Pls. comment on our Istanbul itinerary

Jun 24th, 2005, 01:20 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 308
Pls. comment on our Istanbul itinerary

I’m getting down to the final details for the Istanbul portion of our trip to Turkey and would like to have some feedback. I’m not quite as rigid as this may appear, but I find that we do well with a “proposed” itinerary so that we can veer off it if we like, but we will know what we may giving up in its place.

Day 1: Our plane will arrive in Istanbul at about 10:35 am. We will be coming from California so we will be jet lagged. We will check in to the hotel, take a quick shower, grab something to eat and hit the ground running. My guess is that we’ll be lucky if can start our sightseeing at 1:30 pm.
Blue Mosque
Sunken Palace
Do you think this will be too much? We have tons of guidebooks but I was wondering whether we would learn more from a private guide? If so, any recommendations? Where would we find one?

Day 2: Topkapi Palace (what about a guide here?)
Archeological Museum for a quick peek.
Whatever we didn’t see on Day 1.
Maybe the Spice Bazaar or something else from Day 3.
Maybe a hammam? Cemberlitas?

Day 3: We have a cooking class from 10am-2:30 pm.
Grand Bazaar
Spice Bazaar
Suleymaniye Mosque

Day 4: Cruise down the Bosphorus (What would our mini-itinerary be like for this? ie. Where do we get off the boat? Where do we eat? What sightseeing is there? Should we take a taxi back or should we take the boat back? What time should we expect to get back?

Then we are off seeing more of Turkey but will return to Istanbul:

Day 14: Our flight from Kayseri will arrive in Istanbul at around 12:30 pm. This time we will stay in Harbiye. We have fewer “must sees” during this part of our trip, so we can do any of the things we may have missed our first go around. We will also need to do some our souvenir/gift shopping.
Military Museum?
Dolmabahce Palace?

Day 15: Taksim Square
Istiklal Cad.
Cicek Pasaji
Galata Tower
Galata Bridge

Day 16: 3:30 pm flight home

So, what do you think? Thanks in advance!
wj1 is offline  
Jun 24th, 2005, 01:36 PM
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I just returned and I think it looks pretty good but I have a few suggestions.

I think you are covering too much on the first day. I would leave Aya Sophia for one of the mornings. It may be less crowded than if you go in the afternoon.

I don't think you need a guide for Topkapki. You can rent the headset and go at your own pace.

Now that I have done most of what is on your itinerary I would plan it a little differently. I flew from Portland, OR so I know how jet lagged you can be when you arrive and also how tired you still are on the second day.

I would take the second day to relax by doing the Bosphorus cruise. This was one of our most relaxing days and I wish we had done it while jet lagged. We boarded at terminal 3 at 1:30 and rode all the way to Anadolu Kavagi. Once there we had a couple of drinks and an appetizer on the second floor of one of the many fish restaurants. We spent about 1 1/2 hours here and then hopped back on the ferry and headed back to Istanbul.

Once you get off the ferry you can take a stroll under the Galata Bridge since it is right there.

If you click on my name you will find my trip report and photos.

eurotraveller is offline  
Jun 26th, 2005, 01:03 PM
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What a great idea to do a Bosphorus trip the second day! I know we'll be jet lagged and tired so I think that's what we'll aim to do. We'll have time to explore Istanbul later.
SusanInToronto is offline  
Jun 26th, 2005, 01:16 PM
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Just a few thoughts...

When I went to Europe in 2003 (our last stop was Turkey, seeing Izmir, Ephasus and Istanbul), and we had been on the road 18 days by then.

Make sure you do the "must see's" in Istanbul on the first visit. Just in case you're tired of touring a bit and want to relax more on your way back through.

I'll tell you the Grand Bazaar is cool, but not worth more than a couple of hours unless you really want to get lost in there. I found the bargaining over prices a bit overbearing in Turkey, and the shopping experience was less than a thrill for me. I'm from Brazil originally, and they do the same thing, though less intensely I think.

The Aya Sofia is quite a museum, it took us quite some time to see it all. I did find it to be a bit of a disappointment for the cost though, so if you're less than enamored, you wouldn't be the first.

The Topkapi was TERRIFIC. I would definitely get a guide next time, although you can't walk through it alone -- you're already stuck with a guided tour with a herd of people. If you can get one alone, I'd do that instead. I was so sick of being a tourist by then, I was glad to have 5 days in Istanbul...I did a lot of hanging out in Taksim (COOOL, especially after dark) and trying to talk with the locals who will be absolutely THRILLED if you give the Turkish language 5 minutes of your time.

I adored Turkey -- I was stared at a lot in the more remote areas -- and approached a lot, since they were curious about us and whether we were Americans. (DH looks very German, so often he'd be approached in that language especially on the coast where more Germans vacation than any other group, or so I'm told).

Anyway, enjoy your trip. The Call to Prayer at dawn when you're out in the middle of nowhere will be one of the most beautiful things you'll ever hear. Provided you're not directly under the speakers on the minarets.

jules4je7 is offline  
Jun 26th, 2005, 03:59 PM
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Istanbul is overwhelming, just the traffic and people make NYC seem small town! That 1st day I would probably take it easier then you are. Maybe find out whats near your hotel and go there and then just wander the streets. You are bound to find something amazing and actually that may be the perfect time to visit the Cemberlitas hammam. You can see the Aya Sofia, Blue Mosque and the Archeological Museum the next morning. Have lunch somewhere around there and in the afternoon go to Topkapi. I agree with the audio guide. In the evening go to Ortokoy for dinner and strolling and shopping, (I really loved that neighborhood). The next day in the morning go to the spice bazaar, its across the street from the Bosphorus cruises. The cruise we took stopped at an ancient ruin that is still used as a theatre, there are outdoor cafes nearby where you can have lunch. When the cruise is over you can taxi to the Dolmabahce Palace. A tour takes about an hour to hour and a half. Lovely garden cafe on the grounds for a cold drink afterwards. Then if you only want to spend andhour or 2, thats when I would hit the grand bazaar. Its too much to handle in a day or a week so if you just want to sample it, an hour or 2 is plenty. Trust me, the salesmen will wear you out! I would hire a guide for the Mosques unless you have some knowledge. Your hotel should have some tour info or there are guides on this forum who come recommended. Day 15 sounds fine. I'm jealous, I want to go back. Have agreat time.
zwho is offline  
Jun 27th, 2005, 09:18 AM
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I think the best investment we made while in Istanbul was to hire an English speaking guide at Topkapi. We were there on a Saturday and the crowds were amazing. Our guide got the two of us into quiet places, away from the crowds, gave us so much background information, and answered all our questions.

We did this on our first day and found that the history we learned on that visit helped us understand everything else we saw in Turkey.
dove is offline  
Jun 27th, 2005, 09:58 AM
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Posts: 18
We spent 10 days in Instanbul a few years ago and loved it. We've been all over but found the people of Turkey to be the some of the friendliest and helpful. I agree with the other replies, seems a lot the first day. The Bosphorus cruise is nice, we went all the way out to a little fishing town right before you hit the black sea. Not much to do really but eat some fresh fish and have a nice cool beer. We also enjoyed the cisterns. There is a place around Sultanahamet where there is bar down in the cistern...very cool. We also hung out in Taksim and played backgammon with our waiters in the late afternoons-got some great nightlife tips from them.
Have some Turkish coffee your first day, that will perk you right up, just make sure not to toss it back with too much vigor or you will get a sludgy surprise.
AprilDavid is offline  
Jun 30th, 2005, 12:20 PM
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Thanks everyone. I found all of your tips, as well as those on, extremely helpful and I am revising our itinerary accordingly.

Now, if it were only September already....
wj1 is offline  
Jun 30th, 2005, 12:56 PM
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A perhaps minor point: what is your Plan B in case you cannot get into the hotel immediately and take that shower, etc.?
Intrepid1 is offline  
Jun 30th, 2005, 02:20 PM
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Intrepid1: Same as Plan A but more miserable. Maybe it will keep the carpet touts away from us.

Actually Plan A has changed a bit. On the first day, we'll either take a 2 hour open air bus tour with audiotape(no getting off) that will give us our bearings and allow us an overview of the city and take us to areas of Istanbul that we would not otherwise see. It starts at 2 and ends around 4:20 p.m. The idea is that it wouldn't require much from our jet lagged bodies. Alternatively, we will go to the Spice Bazaar and Underground Cistern. We'll just play it by ear and see what our timing is and how we feel.
wj1 is offline  
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