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Istanbul - 10 days - What to eat, buy and do

Istanbul - 10 days - What to eat, buy and do

Jul 21st, 2019, 06:32 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 31
Istanbul - 10 days - What to eat, buy and do

Fodor Family: Just unpacking and re-packing a work suitcase and will be non-stop travel for work (brain and body will be overloaded) until we leave on 8-8.
I can't find my Istanbul notes. We were schedule to travel to Turkey five years ago and had to put a halt due to unrest in the region.
Now, I will have no time to do the normal research and have been trying to find trip reports for Istanbul (I love them....so helpful), but laptop keeps locking up.
I hope some of you Istanbul/Cappadocia/Ephasus yodas can help me.
We have our hotels and guides (thank God for my husband) and now I need some advice.
Help with:
  • Things to do
  • Things that are "don't miss"
  • restaurants with great ambience or unique food
  • what to buy
    • (we're looking for rugs/runners/table linens)
    • souvenirs
    • things for kids
    • unique jewelry (statement pieces)
  • concerts or other things locals do
My questions:
  • What's the best? Using ATM card to get local currency when we arrive? Are ATMs safe?
  • Is there something you WISH you'd done but didn't?
  • Is there somewhere you'd wished you'd had more time to visit and didn't have a chance?
  • Is there something you wanted to buy but didn't and have regrets? Or vice versa? Something you bought that was a dud or you had regrets?
  • What's a special romantic location in Istanbul? This is a special anniversary for us.
  • What should we miss that is listed in guidebooks as a must-do and is a time suck and I shouldn't bother?
I won't be able to check this for several days due to laptop issues, but I hope you're able to help. Thanks so much.

xgapeach1 is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 01:09 AM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 4,670
For access to sights and which go together well, check trip reports here on Fodors.

For some other local info, please check some of my threads.

For special jewellery, look for "Urart" for Hittite/Assyrian inspired Do not buy inside the Grand Bazaar. i suggest you bring a jsmall digital jewellery scale with you *fits easily in a purse or pocket.
Check the price of gold per gram that day and calculate no more than 30-100% above that depending on the design and workmanship. Simple dowry bracelets of 22 carat gold have only 10-15% added to daily gold price.
(Tiffany in New York charges 300% or more)

For used but repolished silver at excellent prices try to find the shop of Sait Asil (now managed by his daughter Lolita) outside the bazaar in Sait Asil
Çuhacı Han (Çuhacı Hanı Sk) an arcade which also has goldsmiths selling chains and pendents at close to wholesale prices and a decent pearl shop.
I bought my small collection of turn of the century Turkish and Russian teaspoons at that shop over a period of twenty years. and at least five very much appreciated wedding gifts.
They can have the piece you like re polished and put in a nice velvet bag after wrapping it airtight.

For food:
- Sunset and Ulus 29 $$$$
- Borsa at Harbiye $$$
- Sunanin Yeri at Kandilli $$ take ring ferry from Arnavutkoy or Bebek Best restaurant for fried horse mackerel caught daily (istavrit) and arugula/garlic/tomato salad
- Banyan at Ortakoy square
- Beyti at Florya $$$ (best lamb chops ever.

- cafes and restaurants at Cihangir for friendly neighborhood atmosphere
- cafes and restaurants on abdi ipekci and Tesvikiye Streets (Nisantasi-Tesvikiye area) for upscale people watching district.
Kitinti, Midpoint and others.

- saray Muhallebicisi $ at Istiklal, eminonu and Tesvikiye for traditional Turkish puddings, chicken soup and chicken and rice as well as doner (gyro) Try tavuk gogsu.

- Fast food doner at Sahin, off the grand Bazaar, best hole in the wall location, or at Karadeniz Donercisi at Besiktas.

- fast food kebap at Durumcu Mehmet same street as sahin I usually get one Adana (medium spicy hot) and half a shish kebap in a wrap. decide whether you
want hot grilled peppers, lettuce, onions, parseley. This one has some seating.

August is the worst month for fish except for the non-commercially caught horse mackerel (istavrit) and the farmed sea bass, sea bream and sole.

It will be quite hot and probably humid, except when you are on a boat on the Bosphorus or in a museum.

On the Bosphorus, at Cihangir and Nisantasi shorts and sleeveless tops are fine, but wear pants (capri included) and short sleeve tops in the old city within the whole Fatih district.
otherchelebi is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 06:41 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,149
My posts on Istanbul: https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com/?s=istanbul

Definitely do a Bosphorus cruise, and consider visiting the Princes' Islands. And have a proper Turkish bath.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 10:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,984
I loved visiting the Topkapi Palace.
Kathie is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 02:11 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,833
For things to see we found the Rick Steves Istanbul very useful.
Michael is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 02:16 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 194
It's been 10 years since my trip, but here are some things that stand out in my memory:

Go to the Topkapi Palace first thing (get there a little before it opens) and go immediately to the harem (extra entrance fee). This was the advice I followed when I went and was glad I did. We had a relatively peaceful time exploring the harem before the site filled up.

I second taking a bosphorus cruise - so relaxing.

We went to a Sufi ceremony at the Hojapasha cultural arts center. This was an actual religious ceremony where we weren't allowed to take photos, unlike the whirling dervishes that get up and spin on a stage at a restaurant. (Not making judgments about the latter, but the ceremony at the cultural arts center gave more context for what was happening.)

Having a vigorous scrub at the Turkish bath after a long, hot, sweaty trip was amazing.

otherchelebi is the expert, so take their advice on fine jewelry, but I bought a ring and a pair of earrings at the Grand Bazaar and they are still some of my very favorite pieces of jewelry (they are both silver and ceramic pieces).

If you are animal lovers enjoy all of the friendly, well cared for stray dogs and cats! There was the most beautiful Turkish van mama cat and kittens at a rug shop near our hotel. We visited them every day.

And my very favorite experience - get a tray of baklava and a fresh-squeezed juice and sit in the park between the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque and just enjoy the atmosphere, people watching, call to prayer, etc.
memejs is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 04:08 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,023
I think 10 days (9 nights?) it's a little bit rushed with Istanbul, Ephesus and Cappadocia, but if you're selective you can do it. In Istanbul we loved all the mosques, basilica Cistern, the bazaars (Grand and Spice) and Chora Chora.
We followed the same advice as memesj for the Topkapi Palace, and it worked out great.
Take a tour at Ephesus and make sure it includes the Terrace Houses.
Use ATMs, they have the best exchange rate, and if you use a bank that reimburses you the fee when you use a different bank's ATM, even better.
We had 5 nights/4 days in Istanbul, 1 full day (2 nights) in Ephesus and 5 nights/4 days in Cappadocia. We wanted more time in both Istanbul and Cappadocia. We had no time for the cruise in Istanbul, I wish we did.
We absolutely loved Turkey: the sites, the food, the people and would go back in a second. Have a great trip.
xyz99 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2019, 01:26 AM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 4,670
Two additional things :

For concerts and shows check Biletix.com http://www.biletix.com/anasayfa/TURKIYE/en

Second and more importantly, Your ten days in Turkey fall smack into a nine day holiday (Kurban bayrami August 9-18)
This will mean the following :
- A comparatively empty Istanbul, because many people will be on vacation or going back to their families.
- Less traffic but possibly more crowded public transport because it may be free during the holidays or at least the actual four days of the religious holiday.
check this when you arrive at your hotel before you load your Istanbul pass card.
- Fewer commuter ferries and more crowded tour boats.
- More motley crowd at Istiklal , Taksim. and Ortakoy Square
- Fewer people at Nisantasi/Tesvikiye. For people watching, "Bebek" replaces them.
- Increase in number of Middle Eastern Arabic tourists although there is a significant decrease in Saudi Arabians because of tensions between KSA and Turkey (so fewer women in hijab)
- Difficulty in finding seats on flights falling on August 8-10 and 14-17 and more expensive tickets
otherchelebi is offline  

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