After One Month in Istanbul
Wow, that went fast. Our first month in Istanbul flew by way too quickly, leaving us a little nervous about our remaining time. We’ve prepared a gigantic list of things to do and see and, although we’ve accomplished a lot, the list doesn’t appear to be getting any smaller. Still, it’s been an amazing month, which has just left us eager for more. Here are our initial impressions about living in Istanbul.
Mike: Stepping foot for the first time inside the Hagia Sophia. For a thousand years, this was the largest and most impressive church on earth, and it’s still unparalleled in many ways. The huge dome, the history seeping from every rock, the mystery of how 6th century architects were able to construct it… I could spend days here.
Mike: Too much to choose from! But, I think that I’ll never have a better plate of döner in my life. And I especially like the iskender variety — a huge plate of meat, spicy and delicious, and covered in both french fries and yogurt sauce. Undefeatable!
Mike: How varied the city is. You can go from ultra-hip and stylish Cihangir, to devout and headscarf-heavy Üsküdar… from the tourist swarms of Sultanahmet, to the quiet Armenian neighborhood of Kumkapı, all within a single day. Istanbul has a lot of faces, and they’re amazingly segregated.
Mike: I understand that Istanbul is an ancient city, and renovations are often necessary on these centuries-old buildings, but almost every day we’re foiled by yet another mosque or museum closed for repairs. Just the other day, we tried visiting St. Stephen of the Bulgars (closed), the Zeyrick Mosque (closed), the Caricatures Museum (closed) and then the Fethiye Museum (closed on Wednesdays). Fine, that last one was due to our own poor planning, but still!
Mike: I don’t know how funny it was, and it’s such a well-known experience that it’s hard to classify as “weird”. But from my point of view, a visit to the hamam is at least strange! I don’t know how else to describe the sensation of having (almost) my entire body soaped and scrubbed raw by an old, half-naked Turkish guy. That’s not to say I didn’t like it. Oh, I liked it.
Mike: 7. I just expected things to be cheaper here, but the prices are about equivalent to the rest of Europe. Alcohol is very expensive, which I hate. You can save cash, though, by eating at local joints, which are usually very good quality. And staying away from Western-style department stores. Istanbul is expensive, but since most of the locals don’t make a ton of money, the city is forced to offer affordable options… you just have to know where to look.
Mike: … impossible to pin down to a specific group. You get everything from hipsters to completely head-scarfed conservative women, gay couples, Armenians, and long-bearded Koran students… sometimes all in the same cafe!
Mike: Huge, Hilly, Hectic
This Post Has 7 Comments
istanbul sounds 🙂
You guys should really go to the northern parts of the city. If you want to see a more different and richer part of the city, places like Nisantasi, Bebek, Etiler, Levent, Besiktas or the Bosphorus coast are very different from Uskudar, Fatih, Cihangir and Beyoglu. Like Uskudar, people that live here rarely go to Fatih or Eminonu, the tourist locations, there are many people in Istanbul that haven’t been to Hagia Sofia for their whole life! I also suggest you do a complete Bosphorus tour by boat.Have fun in Istanbul! 🙂
This is exactly the type of information missing in other travel blogs! Thank you for the great information, once again!
I adore Istanbul! And, I couldn’t agree more that Hagia Sophia is an absolutely amazing place. So glad you are blogging and got to enjoy it.
I love this idea of a self-interview. Good job, guys. Really interesting!
Some friends of mine were also surprised by prices in Istanbul being similar to Western Europe. I love the style of this post, and especially the most suprising question.
Great reading your blog, guys!No specific comments about this particular post, but some general questions….I know that you made a general score as to Istanbul’s ‘expensiveness’, but I was wondering if you could comment more specifically on some of the costs; I was hoping you could let us know how much a furnished apartment could be had for per month etc. A range on these prices would be great and the process you went through to rent, contacts etc, would be very interesting!Also, did you drink the tap water, or were you on a strict bottled water rule; drinking, brushing teeth, etc? Any problems with ‘Instanbul intestines’, if you get my drift?! Thank you for such wonderful insights into Istanbul and it’s people!