|Written by: Anita Lišková & Todd Shaw
Photo by: Allphoto
A heaving bazaar-city of camels, carpets and caravans, Istanbul is often called “the crossroads of Europe and Asia”. Visitors may be awed by the jumble of Byzantine, Ottoman and modern buildings as well as the sophistication of café society, designer shops, and thriving nightlife.
researcher, Wood & Company
Favorite hotel: Four Seasons, Tevkifhane Sokak 1, Sultanahmet-Eminönü, tel: +90 212 638 8200
Favorite restaurant: Venge, Akasyalű Sokak 2, tel: +90 212 281 9383 – famous for meat dishes
Favorite night club:Reina, Muallim Naci Caddesi 10, Ortaköy, tel: +90 212 259 5919 – for winter and summer
Favorite attraction: Sailing to the islands, visiting historical sites (there are so many).
Advice: You won’t see even 10% of the city unless you have a local friend (not a guide). Istanbul is a megapolis, and tourists are shown only a small portion of the historical sites, as they typically stay for just a few days.
general manager, Turkish AirlinesFavorite hotel: Ciragan Palace Hotel Kempinski, Ciragan Caddesi 32, Besiktas, tel: +90 212 258 3377
Favorite restaurant: Any restaurant in Cicek Pasaji on Istiklal caddesi.
Favorite night club: Laila, Muallim Naci cad 141-142, Kurucesme, tel: + 90 212 287 8282 – great summer open-air restaurant, bar, and disco
Best-kept secret: Viktor Levi, Hamalbasi Caddesi 12, Beyoglu, tel: +90 212 249 60 85 – venue with good Turkish drinks (wine, raki) and music
Favorite shop: Galleria Shopping mall, Ataköy, tel: + 90 212 559 9560
Advice: Visit Aysofia, Topkapi Sarayi, Yerebatan Sarnici, Istiklal Cadesi and other Bosphorus tours.
second secretary, Turkish EmbassyFavorite hotel: Pera Palas, Mesrutiyet Cad. 98, Tepebasi, tel: +90 212 251 4560
The hotel was opened in 1891, and has since been frequented by many famous people.
Favorite restaurant: Asithane, Kariye Hotel, Kariye Camii Sokak 18, Edirnekapi, tel: +90 212 534 8414. With a lovely summer terrace and rose garden. Specialties are typically extravagant.
Favorite night club: Babylon, Sehbender Sokak 3, Tunel-Asmalimescit, Beyoglu, tel: +90 212 292 7368 – the premier live music club in Istanbul
Favorite attractions: Home to the Ottoman Sultans for 400 years. The buildings and gardens are impressive, and you can see portraits of all the Sultans, as well as porcelain, armoury and jewels. You can also visit the Sultan’s private home – the Harem.
Best-kept secret: The boats running along the Bosphorus is a great way to see the skyline of Istanbul. The Dolmabahce Palace will attract your attention – it is decked with over 14 tons of gold and silver.
Favorite shop: It is a shopping experience unlikely to be matched anywhere else in the world. This is said to be the largest covered bazaar in the world, with 4,400 shops.
Advice: Ortakoy is the best place for nightlife in Istanbul, with its discos, jazz clubs, fine seafood restaurants, and bars.
sales manager, CK DeturFavorite hotel: The Marmara Istanbul Hotel, Taksim Square, tel: + 90 212 251 4696
Favorite restaurant: Haci Baba, Istiklal Caddesi, 49 Beyoglu, tel: +90 212 244 1886
Favorite night club: Laila, Muallim Naci cad 141-142, Kurucesme, tel: + 90 212 287 8282
Favorite attractions: the Blue mosque, Aya Sofya, the Sultan’s palace Topkapi, the Harem
Best-kept secret: sailing on the Bosphorus
Favorite shop: Grand Bazaar
Advice: I recommend trying a Turkish spa to cleanse your body and mind.
|Basic factsLocation: Northwest Turkey
Country dialing code: 90
Population: 15,000,000 (metropolitan area).
Ethnic mix: 90% Turkish, 6% Greek, Armenian, Jewish and other minorities, 4% Kurdish
Religion: 97% Muslim, 3% Christian, Jewish and other minorities
Time zone: GMT + 2 (GMT + 3 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50 Hz; round two or three-pin plugs are standard.
Average January temp: 5° C (23° F)
Average July temp: 30° C (86° F)
Annual rainfall: 654 mm (25.8 inches)
Where on the web?
For further information, we suggest the following websites dedicated to Istanbul:
http://www.turizm.net/cities/istanbul/index.html -a region-specific site with history and current events, plus tips on dining, sightseeing & accommodation.
http://www.travelcreek.com/istanbul.htm -this site’s homepage begins with sightseeing descriptions, and visitors can browse other sections from there.
http://istanbul.cybercityguides.com/ -a portal page that contains links mainly to hotels and accommodation, from budget to luxury.
http://www.anatolia.com/anatolia/destinations/istanbul/default.asp – a clean, easy to navigate site that will take you all over Anatolia.
http://www.travelnotes.org/Asia/turkey.htm – concise “notes” for travel and accommodation throughout the region.
Note: Turkey has had more than 12 years of 100% inflation and although statistics for 2002 indicate that this has been reduced to 60%, visitors may expect to be counting their Turkish Lira in billions rather than millions, with the largest note, 20 million Turkish Lira, worth approximately USD 12 in October 2002. For this reason, prices are given in US dollars. The general economic upheaval, however, has led to lower costs for visitors, including restaurants and some consumer goods.
· 1.5-l bottle of mineral water: USD 0.25
· 33-cl bottle of beer: USD 0.70
· Financial Times newspaper: USD 0.75
· 36-exposure color film: USD 5.25
· city-center bus ticket: USD 0.50
· adult football ticket: USD 12
· three-course meal with wine/beer: from USD 12
100,000 Turkish Lire (TRL) = GBP 0.40; USD 0.63; CZK 1.8; EUR 0.58
(currency conversion rates as of press time)
· It is customary for business visitors to address new acquaintances by their first names followed by “Bey” (sir) or “Hanim” (lady). Company heads will invariably have a vast, luxurious office in which to entertain, while employees just outside the door are squashed into cramped spaces and have virtually no authority delegated to them. Secretaries are rarely empowered to take important messages or even know the boss’s schedule, so when telephoning, it is usual for callers to be told to ring back “one hour later” or fax your queries.
· Punctuality is expected for all business meetings. In addition to taking visitors to the most expensive places in town and footing the entire bill, Turkish people adore having their photos taken with visiting dignitaries, so visitors should bring a camera. When visiting people’s homes, flowers or sweets are more appropriate than alcohol, as the host might not drink.
· Business dress is the same as in Europe or North America, although women are advised to wear business suits with skirts below the knee.