume and clothing. Our hotel receptionist recommended that we should always barter the price down before buying anything. I was quite surprised by how quick the price would drop, by just spending a minute to negotiate. We shopped for clothes, artwork and some souvenirs as a remembrance of our Istanbul visit.
On the hotel receptionists advice, We decided to go to Feriye restaurant in Ortakoy for having a bit to eat. En route to the restaurant, I found a series of local Turkish food chains along with the routine McDonalds, KFC and Burger King. Turkish food in Istanbul is amazing considering the cheap prices and the taste that the traditional delicacies provide. Amazed by the 19th century building, the menu offers a traditional and modern Turkish dishes. Seafood dishes are the best among the lot.
After the amazing lunch we went for a little expedition of the local streets and shops off of the high street. The Istanbul traffic is well managed and there are not many sights where we felt otherwise. Having heard a lot about night life in Istanbul, we visited a local pub. The place really took me by surprise and I had the unique Istanbul beer that is available only in the city.
Part of the next day’s schedule we visited the Istanbul Modern Museum and Art Gallery. This place has a collection of Roman and Ottoman empire art works which defines the traditional Turkey. Also, there are some modern works representing the modern side of Istanbul and Turkey. The modern art gallery acts as a host to international and local tourists and we found many tourists in awe at the art on display. The receptionist had warned it would be an incomplete and poor experience if we did not visit the Topkapi palace and Blue Mosque which is the most famous historic site in Istanbul. We really would have cursed ourselves if we didn’t visit this place. This place is probably the image of Istanbul. Postcards that are used worldwide to advertise Istanbul use this mosque as the image. The six tall minarets spreading over the buildings borders forming a vast space at the center is a spectacular sight. We found some people offering prayers and people were very friendly explaining the tradition. Also, there is the great Galata Tower which offers a fantastic view of the entire city standing tall on the skyline.
I would highly recommend to try all transport means in the city to get engulfed in the tradition, culture and to know about the city well. Also no Istanbul trip is complete without a sea bus ride which offers some picturesque sights. If one travels around Istanbul, it is necessary to get a sea bus ride as well. The city is so huge and the people are so friendly and it is no wonder people from around the world are migrating here and starting to Istanbul there new home.
My friends were so impressed by the place, as soon as they got home the started investigating the price of a flat there. My good friend Linda found a great site Spotblue. With such ease she was able to search through their database, and found a new flat that was perfect for her. She is also a digital nomad like me, and can make her living ” location independent.” Now that Linda is settled in to her new city, I can’t wait till I get to come and visit her, and try and catch up on all the stuff I missed seeing while we were there the first time.