Author: George M.
Date of Trip: September 2009
My trip to Istanbul was scheduled on the summer of the last year, despite the warnings of experienced tourists that it is very hot in the city at that time. So, succumbing to persuasion, me and my girl-friend changed our minds and tickets in a matter of days. If we had been less lucky with the booking service, we would not have done it ))). However, we were lucky enough, but I am going to tell about it later. So, we postponed our trip to September, and regretted never a whit. We were in Istanbul on September 23, and stayed there till October, 2. I have never seen such a beautiful city in autumn! If to take into account that we lived in Sirkeci, and the park, it seems to me it was the Gulhane park, was within a reach, you will understand me. Just fancy, what beautiful views we have seen! I can explain to those who have never been to Istanbul: this huge park with trees and bushes of rare tropical kinds is a marvelous scenery in autumn. As well as the Golden Horn is, which was seen from the windows of our room.
We stayed in a simple 3 star hotel. I am not going to tell its name, for you not to think it is an advertisement :). As I understood, Sirkeci is a part of Sultanahmet, and 3 star hotels are the most common ones here. It is better to choose them in advance in order not to be disappointed. We have done so. As I mentioned it was on-line booking, and the guys did their best. If I am not mistaken, the name of the company is TurkeyTPS.com. Due to the fact, we thought about hotel in advance, our room was clean, nice, and spacious. I have already mentioned the views from the windows, and we were not simply fed with meals, we were stuffed! At least, we were having breakfasts and suppers, and we were not able to eat the dinner! Of course, we tried some culinary specialties of Istanbul. We could not do without it.
Firstly, we have eaten fish in the bread on the coast. It was fresh, caught near us, still frizzling, and with lemon juice… and fresh bread… mmm, it was so delicious! It is interesting that Turks fry it on metal trays, similar to huge frying pan, but without… oil! And the fish does not stick. How they do it, it is beyond my understanding.
Secondly, we tried the sweets. I can say that I am not an expert and I am not fond of sweets, and I simply liked them. But my girl-friend was delighted. She was delighted by the skills of Turks to cook sweets from pumpkin. I liked halva and ice-cream cones: we ate them in Istiklal, when we went to Taksim. It is very funny to see how this ice-cream is sold: Turkish boys have long metal things, used to take the ice-cream, and twist them in their hands, like jugglers. It is a real performance! Children are completely delighted!
Thirdly, one evening, of course, I drank the wonderful Turkish vodka raki. I can say, it is difficult to get drunk drinking it, but I tried )))). next day, following the advice of a guy on the reception, we looked for iskembe, a rich, tasty soup of paunch, with vinegar, pepper, and crushed garlic. It is not a dietetic food, but the hang-over vanished as if by magic! My girl-friend had not drunk raki, but ate two helpings of iskembe))))
Concerning the sights I can speak for a long time, but I am not going to do it. I will not outgun the guides telling about Hagia Sophia or the Blue Mosque, when they were built, their height and width.. I want to emphasize, that these guides say at least one thing true: it is REALLY cool. And Hagia Sophia, and the Blue Mosque, and Yerebatan, and the Hippodrome. But one must see it with his own eyes: there is no use in words. That’s why I am not going to describe you the monuments, but I can say that me and my girl-friend walked in the city in the evenings, admired the sea, sat in coffee-houses, and admired Istanbul, ’cause it is an European, but at the same time subtly Eastern city. I have never seen a better city!