by Niki Kefala
East meets west in this magical city. İstanbul’s strategic location has attracted many people from around the world. Walk down the city streets that are full of history, listen the sound of the müezzins duelling from their minarets and feel an extraordinary cultural
experience especially in Sultanahmet – Aya Sofya, the Blue Mosque, the Topkapı Palace and the Basilica Cistern. But other districts have their fair shares of major monuments that deserve the attention of anyone with an interest in buildings too, such as the Süleymaniye Mosque, Kariye Museum and the Istanbul Modern art gallery.
Dress up: Istanbul is a beautiful city with many diversities. As it is between Europe and Asia, people here wear whatever you might think. But because Turkish are more conservative, for the women is better to wear decent clothes. You’ll see few Turkish women in Islamic dress, but they do still dress rather conservatively. To avoid unwanted attention, avoid shorts above the knees, deep necklines and shoulderless tops and dresses. Also take a scarf to cover your hair when entering mosques.
Like home: I stayed at the Pera Tulip hotel, in central Beyoglu, only a 5-minute walk from Istiklal Street. Very beautiful rooms and also very clean and good breakfast.
Yummy: The city’s cuisine is as diverse as its heritage, and very very delicious. You must eat kebap, meze, Menemen (is a delicious Turkish style omelet) and freshly caught fish that is one of the city’s signature dishes and also drink rakı and Turkish tea. As for dessert? Choose baklava with lot of syrup and of course lokum.
Almost famous: Walk at Istiklal street and shop from famous brands. Eat an ice cream and take lot of photos.
The three words you must know if you are visiting Istanbul.
Merhaba: means hello.
Tuvalet: means toilets.
Tesekkurler: means thank you.