Istanbul in July | Australian Frequent Flyer
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Istanbul in July

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Title slightly incorrect as our bkg is Jun 30 to Jul 7 - but as we did not arrive into hotel until 00:05 on Jul 1 I will stick with it.

I booked the Hilton Bominti - Istanbul Sisli Hotels - Hilton Istanbul Bomonti Hotel - just a tad out of the way but it is brand new being opened Jan 06, 2014 - I booked King Taksim Suite - 85sq mtr for TL810 incl tax (AD403) incl exec lounge - this suite is MAGNIFICANT - it has 6 individual rms / areas - and so beautifully appointed.

King Taksim Suite.JPG

The hotel in general is just so grand and so superb - yes you are a $10 to $15 taxi ride from everything - but to get the space and amenities included with such a grand room makes it all worthwhile.

Only downer so far is exec lounge - beautifully appointed spacious lounge on 34th floor but that is where it ends - F & B offerings dismal to say the least - ewe had brekky here first morn - big mistake - nibbled on this and that and then went down to main dining area to have a real breakfast.

Happy hour in exec lounge 6 to 8pm - Turkish red and white wine only - again nibbles really disappointing.

Again at check-in staff welcomed me as a HH Dia and that I had exec lounge access anyway and that full breakfast was included - just makes you feel so welcome.
 
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First tip you need to learn about in Istanbul is to pick REAL from FAKE cabs - rather easy - all REAL cabs with have registered logo on side like this:

photo 1.jpg

Whereas the FAKE cabs will be still badged and painted identical to REAL cabs but no logos:

photo 2.jpg

This info was supplied by the very first taxi driver we had - he said not a case of MIGHT have fight over fare with FAKE cab but rather a case of WILL have fight over fare.
 

amaroo

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Excellent. Was hoping you'd post on Istanbul. Hungry for detail and photos!

Have a FAB time!
 
Vinomofo is the best wine deals site on the planet. Good wines, real people and epic deals, without all the bowties and bs.

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First night we booked a dinner cruise on Bosphorus which includes traditional Turkish dance and music show:

Cruise 1.jpg Cruise 2.jpg

80ea incl all food and drinks - 8pm dep / midnight ret.This really was a fun night - OK so food was acceptable - drinks kinda ordinary being only Turkish red or white wine and beer - oh whisky / vodka / gin - I drank red and white all night - it was ok.

You eat at tables inside on lower level - after eating all move to top deck for the dance / music show - it really was fun with plenty audience participation.
 
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Before arriving I had a niece who has friends from Istanbul who put together a list of the major tourist attractions - their advice was do these major ones that you want - but seek advice from concierge at hotel as to what might be new or that they were not aware of as they are experts in what tourists may seek:

Istanbul and places to see,
1- Sultanahmet - Hippodrome of Constantinople - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2- Topkapi Palace - Topkap

3- Basilica Cistern - Basilica Cistern - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

4- Grand Bazaar - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Bazaar,_Istanbul

5- Hagia Sophia - Hagia Sophia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

6- Blue Mosque - Sultan Ahmed Mosque - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

7- Istiklal Avenue - Ä°stiklal Avenue - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

8- Bosphours - Bosphorus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

9- Prince Islands - Prince Islands - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

Alanslegal

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And if you love sweet things ..... try all the different flavors of baklava! There's so many, enjoy them inside the bazaars or the many little cafes nearby sipping turkish teas. We went to Istanbul during their winter, it was freezing :( but less people/touristy :)
 
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I should add also that Hilton Bomonti take no prisoners when pricing drinks = Moet NV in Lobby Bar or Cloud 34 which is bar on top floor TL550 ~AD274 - and they won't sell by the glass - bottle only - we had 2 glasses Prosecco 1st in hotel in both bars and both were TL40 / AD20 ea - ouch!

Speaking of expensive champagne - was in XS nightclub in Encore in LV coupla years back and they wanted USD600 for Moet - yeah right!

Was in bar in Raffles coupla years back and had bot Bolly with dinner with Cruiserette - we ventured outside for a ceegar and a glass of Bolly rose - Cruiserette says I'll pay - god I laughed when she had to cough up SD120 for 1 glass Bolly rose and 1 ceegar - she still reminds to this day also.
 

Pushka

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We'll be in Istanbul in just over 2 weeks time and your "shopping list" is pretty much identical to mine. Looking forward to this although we leave for Dubai Saturday so my time for reading is limited.
 

KitKat

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like your list, suggest Chora church as well if you have time, away from the crowds, in the burbs'
need to take a taxi there
then can walk down to the Horn, along the city wall (steep climb to ramparts) in residential area (different feel), and get a boat back to downtown

also if you have time, take a ferry across and watch the sun go down from the asian side, they have little turkish tea stands with seats along the waterfront
 
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Here are some recos on food from a couple of Turkishians:

Street Food.

  1. Go to a place called Eminonu and taste the Fish sandwich that people cook on the street as well as stuffed muscles ( they are normally sold in a tray) https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=midye+dolmasi+eminonu
  2. Go under the Eminonu bridge and have some sea food there ( might be a bit too touristic)
  3. Try a restaurant called Kosebasi Food is very good there and there are all kinds of kebabs to taste
  4. Go to a place called Asmali Mescit Asmalimescit: Istanbul Neighborhood Walk - TripAdvisor which has many small restaurants and very worthwhile to visit
  5. Another good restaurant with Tasty food is called KONYALI LOKANTASI - Sirkeci 1897 - Resmi internet sitesi
  6. Also as far as food to taste, I recommend Karniyarik, Iskender, Adana Kebap, Lahmacun, if you are into extreme food then Kokorec ( cooked intestines) and Iskembe ( Tribe soup) could be interesting to try.
 
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As I posted in ToTT there is no live telecast of Wimbledon on Turkish TV - and I can find nowhere on net to stream it live - I can get audio but not video - but that's life huh.

Even worse than that - the main bar - Cloud 34 on 34th floor is not open Sundays - free red, white wine and beer in Exec Lounge 6pm to 8pm - but main bar closed Sundays. I asked was that religious reason? No is just Sunday they need a rest! Hows that - 829 room 5* hotel and the main bar closed every Sunday - guess the GM will need to get a letter after we depart.
 
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I always wanted to try a genuine Turkish Bath house - so after spotting this one in the old city I ventured in:

1. Baths.JPG

300yr old - can't get much more genuine than that huh? And the experience? BIG MISTAKE - BIG MISTAKE! I lasted 20 mins and demanded the service stop and walked out.

Why? Well you tell me would you do the same. You enter - pay your 60 - go into little room - change and lock room on exit. You then meet your Tellak (Eng translation: Masseur or dude who tortures you) and he leads you into baths area - he then directs you into 'Hot Room' (sauna) where you stay for 10 mins.

He then comes grab you then leads you to centre area and lays you face down and naked on marble slab (sh*t marble is hard). He then proceeds to give you some lame attempt at a massage or whatever you might call it - but it wasn't good! Now at this point in time - I become totally aware of what is happening. Here I am lying naked with a 60yr old guy with bad breath and BO supposedly massaging me in an extremely hot and humid environment which sees both of us sweating profusely - unfortunately the Tellak is standing over me and his sweat dripping all over me - I cut this short.

Next we move to the area where they scrub your skin - again I sit down with Tellak hovering over me - I tolerated this for like 2 mins and then call it quits for good - I am outa here! As I am walking out I see a big sign on wall - TIP IS VOLUNTARY - yeah right like that is going to happen!
 
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We tried to go to Blue Mosque next but was closed for prayer - so off to Bisilica Cistern:

4. Bisilica Cistern.JPG

Again so spectacular but underground - impossible to photograph by a clown like me. Next off to Blue Mosque:

5. BM 1.JPG

And:

6. BM 3.JPG

Again just AMAZING - DO NOT MISS IT.

BUT - I am one who will never allow political correctness to override truth in reporting - so here goes. To entre BM you must remove shoes and place in small plastic bag you carry with you - ladies must wear shawl to cover shoulders - no biggie so far. Inside BM is breathtaking in more ways than one - visually it is just amazing - and we wandered for a few mins snapping pics then Cruiserette and my eyes both met - not love - no we both realised at the same time there is a totally overwhelming stench of foot odour - 1,000+ pongy sets of trotters is just too much - we bolted for exit. Surely others have experienced same?
 
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Next day was Topkapi Palace - again huge and spectacular - does not have the WOW factor of what we saw previous day - but still if in IST you gotta see it:

7. TP 1.JPG

And:

8. TP 2.JPG

And:

9. TP 3.JPG

Again the sheer size and enormity of Topkapi Palace make it impossible to photograph with a little point and click.
 
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Most enjoyable restaurant we have experienced to date was Laledan Restaurant at Kempinski Ciragan Palace:

Dinner Kal.JPG

We spotted this restaurant when we were on our Bosphous cruise - visually it was just spectacular - priced to match too I must admit!
 
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