This is the view of Galata Tower from our apartment’s living room and front bedroom windows. One of the many reasons the Nur apartment is fantastic!
Savel istanbul untour trip log part 1
Istanbul Untour 2013
June 4 – June 19, 2013
My wife and I had been on a guided tour of Turkey and
Istanbul in the summer of 2010. We found every aspect of
the trip to be great except an untour of Istanbul was
missing. When we returned home I contacted Idyll and
asked about the possibility of an Istanbul Untour. In a little
over two years the dream came true…an Istanbul Untour
was available. We had only spent four days in Istanbul on
our guided tour and felt the city deserved a two weeks
untour. We reserved the Nur Apartment quickly and then
counted the days for departure. Southern California is our
home, and Istanbul is a long distance from San Diego. We
knew the flights would be long and that we would arrive
with jet lag caused by the ten hours time difference. We
knew we would recover from these time and distance
hurdles, and then we could settle into our Istanbul
Tuesday June 4, 2013
• This was our day of departure to begin our
Istanbul Untour for two weeks. Our flights were a
United Airlines flight San Diego, California
nonstop to Washington D.C. Then a Turkish
Airlines flight nonstop Washington D.C. to
Istanbul, Turkey. This is a total of 15 hours “in the
air”. With all of the pre-boarding, TSA screenings,
connection time between flights it was closer to a
full 24 hours day to get from our home in San
Diego to Istanbul Airport. This means we arrived
the “next” day.
Wednesday June 5, 2013
• The new day began with arrival at the Istanbul Airport. The required
$20 US Visa location at the airport changed from our previous
Turkey trip so we needed to get out of the long passport control
line and get the Visa. Then we needed to get back in an even longer
line for passport control. Once through we went to pick up our
checked suitcases. Outsides of the Customs area we connected with
Levent our Idyll arrivals person. He arranged for a comfortable van
to take us from the airport to our apartment. At the apartment we
met our landlord, Izel who would become our most important
person for the next two weeks.
• Izel explained the apartment and other bits of information about
the neighborhood. Then he recommended a short walk which gave
us access to a good and reliable ATM for Turkish Lira withdrawal.
Also, markets for food were pointed out.
Neighborhood walk with Landlord
Izel pointed out that the Galata Tower in the background was a very
good landmark for location of our apartment.
This photo is the end of Istiklal Street near Tunel Square by our apartment. Izel is
explaining the part of the pedestrian street deemed safe from the current
demonstrations and police action. Taksim Square and Gezi Park at the other end of the
street were both “occupied” by peaceful demonstrators at this time.
Thursday June 6, 2013
• The day started with a quick visit to our local
bakery for breakfast pastries. Then after
coffee and bakery items in the apartment we
decided to walk to our designated Idyll
orientation location by the Spice Market. This
was a downhill walk to the bottom of our
“hill” then a walk across the Galata Bridge. To
the Spice Market. We arrived early so could
check out the market and perimeter shops.
Idyll Lunch at Bab-i-Hayat Restaurant
some of our plates of delicious Turkish food
• The Idyll activity following the orientation and
lunch was a boat ride on the Bosphorus.
Unfortunately, my wife and I were exhausted
from the flights from San Diego to Istanbul so
we passed on the experience. We walked back
across the Galata Bridge and then tried to find
the funicular called Tunel to quickly get back
“up the hill” to our apartment..
• The first thing to realize when asking locals the
location of Tunel is to not ask for the
“funicular”. Ask for Tunel and you will get
help. Once we found Tunel we needed to
learn how to “pass” our transportation cards
over the reader for entrance. Tunel became a
very useful and inexpensive way for us to get
“up our hill” to our apartment.
Friday June 7, 2013
• We used our transportation passes to catch a
tram to visit Topkapi Palace Museum and
The Istanbul Museum Pass was a good option for us since we
wanted to visit almost all of the sites covered. Also, the 72
hours validation was not a problem to cover all sites we
decided to visit.
The savings of admission prices was not significant, but we
did not need to stand in line to purchase individual tickets
after the initial purchase. This was a great savings in time.
I recommend purchase of the Istanbul Museum Pass.
After the pass is valid the other sights with admission fees
seem to have reasonable prices and lines at the ticket offices.
Topkapi Palace Museum
View of our apartment’s
neighborhood from Topkapi
Palace Musem the Galata Tower
continues to be a very good
One of the beautiful
parts of Topkapi Palce
• A short walk from the exit of the Topkapi
Palace gets you to Hagia Sophia
Interior Photos of Hagia Sophia
Lots of Restoration Work in Progress
Saturday June 8, 2013
• Took the bus from Eminonu bus “station” to
visit the Chora Church. We were on the
correct bus but missed the bus stop for the
church. We ended up at the last stop for the
bus and had to catch one back. This reminded
us how important it is to let the bus driver
know where you “want to get off”. Once we
arrived at the correct stop, Edirnekapi it was a
short walk to the church museum.
After visiting the Chora Church we caught the bus back to Eminonu and the Spice Market.
The market was “alive” with many shoppers since it was midday.
Walked across the Galata Bridge and took Tunel back to the Apartment
We shopped at the small market around the corner from our apartment and
Bought items to make dinner at home.
Information was given to us from our landlord regarding police action against the
demonstrators was planned for Monday. We saw a Police helicopter circling the
Taksim Square and Gezi Park area.
Sunday June 9, 2013
• This was the third day
for our Istanbul
Museum Pass so we
wanted to visit two
remaining museums to
get good use of the pass
which is good for 72
hours. We used Tunel
and a tram to first get
to the Archeological
The Istanbul Archeological Museum is excellent. Their collection of artifacts is
fantastic. If you are really interested in the history of Turkey this could be an
all day visit easily. If you have moderate interest it can be covered in half a
day. This is what we chose to do. Then we walked to a famous restaurant
called Pudding Shop. This type of restaurant occurs in Istanbul where you can
see hot containers of different foods available that day. You select the ones
you want and order drinks with a waiter. Then after being seated you will be
served your drinks and food. All of this is very efficient, and the food was
quite good and reasonably priced.
After lunch we wanted to visit the Mosaic Museum which is covered by the
Istanbul Museum Pass. We had a map, knew where we were, knew where we
wanted to go, but construction made it difficult to find the entrance to the
Mosaic Museum. Once there we enjoyed a small but very good collection of
old mosaics. This museum can be visited in a half day or a couple of hours.
Adjacent to the museum is a line of very nice shops selling most items that
visitors might want to purchase. These items include porcelain pieces,
clothing, art work, jewelry, etc.
The Istanbul Museum Pass costs 72 Turkish Liras which is slightly less than the
admission for all museums covered by the pass. I recommend purchasing the
pass to save the time involved in purchasing individual tickets.
Shops wares near the Mosaic Museum
Back to the Apartment with the Tram. As we approached Karikoy a
large group of demonstrators were headed for Tunel. Along the way
and on Istiklal Street venders were selling items like Turkish flags, Tshirts, tear gas masks, goggles, etc. to persons who were preparing for
a big demonstration that evening.
On the following slide, there is a short video that shows the
demonstrators that have just started to walk from Tunel Square
towards Taksim Square on Istiklal Street