Posted by diminor1929 on February 18, 2010
I am going on a cruise in may with 5 family members/friends. We stop in Istanbul and Ephesus?; we are considering a ship excursion but wanted to know the best places to hit? Any suggestions?
Reply by Overlander on February 18, 2010
How long will you be in Istanbul? At the very least you need to see Sultanahmet (The Blue Mosque), Aya Sofiya, Topkapi Palace, and the Covered Bazaar. Those are absolute musts. The Treasury in Topkapi is amazing -- Spoonmaker Diamond and the extraordinary daggers and belts set with gigantic emeralds, and some pretty impressive gold as well. If you have the time, lunch on the terrace of the palace restaurant -- one of the best in the city, actually -- would be wonderful in the spring. As for the Bazaar, you could wander around for hours, but at least go to the spice bazaar and the copper and carpet bazaars. The gold bazaar is reasonable, too, though nowhere as impressive as the ones in Dubai, Manama (Bahrain), or Riyadh (Saudi Arabia).
Another must: a stroll, preferably near sunset, along the shore of the Golden Horn and a walk across the Galata Bridge. Check out the fish restaurants. Turks are geniuses with fish -- with food, generally, actually. Some consider Turkish cuisine to rank right up there with the French and the Chinese.
Ephesus is not directly on the coast, though it once was during the time of the Greeks, so you'll most likely be bused up from the port, whose name I forget right now. In such places you really do need a guide, so, if it's a decent cruise line, I'd hope you have one who knows his onions. Too often they have but cursory knowledge of what they're supposed to be talking about, so you don't learn a helluva lot. Ephesus is too important a site to approach casually. I'd read up on it before your visit.
Do have a very good time. It's one of my favorite places on the planet, to be honest, and Istanbul tops my list of Middle Eastern cities. It's one of the few that halfway lives up to the romanticized images of what a near eastern city ought to be. I've never had the privilege of being there in the springtime, so I'm a titch envious, to be honest. It's supposed to be beautiful at that time of year..
This topic has been closed by IgoUgo staff. Open a new topic by first selecting a Destination, Interest, or Inside IgoUgo forum.