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Instanbul/Besiktas area question

Old Sep 27th, 2019, 08:22 AM
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Instanbul/Besiktas area question

My hubby and I will be in Istanbul from Oct 24-29 and will be staying at the Conrad in the Besiktas area. We plan to see all the top sights in the Sultanahmet area and spend some time in the new district - taksin square, walk along Istiklal Street and so the usual tourist things and then some.

A few questions for our Turkey experts and also those who have been there:

1. What’s the best way to get to the old town and new district from our hotel in Besiktas? I understand Besiktas is not along the Metro path or near a bus stop to get us into old and new town.
if possible, we would like to avoid taking taxis because of concerns of what i’ve read about taxi driver scams against tourist being common.

2. I’m interested to buy gold jewelry and carpet ( at Grand Bazaar ). Should I be concerned about the authenticity of the gold sold by the jewelry vendors in Grand Bazaar? I hate to find out to have spent a lot of money on a high ticket item only to find out when I get home that it’s not what I was told it was. Ditto with carpets. How much should I expect to spend on a mid-priced, mid quality wool carpet about 5 by 8 feet in size.

Any suggestions/recommendations on reputable but fair in pricing vendors for both gold jewelry and carpet? I don’t mind going to out of the tourist areas and going to residential areas to buy these things. We are planning on exploring the residential neighborhoods of Istanbul anyway - I don’t have to buy them from Grand Bazaar vendors if I don’t have to.

Btw, we will be flying to Capadoccia on Oct 29 and will be staying in Goreme for 3 days and returning to Istanbul for 1 night before taking our US bound flight at IST. Oct 29 i think is a public holiday, is the airport extremely busy on this date, and are stores going to be open?

thank you in advance for all your input and suggestions.

Last edited by takemewithu; Sep 27th, 2019 at 08:25 AM. Reason: Misspell
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Old Sep 27th, 2019, 01:55 PM
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Starting with last question, most stores will be open October 29 (not banks).

Most honest place I know is the stand of the cooperative of carpet manufacturers and dealers of Western Turkey at lowest floor of Cevahir mall. They have a good selection and will usually quote about 20% higher.
than they are willing to sell. Prices at the bazaar are inflated up to 200%. Do not fall for the patchwork junk
Check Cappadocia Yahyali , Yagci Bedir, Nigde taspinar colors and designs for good quality medium priced carpets. Antalya Doseme ali and Kars usually faded, are not as good quality You may actually get a good Yahyali at a more reasonable price in Cappadocia. (Ask your hotel to help) Prices usually available on the web.

For your gold purchase, try the shops in Cuhaci Han, a small courtyard also with gold chain wholesalers who will be willing to sell retail. just off the grand bazaar. And visit lolita Asil's silver shop (sometimes very good semi-antique items) I bought most of my turn of the century Russian tea spoons there.
I doubt if any shop in the bazaar will sell faux gold but they may quote higher carats. Most will be 14 carat The standard bracelets Anatolian women wear as dowry are 22 carat. A small jewellers' digital scale is reasonably priced and easy to carry. Just check price of gold in the morning and then weigh the piece yourself also. Depending on the labor and design a nice 18 carat piece will cost as much as twice the 24 carat gold bullion price. (about four times or more at Tiffany's)

If you are willing to get up early, there are commuter boats from Besiktas to Eminonu in the old town. ?ehir Hatlar? Ferries Timetables | Bosphorus Ferry | Ferry Schedule
In fact, you may actually take a ferry from Besiktas to Kadikoy and then another one to Eminonu, although longer, a very scenic route with great photo opportunities. Try the tea on the ferries. These run every 30 or 20 minutes.

Returning to Besiktas fro old town will be a cinch by ferry. Check above timetable

Besiktas center is a fun area. You just have to walk down hill, cross at one of last two traffic lights and walk to the market area. Lots to discover.

Taksim and Istiklal are not really new area, having been populated for four hundred years.

Try Tesvikiye, Nisantasi for upscale new area for people watching and shops, Check the Turkish designer Vakko. You can get a shared van from near the ferry landing to this area

There is also a shared van stop for Taksim across from the Naval Museum in besiktas, next to the busy bus stop and the sbeginning of the market street.

Finally, trust taxis from taxi stands, i.e. the Conrad stand. and the airport rank.
​​​​​​​If a taxi does not immediately turn on the meter, just get off.
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Old Sep 28th, 2019, 10:45 PM
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Thank you otherchelebi for your input. Re: taxis, are there ride Apps available in Istanbul ( I.e Uber or its equivalent )? If there are, would this be a better way to get around vs regular yellow taxis? Even if the ride apps are not cheaper, even a little more, I would just rather not deal with cabbie shenanigans and deal with scam attempts. Although I realize, there are honest drivers too in Istanbul just like everywhere else, it just seems that there are many who try to pull one off at tourists.
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Old Sep 28th, 2019, 11:18 PM
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There are two taxi call centers but they are in Turkish. Uber XL was banned but regular uber may still be operating; yet, again language may be a problem.

You will be able to avoid taxis by efficient use of ferries and shared vans (dolmus) plus the public system. All you need to do is walk the hill down to Besiktas square.
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Old Sep 29th, 2019, 12:34 AM
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Thank you otherchelebi for the information. We’ll follow your recommendation. What areas in the Asian side would you recommend for exploration? We would like to see a lively, middle class but not touristy area with more residents than tourists. Some good restaurants where locals eat and shops or malls where locals shop would interest us. The mall that you referred to earlier for carpet, is that in the Asian side?
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Old Sep 29th, 2019, 01:51 AM
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the mall is on the European side. It is at Mecidiyekoy Metro station, second stop after Taksim.

Kadikoy itself and the neighbor Moda are the lively middle class areas. Almost no tourists usually.

Ciya restaurant and Ciya kebap are famous. There are also some decent fish restaurants.
Hafiz Mustafa is the shop for Turkish candy and Turkish delight.

One of our favorite kebap restaurants is at an unusual place, on the back of the multi-storey car park in Karakoy.
The other side of the famous Gulluoglu baklava shop. Interestingly the baklava of the kebap house called
Koskeroglu is better than that of Gulluoglu also.

You should order and share a
Lahmacun first
followed by one Adana if you like sspicy hot or urfa if not
and one Fistikli kebap (pistachio kebab)
and finally, the coup de grace,
a Katmer for dessserttttt.

at other kebap restaurants, try Kunefe to replace katmer.

Get there before 12:30 noon or between 14:00 and 18:00 to avoid waiting.

For fish, check my thread : PROTOCOL FOR FISH AND FISH RESTAURANT IN ISTANBUL

Will be nice to take ferry to Uskudar from Besiktas and bus to Kuzguncuk, a sleepy fun village. Explore back streets and eat at
Ismet Baba restaurant on the water. (Cash TL only)

A longer bus ride can take you to Cengelkoy, a more lively commercial village with many restaurants.

An even longer bus ride will reach Kandilli, a small village with a good fish restaurant next to the ferry landing, Sunanin Yeri.
An evening at this restaurant is great with the European fortress all lit up across the sea and following my instructions on eating Istavrit, horse mackerel.

Unfortunately, there are no great fusion places in Istanbul since Changa closed down, (except our home)
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Old Sep 29th, 2019, 02:25 AM
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Other, hubby and I are “dessert people”. What is kemet?
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Old Sep 29th, 2019, 02:27 AM
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...I meant katmer? What kind of dessert is it?
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Old Sep 29th, 2019, 03:38 AM
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Heres a youtube presentation of Katmer.

Good quality katmer is made of water buffalo cream, instead of regular cream.

and here's Kunefe :

best if syrup has cooled down
served with water buffalo cream on top.
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Old Sep 29th, 2019, 09:00 AM
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Can’t wait to try the Katmer. The Kunefe looks like something we tried in Amman, Jordan last year although they call it, slightly different but it sounds like kunefe. We bought if off a sweet shop that had a takeout window and people lined up to get their order. It was served in styrofoam plate and was very inexpensive. I remember it being soooo very good, we saved some for breakfast the next day but it wasn’t as good as when consumed fresh. The cheese inside turned from its gooey goodness to being a bit gummy.
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Old Sep 29th, 2019, 09:05 AM
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Another favorite dessert ( from our trip to Greece in 2014 ) is galacto boureko. I hope we’ll find it in Turkey. It’s like a firm custard pie without the dough. Yum !!!
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Old Sep 29th, 2019, 09:09 AM
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I will take a pass on the Turkish delight, even though it looks like something I would enjoy for one simple reason - the crown on my molar tooth might come off with it ��
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Old Sep 29th, 2019, 10:09 AM
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we have two desserts similar to the Greek custard like pie or Creme Brulee
one is called kazandibi (bottom of the cauldron) meaning it is seered; and, the other one:
tavuk gogsu
both may inlude some shredded chicken breast and gum mastic.

Usually the Arabic kunefe and the Arabic Katmer are softer and sweeter

Borek (sounds like the Greek boureka) is always savory in turkey, individually sold smaller pies or cut from a large one in a large baking tray.

They usually have either cheese or ground beef filling but there are others with spinach, hot dog and mashed potato fillings.
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Old Oct 14th, 2019, 05:13 AM
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I will suggest from Karakoy "Gulluoglu baklava"
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Old Oct 14th, 2019, 06:01 AM
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otherchelebi I have been thinking of you. Horrid time right now.
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Old Oct 15th, 2019, 04:57 AM
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Thinking of you also, OC. We're not traveling this fall for various reasons, but I must say I'm glad we didn't make any firm plans to visit Turkey. Hope all is well and safe with you.
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Old Dec 13th, 2019, 12:53 AM
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Missing that baklava tho
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