Author Topic: Istanbul info?  (Read 737 times)

Istanbul info?
« on: January 01, 2020, 08:43:53 pm »
Off there next week for work and may take a couple of days hols to poke around. There appears to be a municipal bike hire scheme, which might work for said poking.

Anybody know anything useful?

Re: Istanbul info?
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2020, 05:40:27 am »
Istanbul is awesome. It's become quite touristy,though.

1: Hagia Sophia. One of the most impressive buildings on earth, especially considering when it was built!. This was pretty much undeveloped as a tourist site first time I was there some 20+ years ago and I almost had the place to myself!. It's a lot more more busy now, but still good.
2: Topkapi Palace. We couldn't get in last time, due to some official function, but I got a stack of nice pictures from my first trip there.
3: Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque).  It's a functioning mosque and as such a bit limited in access as the main hall is always in use.
4: Basilica Cisterns. This is really nice. Roman cistern
5: Galata Tower.  Kept missing this, so you should go :)
6: Princess Island. The ferry ride was nice and there's a nice little orthodox monastery on top of the hill.
7: Grand Bazaar. My wife bought a watch there. It was broken by the time we left and then took us 2 hours to haggle a refund. If you see anything you want to buy, you can most likely buy it cheaper elsewhere, but it's still impressive. Leather market actually looked good, but I was burned out by then. Expect louts of touts, but it's not as bad as say, Marrakesh.
Just walking around the Hippodrome is nice too. I would stay in the old town if you can, but public transit is decent otherwise.
I also always wanted to explore the original city walls.

Drivers seem quite mad, so I wouldn't cycle.

Street food is quite good. Favourite is the guys selling grilled mackerel sandwiches, which are really nice.


Re: Istanbul info?
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2020, 09:03:29 am »
When we were there, must be 20+ years ago, we took a ferry to the Asian side, then a bus north alongside the Bosphorus to the top end, found a good seafood restaurant, then a boat back down the Bosphorus.

andytheflyer

  • Andytheex-flyer.....
Re: Istanbul info?
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2020, 09:05:21 am »
What he^ said.

Been there loads of times for work and holidays.  You'll have plenty to see in the old part. Loads of good and cheap accomodation available - you need to stay in the old part.  Everything on Jakob's list is walking distance, but the metro is good to and from the airport too - but you need a (Oyster type) card and you can get them on the street or at the airport I think.  Have a walk over the Galata bridge over the Golden Horn up to Taksim Square (where they hold riots), past the Galata Tower too if you have time.  You can graze on the street food all day.  Try an ayran too - a slightly salty diluted yoghurt drink - sounds horrible but on a warm day or if you are thirsty there's nothing better.  Try the local pizza too - it's called Pide (peeday).  Bir pide ve ayran, lutfen (A pizza and aryan please!).  And tesheckular (phonetically) - is "thanks!")

Great place.  I worked for 3 years out near Gallipoli (but regularly in Ankara and Istanbul) and I found the Turks respectful, educated, generous and friendly.  Not the same in the tourist spots of course, but a lovely people, very respectful of their heritage.  I think that sometimes they get a bad press.

And the exchange rate is very much in our favour now.

Just don't mention the politics........

And forget about cycling in the city - even driving is an experience, and I've driven in some very dodgy countries, but Istanbul is something special.  Walk or take the metro!

Re: Istanbul info?
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2020, 09:46:20 am »
Istanbul is awesome. It's become quite touristy,though.

1: Hagia Sophia. One of the most impressive buildings on earth, especially considering when it was built!. This was pretty much undeveloped as a tourist site first time I was there some 20+ years ago and I almost had the place to myself!. It's a lot more more busy now, but still good.
2: Topkapi Palace. We couldn't get in last time, due to some official function, but I got a stack of nice pictures from my first trip there.
3: Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque).  It's a functioning mosque and as such a bit limited in access as the main hall is always in use.
4: Basilica Cisterns. This is really nice. Roman cistern
5: Galata Tower.  Kept missing this, so you should go :)
6: Princess Island. The ferry ride was nice and there's a nice little orthodox monastery on top of the hill.
7: Grand Bazaar. My wife bought a watch there. It was broken by the time we left and then took us 2 hours to haggle a refund. If you see anything you want to buy, you can most likely buy it cheaper elsewhere, but it's still impressive. Leather market actually looked good, but I was burned out by then. Expect louts of touts, but it's not as bad as say, Marrakesh.
Just walking around the Hippodrome is nice too. I would stay in the old town if you can, but public transit is decent otherwise.
I also always wanted to explore the original city walls.

Drivers seem quite mad, so I wouldn't cycle.

Street food is quite good. Favourite is the guys selling grilled mackerel sandwiches, which are really nice.


Thanks, that all sounds useful. I'm going to need to be around here,  so staying in the old city may not be practical :(

Istanbul looks spread over a vast area, so it's a shame about the cycling, but I think you may be right about discretion and the better part of valour.

Regulator

  • That's Councillor Regulator to you...
Re: Istanbul info?
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2020, 09:53:19 am »
Public transport in Istanbul- particularly the trams- is good and relatively cheap.  Can’t really add anything to Jakob’s list, other than suggesting you take a ferry through the Strait to Yoros Castle. 
Quote from: clarion
I completely agree with Reg.

Green Party Councillor

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Istanbul info?
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2020, 09:56:43 am »
Yeah, lovely place, packed full of history and culture that you can just wander into, but no I wouldn't cycle (or drive) there, the traffic is manic (while it's not the worse I've encountered, by a degree, but really you wouldn't want to be out there in anything less than a small tank).
!nataS pihsroW

Re: Istanbul info?
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2020, 10:11:49 am »
There's a cyclepath along the Marmaris which would take you from Sultanahmet to the Byzantine Walls. It was with a great sense of relief that I found this when riding into Istanbul from the west!

Re: Istanbul info?
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2020, 06:14:31 pm »
Well, that was interesting. The first three days (work days) were accompanied by a storm with 100kph+ winds and torrential rain, enjoyed the last two days, not sure how much more time I would spend in Istanbul. Roads were epic on the storm days, add to which Putin in my hotel one evening resulted in 2.5 hour drive for the 6km from the office.  Got to eat at the smiley chef restaurant, which was fun.

A couple of pics from there, IYCBA

Phun with bred
(click to show/hide)

Phun with Phood
(click to show/hide)

Re: Istanbul info?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2020, 09:22:52 pm »
I once went to Istanbul on business in July, and it rained heavily for 24 hours. I hadn't taken an umbrella, though I think I managed to buy one, and my leather shoes were ruined.

Another time in the mid 1980s I had an appointment with the head (actually I think he was the only member of the department) of communications equipment approval in the national telecomms company in Ankara on a Monday morning. The company travel agent booked me a ticket to Istanbul on the Sunday, and blithely said I wouldn't have any trouble travelling on to Ankara.

I arrived in Istanbul to find there was a national curfew in force while they compiled an electoral register for the first elections they had held for yonks. Taxis were running but no private traffic. I was resigned to staying the night in Istanbul, and so took a taxi from the airport to the city. I told the driver of my dilemma as we sped along, whereupon he turned round, waved both arms in the air, and said "I will take you to Ankara!".

We struck a deal, about £100 as I recall, he stopped another driver to ask him to tell his family, and we set off on a five hour drive through Anatolia to Ankara. We stopped for a meal, it got dark, and he had to ask his way to the hotel in Ankara. As an added bonus he took me to the more expensive branch of the Hilton than the one booked.

I made my appointment next morning  ;D

caerau

  • SR x 3 - PBP fail but 1090 km - hey - not too bad
Re: Istanbul info?
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2020, 12:11:43 pm »
Oops, missed this.  My wife and I spent two weeks on holiday there a few years back, it was incredible though hardly anyone could fathom why we would do two weeks there.  I could have spent more time there personally.  I love history and sight-seeing and after Rome, I can't imagine anywhere much more historic.


Only major things I saw missing from the above were to see the Theodosian Walls - stand at those and marvel at the gargantuan size of medieval Constantinople.  Re:  Compare that to the medieval square mile of London or ANY European city of comparable age.  Not even Rome is anywhere near.
Perhaps a boat cruise up and down the Bosphorus, that was excellent.
The Chora church (aka Kariye) - just near the Thedosian Walls - kind of in Random area but near the Blacharnae palace at the northern-ish end.


Also beyond the obvious Blue Mosque and other various Mosques, the 19th centrury Turkish Palaces - particularly the Dohlmabache Palace are worth of visitation.


Princes islands.... there is more than one.... so the original list up above is not clear at all on which one that was.  We picked a random one the day we went - I can't remember which one - it was walkable in a day (though we didn't do that) - but a donkey or cycle ride around it was possible.  It had a 13th century Byzantine church there that we couldn't visit as it was in the middle of an army base of some kind.


Anyway, hope you enjoyed and these additions are here for perhaps another... :-)
It's a reverse Elvis thing.

caerau

  • SR x 3 - PBP fail but 1090 km - hey - not too bad
Re: Istanbul info?
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2020, 12:16:57 pm »
I once went to Istanbul on business in July, and it rained heavily for 24 hours. I hadn't taken an umbrella, though I think I managed to buy one, and my leather shoes were ruined.

Another time in the mid 1980s I had an appointment with the head (actually I think he was the only member of the department) of communications equipment approval in the national telecomms company in Ankara on a Monday morning. The company travel agent booked me a ticket to Istanbul on the Sunday, and blithely said I wouldn't have any trouble travelling on to Ankara.

I arrived in Istanbul to find there was a national curfew in force while they compiled an electoral register for the first elections they had held for yonks. Taxis were running but no private traffic. I was resigned to staying the night in Istanbul, and so took a taxi from the airport to the city. I told the driver of my dilemma as we sped along, whereupon he turned round, waved both arms in the air, and said "I will take you to Ankara!".

We struck a deal, about £100 as I recall, he stopped another driver to ask him to tell his family, and we set off on a five hour drive through Anatolia to Ankara. We stopped for a meal, it got dark, and he had to ask his way to the hotel in Ankara. As an added bonus he took me to the more expensive branch of the Hilton than the one booked.

I made my appointment next morning  :-D


You did well  :-D   One of the primary pieces of advice we got when we went there was to *not* take any taxi that had not been booked by your hotel.  The primary MO of shysters was to drive you into the middle of nowhere then demand $$$$$$$$$$$$ to take you back to anywhere.  Better be able to speak Turkish to get out of that one...  Well done and glad to hear they're not all like that :)
It's a reverse Elvis thing.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Istanbul info?
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2020, 12:32:42 pm »
The taxi scam is the general MO of any place foreign. Somewhat obviated by the rise of taxi apps.

But it's not always bad. I had a guy in Nairobi who took me everywhere like a chauffeur and yet refused to accept anything like adequate compensation.

Then there was a time in Johannesburg where our driver decided to throw in a tour of Soweto at 11pm. We assumed we were going to die. Actually, we ended up getting a brilliant historical tour from someone who lives there, a free round of drinks, and then were taken home still alive and rather better informed about township life.
!nataS pihsroW

caerau

  • SR x 3 - PBP fail but 1090 km - hey - not too bad
Re: Istanbul info?
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2020, 02:30:01 pm »
Nice, a taxi driver did that for us in New York many many moons ago.  I can still remember thinking what a s**thole Queens can be - even though I was 10 and I didn't use the word s**thole back then.
S**tholes are prevalent in any city though I guess they had some more infrastructure and running water in Queens than some places.
It's a reverse Elvis thing.

caerau

  • SR x 3 - PBP fail but 1090 km - hey - not too bad
Re: Istanbul info?
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2020, 02:35:46 pm »
Some of the outer areas of Istanbul  - well outer-version of the medieval city at least - around Kariye for example were fairly eye-opening as I recall.  A bit like looking at an exploded-design such as an architect or draughtsman would draw - except real.  Proper tumble-down places where you could imagine a carelessly discarded fag-butt or something could kill half the city - plenty of exposed wood and little privacy for the tenants - if anyone dared live there (and I'm sure they dared - there were many vagrants living inside the old Walls themselves).  Istanbul might no longer be the biggest city in Christendom but it certainly is still a megalopolis - still not enough money to apparently make it worthy of reparation in its less historic areas. :(
It's a reverse Elvis thing.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Istanbul info?
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2020, 03:31:56 pm »
Nice, a taxi driver did that for us in New York many many moons ago.  I can still remember thinking what a s**thole Queens can be - even though I was 10 and I didn't use the word s**thole back then.
S**tholes are prevalent in any city though I guess they had some more infrastructure and running water in Queens than some places.

Queens actually lacks any real bad neighbourhoods (always has been quite suburban).

New York City as a whole is far nicer now than when I first started hanging out there, there was enough of Manhattan (Lower East Side, Harlem, East Harlem, Washington Heights etc.) that was no-go before you crossed into the wider boroughs. You basically avoided the Bronx other than for a Yankees game, you figured not even the natives couldn't eat 40,000 visitors. Generally didn't stop them trying.

You probably ended up in Brooklyn, there are a still a few neighbourhoods best (and easily) avoided, such as Brownsville and East New York (but even parts of now gentrifying Bed-Stuy still pack a little frisson after dark).

Of course, we don't really replicate that US quilt of demarcated neighbourhoods in the UK, where - in the space of a block or across a road - everything changes.
!nataS pihsroW

caerau

  • SR x 3 - PBP fail but 1090 km - hey - not too bad
Re: Istanbul info?
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2020, 04:35:26 pm »
Well it was 1980 so it's been a while-  now you mention it, we did cross the Brooklyn Bridge to get there so you're probably right.
It's a reverse Elvis thing.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Istanbul info?
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2020, 05:18:30 pm »
The boundary between Brooklyn and Queens is in no way clear. I've only seen signs on the expressways –Brooklyn 'How sweet it is' (it's generally not advised to lick it to find out), there are others. JFK is in Queens despite everyone thinking it's in a Brooklyn.
!nataS pihsroW