November 1st, 2007 09:35 EST
ISTANBUL - City On Two Continents
Europe bound? Visit Istanbul, too. Take the airport bus to Taksim Square. Drag your luggage several hundred yards to Istiklal Caddesi, the main shopping street. Pass beyond the French Consulate. Next street is Bekar sokak. Turn to the right and go another hundred yards. You will see AS Hotel. It is cheap and clean. Say hello to the owner Cemal Bey for me.
Istiklal Caddesi will keep you busy for the rest of the day. Restaurants, shops, crowd of people. As you walk down, midway, is Cicek Pasaji, with lots of pubs and restaurants, a special place to visit. You can continue walking down all the way to TUNEL – the world’s shortest underground. You can take it and go down to the Galata Bridge, and come back to your hotel the same way.
You can take the street-car from TUNEL to TAKSIM SQUARE, if tired. In the evening, there are lots of pubs and cafes around the hotel. You can spend some time in them. This is enough for your first day.
The second day: Go to Taksim Square after breakfast. On the right, take a dolmush (shared taxi) to Besiktas. There are two landing stages for boats. Go to the one for Bogazici (Bosphorous) boats. Make sure you are there before 10 a.m. Take the tourist boat to Rumelikavagi. See Bosphorous. Have a nice fish lunch in Rumelikavagi.
Take the afternoon boat back to Besiktas. Dolmush back to Taksim Square. Look around. Go into a patisserie shop on the left. Eat something sweet. Kazandibi or some pudding or baklava. Walk to the hotel. In the evening, you can drop in a pub or a café or chat with people in the hotel. Istiklal caddesi has a very lively night life all night long. Do not go into a night club. You loose your shirt. The cafes and pubs are OK. There is music in some of them. Jazz or Turkish music. Talk to people. Many speak English.
The third day: Take a taxi to Topkapi Museum. This is the most practical and fastest way to go there. Visit Topkapi Museum. Get an idea how Turkish Sultans lived with their hundreds of wives. See many wonderful exhibitions-- Prophet Mohammed’s belongings, the spooner diamond. Clothes, ceramics, jewels, paintings, interior design, history of the Ottoman Imperium which was one of the biggest in the world, between 1300-1923. Have a nice lunch in its cafeteria overlooking the sea. Finish with a Turkish coffee. Everything is all right? Take a taxi back to your hotel and rest.
If you like, you can also add Haghia Sophia and The Blue Mosque to your trip or leave these two important places to the next day. If you do that, you can visit next day also Yerebatan Sarayi (The Cistern) and Kapali carsi (The covered Bazar) and Misir Carsisi (The spice bazaar). Wonderful places, only to be found in Istanbul.
So, you have seen already a lot in four days, but there is much more, enough to see for days and weeks. Don’t get discouraged! Istanbulians also haven’t seen all the parts of their City!
The fifth day: Try to see Buyuk Ada (The Princes Islands). Your hotel receptionist will help you find your way to the landing stage (Adalar Iskelesi) (best is by taxi) from where you can take a boat to Buyuk Ada.
The sixth day: Maybe you can visit Ortakoy. Nice crowd of young people, restaurants, sea, cafes. On the way, you can stop in Besiktas and have a drink at the café while watching the boats. There is a museum of old boats in Besiktas, and a modern art museum, too.
The seventh day: You must rest. But, if you still have energy, perhaps you can visit the Museum of War at Harbiye. If you walk, you can drop in Hilton Hotel on the way.
If you stay longer in Istanbul, you can visit Camlica on the Asian side, riding over the Bosphorous Bridge.
Have a nice stay in Istanbul! Come back again. It has a lot of festivals. And many more places to visit: Kilyos beach, Tarabya, Bebek, University, Dolmabahce Palace, churches, shopping centers, museums, and restaurants. And I hope also some friends, too.