Istanbul is quite simply, one of the greatest cities in the world.
It is ancient, very ancient but, and this will come as surprise to many, it is incredibly modern as well – driving into Istanbul one sees shopping centers to match anything in North America, massive glass and steel commercial buildings, first class highways – from one perspective it is an ultra modern city in all ways. And then you get to ancient Istanbul – living side by side with the modern city – relics from 500 years ago, 1000 years ago, 2000 years ago, and even older.
Not counting our brief time the day before, this was my and Hilit’s third time in Istanbul, and the kids first. Our ferry docked at the Yenikapi Ferry terminal, right in the middle of Old Istanbul. We took a cab to where we were staying – we weren’t quiet sure where, as I had decided to rent us an apartment, somewhere near the Galata Tower in the “New ” city (The Galata Tower is about 500 years old – new for Istanbul). Luckily, I had the number of Nahide whose apartment it was, and she met us and showed the cab driver where to go. It’s simple to rent – I went online to one of the many sites where owners post their properties, read reviews and booked. The cost was about the same as a decent hotel room (about 110 Euros a night) – Istanbul has the most expensive accommodation in Turkey – and almost certainly we would have needed two rooms in a hotel- so an apartment suited as just fine from all perspectives. While the outside of the building was offputting (the whole street was being renovated except for this building it seemed), the inside was great – spotless, a main bedroom and a second bedroom with two beds, good bathroom and kitchen, cable TV, family room with a pullout couch – just what we needed. We paid up, and were left on our own.
It turned out we were in an incredible area – Galata used to be rundown but has become quite an “in” area in the last few years. Tons of restaurants, stores (mainly selling musical instruments for some reason) and very near Itsiklal Caddessi, the famous shopping avenue of New Istanbul. We were also within about a fifteen minute ride from all of Old Istanbul as well.
It was evening and we walked on the street. Near our apartment we found a very simple pide restaurant, and we ate some simple but great meals there – rice and beans, various kinds of pides (Turkish pizzas), soup and wonderful Ayran – Ayran is a yoghurt drink – a great thirst quencher in summer. We walked up and down Istiklal until it was dark and made our way back to the apartment.
PS These days I am planning great family trips to Turkey. To see how I can help you, click here.