Oh, the smiling faces

And the prize goes to the Statement of the Year: “Now it’s clear to me why we (our nation) got those grimed faces!” Hahahahahahaha! By this I don’t mean to offend anybody, it’s purely an auto goal! Yes, we’re (once you get to know us better, hahahah) known as never satisfied, grimedfaced and grumpy nation. Even our tour guide in Chile mentioned his father-in-law is like that, hahahah. No, his grumpy spirit hasn’t left him although he’s living in Chile.

So, Istanbul is huge and chaotic, you like it or you don’t, there’s no in between. It consists of an European and Asian part. European part consists of an old and new part. Separated only by one pedestrian bridge (and three traffic bridges), they’re far cry from each other.

Yes, everything seen on “96h: Istanbul” is true. Except shooting, of course. New part of the city is something like Berlin or Madrid, with wide avenues and tall, glass buildings.

Needless to say, Hagia Sofia is the main attraction (currently under construction). Entrance fee is 40TL, with a really long que! Visiting hours between 9-5 p.m. (winter hours)and 9-7 p.m. (summer hours).

Personally, I liked Sultan Ahmet Mosque (The Blue Mosque) more.

Right by the Hagia Sofia and Sultan Ahmet Mosque are Sultanahmet Archeological Park and Topkapi Palace (entrance fee 40TL). The same price is for Dolmabahçe Palace. Everything seems to be 40TL 😉 .

Have to say I wasn’t that impressed with it, because I’ve seen a lot of the same architecture in my home country, so it’s nothing new to me. Just one of those “Qeen Maria Theresa buildings”. The park in front of the Palace, on the other hand, is beautiful! Peaceful and full of peacocks and other birds. Please resist from feeding them- they’ll get fat!

Sultan Ahmet Mosque

Dolmabahçe Palace

 

The best way to get around, for a an average tourist, at least, is just to follow the tram tracks. Just to avoid getting lost (at least to minimize it;) ) A good landmark, pretending to be a lighthouse 😉 for you , can be Sultan Ahmet Mosque’s minarets.

Mint tea is a must! Common, it’s part of basic culture, like you know The Earth is round! Eat tavouk shish and drink ayran. Tavouk shish is marinaded chicken, served on skewer. Ayran is a refreshing dairy drink, something between yoghurt and kefir. Very refreshing!

So, the tram tracks…the tram tracks lead to great bazaar. For the first timers I’d recommend just to go straight, walk through it and don’t turn left or right anywhere 😉 in the bazaar . It has two parts – inside bazaar and outside bazaar. Most of shops on the inside sell jewelry, sweets and dishes, and outside ones sell clothes and shoes. Boy, oh boy, did I buy a perfect (imitation) of Asics Ounitzuka Tiger for 10€! Just like the originals! 😉 This was the first time I was in Istanbul.

One of the funny comments from salesmen was:” I will help you spend your money!”

Topkapi Palace is very interesting and you with lots of things to see and wonder around, but after you’ve spend an hour waiting in a que to enter, enthusiasm kind of lowers down… after that exhausting experience 😉 it’s cool to sit on some of numerous benches at Gülhane Park.

The Great Bzaar

Topkapi Palace

 

Now, let’s talk some fishing;) Galata Bridge is the pedestrian bridge, connecting old and new part of Istanbul. It has to levels. There are restaurants and bars on lower level, and on the upper level are fishermen – not sure if they supply the restaurants on lower level with fish;) .

Also, there are shoe cleaners on upper level.

Do not fall for this trick – the shoe cleaner will walk and in front of you, then drop his brush, waiting for you (or someone) to tell him he’d dropped it. Then he’ll say he’ll clean your shoes for free – like an expression of gratitude. Only he won’t clean it for free 😉 Turks are old salesmen and they’re excellent in it 🙂

One of the most famous attractions on the new part of the city is the Taksim Square. You can reach it on foot or by metro, just a few meters away from the Galata tower.

Istikal is a shopping heaven for women all those who feel the same. It’s one shop, leaning to another, bars and cafes. What else could one want!? 😉 The most famous candy shop is Koska. Smaller streets are a real treat at night, filled with restaurants lighted with coloured bulbs. It’s fabulous. Of course, music is playing as well. (There IS a tram on Istikal, but it’s barely going through because of numerous people) The only problem with those restaurants is being a woman, it’s hard to choose in which to go…

To get to Asian part of Istanbul you can take some of guided tours, or if you want to save money, take the local (nontouristic) ship at the Eminoiu dock (by Galata Bridge).

Asian part is a story of its own…residential part of the city with villas and big houses. To get back to the European part, take the bus on Bosphor bridge. (Don’t forget to observe it during the night the  – it changes colours.)

And one last thing – despite their non-smilig faces, Turks are indeed one of the most dear and hospitable people 🙂

 

Istanbul airplane and accommodation prices

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