Just got back from a wonderful trip. First of all a huge thank you to all of you on this forum.
Thank you to all the experts for your advice and suggestions. Without all this planning the trip would have been impossible.
Me and my family enjoyed Istanbul thoroughly and definitely want to visit this beautiful country again.
Let me preface by saying, we are a family of 4, 2 adults and 2 kids ages 6 and 3.
We could not accomplish all that we wanted to get done on this trip, but managed quite a few things.
The two kids were down with cold and congestion hence we took detours from our initial plan.
Without further ado, here it goes.
April 15th : our flight landed at 10:15 am. The whole process of passport control, baggage claim, customs and transfer to hotel took 2 hours.
We were in our room by 12:30pm.
We stayed at Rast Hotel in Sultanahmet, just off Divanyolu Caddesi.
The hotel's location worked out perfectly for us.
It is literally a few steps from the tram stop and the major attractions.
Freshened up, rested and then headed out.
The weather was perfect, crisp and clear.
Started out at the Hippodrome area, visited the Blue Mosque. Beautiful beautiful place, i am really falling short of words here to describe it. Sultanahmet park is a great area. You can just sit on the park benches and while away your time, take strolls from around all sides, sit in front of the fountains watching the water dance, get completely lost in the atmosphere.
Upon reaching Hagia Sophia found a long line for the tickets. Decided to get some Ottoman ice cream, delicious stuff, thick and creamy, enjoyed it to my hearts content.
The ticket line started to fade out, so went for it, bought the tickets and visited Hagia Sophia.
Feeling is so surreal when visiting historical places, I was in complete awe.
Came back to the fountain again, the kids enjoyed it immensely, didn't want to walk away from there.
Still had time so decided to go to Arasta Bazaar.
I will be posting shopping separately.
Dinner was at Rumeli Cafe. Had Imam Bayildi, awesome eggplant preparation, mezze platter, sebzeli couscous and pasta for the kids.
Retired for the night.
Had a lovely breakfast on the rooftop terrace and headed out.
Bought Istanbulkart for 7TL , took the tram to gulhane stop.
Headed for the Archaelogical museum. We couldn't spend a lot of time there, as my 3 year old started running out of patience.
Headed out to Gulhane park.
Beautiful lovely park with fountains, bridges, and oh yes!!!!, the tulips were in bloom, in all possible colors a sensory delight!!!
The kids had a blast in the park, spent quite some time and then headed out for lunch at Feugo Restaurant.
Went back to the hotel, took some rest and decided to go to the Grand Bazaar.
Spent only an hour and half, I was completely overwhelmed at the sheer size of it and the number of shops and types of goods it has.
The 3 year old started to giving signs, so got out, on the tram to Eminonu.
First we just wanted to spend time there but then decided to take a ferry to Kadikoy. Dinner was on mind at Ciya, but unfortunately dinner didn't happen there.
Got down at Kadikoy, stood by the pier, watching the sunset, stayed there for a while and again on the ferry.
The ferry ride back was magnificent, the sky had turned crimson, mosques lit up, the whole landscape was just mind blowing.
Wish we had more time to spend at Kadikoy.
The kids were pretty tired, so ordered room service and retired for the night.
April 17th : Initial plan was the one way Bosphrous Trip, but decided against it.
After breakfast headed to Eminonu by tram and walked to Spice Bazaar.
I was surprised at how much my 3 year old enjoyed this place and I actually accomplished a lot of shopping. Hurray!!!
Came out onto the back streets of the bazaar and headed for the Turyol Pier.
Took the 1.5 hour Bosphrous cruise, the kids had a blast on this one.
Lunch was at Mozaik Restaurant, went to the hotel took some rest.
Just got out to buy baklava and some souvenirs, then retired for the night.
April 18th time to fly home.
We couldn't accomplish everything that was decided, but still had a great time. We loved the city, the people, the atmosphere. The kids had a great time interacting with the locals on the tram, the ferry, they received warm treatment everywhere we went. We were blessed with with absolutely fabulous weather.
We already miss this beautiful place and can't wait to visit Istanbul and other places in Turkey.