I really love this part of our Turkey trip because we were able explore more of the city at our pace and to absorb in a little bit more the life of the Turkish in the city especially during our shopping sprees. We asked some questions and had conversations to the point that we talked about our families (a few could speak English). The result? We got special price for a few things that we bought.
We also relished the variety and savored the flavors of food, curiously entered the eateries and bakeries and ended buying one of each product. Fortunately, they understood our touristic mind and obliged to our whims. Ha ha. The Turkish were friendly lot especially the young men and the children.
After that long trip, I still dont have enough of Istanbul and hoping and praying to go back again but not soon, of course.
Based on this friend's fb pictures and other bloggers, we embarked on the self-tour unconfidently after relying so comfortably and effortlessly on our tour leader, Nicki.
From the map above, basically, there are 6 important areas a tourist will visit; the Historical part, the Modern part, the Golden Horn, the Asian Shore, the Princes' Islands and Along the Bosphorus. Although we went to 5 of these areas, we were not able to cover all of them. Shopping was done only in the historical part, mainly The Grand Bazaar and The Egyptian Market (Spice Market).
Ok, for easier reference map of where to go (without any travel guide) use the Shopping Map of Istanbul (i.e. Global Blue Shopping map which can be acquired at many hotels).
I love the Old Istanbul, the atmosphere, the architecture and the weather. They are just great. I like the homely hotel (it's a boutique hotel) we stayed in too.
On the first day we were on our own, we accidently visited the Sultan Mahmud Musoleum on our way to look for food (ended up eating at Burger King nearby) and other days, on our way to the Grand Bazaar from our hotel. It houses the tombs of three Ottoman Sultans and their closest relatives.
2) The Modern Istanbul covers places like Tunel, Karakoy, Taksim/Beyoglu, Galata, Ortakoy etc. We visited Taksim Square, Istiklal Caddesi, Dolmabahce Palace, Galata Tower, The Ortakoy Big Stuffed Potatoes and others..
The living palace of the royal ladies and children which we visited. The charge or entrance fee was TL20 a person.
4) Along the Bosphorus where we just viewed from the cruise boat, not enough time to explore the towns of Bebek, Arnavutkoy and Yenikoy