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Trip Report: Istanbul Escape

March 27, 2013

Istanbul

The winter months in the northeast are no-one’s friend.  And while it’s no secret that winters in this part of the country are less than desirable,  every year I complain, so every year I flee.  While the destination is sporadic, there are some common denominators – plus 13 degrees Celsius, availability to adult beverages, and more than eight hours of sunlight.  Last month, Istanbul was my final destination.

Istanbul is not a city for the weary.  It’s enormous in scale, the layout isn’t for the geography challenged, and well, its dynamic creates a much more intense foreign feeling than some of its European counterparts.  All this aside, with no more than four days on the ground, we had our work cut for us.  But not to fret, we also had Turkish coffee in our tanks.

Istanbul   Istanbul

Three things can be your best friend when traveling with limited time in any foreign city.  For starters, the realization that you cannot and will not see all the stuff you either want to see, or what everyone else said you must see.  And, nine of ten times, all that advice from friends and such is typically going to get you surrounded by packs of people wearing white sneakers and carrying a canon point & shoot around their neck.  After you accept this simple fact, put together a realistic plan of attack that knocks out certain pockets of a city and has everything you need – shopping, food, culture and of course, libation depots.  And finally, if you’re one of the six humans that do not own and iPhone, get your act together, then download the google maps app.  The best free purchase you’ll ever make, it works offline and will save you countless hours looking foolish/vulnerable whilst fumbling with an over sized map in the one neighborhood you were told to avoid.

Istanbul   Istanbul

No exception to the rule(s), seeing the mammoth of a city that is Istanbul was accomplished in said fashion.  During our four days, we canvassed the city, mostly on foot (the preferred method of exploring), searching for pieces of Constantinople’s past, hidden spots and quickly getting through the white sneaker zones.  And while it’s not Istanbul’s fault per se, there weren’t a lot of shopping distractions, which left plenty of time to soak in the former Ottoman Empire.

While, the weather was nearly the same as New York, as was the hours of day light, Istanbul proved to be the perfect break to my seasonal set-back.  If it’s not on your list, it should be.  The architecture, people and food are all incredible, as is the exchange rate.  And while I only dipped out for a long weekend, it only took a few hours to realize I’d be returning.

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

And as always, follow our shenanigans and keep up with us in real-time on twitter (@stndardedition) and instagram (@standardedition).

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    March 27, 2013 12:53

    Super neat.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    March 27, 2013 12:57

    I stayed at the Sebnem Hotel in Sultanahmet. Beautiful place with low rates, I’m sure many of the places there are similar. My girlfriend and I then drove down the western coast after a ferry to Bandirma. We made it to Ayvalik, then Izmir and Cesme, then Selcuk where we drifted out to Sirince and stayed at the Kirkinca. That little town has great places to stay and relax but terrible wine. Then we went to Bergama where we stayed at the Odyssey Guest House which was also wonderful. We ended our trip in Bursa where we stayed at a nice hotel and got our Turkish baths. Then back to Istanbul for our last day and our flight out.

    I didn’t notice many shopping distractions either. I was left with a bad taste in my mouth from a seller in the Bazaar –a gentleman came to me with a price but we wanted to look around more and decided to come back later if that’s what we wanted. We came back and suddenly the price was triple and it was unheard of for me to get the original price. It was annoying to deal with.

    I have to say, the little hotels and bed and breakfasts are wonderful and a highlight to my week there, lest I forget the turkish breakfast is something I want to eat every morning. I cannot wait to go back. I’d really like to see it in the winter, and move along the north coast against the Black Sea –not sure if that’s appropriate route in the winter quite yet.

    Cheers!

  3. Anonymous permalink
    March 27, 2013 12:58

    Oh more more thing. I did the offline google maps thing and it was a life-saver. In addition, if you plan on driving get a GPS with turkish maps. I don’t think I could have done my trip without it. So many roads are not labeled and so much construction is happening, you’ll still get lost, but enjoy yourself!

  4. April 23, 2013 15:43

    Great post, great photography.

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