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Overwhelmed in Istanbul

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San Francisco...
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Overwhelmed in Istanbul

Hi all,

I arrived in Istanbul late Sunday night and I am just feeling overwhelmed by what to do and how to navigate the city. I'm a world traveler and a former expat who lived in Manila, so I'm used to hustling cities, but I think that what is making it a bit difficult this time around is I'm staying in a flat I rented through airbnb instead of a hotel. There's a lot said for that "safety" of having a hotel staff to guide you, help you out with a taxi, etc.

Anyway, I'd love some tips on some easy things to see/do (I did sign up for a walking tour this afternoon in old town). I'd like to try the Bosphorous cruise tomorrow but that is even seeming a bit daunting (finding the ferry stop, and so forth).

I'm staying near the Opera hotel near the Kabatas ferry stop.

Also, perhaps if anyone else is in town visiting, we could meet up for a drink or a coffee?

Istanbul
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1. Re: Overwhelmed in Istanbul

GMG19, here are a few tips for the Bosphorus cruise. Just walk down to Kabatas ferry stop and you will see the Dentur Avrasya ferries (close to Dolmabahce Mosque) departing pier over there. There is a 1 hour 15 minutes Bosphorus Cruise by Dentur Avrasya every day at 10.30 AM for 12.5 TL/person. You can take this short cruise. OR if you wish you can take the full cruise at 11.15 AM for 5.5 hours witha 3 hour break at Anadolu Kavagi. You can climb up (or take a taxi) to Yoros castle this way. This costs 15 TL R/T. "www.denturavrasya.com/tarifeDetay.asp?ID=22".

If you want to be more flexible with departure times, then take the tram from Kabatas to Eminonu, and on the Golden Horn side of the the Galata Bridge (where ornamented boats for fish sandwich sellers are) at Eminonu, you will see the Turyol company ferry pier. The Turyol Bosphorus cruise ferries depart from there, every hour on the hour between 10.00 AM till 7.00 PM. This tour costs 12 TL. See if you can get an audio guide at the pier.

good luck,

enigma...

Melbourne, Australia
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2. Re: Overwhelmed in Istanbul

Istanbul has a knack of doing just that. Take your time and be easy about your whole time there.

The locals are a friendly bunch and don't be afraid to ask questions. People will go out of their way to assist with your queries.

You probably won't see more taxis in any other city. Just lift your arm and one will stop to take you. Make sure they turn their meter on once in.

You wouldn't have felt as overwhelmed if you had a rough idea of some places you wanted to visit, see or do.

I'm not due there yet for a little shy of a month.

Check out the newly refurbished naval museum in Besiktas or archeology museum besides Toppaki which is housing the recently excavated boats from the Yenikapi Marmaray (underground rail tunnel linking Europe to Asia recently opened on 29/10) station.

Mount Dora, Florida
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3. Re: Overwhelmed in Istanbul

I understand what you are feeling. I made the mistake of renting an apartment in Rome on our first visit to the city, and quickly discovered all the advantages of having a hotel staff. You need a map of some sort so that you can orient yourself around the city. The public transportation system is easy to use once you understand where it goes and how the various forms link with one another.

I would try to get some little transportation map and then hop on the tram and go to Sultanahmet. See Topkapi, the Harem, the Cisterns, Aya Sofya and walk through the Arasta Bazaar. On another day catch the tram to the Grand Bazaar and wander among the 4000 shops there. Walk out the back of the bazaar and down the interesting little side streets (where you find the real bargains) until you reach the Spice Bazaar.

Hop on the ferry and go to Kadikoy. Use Enigma's excellent thread on things to do in Kadikoy. Even if you only have a meal at Ciya and walk through the fresh food market it will be an enjoyable experience, and you will visit both Europe and Asia.

There are dozens of small adventures like these that you can easily manage from where you are living.

Deep breath, look at a map and get out and around. After your first successful excursion your confidence will be restored and you will be off and running.

San Francisco...
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4. Re: Overwhelmed in Istanbul

Thank you SO MUCH everyone for your kind words and encouragement!

Right after I posted this, I made the decision to join a walking tour that was suggested on the TurkeyPlanner.com, there were four people on the walk, and 2 of them were from San Francisco!

One of them actually knew someone I worked with, and so we became fast friends. She then invited me to hang out with her friends that were here visiting from DC (a group of 6 30-somethings, same age as me). We ended up going to a few nice cafes, had an amazing 5 course fish dinner, and then went dancing at this club that was so crowded you couldn't move. It was wonderful, and I made a few great connections in the group.

They've invited me to go on a Bosphorous tour with tomorrow and Thanksgiving dinner with the Turkish friend they are staying with. It's perfect!

So glad I made myself get out today. I feel much less intimated by it all now that I know there are people here who can help me out :)

It ended up being a wonderful day!

Cheers,

Gina

Melbourne, Australia
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5. Re: Overwhelmed in Istanbul

Good to hear all ended well for you.

I had a similar experience when I stayed in London for 2 months at my brothers house as a teen in the late 90s.

I found the tube network complicated after using the very basic Melbourne public transport system all my life. Once I started using the tube there was no stopping me though.

australia
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6. Re: Overwhelmed in Istanbul

We too even on our fourth visit to Istanbul have moments of feeling overwhelmed. The other day we just jumped on the ferry to Kadikoy, sat at the cafe on the dock drinking tea and watching the world. go by, and then caught a ferry back. Much calmer.

Another place I love for regaining equilibrium is the tea cafe in Gulhane Park behind the Topkapi Palace. If the weather is ok it has a wonderful view of where the three water ways of Istanbul meet and of the Bosphorous bridge. Very peaceful and you get a great perspective of the city.

7. Re: Overwhelmed in Istanbul

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