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risab Nov 23rd, 2007 09:03 AM

Need Advice for Istanbul in April
We will be in Istanbul at the end of April 2008 for a total of 9 days. This is our first trip and I need some expert advice.

Hotels and Location?
We (my husband and I) will be traveling with our 17 year old daughter so we'd like a hotel suite with some privacy Re: Empress Zoe Suites - are the seperated rooms really seperated? Any other recommendations for hotels that are reasonably priced? We'd prefer a hotel rather than renting an apartment.

What would be a better neighborhood...Sulthanamet or Beyoglu? We like the Marais and Trastevere...would we prefer Beyoglu based on that?

Any hotel suggestions in Beyoglu that would meet our two room need specifications?

Trip Ideas?
With only 9 days in Istanbul would it make sense to do a two night trip to Cappodocia?

If not...what day trips would be good for us to do?

Any other tips would be appreciated.

Weadles Nov 23rd, 2007 11:05 AM

Others may disagree, but since it's your first visit, I'd choose Sultanahmet. Many of the places that you'll want to visit are within walking distance of Empress Zoe: Topaki Palace, The Blue Mosque, The Grand Bazaar, and, although a bit of a hike, The Spice Bazaar.

We were worried about Sultanahmet being too touristy and overrun by carpet touts, but neither of these was a problem during our visit in July. In fact, we preferred this neighborhood to Beyoglu,( although we only spent a day there, so I'm sure we may have missed some of the more interesting neighborhoods) which seemed more Europeanized ( is that a word??)than Sultanahmet.

Another hotel in Sultanahmet to check out is SARI KONAK, although I don't know if they have suites.

Have a great time- we did!

Brahmama Nov 23rd, 2007 01:57 PM

We're going in May and looking at staying at the Fehmi Bey Hotel. It's in the Sulthanamet area - and has a website where you can pick out the exact room that you want - which I like. There were some suites, although we are looking at a corner room.

And we're planning to go to Cappadocia - have fallen in love with the pictures - what a breathtaking landscape.

Weadles Nov 23rd, 2007 03:22 PM

By the way, I meant to tell you that yes, you should definitely plan on going to Cappadochia. I am sorry that we missed it on this trip. We were on our way to Greece, and it didn't quite fit in with our itinerary. I hear it's unforgettable, so next time, I hope!... And if you need help w/ planning, search for the posts written by [email protected], who is based there. Good luck!

marginal_margiela Nov 23rd, 2007 03:34 PM

Thingorjus HATES Sultanahmet; it is so touristy. The carpet dealers chase you don't the street when they spot your diamond Rolex. How dreadful!

I prefer Beyoglu or the Bosphorus area. They are real neighborhoods, with real Stambulis going about their business. Sultanahmet is full of French geezers looking for bargains.

Linda, Keith, Muffy, and I all stayed at the Ritz-Carlton when we were in Istanbul. We really enjoyed it, especially the high-priced hookers in string bikinis at the pool. (I am the cousin of the Mayflower Madam, so I am fascinated by the louche.)

The Empress Zoe is a rather pretty hotel up on a hill near the Four Seasons. You can easily walk to the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palas.

Another nice hotel, with a beautiful garden with trickle fountain and fairy lights, is the Yesil Ev. It is also near the Four Seasons if you absolutely must stay in Sultanahmet.

I will defer to my friend, Weadles, for whom I have a high regard.


rickandpat Nov 23rd, 2007 03:40 PM

I agree that Sultanahmet is probably the way to go so you're within walking distance of the basic tourist spots. I can't remember where we stayed, but it was nice, and that neighborhood pleasant.

Cappadocia is amazing, and I would highly recommend it. Two nights would be bare minimum, three would be better if you can swing it.

Ephesis isn't a daytrip, I don't believe, but it was fabulous if you can fit it in.

Weadles Nov 23rd, 2007 08:29 PM

If I were the fabulous Thingorgus,(and I mean that sincerely!) I wouldn't stay in Sultanahmet, either. But since I have pedestrian tastes and a plastic watch, I liked it very much.

The only slightly negative but mostly funny interaction we had with a carpet dealer was when one ran out of his store to ask,"How many camels for your daughter?"

propertravel Nov 24th, 2007 02:41 AM

Hi Risab,
3 days Istanbul, 3 days Cappadocia, fly to Izmir directly from Kayseri and stay there 2 nights and fly to Istanbul for the last day & night before flying back home is a good and relaxed way of putting the plan right. Cutting a day in Cappadocia is possible but you might regret it later.

One warning to everyone travelling between 9-12 May in Istanbul, Formula 1 period might have difficulties to find a hotel with reasonable prices....

Thingorjus: you made me lough with the description of girls with bikini at the pool of Ritz :-)) Reminded me one Russion girl at Antalya with a bikini at the back written I am Rich with Swarowski peaces.....

Weadles ; thank you for the referral, I do my best to help and inform.... You are most welcome to Cappadocia next time and hope it will be soon!

Weather you have a swatch or Rolex the guys will try their chances but most impressive how they know model and year of make of a Rolex even from the distance :-))

Both Sultanahmet and Taxim offers good experiences, Sultanahmet is convenient to walk about to the sites and have a different flavor while Taxim offers and reflects the vibrant city and its oriental touches, good restaurants.... For those who can take it easy while visit sites and have the budget staying at Asian side definatelly have another charm.

Happy travelling,


sandi Nov 24th, 2007 04:43 AM

I agree with Murat, you can definitely visit more than IST. As fascinating this city with lots to see and do, you have the time to get to Ephesus (via Izmir... about 1/hr south) and to the Cappadoccia area. All three locations will provide you with a great experience.

risab Nov 24th, 2007 05:19 AM

I am appreciating everyone's input and we'll develop our trip plans utilizing this information.

A few more questions...
My husband is a musician - plays clarinet - and he loves Turkish clarinet music, particularly belly dancing music. We would love to be able to go to live music venues to hear local musicians.

We are also Jewish and would love to visit some of the Jewish history sites in Istanbul and maybe other areas so we'd appreciate information on that.

THanks for all your help.

propertravel Nov 26th, 2007 01:02 AM

Jewish heritage sites are plenty in Istanbul and also in Izmir and close by. I would suggest you to have an experienced guide to take you to the places of interest in that nature.

Kumkapi area where fish restaurants are plenty will have street musicians with clarinet to start with and there are plenty of other places where live performances with clarinet. I will try to find out more information for you at later stage.

Happy travelling,

chris2x Nov 26th, 2007 02:40 PM

I have stayed in both Sulthanamet in one of the small hotels (Historica) down from the carpet market as well as in a nice business hotel in Beyoglu. The Historica was very affordable but neither hotel offered the kind of privacy you are talking about, but with the Historica two rooms would be a possibility.

Sulthanamet is near the historic sites and was my favorite, but Beyoglu is a more exciting hoping night life kind of area that your daughter might enjoy, so it depends what you are looking for.

I would either do two nights in Capadocia or go down to Ephesus. Either would be a great addition.

I loved Istanbul so I think you will have a wonderful tme!


Chris Christensen
Amateur Traveler podcast

risab Nov 27th, 2007 06:10 PM

Lots of great suggestions...while we'd love to do the Cappodocia or Ephesus trips we're not sure our budget will allow at this time...and also because our life is so fast track everyday we're thinking of doing the "slow travel" mode and just parking ourselves in Istanbul for vacation - with day trips.

Good news was that I was able to get a FFlyer ticket for one of our flights. We had to extend a few days past my daughter's school vacation but "she didn't mind." While Empress Zoe was our dream choice we were shocked that everything was quoted in Euros at hotels and for 9-nights the rates were very high (I guess I did not do my homework as good as I thought). So, we opted to reserve a two-bedroom apartment at the Galata Residence. The location was also a draw for us since it is near to the old city and Beyoglu and near to the street that has a lot of music stores to keep my husband very happy. In the end I think that this will be the best because traveling with a teenager requires private rooms. We've done apartments before in Italy and Israel and we like being able to come back after touring and having space to lounge around in. And I love to cook and shop in markets so I will have fun shopping for food.

So, any insights into the Galata area would be appreciated..

Food question...we are vegetarian but we eat a very middle eastern and mediterranean diet ...we'd appreciate the some restaurant recommendations where we could get some great meze's, vegetable dishes without meat, pastas, salads?

Water question...I have read to that we should only drink bottled water. Does that mean that we should also avoid fresh salads?

Weatheer question...what is the weather generally like at the end of April? I heard there might be some rain but I wondered what the daytime temperatures would be like.

Language much Turkish do I need to know besides tourist words and cordial greetings?
I have read that many people speak English?

Money I use Turkish Lira at stores and market stalls? What's with all this Euro when that is not even their national currency?

Lot's of questions...

propertravel Nov 29th, 2007 02:17 AM

Take a short ride at Tunnel with the cable car, first ever metro built and yet shortest in the world !
Flower bazaar and behind fishmarket area has a lot of restaurants and they offer plenty of different mezes. Hacýabdullah and Hacibaba are good options for vegeterian and meze dishes.

You can eat slads as much as you wish. Drinking bottled water is just for the ones not used to the bacteries we are used to. You cab brush teeth etc. from the tab no problem.

You can perfectly manage with English and to try using some Turkish words will create sympathy

Weather stats can be viewed from :

Generally speaking daytime tempretures are mild.

Euro or USD quotation: It is a habit we have since years as a result of high inflation rate and daily changing exchange rates. A way of protecting yourself from exchange flactuations and gain money by investing on foreign currancy. Also when we had 6 more zeros on Turkish Lira quoting rates in Dollar or Euro was easier to understand. Travel industry still keeps this habit altough our currency is Turkish Lira now called New Turkish Lira.

Happy Travelling,

risab Nov 29th, 2007 04:59 AM

Thanks for responding.
Where are the restaurants that you mentioned located?
We'll definitely learn appropriate Turkish words...I am looking forward to expanding my world vocabulary.

propertravel Nov 30th, 2007 02:06 AM

Hi Risab,
Those restaurants are at the beginning of the Istiklal Street from the Taksim side. Haci Baba within first 100 meters on left, Haci Abdullah 200 meters on right inside the side street on left after the mosque.

Let me give you a bit of motivation on your Turkish :-)
Good evening:Iyi aksamlar (Ee-y-Ak-sham-lar)
Please:Lutfen (loot-fan)
Bon apetit:Afiyet olsun (af-e-yet all-soon)
Simple phonetic rules:
c has a j sound as in jungle
ç has a sound ch as in chalk
g pronounced as in gift
j is a soft sound as in leisure
s is always used as double s like miss
has a sound as in ship

Happy travelling,


risab Dec 2nd, 2007 01:28 PM

Thanks again for all the great tips - and we will definitely learn some of the words (and hopefully more)that you suggested.


brenda66 Dec 3rd, 2007 01:49 AM

If your husband likes Turkish clarinet then I would recommend that you look at these artists

Trakya All Stars... or for Clarinet, Hüsnü can find out some info about some of these artists at this link..

brenda66 Dec 3rd, 2007 01:58 AM

Also here is some great advise as well...while visiting in April be sure to check out the Tulip Festival in Emirgan which is held in April-May in Istanbul.

Emirgan is famous for its seaside cafes and the large city park on the slopes behind it. The Verifier Yahsi (seaside mansion) on the shore and the pavilions inside the park that serve as cafes are examples of Ottoman architecture from different ages.

The annual Tulip Festival is held in the park, which contains pools, groves and lanes suitable for hiking and jogging.

gelincik Dec 5th, 2007 03:54 AM

please check
I can say the best value and the best turkish hospitality

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