Istanbul Tips

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<p>Senior couple would appreciate any suggestions/tips for September trip to istanbul. Thanks Gloria &amp; George&nbsp;</p>

 You will love Istanbul -- it is a beautiful city with amazing architecture.      It is also huge and congested so I recommend taking a full-day tour as soon as you arrive as there is so much to see.  Just look over the tours the hotel offers and  see which interest you.  Most of everything you would want to visit is in the Sultanahmet (old, historic) area.   These are some of the places I’ve enjoyed: Basilica Cistern — this is an underground cistern built in the 6th century to supply water to the city in case of a siege.   Workers often appropriated  columns from temples as part of construction.     There is still water there, but you walk on elevated walkways. They play classical music and it is really a nice experience - especially if it is hot outside.  Takes about 45 minutes. 2. Topkapi Palace   - can take a few  hours if you want to see everything. It was the home of the Ottoman Sultans and is now a museum.  There are different tickets to see different parts and if you go, you want to be sure to see the Treasury  and the  Harem.    I think there are audio tours and there are probably guides standing outside who you can hire. 3. The Hagia Sophia (former Catholic/Byzantine church, now a mosque) is nearby, There are some nice mosaics on the second level. 4. Kariye Museum (Chora church) — for the Byzantine mosaics. It is a little out of the way, so you will need to take a taxi.The mosaics are spectacular and among the best preserved I’ve seen.  You should rent the audio guide which will explain the mosaics and frescoes.    It won’t be as crowded as the places in Sultanahmet as the church is a little out of the way.   I had read that it is undergoing renovation, so ask someone if all of the church is open.   5. A  full-day tour will probably take you to a Mosque.   Think about carrying a plastic bag with you and put your shoes in it and if you can, slip it into your backpack.   People sometimes lose shoes at mosques. 5. The Grand Bazaar  or the Spice Market— they are interesting to visit, but I think they are skippable as the historic places are more interesting and unique.   You’ve probably seen lots of markets anyway! If you decide to walk around on your own,  do not pay attention when someone slithers next to you and says something.  Chances are, they want to sell you a rug or take you to a “special shop.”  Just be forewarned. And if you do decide to do any shopping, feel comfortable in bargaining a bit.   If you decide you don't want the item, let them have the last "no."  This will save face on their part -- which is important in their culture.   Istanbul is a great walking city.  If you are jetlagged, but want to walk, a good tactic is to follow the trolly tracks -- then you can't get lost! 

The Chora Church and Mosaics are one of our favorite stops in Istambul.  You need to get a cab but it is not far and it is easy to get there and back. The visit will take you no more than a couple of hours, ride included but it is beautiful and the setting has trees and birds.  Also, you will drive by the walls.  Enjoy.