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Ger is planning a long weekend in Istanbul – Advice needed re what to see and do

Ger is planning a long weekend in Istanbul – Advice needed re what to see and do

Nov 30th, 2004, 03:25 PM
  #1  
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Ger is planning a long weekend in Istanbul – Advice needed re what to see and do

Hello all:

I will be in Istanbul on business in mid-December and will take four days vacation (Friday to Monday inclusive) before my meetings. I need some guidance, particularly on timing, as I have little sense of time and am notorious for trying to see and do far too much on my trips gt;) . How much can I reasonably achieve in four days?

All I have had time to do so far is to scan Eyewitness Istanbul and Fodor’s and I am already overwhelmed! Here are the sights that I MUST see;:
The archaeological museum (I am assuming half a day)
Haghia Sophia
Blue Mosque
Grand Bazaar
Topkapi Palace
Suleymaniye Mosque
Church of St. Saviour in Chora

How long should I plan in each location? What other sights should I add (I am particularly interested in the Byzantine era). If I added an extra day, would it make sense to take a day trip outside of Istanbul and, if so, where?

Also, the subject of a private tour guide – I think it would be worthwhile to hire a guide for at least one day. Any ideas on how I can make best use of a guide in this city?

In addition to the Eyewitness guide, I have bought two wonderful books:
A Traveler’s Companion to Istanbul: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...glance&s=books

Istanbul: the Imperial City: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...glance&s=books

Many thanks for your assistance.

Regards Ger
OReilly is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 03:43 PM
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Your list will have to be a lot longer before you worry about filling up 4 days - what a great idea to take some vacation before your meetings. The easiest trip out of the city would be taking the commuter ferry up the Bosphurus. Avoid the touristic rip-off boats and just catch the standard ferry that goes up the Asian side and back down the European side. You can do it in half an afternoon even if you stop off for a short break before catching the next boat - we stopped at one small town called Kanlica for its famous yogurt and then stopped halfway down the European side for a short taxi to the Dolmabahce (which is a nice copy of European palaces but doesn't hold a candle to the Topkapi).
bobludlow is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 03:54 PM
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We were in Istanbul for three days in September. Other than the sights you mentioned, we spent a great afternoon at Miniaturk. It is a park with miniatures of all the important and interesting buildings in Turkey. It was fun seeing miniatures of the buildings we had already visited such as Topkapi.

We were probably the only tourists there, as it seemed it was mostly Turkish families. There was a nice feature where your ticket had a bar code indicating the language you speak. You put the ticket in a post in front of each building, and there was a commentary in your langauge.

We didn't see any information about Miniaturk in any of our guidebooks, but learned about it from a posting on Virtual Tourist. It was easy to get there by cab, and we saw parts of Istanbul we would not normally have seen.
lilla is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 03:55 PM
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Hi Ger! How great to go to Istanbul! My husband was there for a while a few years ago and still talks about the beauty of the Blue Mosque and Topkapi ..
Shop for the new house!!
Happy Holidays!
Scarlett is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 04:09 PM
  #5  
cmt
 
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I agree that the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet), Suleymaniye Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi are absolute musts. You might also consider the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum (in Ibrahim Papa). When it comes to bazaars, I much preferred the Spice Market to the Grand Bazaar, which I found overwhelming and irritating because of the very aggressive sales people, so I was reluctant to stop and look at any merchandise or make eye contact. You might want to take a boat ride on the Bosporus.

Because the city is gigantic and the language unfamiliar, I think a private guide for a day might be a good idea. I can recommend someone. (She was the excellent guide on my recent OAT tour and she also does private freelance work.)

If I hurry up and scan my photos from the trip and put them on Ofoto, maybe they can help give you an idea what to expect.

Should we continue via e-mail or elsewhere?
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Nov 30th, 2004, 04:28 PM
  #6  
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I forgot to mention that another place that was strangely interesting was the Yerabatan Saray, aka the sunken palace or the cistern basilica. It was part of the water system built under Justinian. In addition to being interesting historically and impressive as an example of fancy public works, the place has a mystical beauty. when I was there there was an art installation that fit in perfectly with the mood of the place.
cmt is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 05:30 PM
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Ger,

Looking forward to the next great trip report from your quill!

You will leave a trail of bread crumbs so we can follow you one day soon, won't you?
Mary_Fran is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 05:33 PM
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Ger, so will I be waiting also for another of your informative trip reports. If I find anything interesting, I'll send it on.
cigalechanta is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 06:18 PM
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I think you would enjoy the view from the Galata Tower. And take the ferry to the Asian side. Better check the days that Topkapi Palace is open as it may be closed on your Monday.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 06:21 PM
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Ger: Leave plenty of time for the Grand Bazaar. You'll get lost - hopelessly lost - time after time,and will love it, but it will eat up loads of time. Enjoy!
StCirq is online now  
Nov 30th, 2004, 06:31 PM
  #11  
cmt
 
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If you follow the advice above about going to the Galata tower, which is worth a quick trip for the view, you might also like to stop by to see the Pera Hotel in the same neighborhood--very old-fashioned, atmsopheric, lots of "XXX slept there" type of history.
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Nov 30th, 2004, 06:37 PM
  #12  
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P.S. I managed not to get lost in the Grand Bazaar by keeping track of the names of the exit doors. There's a lot of very interesting merchandise there, but I hated it the place. That's probably because I'm a fairly timid shopper, and the vendors' outrageously aggressive tactics did a good job of ensuring that I kept my distance from their stalls and didn't even stop to look. But I realize not everyone reacts that way.
cmt is offline  
Dec 1st, 2004, 05:13 AM
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I highly recommend seeing a Sunday performance by the whirling dervishes. You need tickets in advance. Make sure to get there early since there are more tickets than seats.
Marija is offline  
Dec 1st, 2004, 06:23 AM
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Thanks all!

bobludlow; LOL: For once, I am taking a minimalist approach! Thanks for the recommendation re the Bosphurus boat trip – you hit on the particular side trip which intrigued me. I love the idea of stepping on a ferry and letting it take me on an adventure

Thanks Lilla. Miniaturk might be a good introduction to city.

Well, I had a premonition that Miss Scarlett would encourage me to SHOP! I am particularly interested in the textiles and the carpets. I am hoping I can find a reliable source that can ship carpets to Canada.

CMT: You remind me that I MUST buy a language tape to teach me the basics of the language! Re the Grand Bazaar experience, I share your reticence, particularly because I am a lone female I will try it, I might enjoy it or hate it. It will certainly be an experience. Re a guide: I would like a female guide so please e-mail her contact details. I look forward to your photos. “cistern basilica” – yes, that is now on my itinerary.

Mary Fran & Mimi: I will try my best to live up to your expectations. I am certainly looking forward to the experience.

Mrwunrfl: Thank you for the recommendation re the Galata tower; its on the list

St. Cirq: I WILL certainly get lost in the bazaar and it certainly be a unique experience for me.

Marija – Great idea. I have seen them on TV and would love to see the performance live.

regards Ger
OReilly is offline  
Dec 1st, 2004, 07:07 AM
  #15  
cmt
 
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Ger, if there's a chance you might go to Capadocia, I can give you a very reliable source (factory) for carpets that can be shipped. It's also a fascinating place where you can learn all about how they're made. I tend to be very resistant to these places where you see a factory and then are pushed to buy, but this place was different and I really loved the visit and it wasn't the tiniest bit tacky. I am normally extremely sales resistant, to the point of being contrary minded, but I wasn't this time! More on that later.
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Dec 1st, 2004, 07:09 AM
  #16  
cmt
 
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Ger, I DID e-mail the contact details on the guide (a female) last night. Did you check your e-mail--the same one you used to e-mail me? I can re-send. (Also posted the info for you elsewhere.)
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Dec 1st, 2004, 02:19 PM
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Topping for Ger. Have a fabulous trip!!!
-Sharon
SharonNRayMc is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2004, 06:22 AM
  #18  
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Many thanks cmt, I received the information. I will make my final plans this weekend.

Thanks Sharon, I am looking forward to this adventure

regards Ger
OReilly is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2004, 07:53 AM
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Ger, what a treat is in store for you. I would second having a drink at the Pera Palace Hotel (check the elevator). Ghosts of Mata Hari, Agatha Christie and Ataturk. Also, if time permits, have a drink at the Four Seasons Hotel (former prison). It's an incredible city. Enjoy... I, too, am looking forward to your report.
Treesa is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2004, 08:46 AM
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Ger: Good luck with the language tape - Turkish in NOT an easy language! We ended up communicating mostly in German, with a bit of English.
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