Istanbul, Turkey by Shenaz Abdul Wahab

Shenaz Abdul Wahab: @shutriyah77 | www.twigglytoad.blogspot.com

What city will you be talking about?

Istanbul, Turkey

What’s the cheapest way to enjoy this city at night?

The cabs in Istanbul are really expensive charging as much as 40 euros for a trip so I recommend the public transport to the main tourist attractions. The trams and metro/funicular costs 4TL per trip and is safe, quick and definitely much cheaper. They operate well into the night. The latest I travelled till was 11pm. There are also buses available to all regions.

What’s your favorite restaurant here? What’s so special about it?

The Han-A traditional Turkish restaurant.

I discovered this restaurant whilst walking the backstreets in Sultanahmet. I was initially just passing through but I was mesmerised when I saw an old woman rolling a very large piece of dough and I knew I had to try it. The setting of the restaurant is quite spectacular and colourful. There are tables and chairs available or one could opt to dine in the traditional Turkish way by sitting on the cushions on the floor. The trams going up and down this street also creates a very exciting ambiance.

What’s your favorite thing to do on a warm Sunday morning in this city?

If you are in Sultanahmet then I would definitely recommend taking the back route from the Egyptian spice bazaar and finding your way through to Topkapai Palace. It is intriguing walking through the old cobble stoned streets discovering some really nice shops and watching the tram go up and down. If you are in Taksim Square then I would recommend walking down Istiklal street and going to the 2 churches situated on this street. The architecture and stained glass mosaics with ancient rooftops is a sight to behold and what could better than being at church on the Sabbath.

What were some of the hidden gems in that city? Why?

I would say although Istiklal street is so busy not many people walk right to the bottom of the street but this is where things are cheapest and there are some amazing stores. The churches are also hidden on this street and many people miss it but it is so beautiful that a visit is totally worth it. I also discovered a fascinating book store that went up to 10 floors in a very relic style. If you are a book lover don’t miss the amazing book stores on this street. In Sultanahmet, the hidden gems are definitely located in the backstreets. If visiting Topkapai Palace then don’t miss the Harem inside the palace.

Anything else you want to add?

Istanbul is situated on 2 continents and is the only country on the planet that has these bragging rights. It is a fusion of culture, history, food and very friendly people. People are always trying to sell you things so the moment someone approaches you and begins a conversation rest assured that he is trying to sell something. They are famous for the Baklava and Turkish Delight which is truly like nothing you have tasted. Most people speak English. Turkey is a Muslim country and all food is halaal. Visiting Turkey is a cultural renaissance, a voyage into history and an indulgence of extravagant foods.

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