We spent more than two weeks in the magical meeting place of East and West. This pleasant megacity has more top-drawer attractions than it has minarets. İstanbul’s strategic location has attracted many marauding armies over the centuries. The Greeks, Romans, and Venetians took turns ruling before the Ottomans stormed into town and decided to stay – physical reminders of their various tenures are found across the city. We used a cheap Istanbul Card for clean toilets (1 TRY), trams, subway, ferries, and funiculars during our sightseeing. In the evening we often took a taxi which brings you anywhere for 30 TRY (longer rides cost up to 100 TRY). The fact that the city straddles two continents wasn’t its only drawcard – it was the final stage of the legendary Silk Road linking Asia with Europe, and many merchants who came here liked it so much that they, too, decided to stay. In so doing, they gave the city a cultural diversity that it retains to this day. We’re happy to report that the city’s cuisine is delicious and as diverse as its heritage. You can get tasty lunch in a local eatery just for 40 TRY. Some ancient cities are the sum of their monuments, but İstanbul factors a lot more into the equation. Chief among its manifold attractions are the locals, who have an infectious love of life and generosity of spirit. This vibrant, inclusive, and expanding community is full of people who work and party hard. Joining them in their favorite haunts – çay bahçesis (tea gardens), kahvehans (coffeehouses), meyhanes (Turkish taverns), and kebapçıs (kebap restaurants) – was a highlight of our visit. Our favorite pub was Front Door, where we usually took a beer (Efes – 0,5 l / 29 TRY), later in the night we always ended up in a friendly crowded club Escape (Tuborg 0,33 l / 100 TRY). Of course, there are a lot of scammers around, so be careful, and always double-check the price before you pay anything, some restaurants try to put service charge, or charge for peanuts, and some smaller establishments have two or three different pricelists, so stay alerted and enjoy this great city which never sleeps!
Golden Horn (Haliç)
Old Bazaars of Istanbul
Parking location – İstanbul: 41.046555N 28.993046E (🔌,🚻,💦)