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Trip Reports Collection - Please post here (Istanbul)

Houston, Texas
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Trip Reports Collection - Please post here (Istanbul)

I saw this on the London forum originally and now there is one on the Berlin board and Amsterdam and Paris and Rome board as well. I thought this was a good idea for all of us that go to Istanbul or who are thinking of going to read thru the reports to have an idea of what to do and how people viewed there trips and thus we can come back and write up a report on how our trip went.

"""For everyone's convenience and reading pleasure, please post links to all your trip reports (past, present, and future) here on this thread. If you also have pictures posted somewhere on the Net, include those links as well.

Without further adieu, on with the show!"""

If possible can we get this stickied as well?

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Ottawa, Canada
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51. Re: Trip Reports Collection - Please post here (Istanbul)

Hello Hello.

I feel like I owe it to this forum for helping me out greatly in planning the most memorable trip to Istanbul back in April.

We stayed for about 20 days and visited sooo many places. From Bebek and Arnavutkoy to Ortakoy, Karikoy, Kadikoy, Taksim Square, and stayed in the beautiful and warm Sultanahmet.

In that short stay I took about 1700 photos which you guys can check here http://websta.me/n/nabila99

Thank you all for your help in answering my questions. I miss Istanbul so much and already can't wait to go back. The people are amazing and there is something there for everyone. I truly felt at home.

Limoges, France
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52. Re: Trip Reports Collection - Please post here (Istanbul)

Just got back from a 6-day trip to Istanbul. Nothing but wonderful experience. I don't have a blog, so I am sorry I'd just have to write here :-)

Day 1

Arrived in Istanbul Ataturk airport at 1.30 AM, immigration check was quick, but a long wait for the luggages just to find out that our luggages were missing. We reported it to the ground staff and were told that the luggages would be sent to the hotel in 2-3 days. Swift transfer to our hotel in Kadikoy (on the Asian side) with a huge Mercedes car (pre-booked online for 45euro). We booked a budget-friendly hotel, Khalkedon Hotel (I wrote a separate review) which was excellent and beyond our expectations.

Slept well for a few hours, had breakfast on the hotel terrace and caught a glimpse of the European side.

We bought Istanbulkart on the port, and took the ferry to Eminönü . We walked around to see Galata bridge and the view of Galata tower. We discussed about it but decided not to go to Galata tower. Instead, we tried the fish sandwich (balık-ekmek), then onwards to Yeni Cami, and Spice Bazaar.

At first we planned to took the metro to Taksim and did some shopping but my husband was not so fond of walking around too much under the summer sun, so we took the metro to Forum Istanbul mall in Bayrampasa (Kocatepe metro stop) instead and cooled off in the mall. We did some clothes shopping because our clothes were in the missing luggage and enjoyed a Mado ice cream.

Took the metro back to Sirkeci station, connecting to Marmaray line and M4 to Kadikoy. Had late dinner in Çiya Sofrası at Kadikoy, near the hotel.

Day 2

Another metro ride from Kadikoy to Sultanahmet. This time it's for Hagga Sophia, Blue Mosque and Arasta Bazaar. We arrived early (around 10 AM) in Sultanahmet and the queue to Hagga Sophia was not long. We walked around a bit to the backpacker area near the Blue Mosque and decided that we made a good choice of staying on the Asian side. Had a pricey lunch at Sultanahmet before taking the Marmaray metro back to Aylirik and spending the rest of the day cooling off in Nautilus mall (for more clothes shopping).

Back to Kadikoy was easy with M4 metro.

Day 3

Today is dedicated entirely for the Asian side. Took the tram around Moda (Asian side), and a quick stroll on the small antique street. Then, we took the dolmus to Üsküdar to check out the Maiden's Tower, the Mirihmah Sultan mosque, Şemsi Paşa mosque, Yeni Valide mosque, and Atik Valide mosque. Then we took the bus to Çamlıca Hill and enjoy a beautiful sunset view of the European side. Easy bus ride (no 14F) back to Kadikoy. We had another nice dinner near the hotel, must be a local spot because there were no foreigners except us. There's something charming about observing the local life on the Asian side. We had another traditional local ice cream, not Mado, but equally good!

Day 4

Finally, our luggages were sent to the hotel this morning!

We then took the dolmus to enjoy an easy morning stroll at Bağdat street (some shops were not open yet, but we still enjoyed it) then back to Kadikoy to catch the ferry to Kabatas, and went with the hop-on hop-off Bophorus ferry ride.

We enjoyed the view of Rumeli Hisari from the ferry, hop off at Küçüksu Pavilion, looked around, hop on again an hour later and hop off again at Beylerbeyi Palace. It was a small beautiful palace. We took bus no 15F back to Kadikoy.

We enjoyed another lively Kadikoy pier area and the view of Haydarpasa, and the European side (we can see Topkapi, Haggia Sophia and the Blue Mosque on a clear day). Had another ice cream and some yummy dessert at Baylan cafe.

Day 5

Today we moved to the European side, again taking the metro. Stayed in a budget hotel in Sultanahmet (just behind the Sultanahmet metro stop), basic but clean.

We walked to Camberlitas and a quick trip to Grand Bazaar (we didn't particularly enjoy the crowded market but it's an experience anyway), Süleymaniye mosque, and Rüstempaşa mosque. Had a sumptuous late lunch just behind Rüstempaşa. Cheap-o and big portion!

Took the ferry from Eminönü along the golden horn to Eyüp Sultan mosque and went back with bus no 99 and had dinner near Yeni mosque. Then we went to see whirling dervishes at Sirkeci station. Magical.

Day 6

Took T1 metro to Kabatas and walked to Dolmabahçe Palace, the queue was still short (at 10 AM). Took the T1 back to Gülhane, enjoy the tea on the park (very nice to cool off under the tall leafy trees) before making our way up to Topkapi. Had a wonderful walk around Topkapi (about 3 hours) and finished it off with one last pray time at the Blue Mosque.

Found a cheap place to eat near the hotel (surprise, surprise! Amidst the pricey touristic cafes!) just on the corner of Çatalçeşme and Bab-i-Ali.

Day 7

Got picked up at 2.45 AM by Istanbul Shuttle, and transported to Istanbul Ataturk for a mere 10euro (for two) to fly home.

Overall, we had a nice time in Istanbul. I personally want to thank every advisor and contributor on the Istanbul forum, for without their extensive knowledge and generousity in sharing their local insight, I won't be able to plan our trip and itinerary so easily.

Yes, we missed the opportunity to see Taksim and Galata tower, but it was by choice (which suited our needs and conditions). We have to say, that the Asian side deserves more exposure because it has its charm. We actually enjoy our stay on the Asian side more compared to our stay on the European side.

One thing that we forgot to take into account was the August heat. Where we live, summer is mild (never goes beyond 25 degree Celcius), so summer in Istanbul was quite hard for us. Luckily, cold water bottled is everywhere and some people even sold it for only 50 cents.

Another thing that puzzled us from day one to our last day is how Istanbulkart work. Sometimes it charged us the same amount, but sometimes it charged us differently (we used one card for two people), nevertheless it's easy peasy to recharge whenever we ran out of money. On our last day, we simply handed it over to a guy at a small shop and got a 6 lira refund.

We spent a total 1300euro for our trips (that's including the airfares, hotel, food, local transport and shopping). Good bargain, I think. We rarely spend more than 70 lira for meals/day (that's lunch AND dinner for two people), and the food is always a good portion and tasty.

Thank you Istanbul, and thank you, everybody.

Edited: 20 August 2014, 19:58
Toronto, Canada
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53. Re: Trip Reports Collection - Please post here (Istanbul)

We were in Istanbul from July 3 to 8, 2014. We had a wonderful trip and I was very thankful for all the posts that helped us with our research on the city. I especially wanted to thank all the “destination experts” for their knowledge, time and patience answering the “dumb” questions, even though it was asked for the 100th time.

Here are some of our highlights:

- Excellent stay at Hotel Erboy

- The transit system in Istanbul is efficient, clean, fast and cheap

- Food – there were not enough meal times for us to enjoy the food. I think we could have stayed another few days just to eat. There are a lot of good restaurant suggestions on the forums.

- Being in Istanbul in Ramadan was a bonus. One of our highlights was mixing with the locals around Galata Bridge as they broke their fast and people watching around the Blue Mosque – especially on Saturday night. Enjoyed the festive air of families and friends celebrating together.

- Glad we stayed in Sultanhamet so that access to the major tourist sites was close. However, getting around was never an issue because of the excellent transportation system.

- Enjoyed the spice market and tasting all the delicious snacks available around this area.

Being in Istanbul helped to give us a taste of Turkey. Looking forward to visiting other parts of Turkey in the future.

Canberra...
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54. Re: Trip Reports Collection - Please post here (Istanbul)

My niece and I are there as of this date.

We're travelling mid-range I guess.

A few ideas that have come up:

Taxis: these seem to be wonderful for those who like to alternate between driving at 100kph and being bogged down completely. The tram from Bagcilar-Kabatas (recommended in Turkey travel planner) is excellent for travel between SultanAhmet and Beyoglu. We spent an hour in a taxi the other night. The tram is much faster and only 4TL

Laundry in SultanAhmet:

Thought an update might be useful. The previously referred to Star Laundry at 18 Akbiyik Caddesi is no longer in business. There are signs (saying Express Laundry) on most of the street corners around the neighbourhood leading to a small laundry of the same name just down the hill from Akbiyik in Ishak Pasha Caddesi. Always nice to have current info.

Kilims

For what it's worth, I had a pleasing experience in buying a kilim at a shop called Galeri 44. They generally deal in antique kilims but are helpful, not pushy and happy to discuss regional patterns, the symbology and are prepared to negotiate They are at the end of the Arasta Bazaar downhill from the Blue Mosque at Kucukayasofya Caddesi. Omar is the principal and a genuinely pleasant chap.

Istanbulkart:

It was not easy to find anywhere that sold these for us at least. We finally got a whiff of a suggestion that Eminonu was worth trying. We eventually found them for sale in the small kiosks near the ferry terminals. We had to try a couple before we found one. I've heard the bus centre at Eminonu is also a place where you can put ur hands on them but we didn't mange to track that down.

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55. Re: Trip Reports Collection - Please post here (Istanbul)

Trip report here.

tripadvisor.com.sg/ShowTopic-g293974-i368-k7…

johannesburg,south...
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56. Re: Trip Reports Collection - Please post here (Istanbul)

DAY 1 (SATURDAY) 20 th Sept 2014

To get to our hotel from the airport we took the metro as far as Zeytinburnu and changed there to the tram which took us right into Sultanahmet. You need to buy jetons (token) for each ride and which are 4TL each (8TL per person for the full journey airport to hotel) . Closest tramp stop to Hotel Sultania is Gulhane. Fortunately our hotel was only 200m from the tram stop.

On both metro and tram there are line maps above all the doors and there are voice announcements in English as each stop approaches so you'll know when to disembark.

Istanbulkart is a travel card and costs 7TL deposit and then you load it with as much money as you need to .It can be used on all public transport-metro,trams,ferries,buses,funiculars etc.Great thing to use. Buy it! We spent 2 days buying jetons at machines and it was far more convenient when we purchased an Istanbulkart. Only one was required; we just swiped it twice for each ride.

(All metro and trams run from 06.00 until midnight and are safe to use if you are arriving late in the evening)

We checked into our hotel and then started with a day of adventuring! Would highly recommend the Museum Pass as well as reading about the Ottoman Empire and the history of Istanbul on Wikepedia.

09:00-10:00 - Hagia Sofya ( included in our museumpass 85tl/72hrs which we bought from our hotel concierge)+ extra 20 tl for audio gude.

(Time required: 60 minutes, Tue - Sun:9:30am - 4:30pm , Mondays:Closed , Admission:General: 20 TL , Public transport:Tram Line T1: Sultanahmet stop)

We walked here as it was just a 10 minute stroll through quaint streets from our hotel. The audio guide allowed us to fully appreciate this experience.

Left the H.Sofya to sit and rest for a while at Sultanahmet Park and Fountain, enjoying view of Blue Mosque and H.Sofya and Ayasofya Hammam. Lovely ambience and people watching.

10:30-11:00 Basilica Cistern 20tl cool, atmospheric and impressive but much busier than I had expected. 20-30 mins.

11:00-12:00 BRUNCH

Ate at a lovely place on an enchanting narrow alley with a blue mosque view :SAMAZEN; Chicken and cheese Doners, Pomegranate Juice, Ayran. We ate here twice because the food was very good!

12:00 Blue Mosque

Impressive and unique mosque with six minarets. Very interesting posters in courtyard explaining the Islamic belief system. When we first visited it was incredibly crowded, so we returned to pray here on another evening at around 8pm and it was blissfully peaceful in the night; also extraordinary to see it lit up at night.

Stumbled upon the enchanting Caferaga Madressa (with Mimar Sinan bust and pretty courtyard of art studios and a cafe), then Sogukcesme Sokak street when heading back to hotel; a winding cobbled hill with lovely cafes. Also explored a few different streets around hotel. Enchanting.

Took Tram Line T1 from Sultanahmet stop to Kabatas ; then funicular to Taksim Square(30min)

Took a walk down Istiklal Avenue; Trendy,busy,cosmopolitan pedestrian shopping street, walked into the covered avenues including one of the most famous of İstiklal’s arcades, the Çiçek Pasajı, or the Flower Passage. Then a late midnight meal at Shake Shack!

DAY 2 Sunday 21 sept

Delicious hotel breakfast especially Turkish cheeses, fresh butter, cakes and cherry juice.

11:00-13:45Topkapi Palace(Museum, 20 TL+15TL for Harem; we used our Museum Pass which included both parts, Summer: Wed - Mon: 9am - 7pm , Tuesdays: Closed, audio guide 30TL)

We visited the Harem first because it closes earlier than the rest of the palace and has a restricted amount of visitors daily. A lovely experience.

The most important and beloved space in the Topkapi Sarayi ,to us as Muslims, was Pavilion of the Holy Mantle of the Prophet SAW and Holy Relics; the hair from the Prophet’s beard; the reliquary in which was kept the Prophet’s tooth( broken during the Battle of Uhud on 19 March 625) and the footprint, a letter, bow and sword of the Prophet. There are also holy relics attributed to other prophets and to the companions of the Prophet Muhammad: the saucepan used by Abraham, the staff of Moses, the sword of David, the turban of Joseph; the swords of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions Umar, Ali, AbuBakr, Uthmaan and Khalid; and my personal favourite the mantle and of Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah.

We also enjoyed the terraces in the most inner part of the palace where you can view the Golden Horn and the Bosphorous Strait. Ate pistachio ice cream at Konyalti; the views!

Returned to Hotel for a few minutes; they have a table of biscuits and cakes, mint-lemon-apple infused water, chestnuts and apples to snack on through the day. More fig and pistachio turkish delight in the room again too!

15:00-17:30 Ortakoy(To get here from Gulhane Station we used T1 to Kabatas; then green bus 22re/30. Disembarked at Kabatas Lisesi to walk around) including the charming waterfront area , Sunday market, Ortakoy Camii and walked through the streets and along waterfront. Tried Kumpir (not my peronal favourite) and a waffle (yummy). Noticed the Bosphorus Cruise boats departing here were only 12 Lira and looked very luxurious.

Yeni Camii and then Suleimaniye Camii for Maghrib Salaat. Wow; best Musjid yet. Taxi back to Sirkeci (10Tl) , with a ride past the Aqueduct of Valens.

20:00 Philly steak for supper at a new Texan place on the main street near Sirkeci Tram and then Hafiz Mustafa for free Lokum samples. Then a peaceful stroll through the streets of the old city. Heartbreaking to meet so many child Syrian refugees all through the day.

DAY 3 Monday 22 sept

10:00-11:00 Grand Bazaar (closed Sundays) enjoyable ; 2 hours.

11:45-12:35 Spice Bazaar(closed Sundays) also for 2 hours .Authentic and free Turkish tea with the shopkeepers! Great atmosphere. Sampled lots of Lokum... and a walk to Rüstem Pasha Mosque.The Rustem Pasha Mosque is very near the Spice Bazaar. If you are facing the entrance of the Spice Bazaar with the Yeni Cami at your left, you should turn right. I always locate it by looking up for the single minaret. It is a bit difficult to find, but every Turkish person in the area knows where it is, and most of them are happy to provide specific directions if you get lost.

12:45-13:15 Zuhr Prayer at the small and peaceful Rüstem Pasha Mosque; magical and cozy mosque . Richly colored İznik tiles.

Afternoon: BOSPHORUS CRUISE with friends. Walked down streets behind Blue Mosque to

a makeshift Jetty. Evening/ Sunset Cruise.

20:00 Hatay Restaurant; a very average meal with great company! Lovely Turkish Coffee. Strolled to Blue Mosque to view it lit up at night.

DAY 4 Tuesday 23 sept

Dolmabahçe Palace (Museum, 30 TL)

(Tue, Wed, Fri - Sun: 9am - 4pm Mon, Thurs: Closed ) Very ornate and ostentatious palace!

Tour group size was a bit large.

Took a refreshing walk up the art deco staircase and charming cobbled street to Galata Tower; lovely views of Istanbul!!Was not too excited to do this but it turned out to be wonderful.

DAY 5 Wednesday 24 sept

We were ill today so unfortunately we couldn't make it to the Asian side as planned.

Istanbul Museum of The History of Science & Technology in Islam in Gulhane Park. 10 TL. Fascinating museum. 1 and a half hours. Lovely walk through Gulhane Park before and after.

Panorama 1453 :

(Open every day 08.00-18: 00 hours is open to visitors, Topkapi tram stop) Excellent depiction of Ottoman Conquest of Constantinople! A highlight of my holiday! 2 hours.

Foreign visitor entry fee: tl 10 +5tl audio guide.

Best meal of our holiday at Kayikci Restaurant in Sultanahmet.

Day 6: Thursday 25 sept-29 sept

Flight to Antalya

3 days in Antalya:

1. Old town (Kaleici); my favourite place in Antalya; just get lost here and explore the beautiful streets, Mosques, Old town Bazaar, Hadrian's Gate. Lovely Mosques: Yivli Minaret Mosque (my favourite Mosque in Anatalya) and Tekeli Mehmet Pasa Camii @ top entrance of old bazaar. Lovely ambience in this area.

2.Marina: Chartered a boat at Kaleici Marina Area for sea swimming and to see Duden Waterfalls. Rate to negotiate to is 50% off that which is quoted. Another highlight of Turkey!

3. Lara Beach and Mermeli Beach: warm Mediterranean water; gorgeous...

4. Karakas Camii

Istanbul
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57. Re: Trip Reports Collection - Please post here (Istanbul)

Here is an excellent trip report by Alison on Turkey (including Istanbul)

"tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g293969-i367-k7893…".

enigma...

Alberta, Canada
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58. Re: Trip Reports Collection - Please post here (Istanbul)

Attempting to move my TR Part 1- Into & Cappodocia and Part 2 -Selcuk , Pamukkale & Aphroodisias to this forum.

tripadvisor.ca/ShowTopic-g293969-i367-k79285…

Part 3 Istanbul

We arrived in Istanbul Nov 30 in pouring rain. We had taken the Havatas bus from the airport to Point Hotel., close to Taksim. We had planned to walk to our apt in Cihangir but because of the rain, decided to take a taxi. We could tell the taxi driver was going to jerk us as he kept covering the meter with his hand on the stick shift. Sure enough he wanted 40TL for the 600m we had googled the walk at. Our problem was we only had a 50TL bill. I refused to pay, he agreed to give us back 20TL. Then he tried the change the 50TL bill for a 5TL bill. He didn't go through with this fiasco as we knew we only had a fifty. We were upset and in hindsight I should have found the nearest store and got change.

We tried to explore Istiklal Cd, Cicek Pasaji and the Fish Market but the rain and wind were making it too impossible. We headed for cover. I had read the book 'Museum of Innocence' and the museum was close to our apt; this was the perfect time and enjoyed this.

Next day, we took the tram from Tophane to Sulthahmet and visited Topkapi Palace and Aya Sophia, having a muse pass sped our way into Aya Sophia. Both wonderful sites and Turkish treasures and both very busy. We sat in the square with the Mosques, the Hippodrome and the fountains just to watch the people.

The next day we took Bus #28 from Kabatas to Kariye Musei with its impressive mosaics. Our muse pass worked here so was happy as there are only 2 areas to see the Christian mosaics and one area with dry painting. We walked along the Theodosius Wall, through the Balat and Fenner neighborhoods to Fatih. I was a little skeptical of how this walk would work but it was easy. A wonderful day; the men and children, the shops- pastries, candy, little hole-in-the-wall shops of all kinds, the colorful streets with vines hanging across, the clothes lines made for loads of photo ops. The men and children even posed for the camera. We walked all the way to the Aqueduct and Suieyman Mosque and then across the Galata bridge, through Karakoy to Cihangir. A long day, a long walk , we had no idea was possible. Tired, but happy about our colorful day.

Our 3rd day in Istanbul, we tried to see Blue Mosque but line was so long, we opted not and went to the Arasta Bazaar. We did go to the Basilica Cistern and it was OK, not a must see in my opinion. Our aim for the last day of the 3 day muze card was to see the Archeology Musuem. We loved this museum and since we had seen so many ancient Roman/ Greek ruins, this was a grand finale ; the sarcophagi, friezes, columns and statues to see in one museum. Wow! The one section, the Iron and Bronze Age and the tile sections were hohum, but these 2 sections were the real cadilac.

Our 4th day, a Monday morning, the line to Blue Mosque was short so we did get to see it. We walked to Grande Bazaar. We had tea and watched people again. I heard so many negative reviews but we liked it even if we only bought one souvenir. We walked to Eminou, found the Halic Hati ferry to Eyup, ferried to Eyup and funicular up to Pier Loti. Nice afternoon, good scenery and away from the crowds.

Our last day we took the ferry from Karakoy to Kadikoy, the Asian side. We walked around the market area to see the colorful displays of fruits, vegetables, fish,spices, dried fruits, candy. It was an eye full and an ear full as the fish vendors called out . We returned back to Beyoglu to shop on Istiklal.; the only shopping time we really had . The shops near the Galata Tower were more original. Our objective to finish off all the Turkish lira we had left.

Early last morning, we took a taxi to Point Hotel (this time 8TL) , Havatas bus back to Airport and after 25 hours, we were home. I realize how much we seen in 2 weeks; a culture that I only imagined before; one so colorful in many senses. The people were friendly and sincere, well, except for the taxi driver. I can't compare staying in Sultanahmet but we enjoyed staying in the Cihangir neighborhood. The storekeepers and cafe owners recognized us after a few days became friends, The man in the wine shop teased us about how much wine we had bought in 5 days. We did need to relax after such full days of site seeing.

I hope I gave some useful information that helps you plan your trip. I use TA so much in trip planning and haven't been disappointed yet. Thanks for reading!

Edited: 10 November 2014, 21:58
Maribor, Slovenia
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59. Re: Trip Reports Collection - Please post here (Istanbul)

Hello! Here is something about Istanbul i found on a great page. Some beutiful pictures and helpfull trevelogues.

ilovejourneys.com/things-to-do-in-istanbul/

Magical journey to all of u! =)

Owen Sound Ontario...
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60. Re: Trip Reports Collection - Please post here (Istanbul)

Great Idea. We just completed two weeks in Istanbul Turkey, one week then a week in Poland, then back to Istanbul. Initially I want to tell you, BEWARE OF FRAUDSTERS RENTING APARTMENTS. Loved the city even though we were defrauded on our accommodation. We booked a 1bedroom apartment through homeaway.co.uk, right on the Sultanahmet, supposedly on the second floor, ended up it was a studio on the 5th floor WALK UP. Paid and ended up staying after landlord made some things right. On our return trip we found we were put in a different apartment, same building, as the owner had rented the first one - this after we had paid half of the weeks rent in advance a month earlier. The second apartment was dispicable, dirty, foul smelling from sewage etc. They sent someone in to clean 10pm at night and again the next morning which made it tolerable - by the way, it was NOT the second floor neither, but the 4th. Regardless of the accommodation, we loved Istanbul. DO NOT forget to take a cruise on the Bosphorus ideally at night. If you are shopping, do it on the side streets away from the Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar - they are more negotiable. Leather, definitely get a custom made jacket and dont forget the carpets. Negotiate negotiate negotiate, the usual discount on carpets is 70% of asking, leather jackets 50%, everything else 50 to 70% off.

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