Monday June 10, 2013
• Took the blue Line Tram to the Grand Bazaar
Old Book Bazaar a good place to look for
One of the many Gold Shops
in the Grand Bazaar
Two brothers creating jewelry with physical “bellows” to pump fuel for their torches.
Their shop was one of many with jewelry for sale, but unique that they were making
jewelry right in the shop.
The location of this shop was in the center of the Grand Bazaar.
Silver scraps “foundry
and entrances to little
shops on perimeter of
the Grand Bazaar
Taksim Square at Night Demonstrators still in place Police Action Pending
Tuesday June 11, 2013
On this day we planned to visit the Dolmabache Palace Museum.
When we arrived at our tram stop and walked towards the
entrance a large gathering of police and police vehicles was
present. Waiting in line to purchase entry tickets to the museum
we received a cell phone call from our landlord telling us to leave
that area immediately as police action was pending. We decided
to take the tram to the old part of Istanbul which was deemed
safe. The ongoing updates from our landlord provided direction to
have good and safe experiences. Untours provided enough days in
Istanbul to be flexible with our plans of what and when to visit.
change in plans
Black smoke from indicated Police Action at Taksim Square
Wednesday June 12, 2013
We decided to visit Eyup. This permitted us to use bus, tram, and
funicular. The way the mass transit system of Istanbul works is within a
period of time after your first use the next “rides” are reduced fares.
The use of mass transit for transportation in Istanbul is the opposite of
individual private car use in southern California. We found the correct
bus at Eminonu that would get us to Eyup in a short amount of time.
Even though the weather was cloudy with light rain the lift up to the
top of the “hill” at Eyup was running and the view was great. Even the
lift was covered by our transportation passes.
In Eyup there are very unique grave markers. The cemetery is along the
hillside and also close to the mosque.
Local cherries were in season. They
were reasonably priced and
delicious. Prices ranged from 7 TL
to 3 TL for a Kilogram depending on
location. The further away from
tourists the cheaper they became.
Thursday June 13, 2013
Today we traveled to Ortaköy using different modes of mass transit‐ funicular, tram,
and bus. This area of Istanbul is on the “Europe” side of the Bosphorus right at the
end the “first” bridge connecting Europe with Asia. There are small jewelry shops
near the water. There are two special foods in Ortaköy‐ potatoes and waffles. Both
come with your choice of toppings, and they are delicious.
Bosphorus Bridge Ortakoy is
located on the left side.
Ortakoy Potato and Waffle Shops
The views of all the activity on the Bosphorus from Ortakoy is very refreshing.
After enjoying the local foods a walk through the shops is very nice. Next was a
longer walk to Yildiz Park. This park is huge and very green and shady. There is a
steep uphill climb to a small restaurant where cold drinks were available. We then
walked to the porcelin factory gift shop. It was closed for lunch but we could see
the incredibly fine items for sale. The high prices certainly matched the quality of
workmanship. Next was a challenge to find our way to Yildiz Palace Museum. The
park has a wall around it so we had to walk outside of the wall and then through
the technical university to find the entrance to the museum. This is probably one
sight that could be missed.
Friday June 14, 2013
This was an extra special day for us. Our landlord, Izel had asked us to go on a walking
tour with him in an area of Istanbul that we had not visited. The weather was our first
and only day of rain for two weeks in Istanbul but did not dampen our enthusiasm or
pleasure to see the wonderful sights and hear the history of these sights with our
“guide”. Only on an Idyll Untour do such adventures occur!
We started our walk from our apartment. We chose to walk down our “hill” to catch a
tram to the Grand Bazaar stop. This provided the opportunity for Izel to tell us the
history of the special stairs near the bottom of the hill and then the “bankers” street
at the bottom of the hill. We were untourists learning about our neighborhood. After
catching the tram we walked through the Old Book Bazaar just outside the Grand
Bazaar. Then we walked to Istanbul University on the way to the Suleymaniye
Mosque. The university students were present on campus, and this is Izel’s Alma
The mosque is magnificent. What an incredible architectural achievement! With the
usual mosques included in Istanbul tours this is one mosque that untourists should
Grand Bazaar Old Book Bazaar
Suleymaniye Mosque Inner Courtyard
Domes and minarets at Suleymaniye Mosque
Izel with his longtime waiter and friend Ali
Lokantasi Restaurant near Suleymanye Mosque
Our simple but delicious lunch of Turkish
beans, rice, pickles, and bread
One of the many small businesses on
our walk to the Spice Market
Enjoying our “Just Desserts” at a favorite baklava bakery of Izel in Karikoy
Fish Restaurants under the Galata Bridge
Karakoy; Bosphorus Bridge;Asian Side of Istanbul
Saturday June 15, 2013
• Today it was deemed safe to visit the Dolmabache Palace
Museum. We walked down our hill and caught the tram to
Kabatas. Then continued walking to the museum and harem.
• This is not only a wonderful museum but the Prime Minister
has offices within the buildings. We were now quite used to
using the mass transit system in Istanbul to “get around”. The
trams were especially useful. We caught the tram from
Kabatas to the Grand Bazaar stop. By this time we were
hungry and drawn to Lokantasi Restaurant for Turkish beans,
rice, pickles, bread, and drinks. We were hooked on such tasty
and reasonably priced food.
My wife and I seated at Lokantasi Resaurant with our favorite foods
After lunch we walked down to the Orient Express train station. There
is a small but very nice museum with history and memorabilia related
to the famous train.
After dinner in our apartment we decided to walk the full length of Istiklal Cadessi and
check on the demonstrations. Taksim Square has already been “cleared” by the police with
tear gas and water cannons. Gezi Park was still “occupied’ and there were many additional
demonstrators presenteven in Taksim Square. The Turkish flags and Ataturk Banner on the
side of the building in the background were huge. We were told that the demonstrators
were comprised of different groups with one thing in common‐opposition to the current
Prime Minister and his decisions. Suddenly, a number of firetrucks appeared at the far end
of Taksim Square. We decided this was a sign to leave the area. After we returned to our
apartment we received a call from Izel informing us of pending police action. This action
did occur and both Taksim Square and Gezi Park were cleared of demonstrators.
Sunday June 16, 2013
• Our day began early at 5:00 a.m. with police firing tear gas at
demonstrators outside our apartment building. This lasted a
short time. We received information from Izel that it would be
safe to shop for food for lunch and dinner at our local market.
We had lunch in our apartment and then were able to safely
visit the Modern Art Museum. The recommendation from Izel
was to not use mass transit and to return to the apartment by
4:00 p.m. We walked down our hill and then on to the
Modern Art Museum. The admission is reasonable and the
museum is quite good. I would recommend it for up to a half
day activity depending on your interest in modern art. We
then started back to our apartment.
We walked to the entrance to Tunel, our local funicular and
decided to take it to the top of our hill since it was before 4:00
p.m. When we exited the car tear gas had already been fired to
move the demonstrators out of Tunel Square. We needed to join
the crowd who were moving quickly down towards our apartment
building. The demonstrators seemed to recognize that we were
friendly tourists and they let us merge to join them. We safely
arrived at our apartment building and got inside our fourth floor
apartment. For the next four hours we were able to observe the
police action with lots of tear gas used to move the demonstrators
down our street. We were safe in our apartment above the action.
The next slide shows the demonstrators moving down our street
to escape the tear gas being fired by the following police. This
video was taken from our apratment.
Police action with tear gas in front of our apartment building.
Monday June 17, 2013
• This morning the city was calm. We decided to visit the Asian
part of Istanbul; the location is the east side of the Bosphorus.
This permitted us to use another type of mass transit vehicle,
a ferry. Our transportation card works for these public ferries.
We took Tunel to the Turvol Ferry landing in Karakoy and
caught the ferry to Uskadar. The weather was beautiful and
the scenery from the ship was incredible. Again this is what an
Untour offers‐ a chance to be a local and use their modes of
transportation to visit outlying parts of the city. After docking
we walked to Maiden’s Tower which offered great views back
to the Golden Horn area of Istanbul. We could see clearly on
one side of the water our neighborhood near Galata Tower
and on the other side Topkapi Palace.
Boarding the public ferry from Karakoy to Uskadar. The sign for
stops on board were very helpful to confirm that you are using the
correct ferry for your destination. The sky was clear so panoramic
views were the order of the day. Traveling by ferry on the water
was very refreshing. It was amazing that a short ferry ride would
take us to the western boundary of Europe to the eastern
boundary of Asia.
The Mass Transportation system in Istanbul is really great. After
using our local funicular, several different tram lines, and
different busses we adjusted to using the public ferries very
easily. Our transportation cards became part of our daily travel
within the city and “loading” it with additional Turkish Liras
when we were running low was quite easy.
After seeing the Maiden’s Tower we walked back to Uskadar to
catch a bus to Kadikoy. This is where the imprssive and huge Asian
side train station is located. Also, there is a nice square near the
ferry docks. Now it was time to find the correct ferry back to
Eminonu. Then take a tram to the Grand Bazaar. We did some
shopping for gifts along the walk back to the Spice Market. Then we
continued across the Galata Bridge and caught the Tunel back to our
Tuesday June 18, 2013
Today was an incredible ideal Idyll adventure. Izel and his sister Doret
invited us to join them in a tour of the Zeyrek area of the city that
tourists do not usually visit. They were very careful to check on their
iphones and street maps the best routes to take for a good
experience since this would be in a religiously conservative area of
Istanbul, and the women in our little group would not be “covered”.
We started the day with our usual untours breakfast‐ good coffee
and baked goods in our apartment. Then met Izel and Doret to
catch a very “local” bus just around the corner from our
apartment, crossed the Ataturk Bridge for the first time, and drove
through a different part of Istanbul. We got off the bus in the Fatih
area and started walking towards the Fatih Mosque.
The beautiful colors and designs inside the Mosque were incredible and quite a
contrast to the weather outside.
Now the walking tour begins though parts of Istanbul without tourists but today with
Great Pide Restaurant for Lunch
Balat Ahrida Synagogue
Over 500 years old
Walking through Balat Neighborhood
Gave us a chance to see another part of
Istanbul with no Tourists…only Locals and
Bulgarian Church waiting for
funds to do Restoration
End of the day with old
Taksim‐Tunel Street Car
This was our last day in our two weeks Istanbul Untour and was one of the
best days that I ever experienced. The kindness shown to us by Izel and
Doret proved once again the strength of Untours. With an Untour it is
possible to make new friends who will provide opportunities to see places,
people, and sights that most tourists are not even aware.
We ended this great day by packing for departure home early the next