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Old 02.12.2011, 19:35
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Christmas adventure in Istanbul - tips and advice?

So there is no snow and my OH and I were not too excited with the idea of booking our usual Christmas ski holiday. We started throwing around other ideas and one of us said “Istanbul”. Our eyes lit up and it was clear: Istanbul is perfect for a little Christmas adventure. I have always wanted to go and I am looking forward to spending 5 nights exploring a fantastic city. I don’t know much about it - this is all pretty spontaneous - and I will be getting a guide.

I found what looks like a cute boutique hotel in the Sirkeci District. Is that a good place to be?

For me and for others who might go in the future, here is a summary of everything that has been suggested on EF so far:
  • Hadja Sofia
  • Grand Bazar
  • Blue Mosque
  • Spice Bazaar
  • Topkapi Palace
  • Bosphorus Cruise
  • Byzantine Cisterns
  • Dolmabahce Palace
  • Whirling Dervishes
  • Prince's Islands: head into the island interior, up a pine hillside path and be wowed by the views: the city seems to dominate 180° of the distant landscape across the water.
  • Cistern near Agia Sofia
Recommended restaurants:
Karadeniz Pidecisi
; bit shabby, full of locals, excellent food for decent price. I am not sure there is an exact English word for it.. It s sort of pizza but rather oval-shaped. My favorite is pide with minced meat with two eggs (Büyük Karaman Cad. No:47 PK:34083, Fatih Merkez, Fatih, Istanbul, +90 212-5239795)
Beyti: beautiful kebab restaurant close to the main airport. superb service + food
Hamdi
restaurant: kebab place with beautiful view of the Golden Horn. Insist to get a table on top floor.
Iskender
Kebabcisi: close to Taksim on Istiklal caddesi.
Inci Patisserie
: small shop with limited seats on Istiklal Caddesi. try Uludag (my favorite) or Profiterol.
Abdullah: traditional Turkish cousine.. on a side street to Istiklal caddesi.
Saray
restaurant: on Istiklal Caddesi. Kebab / desert place.. go for Burma Kadayif (heavy desert with pisstachios)

Much of the advice was directed towards people going with kids. We are not going with children so I was hoping for some advice on some more adult activities. (No, stop now: those of you getting a dirty grin and thinking of posting something “adult”, you know that is not what I mean.) Some specific recommendations for
- Music/concerts
- Clubs
- Tours on the history of Istanbul

Obviously, we will ask around when we’re there. I just know that a lot of EFers are well-travelled folk and a few are Turkish or have lived in Istanbul, so maybe someone has a few well-kept secrets or special recommendations. Thanks.
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Old 02.12.2011, 20:17
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Re: Christmas adventure in Istanbul - tips and advice?

Istanbul... My heart is there. I can certainly help you as I have spend 4 years of my life as a single young woman there. Lots of fun, adventures and parties.

The area where you'll be staying is nice and very touristic. You'll find everything around and it is very busy. You'll be also very close to public transport ( taxis, tram, ferries and buses).

A tip about taxis, make sure when you are in to look at the taximeters because they tend to switch it on the night time with the tourists so they can charge more. Daytime is number 1 & nighttime is number 2 .

You want to go out and enjoy bars, pubs and trendy restaurants, go to Istiklal caddesi in Taksim. On that big street, I strongly recommend you to go to a restaurant called Otantik where you find traditional home made food.

5 days is not much so I won't talk about the Asian side where you could enjoy a wonderful stroll down Bagdat caddesi. You'll have already a full plate with the European side.

Any question, don't hesitate, I love the place and know it pretty well. I wish I could go with you in the Grand Bazar (kapali carsi) I could bring you to my favorites stores where I trust the guys...

Sigh! Lucky you!
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Old 03.12.2011, 08:14
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Re: Christmas adventure in Istanbul - tips and advice?

Thanks Nil. Good tip about the taxis. Otantik sounds good too. Maybe for the first night as we'll be getting there in time for dinner. We'd like to go to the Asian side too, if only because we can.

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Any question, don't hesitate, I love the place and know it pretty well. I wish I could go with you in the Grand Bazar (kapali carsi) I could bring you to my favorites stores where I trust the guys...
That'd be wonderful. Spain isn't that far away, is it?
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Old 03.12.2011, 09:48
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Re: Christmas adventure in Istanbul - tips and advice?

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Thanks Nil. Good tip about the taxis. Otantik sounds good too. Maybe for the first night as we'll be getting there in time for dinner. We'd like to go to the Asian side too, if only because we can.



That'd be wonderful. Spain isn't that far away, is it?
In that case, you can easily take the ferry from Eminonu, where you'll be very close too and go to kadikoy! It is very very nice area to stroll around & shopping. You'll fing the restaurant I told you about there too.

We will go for sure when the kids are a bit bigger because it is pretty crazy there with them. But very nice since they treat kids like kings!

Any questions don't hesitate.
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