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Jeffrey willson

Los Angeles, California

A month in Istanbul

Hi all, we are wanting to try something new to us.  We are going to travel to one location and really try to experience the place, meet people, live a mini-life for a month. 

We are thinking Istanbul would be a great place to experience.  It will be my wife and my 6 year old traveling.  We are going around March or April of 2018.

I was hoping to get information on a few things:

 

  • What neighborhood to stay?
  • How do get around?
  • Day or weekend trips close to the area?
  • Local traditions/customs?

 

Anyone have any thoughts on Istanbul?  Has anyone done a month in one place; would you mind sharing your thoughts about your experience?

Cant wait to hear others thoughts!

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  • Charmaine Scott

    answered by

    Oh! what a great family trip! Sedef's suggestions for neighborhoods are SUPER--I especially like Cihangir for the centrality of it--near the oldest parts of town and is itself a shopping and hopping place. Levent and Etiler along Levent Caddesi are a little less hipsterish because of more families than singles. Don't drive--you'll spend way to much time finding parking. Use the subway/metro train and taxis. Visit: The big attractions for sure: Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, Dolmabahçe Sarayı. Also as a contrast to the Grand Bazaar, go to area of Ortakoy on Ortaköy Mahallesi for a smaller and more intimate look at souvenir shopping and lunch by the Bosporus. Pigeons, there, love to be chased by kids who are loosely holding sandwiches in their hands. The Uskudar Ferry Port on the Asian side of Istanbul also has lots of areas that were small towns and still have that feeling of intimacy. The small attractions: go to farmers/weekly/street market in any neighborhood & buy fruit, cheese, olives, meals as well as underwear, glassware, toys...alternately go to a shiny grocery store and Marvel at the similarities and differences with your hometown store. how many kinds of melon are there? Go to every bakery and eat your way through all the types of breads and treats. Look for cafes and restaurants specializing in a certain dish or in cuisine from different parts of Turkey (south has some HOT spices). Turkish cooking elevates every vegetable to a worthy centerpiece of a meal. Complex layers of flavor are added through multiple steps and through herbs, spices, and the freshest ingredients possible (the best tomatoes in the WORLD). Same for ice cream & fruit drinks. Have groceries or meals delivered when staying "home" or pick up hot meals from restaurants that offer take-away. I think you believe this too, Jeffrey, getting to a day's destination is always part of the adventure in a new land so savor the transportation mis-haps & pad your time schedule for these. Not only is it a different customs & language, it's a huge CITY. With a 6-year old (or with a pregnant woman!), you have to make some plans to find bathrooms because they are not always available, such as at the historic sites. Tip 1: Keep your eye out for street side public restrooms, and for hotel lobbies, restaurants, malls. Even little cafes & shops have access to a bathroom; & with a child, you have a sure ticket to win a businessman's sympathy & get pointed to nearby toilet that he & his staff use. Warn the child that it may be up a twisted stairs, it may be a bowl with no seat, an old Turkish style toilet (squat), or modern and charming. Bring tissues and coins for pay toilets or toilet attendants. If stuck, ask the taxi driver. If he takes you to his cousin's hardware store to use the facilities, then high five to you for making a new friend! Tip 2: Make friends with your neighbors and ask this question suitable for any age or economic strata--where is the best bakery with the best old-fashioned bread? Most Turkish families have members who lament the commercial bakeries that have homogenized the flavors of bread--even the wheat is now personality-less according to some connoisseurs. They are on the search for that little surviving mom & pop bakery or for a new artisan bakery that produces the authentic flavor of REAL Turkish bread. I hope my list of suggestions gives you some flavor of the culture and customs. What an awesome adventure you will have!

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    • Dave S.

      Dave S.

      We've been ripped off repeatedly by taxi drivers in Istanbul taking us on a grand tour rather than a direct route just to run up the fare. Traffic congestion can also be a frequent problem in Istanbul. Uber might be a better alternative because they determine the fare and you pay in advance with credit card. Before you go, download a map of the tram system. The trams are great. They're safe, comfortable, and they avoid the traffic tie ups so likely with taxis You can purchase a reloadable plastic transit card that works on all of the public transport systems including busses, trams, and even the ferries. Those cards are a great option that you can reload at most any tobacco shop. There are also machines for reloading in the tram stations but the instructions are not in English and I wasn't ever able to figure them out. Use your transit card to ride the ferries. The views and fresh are are great. The price is really low. A good way to explore different neighborhoods like Kadakoy. One more thing to be aware of. Istanbul is very hilly. For instance, we stayed at the historic PERA PALACE HOTEL JUMEIRAH on one of our trips. The highly acclaimed Restaurant Nicole is one of Istanbul's best restaurants. It shows on the map is just several short blocks away from the Pera Palace. However, it turns out that those blocks all are sloping down a steep incline. We easily walked down to the restaurant but no one had any interest in hiking back up that steep hill. We took a cab. Great meal by the way with a wonderful view. If you go, request a window table. · (0 likelikes)

    Mentioned in this answer:

    1. Cihangir (neighborhood)
    2. Hagia Sophia (attraction)
    3. Dolmabahçe Sarayı (attraction)
    4. Grand Bazaar (attraction)
    5. Ortaköy Mahallesi (region)
    6. Uskudar Ferry Port (unknown)

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  • Sedef Gursel

    answered first by

    Hi Jeffrey,

    What a wonderfully refreshing idea to stay in one spot and really try to experience life as a resident. Istanbul would be a good pick, you could not be bored there even if you tried. Even the center is quite large so picking a neighborhood would depend on what you are looking for. You could check Cihangir, Bebek Parkı, Levent Caddesito get an idea about your alternatives.

    Driving in Istanbul is not recommendable, public transport and taxis are in abundance and not very expensive. There is also Über of course.

    Lots of day trips, most popular are Prince Islands and Boat trips along the Bosphorus.


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    Mentioned in this answer:

    1. Istanbul (city)
    2. Cihangir (neighborhood)
    3. Bebek Parkı (unknown)
    4. Levent Caddesi (unknown)
    5. Prince Islands (neighborhood)
    6. Bosphorus (attraction)

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