Amazing Istanbul, 2013

There really isn’t anything new that I can say about the amazing city of Istanbul that has not already been said for probably the last 100 years or more.  It’s such a wonderful city with a rich history, spanning literally thousands of years, that I could never do it justice in a 2 paragraph blog post.  What I can say is if you have never been to Istanbul, I highly recommend you visit this incredible city!  There really is something for everyone to enjoy in Istanbul, hundreds of historic sites, mosques and churches, shopping and great restaurants seem to be on just about every block! You can probably see most of the major attractions in 4 or 5 days, but you will need to plan carefully.  Istanbul is the largest city in Europe, with over 20 million people.  It’s busy day and night and traffic can be challenging, even for an experienced taxis driver!  I recommend you take a tour, perhaps on a sightseeing bus, the first day in Istanbul in order to get your bearings and then after that, get your map, tour book and just wing it.  The city really is quite safe and the locals are more than happy to help even if they don’t speak your language.  Most of the major attractions are located between the Old City and Taksim Square.  You can easily walk between the two areas in about 30 mins.  You will want to use the Galata bridge to get between the two areas.  The bridge is very foot traffic friendly and a great way to see the dozens of mosques that dot the hillsides in all directions.  The best thing about crossing the Galata Bridge on foot is that you can take a break and sample a grilled fish sandwich on either the west or east sides of the bridge.  They are only 6 Turkish Lira, about 3 USD, and really delicious!  As you cross the bridge you will rub elbows with hundreds of fishermen casting their lines off the bridge, quite a site to see indeed.  As I have mentioned before, I love to wander.  That’s not to say I don’t have a general objective in mind when sightseeing, just that I often wonder off track to see something interesting along the way.  There are hundreds of shops selling everything under the sun from spices, fresh fruit, gold jewelry, silk scarves to leather goods and ceramics…just about anywhere in the city!  You will want to have small bills of Turkish Lira in hand when you go shopping and don’t be affraid to bargin!  I have read where some really seasoned Istanbul shoppers say start your bargaining at about 25% of what you are willing to pay for anything and go from there!  I have found that many shop keepers will ask you repeatedly to visit their shop, but if you are not interested, remain firm and just say ‘no thanks!’  You are not the first person to politely decline their offer to look at 100 turkish rugs!  

Some of the attractions that I think are must see during a 4 or 5 day visit to Istanbul are;
-Topkapi Palace
-Hagia Sofia Museum
-The Blue Mosque
-The Grand Bazar
-Taksim Square
-A Bosporus Boat tour
-The Suleymaniye Mosque
-A local Hammam
-Sample street vendor food like, an ear of corn, fresh squeezed pomegranate juice or a doner kebab!

Blue Mosque in Istanbul, 2013.
Boats of the Bosphorus, Istanbul 2013.
Fish Market Istanbul, 2013.
The fish sandwich grilling man, Istanbul 2013.
Galata Tower, Istanbul, 2013.
Light for sale, Istanbul, 2013.
Medusa Head, Basilica Cistern, Istanbul, 2013.
Street Band near Taksim Square, Istanbul, 2013.
Street Vendor, Istanbul, 2013.
Fruit Stand, Istanbul, 2013.
Street Vendor, Istanbul, 2013.

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I am an adventure-loving American man, with a severe case of wander-lust and a desire to experience as much of this wonderful world as humanly possible. Every place I have visited or lived has taught me something about life and helped me grow. For me, traveling opens my eyes to how similar the human race is, yet at the same time, how unique we all are. I hope this blog will motivate you to put down the TV remote, dust off your backpack and decide to take a chance on an adventure. It can be a walk in a new neighborhood 2 miles from home or a trip to a far off distant land. I have lived in or visited over 50 countries during my life and hope to see many more. I want to share my experiences. I hope you enjoy the blog. -WAND3R3R, Somewhere on the Globe, 2014.