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Just Returned from a Week in Istanbul

We spent last week in Istanbul, three days at the wonderful Hotel Sultania in Sultanahment and three days across the Golden Horn in a cute Airbnb in Beyoglu. Most everyone was masked. Temps were taken on entering famous places and the Grand Bazar. Far as we know we saw only one other American. There were many Russian tourists. It rained a lot.

Travel there, as with most places, is way down, and the locals are feeling it. Though we didn't go to shop- we lived for four years in the Gulf and have been to India and Morocco, so have ample carpets- I suspect there are deals to be had. Our wonderful hotel was less than 85 euros per night, with a big room and larger breakfast. The Airbnd was about $50 per night.

Merchants are persistent but polite once you let them know you're not interested.

Shoe shine men have a neat trick. As they approach you they allow one of their brushes to fall from their shoe shine boxes, then proceed as if they didn't notice. You being kind of course point it out or pick it up for them. They thank you profusely and then ask if they can brush your shoes. Reminds me of the old Bourbon Street trick in NOLA; "Hey man, I bet I know where you got your shoes!" How can they possibly know? :)

Posted by
12141 posts

Casue they can see you got them on the ground

Thanks for the report. I will be there in about 30 days

Posted by
1801 posts

LOL James, took me a few minutes to get your joke. Darylrc, you flew from the US? Was it a direct flight?

Posted by
6515 posts

What were the highlights of your trip?

Posted by
13 posts

"You got 'em on your feet on Bourbon Street."

Barbara, sadly far from direct. We cashed in miles with American, which likely influenced it, but it was three flights each way: Pittsburgh- Dallas- London- Istanbul. Returning Istanbul - London - Philadelphia - Pittsburgh. About 26 hours each way.

On our return flight we were forced up extra early on the Sunday we left. We'd learned the previous afternoon that the Istanbul Marathon was Sunday morning and street would be closed at 5AM. To get out of the city that necessitated a 4:30AM departure from the hotel; we'd hoped to leave at 7AM for our 10AM flight.

Agnes, we spent three nights near the "greatest hits" in the Sultanahmet district. Sadly the Blue Mosque is undergoing major renovations, so though permitted to enter the glory was covered up.

The Kariye Mosque/Museum, formerly the Chora Church... this is several miles outside the center, another must-see. The day we attempted to see this was the day we thought we'd conquer public transport. It was raining, of course. The bus driver indicated he could drop us off near there... and to be fair, he may have. We followed Google to the Chora Museum, which is, somehow, wrong on the map. We got to where Google told us to go and there was nothing. We hailed a taxi, he indicated he knew... and he deposited back where we started at the foot of the Galata Bridge. Finally, another taxi DID get us to our destination... which was closed, undergoing restoration.

The Beyoglu district, across the Golden Horn, is charming to explore, reminded me a bit of le Marais district in Paris.

Dinner at Mikla was a splurge for a birthday and worth every penny.

Posted by
1801 posts

Turkey is on our list but I’m quite sure it will be on Rick’s tour. We are looking to do his Turkey tour going a few days early to Istanbul. I’m hoping for 2021 but 2022 seems more likely.

Posted by
12141 posts

darylrc, that's right, I got it wrong. I got hit up with that a dozen times when we were there in July. But its spreading heard it once in South Beach in October. I hope the Turks don't start .....

Posted by
12141 posts

Oh, and its so good to read travel reports on a travel forum!! THANK YOU!!!

I'm surprised, when so many other threads begin with "when international travel is possible again"....

Posted by
1113 posts

We spent a week in Istanbul several years ago. Famous sights were beyond stunning and our two favorites were the Natural History Museum that had on display the sword of King David, the staff of Moses, and the turban belong to Joseph, of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. They were war trophies taken by the Muslim conquerors of Constantinople centuries ago. The second attraction we most enjoyed was the Dervish ceremony near Hagia Sophia. Check out hodjapasha.com for details. Istanbul is one of our all-time favorite cites.