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Old 04.09.2011, 10:18
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Unexpected trip to Istanbul

My husband will be working during the day while my daughter and I explore the city. I have no idea what to expect as this was one of the last places on earth I'd ever thought I would be going to. Since I don't have to much time to get this all together, I would love to hear from all of you that have been there. How is the public transportation, will I need a car? Since learning Arabic is out of the question in a week, is English widely spoken? Has anyone tugged a five year old around the city?

Thanks!
Lisa
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Old 04.09.2011, 10:30
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

Istambul is an awesome city. You will find people in shops speaking every language you can think of. When I went shopping with my husband, before we even spoke, one guy was refering to my husband in German (he's that obvious) and the other Spanish to me (which isn't so obvious ).

Just remember to wear trousers or a long skirt if you want to visit the mosques. In any case, they will provide you with proper covering if you forget it (like they did to the boys in shorts that were waiting on the line with me). All those very turistic places, like the Palace or the Blue Mosque are very worth the time. Haga Sofia has the most amazing mosaic work I have ever seen in my life!

People are over all very friendly. I never drove: I took the public transportation (they have a great tram system).

You will love it, I am certain


If you have the possibility, do read "Istanbul Memories and the city" by Orhan Pamuk. I had read it just a couple of weeks before going to Turkey (mere coincidence) and it was an amazing piece on the city, that helped me appreciate it even more.

Have a nice trip!
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Old 04.09.2011, 10:30
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

Use a taxi for transportation, they are quite cheap, and make a Bosporus tour if the weather is nice.

btw. Arabic will not help you there. The main language in Turkey is Turkish :-)
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Old 04.09.2011, 10:48
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

Lucky you! Guarantee you will love it. I love Istanbul. I can't wait to take my own daughters to the Topkapi Palace one day. They are obsessed with princess's and palaces and flying carpets and all things exotic...so the Topkapi Palace will blow their minds. If your daughter is the same, then a visit there is a must.

Also, be prepared to do lots of shopping. It's super fun and very social. You must drink tea with shopkeepers and engage in endless amounts of chat. Don't fall for their hard sell though, if you're uncomfortable with this you're going to have to toughen up. Say no with a smile and have a laugh with them, then keep walking if you're not interested. If you are, then take time to negotiate. It's half the fun and the shopkeepers will respect you for it. They are born salesmen and love the game.

Have a great time.
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Old 04.09.2011, 11:04
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

I lived in Turkey for 4 years, I know very well the city and where are the best spots.

Where are you going to stay? People are very open and you'll be surprised to see all those pretty girls in short shorts and decoltés.

If you stay around Sultan Ahmet area and the Gran Bazar, you won't have any problem with the language. When you go out of those area, a big smile with a Merhaba will go far.

But just keep in mind that the price they will give you are not the ''turkish'' price but ''tourists'' prices. So you must deal. But if you deal and you get the price you wanted, don't walk away, you buy it.

If you go in the Gran Bazar (Kapali Carsi) all the guys will try to get your attention, if you don't want to go in their shop, walk without looking at them, pretend you don't ear them.

Don't buy fake bags. They will charge you way much more to you than to a turkish girl or someone like me. They will blow the price up to 3 times the actual one and will reduce to make you buy it but the reality is you still pay twice what I would have pay.

Gold is a good way to spend money. They sell to you according of the weight and the current value. But since the price of the gold is very high, it will be very expensive. If you have some gold you don't want anymore, it is the best place to sell it for a very good value.

If you have any questions, it will be a pleasure to answer you. I can't wait to go back, we have an apartment there and we try to go as often as possible to visit family and friends.

I should organise a shopping event there.... A real blast!
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Old 04.09.2011, 11:42
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

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If you go in the Gran Bazar (Kapali Carsi) all the guys will try to get your attention, if you don't want to go in their shop, walk without looking at them, pretend you don't ear them.
Absolutely brilliant advice Nil, except for the bit I've quoted. This is one of my big bug bears. I really dislike seeing western tourists in the middle east just completely blanking people as if they don't exist. Those guys in the bazaar are just trying to make a living. You don't have to go in their shop, but you can say no thanks forcefully but with a smile. Turkey is one of the friendliest places you'll ever visit. You are really missing out on a truly great experience if you walk around in a bubble ignoring people (which I know you're not saying to do with everyone but the OP sounds like a novice on dealing with this kind of environment and could well take it to heart with everyone).

I've visited many souks and bazaars all over the middle east, and even in Egypt, where they've been selling to tourists for thousands of years, I've never simply ignored a person as if they didn't exist. A smile, a strong "no thanks" (even better in the local lingo) a couple of times and then keep walking. It's always worked for me.
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Old 04.09.2011, 11:49
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

It is a fantastic city. I f you want to know about modern Istanbul , listen to the BBC radio podcasts ''Excess baggage" last 2 episodes.

Have a great time, the shopping is wonderful.

Clarah
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Old 04.09.2011, 12:01
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

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My husband will be working during the day while my daughter and I explore the city. I have no idea what to expect as this was one of the last places on earth I'd ever thought I would be going to. Since I don't have to much time to get this all together, I would love to hear from all of you that have been there. How is the public transportation, will I need a car? Since learning Arabic is out of the question in a week, is English widely spoken? Has anyone tugged a five year old around the city?

Thanks!
Lisa
dont go there, you dont seem ready
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Old 04.09.2011, 12:43
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

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dont go there, you dont seem ready
Care to elaborate?
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Old 04.09.2011, 14:00
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

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dont go there, you dont seem ready
Ignore this user: Istanbul is a wonderful, wonderful city, and you don't need to be 'ready' at all, apart from picking up a Turkish phrase book (although you can get by in German and English almost everywhere in the old centre) and remembering to drink bottled water.

There is so much to see in the city, but if you're trailing small person with you, then the following sights might be the easiest:

Agia Sofia and the Sultanahmet ("blue") mosque: not that exciting for a five year old, perhaps, but very close to each other and can be visited in a couple of hours. Not visiting them would be like missing out the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

A boat ride on the Bosphorus, perhaps stopping near the Rumeli Hisar castle for a fish dinner.

The cistern near Agia Sofia: very spooky and atmospheric. Your daughter will either love it or hate it, but it's well worth a visit.

The Egyptian bazaar: it is quite close to the centre, and is pretty compact - perhaps a bit less intimidating than the Grand Bazaar, although it is still likely to be busy.

I'm not sure I'd recommend the Topkapi palace as there's an awful lot of it, and although it's absolutely wonderful, it might be a bit of a drag for a small person. Likewise, the Grand Bazaar is amazing, but not, perhaps, ideal for a child.

Most of the centre can be reached on foot, and taxis are dirt cheap if you (or your daughter) get tired.

Have a lovely time - I wish I could come with you!
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Old 04.09.2011, 15:44
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

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Absolutely brilliant advice Nil, except for the bit I've quoted. This is one of my big bug bears. I really dislike seeing western tourists in the middle east just completely blanking people as if they don't exist. Those guys in the bazaar are just trying to make a living. You don't have to go in their shop, but you can say no thanks forcefully but with a smile. Turkey is one of the friendliest places you'll ever visit. You are really missing out on a truly great experience if you walk around in a bubble ignoring people (which I know you're not saying to do with everyone but the OP sounds like a novice on dealing with this kind of environment and could well take it to heart with everyone).

I've visited many souks and bazaars all over the middle east, and even in Egypt, where they've been selling to tourists for thousands of years, I've never simply ignored a person as if they didn't exist. A smile, a strong "no thanks" (even better in the local lingo) a couple of times and then keep walking. It's always worked for me.
As a single woman being in Kapali Carsi hundreds of times, alone, it is a very good advice indeed and I stand by it.
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Old 04.09.2011, 16:34
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

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Care to elaborate?
her Arabic skills are not good yet to go around in Istanbul

plus she has a 4yr old, Turks hate kids so she should wait until the kid is 18+

finally, she needs some more mental preparation cuz she never imagined to ever visit this part of the world yet, the culture shock she will receive may be unbearable during her 1 day trip
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Old 04.09.2011, 16:38
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

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her Arabic skills are not good yet to go around in Istanbul

plus she has a 4yr old, Turks hate kids so she should wait until the kid is 18+

finally, she needs some more mental preparation cuz she never imagined to ever visit this part of the world yet, the culture shock she will receive may be unbearable during her 1 day trip
Wow you are a piece of a joke!

First it is not Arabic but Turkish... Cok farkli arkadasim! (very different my friend)

Second, Turks LOVES kids! They are treated like Queen and King! It is a paradise for kids, and parents are welcome everywhere with their kids, even waiters in restaurants will entertain them.

I will say you are taking the piss, and if so, you are not very good at it.
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Old 04.09.2011, 16:40
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

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her Arabic skills are not good yet to go around in Istanbul
I should imagine most people would get along just fine in Istanbul without a single word of Arabic...

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Turks hate kids

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finally, she needs some more mental preparation cuz she never imagined to ever visit this part of the world yet, the culture shock she will receive may be unbearable during her 1 day trip
What culture shock? You know that Istanbul is a European city, don't you?
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Old 04.09.2011, 16:47
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

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her Arabic skills are not good yet to go around in Istanbul

plus she has a 4yr old, Turks hate kids so she should wait until the kid is 18+

finally, she needs some more mental preparation cuz she never imagined to ever visit this part of the world yet, the culture shock she will receive may be unbearable during her 1 day trip
Your next advise ,she should have stayed in her mothers womb
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Old 04.09.2011, 17:14
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

OK guys, being a Turk myself, I was kinda trying to take an issue with her apparent and rather shameful lack of knowledge about a country she is about the visit and make some jokes, but clearly I was too good at it

nevermind
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Old 04.09.2011, 17:19
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

Is F16 the most stupid and unhelpful member of this forum to date?

Should I start a poll?
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Old 04.09.2011, 17:19
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

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OK guys, being a Turk myself, I was kinda trying to take an issue with her apparent and rather shameful lack of knowledge about a country she is about the visit and make some jokes, but clearly I was too good at it

nevermind
"Shameful" - really? or is this another one of your 'jokes'?
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Old 04.09.2011, 17:27
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Re: Unexpected trip to Istanbul

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My husband will be working during the day while my daughter and I explore the city. I have no idea what to expect as this was one of the last places on earth I'd ever thought I would be going to. Since I don't have to much time to get this all together, I would love to hear from all of you that have been there. How is the public transportation, will I need a car? Since learning Arabic is out of the question in a week, is English widely spoken? Has anyone tugged a five year old around the city?

Thanks!
Lisa
Funnily enough, people seem not to have read the initial post.
It made me chuckle, anyways.

But seriously, OP, Istanbul is a beautiful place and probably will be soon on your list with favourite destionations...and Hagia Sophia is breath taking. Re. the languages...they seem to speak pretty much...well, everything. I was answered even in Romanian, my mother tongue. People are very friendly, of course provided you use your common sense.

Have a nice trip!
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Old 04.09.2011, 17:30
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Istambul is an awesome city. You will find people in shops speaking every language you can think of. When I went shopping with my husband, before we even spoke, one guy was refering to my husband in German (he's that obvious) and the other Spanish to me (which isn't so obvious ).

Just remember to wear trousers or a long skirt if you want to visit the mosques. In any case, they will provide you with proper covering if you forget it (like they did to the boys in shorts that were waiting on the line with me). All those very turistic places, like the Palace or the Blue Mosque are very worth the time. Haga Sofia has the most amazing mosaic work I have ever seen in my life!

People are over all very friendly. I never drove: I took the public transportation (they have a great tram system).

You will love it, I am certain


If you have the possibility, do read "Istanbul Memories and the city" by Orhan Pamuk. I had read it just a couple of weeks before going to Turkey (mere coincidence) and it was an amazing piece on the city, that helped me appreciate it even more.

Have a nice trip!
Long skirts check, going to get some books tomorrow check, and THANK GOD they have good public transportation!

It will be interesting to see what language they speak to my husband and daughter. David is Polish and Czech (born and raised in Cleveland Ohio). Our electrician was born in the Yugoslavia and started speaking in Czech to David when they first met.

The more I read the responses from everyone more excited I get!

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Use a taxi for transportation, they are quite cheap, and make a Bosporus tour if the weather is nice.

btw. Arabic will not help you there. The main language in Turkey is Turkish :-)

Oh my.... at least I didn't buy "Arabic for Dummies" yet.

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Lucky you! Guarantee you will love it. I love Istanbul. I can't wait to take my own daughters to the Topkapi Palace one day. They are obsessed with princess's and palaces and flying carpets and all things exotic...so the Topkapi Palace will blow their minds. If your daughter is the same, then a visit there is a must.

Also, be prepared to do lots of shopping. It's super fun and very social. You must drink tea with shopkeepers and engage in endless amounts of chat. Don't fall for their hard sell though, if you're uncomfortable with this you're going to have to toughen up. Say no with a smile and have a laugh with them, then keep walking if you're not interested. If you are, then take time to negotiate. It's half the fun and the shopkeepers will respect you for it. They are born salesmen and love the game.

Have a great time.

I've already sent out the notice to all my family back home to put in their request now for my shopping expeditions! I've got about three weeks to hit the shops while David works. I can't wait...

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If you stay around Sultan Ahmet area and the Gran Bazar, you won't have any problem with the language. When you go out of those area, a big smile with a Merhaba will go far.

But just keep in mind that the price they will give you are not the ''turkish'' price but ''tourists'' prices. So you must deal. But if you deal and you get the price you wanted, don't walk away, you buy it.


I should organise a shopping event there.... A real blast!
My first choice is to stay close to the Gran Bazar. I know I will need several days of my trip to do it justice. I just can't decide how many extra suitcases to bring!

Last edited by Guest; 04.09.2011 at 18:17. Reason: Merged four posts. Please use Multiquote feature -- thanks! (PM me if you need help with this.)
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