But i haven't yet found what this is..Are the stunning sites?The lovely people?The city's history?Well,i'm sure it's more of a combination of all these!
We're just back after 4 wonderful days in Istanbul.We arrived there after a long and exhausting trip from Thessaloniki which took us around 10 hours.We bought our tickets for metro and tram,which carried us fast and safely to our hotel!Our adventure had just started!
WHERE WE STAYED:
A big thank you to those of you who suggested hotel Erboy..Honestly,i can't think of a better choice.The staff was always helpful,the hotel itself very clean,great breakfast every morning..They asked us why we didn't use their free airport shuttle since we were staying at least 3 nights and i replied that we arrived at the Otogar,so it wasn't possibe.Then,they offered us a welcome dinner at their restaurant instead,which consisted of 3 courses for each one.What a touch!Hotel's location was also excellent for a first time visitor..Close to everything and very charming too!
WHAT WE VISITED:
Istanbul is a very big city,so it was impossible to see everything in 3,5 days.Instead,we decided to visit some major attractions and also have enough free time to enjoy the city leisurely.
Hagia Sophia and Topkapi should be in everyone's must see list..And i suggest to do them seperately in different days because they both require some time to spent.Audioguides are really well worth!
Grand Bazaar and Spice Market were a fun place to spend some hours watching and shopping.We did buy wonderful things in good prices.
Bosphorus cruise is another must for me.For only 10 liras,you can do the short 2-hour cruise.The views are simply amazing.Even though it was 1st of March,the sun was shining and the deck was full of people.Not cold at all!
Blue Mosque:Stunning,beautiful and it doesn't require much time.Be sure to check the closing hours for prayers,so as not to wait in lines.
Taksim/Istikal street:Vey busy,lively area,especially on Friday and Saturday.One can be spoilt for choices there for food,drinks,shopping,etc!
FOOD AND DRINKS:
Pasazade restaurant :Hotel's restaurant had great food and the people there were very attentive.Even though,our dinner was free,they all went out of their way to satisfy us!
Red River pub :We found this place to be very relaxing,enjoying few glasses of Efes and some appetizers too!
New Hatay restaurant :Situated next to our hotel,this place had lovely food!Generous portions and nice staff with good sense of humour!
Balik ekmek :This has been discussed many times,i'm not going to say much,just one thing.Be sure you don't leave unless you try one of these fish sandwiches under the Galata Bridge!
Ara Cafe :We sat outside for a cup of tea.It seems a very popular place and the interior was also very beautiful!
Address bar :We found it after exploring Istikal street,settled in a busy sokak.Had some drinks followed by nice live music!
Cafe Mese :We followed your advice and went there for breakfast on our first day!The breakfast platter was very tasty ,more than enough and the staff were very welcoming and friendly.Back again for a lunch on our last day yesterday.They remembered us and were warmly welcomed again.The chicken wrap was very very tasty!
Kizilkayalar : Of course,we couldn't leave without tasting one of these famous wet burgers!The only bad thing was that they were quite small..Smaller if you are also hungry.
Hafiz Mustafa :Nice place for sweets and coffee or tea,with very good views from the upper saloon!We had to wait some minutes to get a table but it was worth it!
-One thing we were disappointed with was some taxi drivers.When we asked our hotel to call us a taxi we payed around 12 liras to get to Taksim.When we wanted to return back,we went to piazzas in Taksim and Tunel but they all said it was a flat rate of 25 liras.They wouldn't lower the price.We were even quoted 35 and 40 liras.So,it was a challenge to find one.If it was just for 1 day i wouldn't care so,but since we had this situation for 3 days,it was somehow tiring to ask 3-4 taxi drivers every time in order to find the one.
-We were very surprised that many people(in counters,restaurants,bazaars,taxi drivers) were speaking very good Greek.In fact,in Grand and Spice Bazaar,we were discussing in Greek!!
-Concerning safety,we felt perfectly safe wherever we walked,in metro,trams,etc!Not different at all comparing with other places in Europe i have visited!
-I really felt that walking in Istanbul,eating in restaurants,etc was like doing it so back home..It's the first time we have this feeling about a place!
-People were amongst the friendliest we have met and you have this feeling that you are in good hands wherever you go!
My advice to future travellers!Just relax and enjoy this magnificent city!Take your time,don't plan too much and make sure you have enough time to soak up the atmosphere!
GrigorisEdited: 03 March 2013, 17:43