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richardab Feb 26th, 2007 05:24 PM

What about Istanbul?
I know thats an open ended question. I was looking for a interesting spot for my vacation in May and I thought it would be fun to do something different. With the value of the dollar so low I was thinking that I wanted to find a location where I can get more for my money. What about Istanbul? Whats the prices like? the food? hotels? sights? how much time do I need there?

I have a lot of questions!

hopscotch Feb 26th, 2007 05:34 PM

Istanbul is a fascinating city. Great food, sights, the Bazaar, mosques, wonderful people, reasonable prices but haggle haggle haggle anyway. Do a week or more. Watch out for gypsies. I was there in June. May should be better.

Barb_in_Ga Feb 26th, 2007 05:57 PM

We spent 10 days in Turkey 1 year ago and I am so glad we did. We spent the first 5 days in Kusadasi, enjoying a day on a boat, a day at Ephesus, a day trip to the Temple of Apollo, and a quiet day around the town, visiting shops and having a massage,

We moved on to Istanbul for 5 nights, and could have used a few more days. We visited the Blue Mosque, Aya Sophia, Church of St. Saviour in Chora, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, Topkapi Palace, Dolmabahce Palace, the Cistern, attended a performance of folk dances, ate fish sandwiches at the waterside, enjoyed a wide variety of food and really loved our visit!

Our hotel(Celal Sultan in Sultanahmet) was not luxurious, but very comfortable with a great buffet breakfast included for 85 euro/night. Our meals ranged from street take-away to white tablecloth dining. By all means, go and enjoy the gracious hospitality and the phenominal history and architecture!

laartista Feb 26th, 2007 08:07 PM

I haven't been to Istanbul since Oct. 2000, but I remember I loved it. A very interesting city, we spent 4 days there. I felt that was a good amount. The money exchange was on their old currency so can't help there. Barb and Hop listed the great sights to see. I think Istanbul is a great choice.

worldinabag Feb 26th, 2007 09:31 PM


We went to Turkey including a 5 day stay in Istanbul last September. The Turks are lovely people. Istanbul is an incredible city. There is much to see and do. You get a lot of bang for your buck. Turkish food is suberb. I noticed a lack of obesity there. Alot of food is grilled not fried in saturated fat. I've emailed you some notes you may find useful. Good luck.

TIP: The Turks love using US and Euros rather than New Turkish Lira as they are more stable/strong currencies. This puts you at a disadvantage when negotiating for purchases. Learn to deal with the local currency.

koreaprincess Feb 27th, 2007 02:45 AM

I'm going to Istanbul for three nights in April. I'm so excited, as I have heard so many wonderful things about it. I've been to Kusadasi and Ephesus in the past and can confirm that the Turkish people are truly lovely. Hope we all have a great time!

Pittsburgher Feb 27th, 2007 06:58 AM

My husband and I are traveling to Turkey for 10 days in April -- our son is an exchange student at a university in Istanbul, and my husband was stationed there in the military over 30 yrs ago, so we're very excited about this trip.

We are staying in IST for 3 nts, then flying to Cappadocia for 3 nts, then returning to IST for the last 3 nts. I am looking for small-group walking tours in IST, and have had no success so far. Do any of you who've been there recently have suggestions?

Another question: all our hotels offer a 10% discount for payment in cash, and they're happy to get USD. This seems like a good choice to me - although I'm not thrilled about carrying large amounts of cash -- since we will avoid ATM withdrawal fees as well as conversion/transaction charges on AmEx. Does this make sense?

And to the OP - if you do a search in the New York Times travel section, you'll find a number of good recent articles about Istanbul. I'm still looking for more info sources as well.

martinlevine Feb 27th, 2007 07:05 AM

Pittsburgher: I found this site on the internet re: walking group tours of Istanbul. Hope it helps.

Pittsburgher Feb 27th, 2007 08:14 AM

Martin -- Thanks for your help. That's close to what I'm looking for. There seem to be lots of 'private' tourguides, but we enjoy going with a group as well.

Pittsburgher Feb 27th, 2007 08:17 AM

worldinabag -- if you don't mind sharing, I would love to have your notes as well -- [email protected]. And do you have an opinion about the economy of taking USD to pay hotel bills to save transaction fees etc? Thanks!

martinlevine Feb 27th, 2007 12:55 PM

Pittsburgher: Here's another site for walking tours of Istanbul:


MnJ Feb 28th, 2007 11:44 AM

We really enjoy travel to Turkey and will be there next month. Here is web site that we have used.

worldinabag Feb 28th, 2007 01:42 PM

Hi Pittsburgher

I have sent you my notes on Istanbul.

Paying your hotel bill in US dollars is fine. Did the hotel quote a rate in US dollars? That's preferable so you know exactly where you stand costwise. In fact we paid ours in Euros. This was easy because the hotel quoted a rate in Euros.

richardab Feb 28th, 2007 02:06 PM

I don't think you sent them to me either. I am looking forward to them.

worldinabag Feb 28th, 2007 02:30 PM

Hi Richard and Pittsburgher

Richard I didn't forget about you - I sent the notes on Tuesday, 27 February. Pittsburgher I've tried twice just now but your spam filter bounced them back! Maybe you guys can email me on [email protected] with an alternative email address.

nancy Feb 28th, 2007 03:14 PM

worldinabag: I tried sending you an e-mail as described but got a response that the e-mail address was no good. Will appreciate your sending me your notes on Istanbul at [email protected]. Thx, Nancy

Weadles Feb 28th, 2007 03:49 PM


I also tried to e-mail you and got it bounced back. WOuld love to have your notes, since we're going to Turkey this summer. Thanks so much!

marginal_margiela Feb 28th, 2007 04:48 PM

Why bring cash from North America with you to pay your hotel bill? Bring an ATM card, there are machines all over Istanbul, including about 5 kiosks across the street from the Hagia Sophia.

My Gucci, do you use two tin cans and a piece of string to make a phone call?

I hope you are not planning on staying in Sultanahmet; it is so touristy.

worldinabag Feb 28th, 2007 08:23 PM

Oh no I goofed my email address!! Sorry folks, here it is - [email protected]. Nancy I've sent you the notes.

I stayed in Sultanahmet. Yes it certainly is touristy. But if you're adventurous you can get off the trail and really experience the Old City. Call to Prayer at 5.30 in the morning is not for everyone but I found it to be magical!

worldinabag Feb 28th, 2007 08:25 PM

Weadles, sorry forgot to mention - by all means email me and I'll only be too happy to send you my notes.

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