48 Hours in Istanbul

虽然我可能会推荐独自的旅行者“研究,计划和计划更多,” my trip to Istanbul from Paris was a blatant disregard of my own advice. But in the words of Katharine Hepburn, “If you obey all the rules (or tips) you miss all the fun!” Plus what is life without a little spontaneity from time to time. Right? AND, as events would have it, I wasn’t alone for my 48 hours in the mystical city anyway.

Blue Mosque in IstanbulThe magnificent and iconic Blue Mosque of Istanbul.

I did enough research in advance to learn that as an American citizen I required a $20 visa to enter the country. After completing the 5 minute application online, I booked myPegasus Airline票(巴黎150美元的往返!)并在靠近蓝色清真寺的旧城找到一家酒店。Voila!Preparation to visit Turkey’s historical heart and largest city complete!

土耳其茶The first of many, many, many teas while in Turkey.

Istanbul has 2 airports, and I landed at the one on the Asian side. Not realizing this (due to afore mentioned improper research) I assumed my trip into Istanbul would be a 20 minute bus ride. Not so. In fact frommyairport it was a bus ride, a ferry ride, a trolley ride and a taxi ride! Thank goodness a Turkish man named, Ibrahim, said, “Follow me,” when I was clumsily inquiring with a non-English speaking bus driver if his route would get me to the Blue Mosque. So I followed.

Ibrahim was a serious personality, and very task orientated. Hindered by luggage and wet from the rain, I was a scampering, disheveled blond American struggling to keep up with him as he whisked ahead of me. At times it seemed as if he had no regard for my ability to keep up. On the ferry, when I did finally catch him (and my breath), he motioned for me to take a seat on the bench next to him and bought me a glass of tea. Up until that moment, I was pretty sure he had found me to be a complete nuisance….and who knows, he may still have, but at least he thought enough of his nuisance to treat her to her first cup of tea in Istanbul. The first of many as it would turn out.

渡轮乘坐伊斯坦布尔After the tea, I took to the deck of the ferry to take in the views of Istanbul from the Bosphorus.

Ibrahim's Rug StoreIbrahim’s Rug Shop

They say that stereotypes are earned, and perhaps as stereotypes would have it, Ibrahim did have a rug shop. Prior to being dropped at the hotel, he invited me for more tea and to explore his collection. I thought everything was spectacular, and I was particularly captured by vintage tapestries and pillow cushions with intricate embroidery work. I did chose a few splendid items for myself and also a few to sell inmy shop, but an unhelpful Paypal account hindered the transaction. I took it as a sign that perhaps I wasn’t meant to indulge this quickly after getting off the plane. I never did see Ibrahim again (although we did exchange some Whatsapp messages about whether I was returning or not for my tapestries:).

At Ibrahim’s shop, I also was met by my friend, John. He had flown in from NYC the night before just to be my companion on this impromptu and brief journey. His spontaneity was even more impressive than mine! We had metlast January in Venicefor drinks and dinner, and at the magical hour of 10:45 I had to bid farewell (for not such a magical reason, but that is neither here nor there). Clearly my Cinderella-like exit prompted enough intrigue that even a year later he was willing to cross the Atlantic just to learn more about me. Seems like I need to employ this tactic more often as I typically have problems getting a man to cross a Starbucks to meet me :).

I told John that it may be more interesting for him to explore Istanbul on his own during the day as I would be involved with my work (shopping), and we could rendezvous for dinners. Nope. He was happy to accompany me through all the bazaars and boutiques of Istanbul. And so he did.

Grand Bazaar of IstanbulOne of the colorful lamp shops in the Grand Bazaar.

Grand Bazaar of IstanbulGrand Bazaar

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is the world’s largest and oldest covered market (3,000 shops and nearly 40,000 visitors daily). It is an astounding, bustling labyrinth-like market that was constructed shortly after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1455. Shop keepers line the halls enticing the passer-byers to enter their space with fun quips or tempting deals. A favorite pitch we heard was, “We cheat you less than other shops.”

Shopping Outside the Grand BazaarShopping for slippers for my niece!

Shopping extended outside the Grand Bazaar and into the street. One thing was consistent, everyone we encountered was friendly and smiled easily. Negotiating was always a necessity, but frankly it was fun too.

Beyoglu区伊斯坦布尔In the Beyoglu district for dinner.

One of the many lovely aspects of having my travel companion this trip was while I concentrated on finding the most interesting accessories made in all of Turkey, he plotted dazzling dinner spots for us to feast at each evening. Our fist night he chose a trendy restaurant in a district called Beyoglu.

Located outside the historical center of Istanbul and across the Golden Horn,360 Istanbulwas a windy taxi ride away. We couldn’t be dropped next to it, so we had the pleasure of a 15 minute walk down one Istanbul’s most important and elegant pedestrian streets,İstiklal Avenue。The evening was perfect to study the shop windows and to take in the facades of the late Ottoman era architecture. It was easy to see why this city was once referred to as the “Paris of the East”…and perhaps it still is. I particularly enjoyed watching a teenage boy at an ice cream shop do fun tricks with balls of ice creams as he prepared cones for children, and I found myself fascinated by….

Boy Selling Stuffed Mussels…the guys selling stuffed mussels!

关闭被充塞的淡菜A mussel stuffed with boiled rice, pepper, oil and sometimes cinnamon.The lemon is added just before consumption.

Stuffed mussels are a favorite turkish street food, and the youth especially indulge after an evening of partying. I learned later that it is actually illegal to sell stuffed mussels in the streets (due to health concerns)! Had my little friend above been caught, his cart would have been confiscated and he would have had to pay a fine to regain it. Egads! But I admire a risk taker.

Dessert at 360 IstanbulDessert at 360 Istanbul.

Our meal in the rooftop restaurant did not include mussels, but the fusion fare we dined on did incorporate octopus and duck in different small plates. My favorite part was the bottle (or 2) of the full and rich turkish chardonnay. I do love wine producing countries.

View of Istanbul from 360 IstanbulOur view from 360 Istanbul onto the Bosphorus.

Hagia SophiaJohn and I in front of Hagia Sophia.

While touring wasn’t the main objective of this trip, it was impossible to go to such a beautiful city and not take in the sites. It had been 5 years since I had been to Istanbul and John had never已被(让我们同意从机场和返回的BIZ会议上争取,所以找到一种有效突出关键纪念碑的方法确实是为了秩序。幸运的是,我们在早餐后我们发现了我们的资源,同时漫步过一个地毯(他们确实在城市中的多产)。魅力店主,Neeri,为我们带来了他的冒泡性格,邀请从他的屋顶,茶(当然)和名人故事中欣赏蓝色清真寺的壮观景色。他的目标出售地毯很清楚,但我们告诉他,由于我们的拘留时间表,我们在那一刻的优先事项是看到一些旧城。他马上叫他的侄子,伊布拉希姆(我们现在亲切地称为易卜拉欣2)给我们一个旅游。伊布拉希姆是一名学习成为导游的大学学生,因此需要进行“实践”的旅游,急切地到达几分钟喝一杯茶。它的工作完美无缺。


Hagia SophiaInside the Hagia Sophia.

Construction began on the church in 537 and finished the same year that Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. At that time Sultan Mehmed II ordered the basilica – the main church of Orthodox Christianity in its time – converted into a mosque. It remained so until it was secularized and opened as a museum in 1935.

在其作为一个清真寺,艺术和Ch的象征ristianity where either removed or covered with plaster and replaced with Islamic religious expressions. Today as a museum the Hagia Sophia is able to unveil its entire art and religious history. Amazing venerations done in mosaics by Christian artists are showcased along side detailed architectural elements like themihrab., the alter facing Mecca,done by Islamic artists.

hagia sophiaOne of the uncovered mosaics likely done during the Byzantine era.

Hagia Sophia把你的拇指放在洞里,祝愿!

All the history and knowledge that Ibrahim shared with us about the Hagia Sophia was interesting, but he also spiced it up with some fun facts too! One famous legend says that if you put your thumb in a brass hole in one of the museum’s columns and turn your hand a full 360 degrees, your wish will be granted. To be honest I forgot what I wished for (or did I!?), but I am sure it had something to do with hoping my stuffed mussel vendor friend would always escape the law.

Ibrahim also showed us graffiti carved into marble railings done by bored Roman guards. Apparently even long before those twosilly Americans carved their names into a wall on Rome’s Colosseum上个月,人类一直违背历史遗迹。

Basilica Cistern in IstanbulInside the Basilica Cistern.


Had I lived back in the 6th century the above picture would have required me to wear scuba gear and utilize an underwater camera for such a shot, but today the underground destination is easily accessiblesansair tank AND undeniable breathtaking, peaceful and, dare I say, romantic.

My favorite part? The fish that inhabit its few feet of water. It is said these fish are decedents from Byzantine ancestors. I don’t know, but I am glad they are there.

Medusa in Basilica CisternOne of the famous Medusa capitals in the cistern.

Blue MosqueBack in the sunlight it was time to visit the famous mosque with 6 minarets!

Ceiling of Blue MosqueInside the Sultan Ahmed Mosque or “Blue Mosque”, named so for its abundant blue tile work.

With my head properly covered by John’s baby blue pashmina scarf and our shoes removed, John and I made our way into the Blue Mosque without our guide. Since Ibrahim wasn’t yet an “official” guide he wasn’t permitted to accompany us westerners. And no, he couldn’t enter by faking that he was going to pray. Good question though. I asked it too.


与伊布拉希姆共进晚餐伊布拉希姆,约翰和我在传统的土耳其票价午餐时享用午餐Sultan Kosesi.

To wrap up our tour, Ibrahim took us to dine at a highly regarded local kitchen calledSultan Kosesi。Multiple dishes of kebabs, hummus, stuffed grape leaves and traditional flat bread got in our bellies and reinvigorated us for the afternoon of shopping that still laid ahead. As a note, in the above picture on the table is a plank with traditional flatbread that was served to us straight from the clay oven…it shouldn’t be confused with a dead miniature seal.

Turkish Jewelry by Hüseyin SagtanOne of the土耳其珠宝宝宝we curated by local designer, Hüseyin Sagtan.

For the next 5 hours John was a trooper and helpful eye as I pounded the pavement and honed my best negotiating skills to find incredible, cultural and unique jewelry at the best possible price. At the final shop we decided definitively that “Ibrahim” is Turkey’s favorite name for boys because we met yet another Ibrahim in a quaint jewelry shop in the Arasta Bazaar. Like Ibrahim 1 and 2, “Ibrahim 3” enchanted us with his personality and tea.

The Maiden's Tower in IstanbulThe Maiden’s Tower.

John Offeridisid indismind与我们的餐饮场所一起。他选择了一家非常特别的餐厅,位于浮雕的岛屿上间的岛上。The Maiden’s Tower, only accessible by private boat, was first built in 1110 and has been a garrison, watchtower, lighthouse and now popular restaurant. While I may have had better dinner’s in my life, the magical atmosphere, well-heeled guests and our conversation that ranged from life abroad to proper dining etiquette to the Order of the Malta made for an unforgettable last night in the heart of Turkey.

Maidens TowerI borrowed this photo from Wikipedia to illustrate how beautiful and isolated this islet is.

Turkish Guy in Istanbul

After our boat ride back to the twinkling shores of the European side, we asked our taxi to drop us just shy of the hotel so I could pick up some turkish delights and tea to bring home. We then headed down to see the Blue Mosque lit up at night and encountered a character clad in traditional garb who appeared to be hauling an oversized hookah. The apparatus on his back turned out to be a container full of a rose water and pomegranate juice beverage. He charmed a few too many turkish lira out of me with his unique pouring antics, BUT the most important part of the this interaction was that the next day after drinking his concoction, I wasn’t sick.

Blue MosqueThe Blue Mosque illuminated at night.

詹吉达and Blue MosqueMe andTheBlue Mosque.

There you have it, 48 hours in Istanbul, and it was even more wonderful than I could have planned…so thank goodness I didn’t.

但是,如果你想计划你的,请让我推荐来自我的太平洋西北旅行者之一的流行资源(恰好是比我所知道的一百万次):Rick Steves’ Istanbul

P.S. If you are sitting there wondering, “what about John?” and if any romantic connection was struck between us during such an intense and marvelous experience together, I can only say that our friendship and mutual respect grew tremendously. We look forward to our next adventure! I am sure you will find out about it here :).

4 comments for “48 Hours in Istanbul

  1. Wavatar
    March 31, 2015 at 2:52 pm


    • Wavatar
      March 31, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      So happy you enjoyed it, Michelle! Come back any time :). J

  2. Wavatar
    March 20, 2016 at 10:12 am

    lovely entry, great blog.

    Napoleon Bonaparte once said: “If the world were a single state Istanbul would be it’s capital.”

    • Wavatar
      March 20, 2016 at 10:44 pm

      Thanks so much, Ozlem! Love the quote…I tried to google quick when and in what context he said that…seems like a big compliment coming from the man who loved Paris so. Thanks for including it!

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