Istanbul Journals

Istanbul: exotic and friendly -- a bargain, too!

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A March 2004 trip to Istanbul by Jim Rosenberg

Cennet Photo, Istanbul, Turkey More Photos
Quote: Many of Istanbul’s most famous places are located within easy walking distance of each other. Both the Sultanahmet neighborhood and the Bazaar Quarter are easily enjoyed without a guide and barely even a map, making it a perfect low-cost vacation to a truly exotic destination.

Holiday Inn City

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Hotel | "Holiday Inn - Istanbul City"

Holiday Inn City Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Holiday Inn Istanbul City was formerly the Hotel Oclay and the family is still actively involved in the property's operation. It is in a great location on a main thoroughfare, just inside the ancient city walls. There is a tram stop directly in front of the hotel, but we found it to be a nice, safe walk of perhaps a mile and a half to the Grand Bazaar, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, etc. Along the way, you'll pass many places to eat or stop. As for the hotel itself, we checked out several of the rooms and found all of them to be decent-sized and well-maintained, with mini-bars and windows that open. (You might want to close them at night, since there are two mosques in the immediate area and the ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 23, 2004

Holiday Inn City
MILLET CAD 187
Istanbul, Turkey 34280
90-212-5309900

Cennet

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Restaurant

Cennet Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
In the Cennet restaurant near the Grand Bazaar, patrons can don fezzes and veils to be serenaded by strolling musicians (a tip is expected and well worth it) and women in traditional Islamic dress fashion crepe-like wraps in a sunken cooking area. Carpets and an authentic Turkish theme immerse you in the experience. It might even sound a little over the top, but it’s a fun place and if you want, you can just stop in for tea and take it all in for awhile. (Reservations might be a good idea in the evening, but we stopped in during the afternoon and while there were enough people there to have a nice time, there were plenty of tables.) There are no chairs; people sit at low tables and there ar...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 23, 2004

Cennet
90 Divan Yolu
Istanbul, Turkey
+90 212 5131416

Seyran 1971 (coffee shop)

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Restaurant

Seyran 1971 (coffee shop) Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Seyran is a small, Turkish franchise that has 10 locations scattered around Istanbul. Located on the inbound side of a main drag and at the entrance to a busy market street for foot traffic, the place has more comings and goings than a beehive. The street out front is jammed with buses, taxis and brave souls in their own vehicles, deftly navigating their way into the central business district for hours each morning in a continuous river of metal that moved in fits and starts. Parking is prohibited in front of Seyran because the city can ill afford to give up a lane of traffic. A uniformed woman spends several hours each morning working a half block stretch writing tickets as Seyran’s regular patrons ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 23, 2004

Seyran 1971 (coffee shop)
Millet Cadessi No. 171
Istanbul, Turkey
90 (212) 587-2458

Altin Kapi

Restaurant

Altin Kapi Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
We enjoyed an absolutely fabulous meal after the owner of a restaurant called Altin Kapi caught us walking by and started a conversation that ended with him assertively telling us that he would have our table ready at 8pm. He may have been surprised to see us return, but we were introduced to the staff and given a tour of the facilities. As our kabobs were being prepared, freshly baked balloon bread was brought to our table. Our waiter introduced us to a young English teacher and his fiancée, a preschool teacher. He didn’t want to waste the opportunity to practice English with a native speaker and we learned much about life in Turkey as we shared a bit about life in the U.S. (We sa...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 23, 2004

Altin Kapi
Millet Cadessi No. 139
Istanbul, Turkey
(212) 589-4161

Pasha Restaurant

Restaurant

Pasha Restaurant Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
If you happen to be passing the Pasha Restaurant during the day, you can expect an invitation from a well-placed representative who works the street out front aggressively. Don't be put off. We stopped in the afternoon and had absolutely wonderful salads for a very good price, but we offer the menu prices advisedly for those might be interested in something more extensive. There is an upstairs dining room for dinner that is well appointed and has plenty of windows overlooking this busy street on the tramline near the Blue Mosque. Bar service is available for those who like a cocktail or wine with dinner. We chose to eat outdoors and it was a pleasant place to spend some time in a little haven w...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 26, 2004

Pasha Restaurant
No. 2/4 Divanyolu Cadessi
Istanbul, Turkey
+90 (212) 514 29 30

Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi)

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Attraction | "Grand Bazaar"

Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi) Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
While shopping malls may seem like a relatively recent cultural phenomenon to westerners, a trip to Istanbul’s famous Grand Bazaar provides a half-millennium-old counterpoint to that point of view. Acres of stalls, which are really small shops, spill their wares out into named streets in an ancient, covered facility of many acres that is filled with hand-painted archways, heavy walls and pillars. Popular items include colorful dishes, jewelry, silverware, glassware, water pipes, and, of course, carpets. Merchants in the Grand Bazaar must be some of the world’s leaders in terms of how much merchandise they can display per square foot of floor space. Shop after shop looks like Ali Babba’s ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 23, 2004

Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi)
Kalpakcilarbasi Street
Istanbul, Turkey

Erenler Nargile ve Cay Bahcesi (Hookah Garden) Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
After a filling lunch one day, we stopped at Ereneler Nargile ve Cay Bahcesi, a tea and hookah garden a few blocks from the Grand Bazaar. For the equivalent of less than $4 each, our floor-model water pipes were loaded with apple-cured tobacco and we enjoyed tea as we enjoyed the incredibly smooth flavor of the load, which was kept going by an attendant who would drop small pieces of charcoal with tongs into the bowl. It is a very relaxing and peaceful way to pass some time that has broad appeal in this part of the world. (This is not the place to go for people who have a problem with smoking. The level of tobacco use in Istanbul seems to make Paris look reserved by comparison.) You wil...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 23, 2004

Erenler Nargile ve Cay Bahcesi (Hookah Garden)
36/28 Beyazit
Istanbul, Turkey

Blue Mosque Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
It’s 5am and the early morning stillness is pierced by the day’s first call to prayer. The plaintive, melodic words are simultaneously echoing and diffusing over the city of 10 million from dozens of minarets that define the ancient skyline of Istanbul; a mystical chant that reminds us again that there are many worlds within our own and we are in one of those other worlds. It’s true that we encountered a few raised eyebrows when people asked us what we were doing for spring break. A country that shares borders with places like Syria, Iran, and Iraq isn’t exactly the first place that pops up on most people’s radar screens when they’re planning to escape the tail end of a long Wisconsin wi...Read More