Magical Istanbul


Despite the fact that 2 years have passed since we were in Istanbul, the memory of this wonderful city is still very much alive. To remember the feelings that this city gave to us, we are listening to some songs of Tarkan in background, the Turkish version of Ricky Martin, with the desire to describe in the best way the beauty of this place. Istanbul is the only city in the world which is divided between two continents but it's uniqueness is not only expressed in terms of geography: it is perhaps the only example in the world where the East and it's Islamic culture is deeply intertwined with the West, creating a magical, almost unreal mixture. This uniqueness is perceived in every corner of the city, in the people, in the buildings, the flavors, the aromas: each element appears to contribute to the utmost to make the scenarios of this city very attractive and sensual, more than Sharon Stone in “Basic instict”.



Arriving

You can reach Istanbul by flying in one of the two city airports: Ataturk Airport on the European side, about 30 minutes from the city's center and Sabiha Gokcen Airport on the Asian side intended for low-cost flights, an hour and a half from the center of Istanbul. 

The best choices to fly from Milan to Istanbul are Turkish Airlines to Ataturk and Pegasus to Sabiha Gokcen. Although the second one is not as much low cost as they want to make us believe, if the price difference is not that excessive,the preferred choice is the first one. 

On average and with an advance of about two weeks, the flight costs about 150€. However you should check on the internet because you may find sometimes deals with Lufthansa that despite the stopover in Frankfurt, they have very attractive offers. To be avoided if possible, Blue Express which is the company we flew with and among the other things it was a pretty bad experience both for the discomfort of the plane that appears to have seats intended for smurfs (a 3 hour flight is not acceptable trust us) and for the landing which we can definitely say it was too much ''wavy''. From both airports you can reach the city by bus connections (about 5€) or taxi which tends to be much cheaper than in Italy.


Sleeping


Palazzo Donizetti's Room
 We stayed at "Palazzo Donizetti", a hotel in a central position situated in the lively Beyoglu area and a 5-minute walk from the city center, the Taksim square. The hotel is very nice and newly refurbished but the most important thing is that it stands in a very strategic position to visit the city. 

Beyoglu, in fact, is the young soul of the city full of locals, from the modern ones to the most characteristic and shops, mainly concentrated on the famous Istiklal Caddesi (one of the most important avenues of the city). It's very convenient for visiting the historical part of the so-called "Golden Horn", only 5 minutes by taxi. We have spent about 150€/per night for a double room but you can find cheaper accommodations in less busy periods (we went during the Easter holidays). 

We recommend, however, to find an accommodation in the districts of Fatih, Beyoglu or Sisli (the part attached to Beyoglu) because the city is really huge and the traffic is crazy, therefore the risk is that you have to wait too long in order to move from one part of the town to another: taxi drivers often do accept you on even if they don't know exactly the place where you intend to go and they don't even have a navigation system.


Eating

It's really hard not to be satisfied food wise in Istanbul, you should really commit yourself to much: maybe it's because our kitchen (Albanian) is very much influenced by the Turkish one but there was nothing that we ate there and didn't enjoy it. Another good thing about eating in Istanbul is the fact that the city is full of restaurants, you should only pick one by choice, and for two people who really like eating it's like heaven.



Pasazade Restaurant

A restaurant that we really care about, is Pasazade located within walking distance from Hagia Sophia, in the most historical part of the city, and it is the top you could ask for: Ottoman cuisine, excellent service, great staff, nice environment and you pay relatively little (about 25€ per person for a full meal). Maybe they have a defect: the dishes are too full and irresistible and extra pounds are insured once back at home!



Longatable Supermarket Restaurant
A good choice if you want to dine in a chic restaurant is Longatable Supermarket and it's located within the hotel Sofa on the elegant street of Nisantasi. The elegant atmosphere, soft lighting, jazz music and baroque decor make this restaurant an excellent alternative for a romantic dinner for two. An ideal way to savor that snob part of the city and you cannot imagine how relaxing it is to accompany the live music with the fruit and melted chocolate: try it! The only downside: the price, about 70 Euros per person, perhaps a bit too much for being in Istanbul but still not overly excessive considering the type.


Activities


Topkapi Palace Entrance
Blue Mosque, Internal
The first things to visit in Istanbul are the ones that we have called the "three keys": Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. You will be fascinated by the beauty of these monuments and especially by the charm of the ottoman art. We recommend that you enjoy these places with one of the many guided tours organized by the numerous travel agencies in order to fully understand their historical and artistic importance. There are various packages to choose from: the half-day tours (4 hours) cost 30€ to 50€ and include transfers, tickets and often lunch. You can refer to Vahit in Adventure Tours and you will have an excellent treatment, but avoid to book the packages offered by the hotels that cost 50% more.


Blue Mosque, External
Hagia Sophia, Internal








Topkapi Palace, External







The Bazaars in Istanbul are a must! While you're in the center head to the Grand Bazaar, where you can buy very original souvenirs and the spice market that will water your mouth with its countless goodies. 


The only rule: contract the prices, with everyone and everything! Remember, finally, to buy a big stock of llokum, typical turkish sweets, that will take your taste buds on another dimension of pleasure: the best are those with rose petal and pistachio. 

Other sweets to try, the baklava and halvasi.


Grand Bazaar, Internal








Remember to head to the Corlurlu Ali Pasa medresesi, a den near the Grand Bazaar, where you can try the hookah, enjoy one of the many teas (we recommend the Mint, Apple and Pomegranate Tea) and have the opportunity to meet local people: they are very friendly. The environment is really suggestive, full of colorful hanging lanterns and the decor is very characteristic.
Mint Cay

Istanbul, view from Topkapi Palace
Have a nice sunday evening and until next time: be crazy and enjoy your life!

6 comments:

Armela said...

<3 Super bukur! <3

Dida D said...

My favorite city :)...<3

TheRomRom.Com said...

Thank youuu!

TheRomRom.Com said...

One of our favourite cities too, especially for the food :-D

Elida Alimadhi said...

stambolli ka shum per te pare xhamite vertet jane shum te bukura dhe te vecanta

Sote Saco said...

Ho detto sempre sjete un mondo tutto da scoprire!!!!!

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