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Trip Report

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Perrysburg, Ohio
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21 reviews
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Trip Report

Hi All,

We just returned from 14 days in Istanbul, and all I can say is WOW. Although our expectations were high, the city was so much more than we expected it to be. As we drove in from the airport I felt like a giddy 16 year old who was seeing her first love for the first time, and it only got better as time went on. We saw all the usual sites, and they are magnificent. AyaSofya sits like a massive guardian watching over the city, and the symmetry of the Blue Mosque takes your breath away. Topkapi Palace was amazing and Dolmabache Palace was definitely glitzy. (I have never seen so many chandeliers in my life.) We spent almost an entire day at the Archeological Museum and could not believe the treasures it contained. We wandered the streets of Fenner and Balat, and the children there are as wonderful as everyone says. It was exceedingly hot while we were there...even the Turks were complaining about the heat...so the Bosphorous Cruise, the trip to the Asian side and the trip to Princes Island were a welcome relief from the heat of the city streets. The taxi drivers drive like maniacs (even worse than Mexico) but are sometimes quite comical in their comments. (We had one taxi driver who was obsessed with Chuck Norris and excitedly talked of nothing else the entire trip, while at the same time almost taking out two children and yelling at all the other drivers who were apparently going the right way on a one way street, which our taxi driver was not.) Mostly we just wandered the city and it’s backstreets, ducking into a shop here, a café there, and tried to get a feel for what it might be like to actually live in a place so wonderful.

The room and the staff at our hotel, the Armada, were excellent. The Armada is located right behind the shore road in Cankurturan, and we couldn’t have asked for a better view of the Marmaris. The room was large for Istanbul and had more room for storing clothing than I’ve seen in most hotels. The bathroom also had a large marble counter with room for all of our toiletries and paraphernalia. I was surprised to find out that the Serra Terrace Restaurant at the hotel is considered by the Turks to be an exceptionally good restaurant, and I have to say that I concur (and I’m rarely impressed with hotel food). I had Sea Bass in Parchment the first night we were there and it was heavenly. I’ll post a separate hotel review with more details in the hotel picks thread.

We went to a cooking class at the Sarnic Hotel the day after we arrived, and the food we prepared (with a lot of help from the Chef and Eveline) was amazing. It was my first encounter with Turkish food and I had no idea how wonderful it would be. We prepared Ezogelin Corbasi (spicy lentil and bulgur soup), Imam Bayildi (eggplant braised in olive oil with onions and tomatos), Kabak Mucveri (zucchini patties with herbs and cheese), Eti Yaprak Domasi (vine leaves stuffed with minced meat) and Sekerpare (syrupy semolina sponge cakes with hazelnuts). Everything tasted so fresh and was just bursting with flavor...as was all the Turkish food we ate on our trip. For those who get tired of eating Turkish, try the North Shield Pub at the bottom of DivanYolu right next to the Gulhane tram stop...the waiters are lots of fun and the food is good. That’s where we watched the election results come in on Sunday night. Also, for a fabulously rich desert, there’s a great restaurant on Istiklal called Ist where I had the best brownie I’ve ever tasted. It also has decent club sandwiches, omlettes and pizza. Of course we visited Baran’s and it is definitely yummy in the tummy...it’s like Turkish comfort food. Sultanahmet Koftesci had delicious meatballs and the Sultan’s Pub had good Turkish food and great burgers. On the Asian side we ate at Ciya, and their lamb kabobs were wonderful. We also visited Kanyon Mall and Metro City Mall. The architecture of Kanyon is really neat and there are some good restaurants/cafes there, although I can’t remember the names of them! Most of the time we just wandered around and chose restaurants based on the amount of locals who appeared to be there, and we were never disappointed.

We also visited Orhan’s shop...twice! Had a great time with Orhan and Teslim and came home with lots of perfume, soaps, oils, keses, etc. I hope that everyone who goes to Istanbul visits Orhan’s. He and Teslim are tons of fun and will make you some really wonderful scents.

While all of the above was fabulous, the most memorable and enjoyable part of our trip was interacting with the people of Istanbul. They are wonderful beyond words...so friendly and welcoming...and they put the folks in the US to shame when it comes to showing hospitality to visitors. The very best part of our trip was meeting Alper...he is a really cool guy with a great sense of humor, and the evening we spent with him was worth the flight to Istanbul and back by itself! Thanks to Alper, I now know how to properly drink Raki, and I also gained a ton of insight into Istanbul and its politics. We were also lucky enough to have breakfast one morning with the exceptionally nice Counselorlady, who was staying at our hotel. I can’t wait to read her trip report after she returns.

The last day we were there we were planning to go to the Hammam and Chora Church, but it was 99 degrees and the thought of pounding the streets or visiting a steambath just wasn’t appealing, so instead we spent the afternoon and early evening at the outdoor café at the Sultan’s Pub chatting with local Turks and tourists. It was really a great way to end our trip.

There are so many wonderful things to say about Istanbul, but there is neither the time nor the words to say them. It’s good to be back home, but Istanbul captures one’s heart and I cannot wait to return. Hopefully it won’t be too long before that happens!

Jo

Ruhr Area, Germany
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14,914 posts
118 reviews
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1. Re: Trip Report

Hi Osumom,

it is very nice to have you back again on the forum. I´m sure you had a great time at Istanbul. Your trip report let us feel how overwhelmed you have been by the fabulous city. I could read more and more...

Now I wish you a good start into your normal life at home.

Have a nice time

Patara01

And if you like just tell us more.

Naples, Florida
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324 posts
2 reviews
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2. Re: Trip Report

Jo,

I could feel your excitement. It brought back memories of my extended stay there last year. The same feelings overwhelmed me & never left. It's nearly impossible to convey that in a post. It must be experienced first hand. There's no place quite so special in this world!

Kayakoy, Turkey
Destination Expert
for Istanbul
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9,026 posts
65 reviews
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3. Re: Trip Report

Hello again Jo,

welcome back to the Forum, your report says it all, isn't it great to be in Istanbul! I just have to wait until at least after the summer season.

How wonderful you had a chance to meet with Alper and Counselerlady, isn't this forum absolutely great!

Thank you!

Mount Dora, Florida
Destination Expert
for Istanbul
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14,128 posts
243 reviews
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4. Re: Trip Report

osumom, What a great trip report. It makes me want to jump on the next flight even if the temperature is 99 degrees. It is so hard to explain to people who have never experienced it how marvelous the people of Turkey are. You are surely correct with your observation that they are much more hospitable to us than we are to one another and visitors from foreign countries. As I go about my day I long for all the service people who seemed happy to see me. So many times here in the US I feel as if I bothering a clerk by intruding on her time to get waited on. I certainly never felt that way in Turkey.

In addition to scents, soaps and oils, what else did you buy? How many glasses of tea did you have to drink to accomplish your purchases. I've divided our purchases into one glass of tea, two glasses of tea, and in the case of my obscenely large amathyst ring, two glasses of tea and one Turkish coffee.

Welcome back home. I imagine you will long for Turkey for many months to come.

Alex,Egypt
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250 posts
78 reviews
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5. Re: Trip Report

Osumom, thank you for this trip report, I am leaving to istanbul in a few days, and this was helpful...

Perrysburg, Ohio
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3,165 posts
21 reviews
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6. Re: Trip Report

Patara, it's so nice to see you back on the forum! You and Livin4Cruisin are so right to use the word "overwhelmed" when describing how I feel about Istanbul, although until you both mentioned it I didn't realize that it was the perfect word! I've traveled to many places that I've really enjoyed and would love to return to, but Turkey is different...it's not only that I want to return, it's that I feel I have to return. There is just something about the place that seeps into your soul. There was one hot afternoon when my daughter and I were taking a break from the sun, sitting in the grass in a park off Divan Yolu near the Cistern, and an elderly covered lady with two young children sat down by us. She didn't speak English, nor did the girl or boy. The boy, who was 8, only knew enough English to ask "where from you?" Even with the language barrier, we spent a pleasant half an hour socializing with each other, fanning each other and laughing at our attempts to "converse" with gestures, etc. Turns out she wasn't a tourist, but was from Istanbul and out for the afternoon with her two grandchildren and was just taking a very needed break from the heat. Upon leaving, the grandmother and I clapsed hands and hugged and off we went. Not a monumental thing, but so typical of the friendliness and welcoming spirit of the Turks. That was just one of many similar incidents that grabbed my heart and made me fall in love with the people of Istanbul.

BR, as for additional shopping, I bought several tea sets, a wall plaque, a lamp, some Puma sportswear and shoes, many tea shirts and evil eye trinkets and yes, a carpet. I would have bought many more things only there was not one inch of room in our suitcases or carryons for anything else! And tea...oh, did we drink tea! Turkish tea, apple tea, vanilla tea...It didn't matter if we spent a few lira or several hundred lira...the tea was always offered. Not only were we offered tea in the shops, we were also given boxes of tea as thanks for our purchases! Since I didn't have room for a turkish tea pot, I now have to go online to get one, as I know the tea just won't taste the same without one.

VR, you are so lucky to live in such a wonderful place. The next time we go to Turkey we plan to head down to your area and explore it as well. I've heard it's flat out gorgeous down there. I've only been back three days and already I'm planning my next trip. How crazy is that!

Gocek, Turkey
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3,307 posts
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7. Re: Trip Report

That's a great report, we hope to see you down our way soon - I'm back off out there in 10 days time, couldn't wait until our holiday at the end of August.

Ruhr Area, Germany
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14,914 posts
118 reviews
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8. Re: Trip Report

Dear Osumom,

in Germany you can buy turkish tea-pots on every market or in many turkish runned shops, but in our region there are living many turkish people.

Don´t you have similar shops in your town? It is a very big difference to prepare the cay in these two pots or just in a normal tea-pot.

And it will be a nice surprise for your guests if you have a "tea-ceremony allaturka". But you should take original turkish tea, because it is not so bitter as normal one.

Afiet olsun or serefe

Patara01

London, United...
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6,564 posts
3 reviews
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9. Re: Trip Report

I've been waiting for some time to read your report - and it was well worth it! Turkey - what a magnificent country and wonderful people! So much to see - so many places to go! Its 4 years (I think!) since we were in Istanbul - I think its time we returned!

Surrey, UK
Destination Expert
for Istanbul
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7,098 posts
16 reviews
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10. Re: Trip Report

Hi Jo

I loved reading your trip report - and it made me smile to read how much you fell in love with Istanbul. It is such a special place that words just can't describe what it is like to be there - and I am so glad you have discovered it - and are as infatuated as we all are!

You managed to fit so much in to your trip (despite the heat) - and it sounds as if you had fun with Orhan and the 'oh so gorgeous' Teslim. Even better that you met Alper (what is the proper way to drink raki? Apart from very carefully!) and Counselorlady.

You report also made me long to be back - only 11 weeks to go till the next visit but it seems a long way away.....

Enjoy planning your next trip - and thanks for an excellent post.

Caro