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Solo 55 year old female in Istanbul for 3.5 days mid-December

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Oct 24th, 2014, 09:32 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Oct 2013
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Solo 55 year old female in Istanbul for 3.5 days mid-December

I'm a 55 year old woman stopping in Istanbul on my way home from India. I just couldn't resist the temptation of an Istanbul layover! I'm there for 3.5 days. A few questions, mainly because I am on my own....
- Best area and type of hotel to stay (again female on my own)
- is a tour guide necessary or desirable for 1 or 2 days or for the duration?
- Or walk blue mosque and nearby attractions on my own?
- Ideas for evening activities?
Any other comments or suggestions?
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Oct 25th, 2014, 02:18 AM
  #2
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
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No need for a guide -- just get (or consult) a good guide book or two ( or more) in advance.

With only 3.5 days, in Istanbul you will need to be very selective -- again, check guidebooks.

It's a wonderful city -- enjoy!
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Oct 26th, 2014, 08:43 PM
  #3
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Thanks for your response ! Any suggestions re best area to stay in city and evening activities ?
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Oct 26th, 2014, 09:14 PM
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Stay on the Sultanahmet side and concentrate your activities there. You will want to do Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Also try and take some sort of Bosphorus cruise. You will not have a lot of time but those are the things you must see.

Ask at your hotel about a belly dance show. I went to one recently near Hafiz Musafa (a tea and baklava shop that is well known) on the Sultanahmet side. There was a male belly dancer. Absolutely hilarious, but, of course, tourist kitch.

Other sites can be added as time permits.
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Oct 26th, 2014, 09:35 PM
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kja
 
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You should be able to attend a performance of whirling dervishes and/or folk and belly dancers at Hodjapasha:
http://hodjapasha.com
When I went (in 2012), a male belly dancer had a solo (among many other segments). There were moments when the audience laughed as they got used to the idea, but he was not there to add levity -- he was a remarkably gifted dancer and deserved our serious appreciation.

Try to visit the top of Galata Tower near sunset.

Some of us preferred to stay in Sultanahmet; others strongly recommend other sections of the city. A quick scan of threads on Turkey should help you find relevant discussions.

Although I enjoyed a Bosphorus cruise, it was among my lowest priorities for Istanbul and I would not have tried it if I only had 3.5 days in the city. YMMV -- which is why I urge you to consult guidebooks and make your own decisions.
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Oct 27th, 2014, 06:35 AM
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You can find dervishes whirling near the Tunel Station on Galip Dede Caddesi on Sunday evenings; you take the funicular from down below (if you try to walk up, well, take the funicular; the street is very steep). I am referring to the station at the top of the hill. When you get out, take a right past the Simit Cafe and turn right down the first street. That street is Galip Dede Caddesi (no street sign but it is a main street that runs into Istikal Caddesi which runs into Taksim Square if you walk the entire stree). The dervishes are not even a block down on the left. Remember the dervishes are not a "show" in the general sense. It's a religious act to the dervishes. The dervishes whirl, I think, at 5:00pm. Get there earlier to get a good seat. The "show" is in a dervish museum/lodge. On Sundays there are people outside selling tickets all day. Be sure to look in the musical instrument shops opposite. Lots of unusual Turkish instruments (unusual only in the sense you normally do not see them in the West).

The belly dance show mentioned by kja above was the one I saw. If you go, you will see why the male belly dancer is "memorable". There are 2 or 3 different shows there. Just pick the one you would think you enjoy.

I disagree about the Bosphorus Cruise. Get out on the water even if for an hour. The water is what Istanbul is all about. If you don't have time for a cruise (and you won't have time for the one that goes to the Black Sea as it take a full day out of your schedule), just take any ferry back and forth across the Bosphorus. Last summer I also took the new Metro line that goes UNDER the Bosphorus. That one is just interesting to say you've done it but not otherwise. I wouldn't bother with it given the time you have.

Please do not walk around flashing money, etc. I was home exchanging in Istanbul. My apartment, which was a block away from the dervish lodge described, was broken into at night while I was in the city. I had quite a bit stolen. There is lots of petty thievery of telephones around Taksim Square. If you stay in Sultanahmet, Taksim is on the other side of the Golden Horn. I assume the same is true, in other tourist areas. Please note: Most Turkish people are kind and helpful even if they do not speak English, but obviously not burglars.

Have a safe and wonderful trip.
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Oct 27th, 2014, 10:16 AM
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Especially if going out on the water remember than Istanbul has a real winter - it won't be warm and you will need winter clothing.
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Oct 27th, 2014, 11:57 AM
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I've been to Istanbul alone a couple of times but never in Winter. I agree that staying in Sultanahmet will avoid long taxi rides to the areas you want to see. May I recommend you consider taking a cooking class? I did and it was a great way to spend an afternoon and evening talking to locals about their culture.
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Oct 27th, 2014, 05:10 PM
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I took a cooking class with cooking Alaturka. It was fun but I wouldn't recommend it for someone in Istanbul for such a short stay.

http://www.cookingalaturka.com/
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Oct 27th, 2014, 05:13 PM
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If the poster is really interested in food, rather than the cooking class, I'd recommend one of the Istanbul Eats tours.

http://istanbuleats.com/

I've done two of the tours (one each time I went to Istanbul on home exchanges). They are really great but they will consume about 6 hours of your day. You will get to taste all this interesting food.

Obviously with 3 1/2 days the traveler is going to have to make some choices.
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Oct 27th, 2014, 05:28 PM
  #12
 
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I've been a couple of times and for a short stay, I recommend Sultahahment primarily because the major attractions are just a 1-3 block walk from your hotel and in Dec it will get dark earlier. Plenty of convenient restaurants also. Along with the already mentioned Aga Sophia & Blue Mosque, I recommend the museum in the same area - can't remember the name of it. Remeember it may be cold (I went in Dec one time and I took silk underwear with me - and used it). And the Cistern - all within a 5 block radius.
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Oct 27th, 2014, 06:48 PM
  #13
kja
 
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"I recommend the museum in the same area - can't remember the name of it."

There are actually several excellent museums in the area: The Istanbul Archeology Museums (plural) are actually a set of 3 museums -- archeology, ancient Orient, and tile. See:
http://www.istanbularkeoloji.gov.tr/main_page

And also the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum:
http://muze.gov.tr/turkishislamic
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