Istanbul or Bust

Like most of us, I have a love affair with Istanbul, and I try and visit this beautiful city at least once a year.  I always take a list of things I want to see and when in the city, I walk around and tick off the tasks that I’ve completed.  Daughter can’t cope with my method and now that she is a little older (but perhaps not any wiser) I let her go off and do her own thing (which usually involves around sitting in coffee shops with her friends, flirting with boys and melting my credit card with her spending).

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I’m just now back from a week in this gorgeous city, staying in a fab apartment on Istiklal Caddesi.  I racked up over 100,000 steps (or 82 km), predominantly getting my tourist on, but also spending time meandering through tiny alleyways and cobbled backstreets looking for that hidden gem that I hadn’t found before.  One of my friends gave me a pretty thorough list of places I should visit but with my god-awful sense of direction, I got lost every single time although having gotten lost, I often found somewhere new that I wouldn’t have come across otherwise.

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Walking through Istanbul’s busy streets is a visual feast, with so much life going on around every corner that you never know what you will find from an overflowing mosque filling onto the street on a Friday afternoon, ladies gossiping to their neighbours (probably about other neighbours) or a street party to welcome a young man home from his army conscription, life is everywhere.  Istanbul is also made for those of us who are cat-obsessed and as a self-proclaimed cat-whisperer I  always kept an eye out for my four-legged furry friends as I go.   Did they follow me back to my apartment?  I’m not saying yes and I’m not saying no but I will say that when we left there was a little calico kitty sitting on the step next to our doorman when we left for the airport.

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The thing with Istanbul is that it really is a city that you can just walk around in.  No need to do tours or pay exorbitant fees (150TL for 1 day or 180TL for two days) to bus companies.  Instead, you grab an Istanbulkart and hop on the trams and buses that are so easily accessible and just as easy to use.  I also downloaded a couple of apps including Voice Map and Street Art Istanbul which gave me the opportunity of also seeing things from a different perspective.

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Of course, I ate way too much during my week in Istanbul which negates all those kilometres walked. I pretty much indulged in everything I saw with tempting stacks of baklava, simits and lokma on every street corner and juicy kebabs, overloaded kumpir and thanks to Macro Centre (why oh why won’t they open one in Mersin) even a little bacon thrown in to enjoy.  Yes I know I can eat all of this just as easily in Mersin (well maybe not the bacon) but when in Rome (or Istanbul).

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On a serious note, I will mention how safe I felt during my time in Istanbul.  There was a significant security presence with police and soldiers patrolling at tourist attractions as well as security guards doing bag checks and security gates to pass through before entering shopping centres or bazaars.  At no time did I feel nervous or intimidated.  I was not harassed while out by myself and Daughter, who travelled on the metro by herself to Kadikoy and back, did so without incident.  Yes, you should be vigilant and follow the advice of local security authorities as well as monitor media reports and keep up to date with the travel advice issued by your own Government, but I personally felt very comfortable visiting this beautiful city, and I hope to come and visit again very soon.

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I will do a few posts over the coming weeks about our time in Istanbul, but I just thought for now I would put up a few photos.  They are, of course, not great as I am no photographer, but they are little memories for me to keep.

If you are thinking of visiting Istanbul why not grab one of these books –

 

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Where’s Wally?

School holidays are upon us here in Turkiye which means it’s been incredibly busy in our neck of the woods, so busy that I haven’t had have time to blog!  OMG!!

Rather than bore you with our usual drama today I have posted some clues as to our recent whereabouts.  Can you guess where we’ve been?

Clue No. 1

This city was once renowned as the most crowded city in the world – in 1502.

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Clue No. 2 – Tulips, the symbol of Holland, originated in this city and were sent to Netherlands.

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Clue No. 3 – This city has been a noted inspiration for authors from Agatha Christie and Ernest Hemingway to Orhan Pamuk and Abdülhak Sinasi Hisar.

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Clue No. 4 –  this city was once renowned for having more than 1,400 public toilets!

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Final Clue – this city is the only city in the world that straddles two continents: Asia and Europe.

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I know, I know.  Too easy!

Of course we have been in Istanbul.

As well as visiting our usual haunts we made some new friends (including some fellow bloggers) and, of course, we did a lot of shopping!  The most successful part of this trip was what I found in a Carrefour near Taksim Square.  BACON!!  Yes, bacon!  It may have cost 59TL for 4 pieces but damn we had a great breakfast this morning!  And I will let you in on a little shame secret – I even licked up the oil from the pan.  The look on The Turk’s face said it all – gross!

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Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like you, love Istanbul – oh and you love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.