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6 x 24 Hours in Istanbul - Trip Report


Sep 12th, 2010, 07:03 AM
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6 x 24 Hours in Istanbul - Trip Report

Before I begin, I thank all the people posted helpful information on this board. I enjoyed the trip tremendously as the first Istanbul trip. Although 6 full days were not short for single-city trip, it was exhausting at times under the hot sun.
I will be practical and break everything into point form and give my IMHO review of the hotels and restaurants etc. Hope other people find it useful as reference. This is only based on my itinerary. Some words are not in Turkish alphabets.
(I try to make the format more clear but don't know how to do tabulation/bullet or change font in Fodor's.)

Ataturk airport: http://www.ataturkairport.com/eng/index.php
• Arrived about 530pm but the Tourism info booth on arrival level was not manned.
• VISA purchase is not cheaper in TL because they convert using standard rate or higher
• Couldn’t find the Exchange booth (Doviz) in a hurry (hotel transfer pick up guy was waiting) and the bank booth charged a commission (about 16TL). Could have waited till we get to an exchange place near the hotel.

Money exchange:
• Most exchange booths (Doviz) don’t charge a commission fee
• I find rates in Taksim/Beyoglu area or Asia side (ie Kadikoy) are slightly better (about 1%) than Sultanahmet.

• Buy token (Jeton) first before boarding Metro or Tram or Bus (no A/C on buses). They are available at some stations via Jetonmatik machine or a selling booth near the station (street level or underground passage). You can buy 1 or more tokens at a time (1.5TL in 2010 but it looks like they go up every year) http://www.istanbul-ulasim.com.tr/default.asp (map) http://www.iett.gov.tr/en/section.php?sid=29 (info) http://harita.iett.gov.tr/en/ (bus route search)
• For Nostalgic tram (along Istiklal Cad), Ferrybot(IDO), Funicular tram, each has their own token or pay cash
• From airport to city by Metro and Tram
o To Old city: Metro Airport (Havlimani) stn to Zeytinburmu stn then transfer to tram of the same stn name to old city (Sultanahmet stn or other stn)
o To Taksim/Beyoglu area: Follow the above and tram all the way to Kabatas tram stn then funicular to Taskim square OR from Karakoy tram stn and cross the street to Tunel funicular to Beyoglu if your hotel is closer to the lower end of Istiklal Cad.
• From airport to city by Taxi (Taksi) if you have lots of luggage or baby in tow, about 35-50YTL depending on destination
• From city to airport
o Airport transfer book via travel places on the street near hotels, about 3-5 euro each person (maybe they have set timetable, not sure)
o Of course, there are Tram/Metro and taxi, or transfer booked by hotel
• Two common ferry services: IDO (http://www.ido.com.tr/en/index.cfm) and TurYol (http://turyol.com/Default.aspx)
o Both have regular commuter service going to the Asia side and Bosphorus tours
o There are many Bosphorus tour companies available (I think one is called “Knows what she is looking at” or something; I guess they might have commentary onboard)
Notes on Taksi
o Driver may make a pass at women (brush your leg or ask whether you are married), so sit in the back seat to set the tone straight
o Lock the door if you can because recently (Sept 2010) 2 men got on the taxi flanking a lady passenger in the back seat when she questioned why the driver swap her 50TL bill with a 5TL bill, though no physical harm was done.
o Use the meter or negotiate a price (which is reasonable to you) before getting on but either way the driver will have the upper hand. If it is a fixed price then it is usually higher than using a meter. If it is metered, he will go a longer way or refuse to give you small change back saying it is a tip or service (like keeping the change on an 8+TL trip when you give him a 10TL bill). So, have small bills and coins available to pay close to the meter price and count the bill out loud and watch the driver acknowledges the amount (by nodding or making a sound) before handing over the money. Keep both eyes on the driver and the money when he gives you the change. However, it is a double-edged sword, it has been reported that taxi in China had been cheated when passenger left without paying the full fare (like paid 50 for a 50+ ride) and the driver could not abandon his car on a busy street to chase after the person. So, just a battle of different human natures. Most of the time, attractions are close to Tram line so taxi is not needed.
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Sep 12th, 2010, 07:04 AM
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Some tips:
• Bring your own scarf if you need one; bring antiseptic gel/wipes cos you’ll be eating kebabs
• Bring a small binocular for architectural details and other sightseeing (Ex. 8x21 OR 8x30 for brighter view in a dark mosque or night view)
• Bring a mini tripod (Ex. a spider tripod) for indoor photography without flash if you are not using a SLR camera
• Crush or deform water bottle before disposing – with so much cheap bottled water available, I can’t help but think of Slum Dog Millionaire in which unwashed bottles are reused and resold. From a safety standpoint, only buy canned or metal-capped drinks. From a green standpoint, reuse water bottle & take unfinished water bottle with you after dining.
• Lines for Aya Sofya/Blue Mosque are long in the morning, so go in the afternoon or be there before 9am. The night prayer at Blue Mosque is quite long (9ish till pass 11pm), if you think going in after the last prayer, you have to wait some time. Prayer times are: http://en.turktakvim.com/6/Monthly_P.../Istanbul.html
• Do not walk in dark places alone or just the two of you, even if it is a faster route to your hotel. A guy got mugged walking to his hotel at night (I think Swissotel on the Bosphorus; not sure which route he took, maybe from the shore and up). When life is tough for some in the city and <1TL can buy bread, a cash-carrying tourist can be an attractive target.
• Hotels may offer discount for paying in cash and free airport transfer for staying 3+ nights. If they quote the price in US$ or Euro, I don’t find any further discount for paying in TL. So, maybe you should ask the price in TL in the first place unless it is already listed on their websites in Euro.
• Don’t feel bad asking for discounts politely because no one will give you the merchandise or meal if you are 5TL or 2TL short. If this small amount matters to a big business, it’s not a bad attitude for a tourist to have good money management.
• Keep small bills or coins. If you don’t know the price because of language barrier, it is better to give not enough money and have them ask for more (they will not go below their bottom line and you have the upper hand of not buying the goods if it turns out to be too expensive) than they short change you when they catch a glimpse of any expression of uncertainty. I am not saying all local vendors are bad but everyone has to make a living, especially when some of them say they will help you spend your money with a smile.
• Like anywhere in the world, some locals are exceptionally good, some are not and some are shy by acting xenophobic, so just treat it as an experience.

More to come..........
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Sep 12th, 2010, 07:08 AM
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Rast Hotel http://www.rasthotel.com/
After an introduction of tours available for booking, we were shown to a twin room on the first floor. It could have been a payback for not booking a tour. It was strange that they couldn’t tell me the room number nor give the key card but had to wait & wait for the porter to take our 2 luggage up one floor. The first floor has no view to speak of, except people on the street could see us clearly through the balcony. Fortunately it turned out to be OK (occasional tram noise and car horn before midnight, absolutely no Morning Prayer call). I would say this is a very good 3 stars and not quite a 4 star hotel.
• Great location (30ft to tram line and main street)
• Great view (Blue mosque and Aya Sofya) on roof breakfast/restaurant area
• Waitress tending breakfast was friendly with a super smile
• Soft bed and bed linen; friendly helpful staff
• Lobby a little shabby
• Rough & greyish towels
• Elevator sometimes did not stop on the first floor
• Some breakfast selection (buffet style) may not be very fresh

Seven Dreams Hotelhttp://www.sevendreamshotel.com/
Seven Dreams has great potential but need to work out some kinks to become a boutique or apartment hotel. It is more like a B&B then a hotel. It has 2 rooms on each floor of the 3 floors; the only suite is on the third floor. Not really a suite but a larger room with separate shower and Jacuzzi tub next to the bed, so there is no formal door separating the loo, only partition. It is good for couples than friends or family. I did not get a chance to try their restaurant.
• Very nice contemporary décor and HUGE beautiful bathroom
• Clean and soft linens
• Great friendly and accommodating staff
• Good quality maps, helpful service
• Good location to major attractions in the Sultanahmet area (next to Hotel Uyan, 7 Hills Hotel, Four Seasons but I think hotels on the west side of Blue Mosque/Aya Sofya may have better viewpoint because they are on a higher elevation)
• Breakfast was fresh (served to you in the street level terrace, not buffet style, same stuff as Rast Hotel but looked fresher); each portion is large so may share instead
• Since it is not quite a hotel, there is some loss of privacy when guests of the restaurant are within 5 ft of your door talking loudly as they pass by; also there is no door latch or bolt lock, so anyone with the key can enter the room when you are inside the room
• Room safe is not bolted down so it can be carried away
• Staff is not hotel trained so cleaning can be hit and miss (although they are very friendly and very responsive to requests)
• Some odour and noise from restaurant (esp when your room is next to the food elevator to transport meal from ground kitchen to the rooftop) from 9pm to midnight
• Roof top view is not as nice as claimed because the view is dominated by nearby rooftops of similar heights, most of Aya Sofya and small strip of the sea.
• No elevator may be a problem for some who have mobility issue

The verdict
It is in favour of the Rast Hotel considering price, view, hotel facilities by a narrow margin. Rast is in a busy area but surprisingly quite and 7 Dreams is on a quiet and safe street but can have some noise from its restaurant/food elevator.
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Sep 12th, 2010, 07:11 AM
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• For someone who finds lamb/goat too gamey and beef also gamey because of the shared cooking utensils, who has mild lactose intolerance and who is sensitive to heavy/oily food, food selection can be limited or only in small portion.
• Ramadan (Ramazan) is not a bad time to travel. It is quite festive actually. More local people dinning in restaurants/café in touristy areas and the park is packed with families picnicking (for ifaree) after sunset. There are large camps set up in many squares to hand out what looks like free meals to people (I guess to Muslims or local citizens) as there are big line-ups before sunset.
Simit (sesame pretzel) – ones from street vendors can be dry (except some in the Asia side where it is less touristy), try buying it from Simit Sarayi stores (chain store)
Gozleme (grilled stuffed crepe) and Kumpir (huge baked potato with stuffing) – ones in Ortakoy are not any better than other places
Fish sandwich at the pier (Balik sandvis) – had one from the floating boat (staff all dressed up and boat swayed wickedly) west of the Galata Bridge (accessed via a bridge underpass) - OK, an experience; restaurants under the bridge may serve larger sandwiches at lower cost (0.5TL less)
Dondurma (Turkish ice cream) – slightly gummy ice cream, not very sweet, maybe some saltiness because I was having Baklava at the same time; ones from street vendors or carts in front of restaurants may be unclean as they whip the ice cream in the air to attract attention; I would go to an ice cream parlor or dessert place with ice cream in tubs
Baklava/Kadayif – Karaköy Güllüoğlu in Karakoy, yes sweet but not cloyingly syrupy, fresh, flaky http://www.karakoygulluoglu.com/index.asp
Lokum (Turkish delights) – Koska on Istiklal Cad http://www.koskahelvacisi.com.tr/main.en.php?lang=en , I liked the nougat/marshmallow with double pistachio (= larger chunks of nut), lighter; there is a large fudge selection too
• Milk pudding, rice pudding – Saray Muhallebicisi on Istiklal Cad http://www.saraymuhallebicisi.com/english/index.htm , very nice selection, even the chicken breast dessert is good
Raki - alcoholic drink with strong licorice taste
Wine – expect to pay 3x the retail price in restaurants
Beer – the ever-present Efes pilsen – light (almost like Urquell, less bitter) and dark (nice)
• Freshly squeezed juices – orange (1-3 TL depending on area) and pomegranate (5-6TL). Find a stall with ripe pomegranates (they don’t allow you to choose the fruit and of course they want to move the bad ones first) otherwise young pom is deadly acidic.
Lemonade (lemonata) – I’ve heard Segafredo on Istiklal Cad has good ones

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Sep 12th, 2010, 07:15 AM
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o Seven Hills Hotel http://www.sevenhillshotel.com/ has stunning view (in your face view of the Blue mosque/Aya Sofya and the boundless view of the Marmara Sea) from its roof top bar/restaurant. The food and drinks are overpriced (20-30% more) for the quality but considers it as an admission to see the view (even Galata Tower is charging 10YTL just to go up the top). Good fried kalamari though. Service was so so; waiters were having fun writing bogus comments in the Guestbook. Go during the day time for mosque and sea view or night time for lighted mosque view.
o Hamdi et lokantasi http://www.hamdi.com.tr/sayfa.php?s=urunler&lang=en– Average food (15-20TYL for entrée), view of Yeni Camii and Galata bridge & area, service so so, can be very windy so bring a jacket or scarf, may need reservation for the few outdoor glass rooftop terrace tables or sit indoor in the glass terrace close to the window; about 75TL for two with 1 raki
o Ciya in Kadikoy http://www.ciya.com.tr/index_en.php Sofrasi serves meze (cold and hot), dips, salad and soups, very little meat (fried meat ball maybe), no menu, self-serve (by weight) and by pointing cafeteria style, very tasty. The Ciya Kebap place across serves more meat dishes. Both very clean.
o Hafiz Mustafa Sekerlemeleri at Sirkeci Tram Stop – nice savory stuffed filo pastry (borek) and good open view of the area and the pier
o Sofydi Sok 9 in Istiklal Cad area – Need reservation, good lively atmosphere, also meze (mostly cold), menu is not updated, entrée kind of expensive (did not order), fava bean cube, marinated red bell peppers, fried calamari are very good, had Doluca DLC Red Öküzgözü bottle(60TL) – serviceable, slightly off dry; about 130TL with wine for two
o Kybele Hotel further up on the same street as the Basilica Cistern http://www.kybelehotel.com/ bar/cafe on the first floor is quite relaxing (not like the hippie joint as some of the pictures posted on TA), well, dim lighting hides a lot of things too, manti is good.
o Adonin in the alley way (Ticarethane Sok) off Divanyolu Cad next to Sultanahmet stn, next to the green light illuminated trees next door- http://www.adonincafe.com/eng/ - Indoor and outdoor seating, average food (many international selection) and about 10% more expensive for comparable food elsewhere, but I guess think of it as paying for service and relax environment, had Kavaklıdere Ancyra Kalecik Karasi red bottle(54TL) – serviceable, little spicy not a fruit bomb; about 130TL with wine for two
o Döner Kebapci is a hole in the wall in the alley (Nuruosmaniye Cad) next to the Grand Bazaar, across from Subasi restaurant – nice kebap wrapped in thick pita(pide) or plain bun (8 TL)
o Sark Kahvesi inside Grand Bazaar – large, clean air-conditioned indoor seating, good in the summer to rest your feet otherwise a standard tea/coffee place
o All-in-one cafeteria style eatery – all the ready-made point and buy meals, kebap, wraps etc, I find them to be expensive for the quality and location. For 23TL plus tip for a dry chicken wrap, dry stuffed chicken breast, plain tomato spaghetti, a tea and a bottled lemonade in a non-A/C and flies ridden place, I can do better with less $ to fill the tummy. Find one that is clean and A/C’d.
o Tarihi Sultanahmet Koftesisi at the Sultanahmet stn, to the right as you exit the southwest bound tram, http://www.sultanahmetkoftesi.com/ , did not go in actually, but saw lineup and full house every night, maybe it was Ramadan. Old tradition (90yrs). Lined up to join the crowd one evening before sunset to buy a 6TL meal (kebap sandwich with drink) from their cart outside of the restaurant. Good sandwich (need to add salt) but couldn’t tell what kind of meat (most likely mixed) and tried the salted yogurt drink (Ayran), like milk consistency (not like Yoplait), but lightly salted, not sour. I guess if you can take dairy products, it is also a good mineral replacement during hot days.
o Albura Kathisma café along Akbiyik Cad behind the Four Seasons http://www.alburakathisma.com/main_en/ - for people who miss the occidental outdoor, touristy, expat style of dinning, this street is comforting; all non-locals, tree lights, patios, clean, etc. Food is not bad actually but nothing to die for, better than Adonin in Sultanahmet; service is good, had a Kavaklıdere Cankaya white bottle(48TL) - very light and floral; about 120TL with wine for two
o *Did not visit personally* Haci Abdullah in Istiklal Cad area, closer to Taksim Sq http://www.haciabdullah.com.tr/wp-content/English/ - my friend went and had the İmam Bayıldı (iman overcame because it was so good) but was not moved. It was mostly ordered by foreigners, like sweat & sour chicken balls or spring rolls in Chinese restaurants. The atmosphere was great with many locals having ifaree during Ramazan. The bread was excellent. Knowing what to order would be a big help.
o *Did not visit personally* Mikla on the top floor of Mamarma Pera Hotel http://www.miklarestaurant.com/index.html - my friend went and the roof smallish bar view was great (might be closed during winter). Although expensive (Mojito is 27TL) but did not complaint about the food being total not worthy for a hip place.
o *Did not visit personally* Pera Palace Hotel in Beyoglu http://www.perapalace.com/en-EN/dine-in-style/83.aspx reopened in Sept, 2010. Not a massive hotel but had beautiful ornate décor and design. My friend had tea (10TL) at the Kubbeli Saloon-Tea Lounge, elegant with all silverware. The Agatha Restaurant’s décor is one of simplicity and elegance.

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Sep 12th, 2010, 06:31 PM
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Day 1:
• Walked to Hamdi restaurant (15-20 mins) for dinner, kind of dark in places along     the way, should have taken the tram
• Admired Yeni Camii on the outside

Day 2:
• Bascilica Cistern
• Baths of Lady Hurrem CLOSED
• Caferaga Medresesi - very serene; along Sogukcesme Sok – little too theme park
• Sirkeci Train Station
• Fish sandwich at the Eminonu shore
• Ferrybot (IDO) to Kadikoy – lunch at Ciya Sofrasi
• Kadikoy Tuesday Market (Sali Pazari)
   > Walked to Sali Pazari Sok (a big parking lot) as indicated by Google map and        Lonely Planet but it had moved to another location
   > There is a free shuttle bus which takes you there but no A/C and quite a lot of        people waiting. Fortunately it is quite frequent.
   > So, walk to the end of Sali Pazari Sok and turn left on Tulumbaci Asim Sk (or        Cilek Sk, not sure which name is right). The mini-bus is right at the corner.        You will see people lining up, maybe with carts in hand
   > Same bus will take you back to the same place (but long line up)
   > Cheap clothing(3-5TL for T’s/pants), knick knack, great vegetables and fruits
• Ferrybot back to Karakoy
• Walked to Gulluoglu for baklava and dondurma
• Walked around Karakoy/Galata – Kamondo stairs (area was kind of quiet with    graffiti), Galata Tower (did not go up)
• Wine tasting (20TL) at a wine cellar shop next to the Galata Tower; there is a    wine tasting at Sirkeci Konak Hotel in Sultanahmet (15TL) with commentator    every Thurs at 530pm, call or email to reserve    http://www.sirkecikonak.com/en/everyday
• Blue Mosque – only sat in the courtyard because of the night prayer, it was    magical at night – the illuminated mosque against the night sky enveloped in the    devoutness of the prayer sound.
• Dinner – was hoping to find food stalls in Sultanahmet Park but didn’t find any so     tried a multicolour soft candy/molasses wrapped around a stick at the park    (probably swallowed a few insect larvae) and fruits and vegs from Tuesday    market instead

Day 3:
• Topkapi
   > saw the Harem first then main palace, but the line for the Treasure rooms was        too long just before noon so skipped; should have done Treasure rooms first,        Harem, and then the rest
   > saw the dagger and diamond reproduction in the gift shop instead
   > the rest of the palace (total about 4 hours)
• Lunch at Hafiz Mustafa Sekerlemeleri next to the Sirkeci tram stop
• TurYol 90 mins Bosphorus Tour 10TL (did not notice any audio kit offered), first    on the Asia side then come back down from the Europe side, took pictures of    Europe side palaces and mosque during the first 15 mins from far away then    moved to the right side of the boat for closer pictures up and down both shores.    Had tea and wafers. Very relaxing and even drifted off for the last 5-10 mins.    Would I have done the 6hr trip? Maybe, if I had 1 more day, but I felt    satisfactory with this one.
• Walked across the Galata Bridge, Tunel up to Beyoglu
• Made a dinner reservation at Sofyali Sok 9; Nostalgic Tram to Taksim Sq
• Had milk pudding and lemonata at Saray Muhallebicisi
• Walked down Istiklal Cad, side tracked to Cezayir Sok (French street) which I did    not like because it was too commercial. Basically it is a downhill street with only    cafés with outdoor sofa or tables on both sides, leaving only 4 feet of stairway in    the middle. All along people stepping in front of your face to get you into their    café/bar.
• Obligatory flower passage, fish market exploration trip (too commercial)
• Bought glassware from Pasabahce, good prices, make sure they are made in    Turkey and not handmade elsewhere, like China or Parkistan etc (when in Turkey,    buy Turkey-made stuff)
• Dined at Sofyali Sok 9

Day 4
• Binbirdirek Cistern – did not go in because the entrance looked run down
• Ibrahim Pasa Palace (Museum of Turkish & Islamic Arts) – outside façade only
• Hippodrome
Lines for Aya Sofya and Blue Mosque were too long in the morning, better    doing the mosques in the afternoon
• Snack break at Kybele Hotel café (Manti, beer, tea)
• Switch hotels
• Arasta Bazaar (very quiet, perhaps too quiet), bought some ceramics at ATA    Ceramic, nice guy, ok prices and quality not bad for souvenir
• Blue Mosque – line was shorter but still lots of people inside and smelly foot odour
• 1001 inventions tent (a special onetime exhibition about many inventions in    Muslim civilization, it had A/C, a dubbed mini movie with Ben Kingsley, interactive    science-center-like exhibition and free, so many people lined up)
• Back to Istiklal to finish tour from yesterday; bought lokum at Koska; visited San    Antonio di Padua church, St Mary Draperis Church, Pera Palas Oteli (not opened    yet), Patisserie Markiz; had milk pudding and lemonata again at Saray    Muhallebicisi
• Tram back to Sultanahmet and happened to see a line up in front of Tarihi    Sultanahmet Koftesisi, so I joined the crowd and bought Kebap sandwich and    Ayran
• Waited in Sultanahmet park to hear the calling for fast break meal to start    (ifaree); interesting to see every family or group got food and drinks ready but no    showing of food/drink deprived anxiety; once the calling started everyone    leisurely started to pour drinks
• Saw the Whirling dervish dance (free) at Derviş Aile Çay Bahçesi at around    930pm. They had that every night during Ramadan from 9 to midnight.    (Mevlevihanesi was closed for restoration. The hotel staff suggested a dance is a    dance anywhere; so didn’t have to see the entire Sema unless you wanted to    experience it.)
• Dined at Adonin near Sultanahmet tram stop

Day 5
• Aya Sofya – very impressive inside
• Tram to Grand Bazaar (entered at the Beyazit doorway), easily got lost inside
• Nuruosmaniye Camii CLOSED for restoration
• Snack at Doner Kebapci (outside of the Bazaar) next to Subasi restaurant
• Tour Grand Bazaar; tea/heat break at Sark Kahveci inside Bazaar; bought a table    lamp
• Beyazit Camii & Sq & Istanbul University (outside of gate only)
• Walked to Sehzade Mehmet Camii (long walk) but the Sofrasi at the Camii was    CLOSED!! (saw the Valen Aquaduct while searching for the Sofrasi)
• Too hungry and tired and no simit in sight so ate at the nearby Cafeteria style    place (Gulen) - not worth it
• Walked to Suleymaniye Camii and it was CLOSED(restoration)!! Even the market    place around it was CLOSED. All the cafés in front of the Camii were set with    massive number of chairs for fast break evening meal. The sunken tea garden    (Lale Bahçesi) looked gloomy and would not want to venture in.
• Walked to Spice Bazaar (late, closed) but lost our way and passed some slum    area where children played in heaps of dirt, garbage scattered everywhere, a cat    looked like gremlin, and houses with punched out roof and crumbling wall…
• Finally made it to the main street via a narrow side staircase of a walled-off    empty lot
• Most of the shops were closed around the Spice market area and we finally found    Rustem Pasa Camii, thanks to a gentleman (storekeeper) who mumbled under his    breath saying “Rustem Pasa open” – very small but quiet and beautiful tiles;    bought a tiny tile magnet at the mosque
• Yeni Camii – looks like Blue Mosques on the outside, the tiles are fuzzy
• Tram back to Sultanahmet
• Had more fruits for dinner (yes, still working on Tuesday market fruits)

Day 6
• Spice bazaar (the vendors are more aggressive there than Grand Bazaar)
• Bought small bag of grinded coffee (5TL) at Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi    Mahdumlari (outside of bazaar)    http://www.mehmetefendi.com/mehmetef...es/index.html; should have    bought a coffee pot at a reliable shop because the coffee is light in taste if made    with percolator (great aroma though), well, will make do using the smallest    stainless steel tea kettle
• Tram to Kabatas and walked to Dolmabahce Palace and did both tours (Harem    tour wasn’t much but only 5TL extra and you got to see the chambers and more    royal loo) Very nice palace indeed
• Taxi to Ortakoy (too tired to walk and too hot to find the bus stop)
• A little too touristy (even with the weekend market), too hot and not enough    shade unless going into one of the many cafés by the pier
• Nice mosque by the pier, had Gozleme at one of the many booths
• Walked back to Kabatas stn
• Not much view along Ciragan Cad (big walls on both sides)
• Stopped at Ciragan Palace Hotel for bathroom break; nice view; walked around    the garden and admired the palace façade
• Stopped at a café at the Besiktas pier for tea/lemonata and Kumpir (baked potato    is always good and yes, lemonata is my antidote for heavy food)
• Tram back to Sultanahmet
• Dinner at Albura Kathisma café along Akbiyik Cad

Day 7
• Walked to Cemberlitas Hamami, not much to see on the outside, peeked at the    lobby (smallish), did not go in
• Kucuk Aya Sofya (hard to find when walking from Cemberlitas), small and bright    but can’t image the resemblance to Aya Sofya except that it has a second level    gallery
• Was going to go to the Western District (Chora Church and eat at Asitane) but    too tired and lazy to go
• Sat around and went to Seven Hills Hotel’s rooftop restaurant, WOW, the view    was amazing!! Bowled over!! Had a shared late lunch.
• Gathered luggage and transferred to airport (double security checks, once before    entering the check-in counters and again at the gate for VISA holders)

Budget for two (on-location expenses only, excluding hotel & flight):
Admission/tour/donation   = 200TL
Transportation                =  70TL
Shopping (not a shopper) = 200TL
Food & drinks                 = 700TL (alcoholic drinks included 200TL)

That’s all folks!!
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Sep 12th, 2010, 07:54 PM
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Awesome trip report. Terrific info for past and future travellers. Thanks heaps
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Sep 12th, 2010, 11:19 PM
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Sep 13th, 2010, 01:04 AM
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bookmarking for a future trip
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Sep 13th, 2010, 07:08 AM
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Wow, what details...thanks
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Sep 13th, 2010, 02:31 PM
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Thank you. For me reading it again feels like fast forwarding a comedy in a good way.
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Sep 16th, 2010, 08:13 PM
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Thanks so much for all your helpful and practical info. Greatly apreciated!!
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Sep 19th, 2010, 08:42 AM
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Thank you for the detailed information. I am going to Instanbul in February 2011 so this will be helpful.
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Sep 19th, 2010, 10:22 AM
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Great report; thanks.
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Jan 20th, 2011, 02:35 AM
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You are all welcome.
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Feb 8th, 2012, 02:59 AM
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Incredibly helpful - thanks so much!
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Feb 8th, 2012, 03:34 AM
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thank you for sharing!
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Feb 8th, 2012, 11:58 PM
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your trip report is so organized, great formatting and easy to read. thank you for all of your tips.

how long did it take you to get through ataturk airport when you arrived? and how early to you get there when you left?
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