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23 June 2021 Travel time: with 18 June 2021 on 21 June 2021
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What I want to start this Review with is that three days in Istanbul is a great opportunity to celebrate your birthday!

Yes, and for a long time we did not travel abroad.

The journey begins at the Odessa Airport - there are new rules: until recently there was a ban on free entry. Therefore, all the cars huddled behind the fence of the Airport, looking like poor relatives waiting for the arrivals (both taxi drivers and meeting people). And now the management has taken pity on the tourists and you can drive under the main entrance for free, though once a day.

Our taxi driver was at the Airport for the third time today, so we had to start our journey on foot.

They let everyone into the Airport painlessly. They don't even ask for a ticket. But at the check-in counter, a surprise awaited us, namely: need insurance for those traveling abroad from the consequences of COVID. For a long time we did not agree with the manager that this is a mandatory requirement, until he brought, apparently for the same as we are unbelievers, a list of required documents for leaving, and we gave up. Therefore, since for us this requirement to have insurance with us was absolutely unexpected, we issued it right in line by phone.

What else can I advise: prepare the necessary documents in advance, for example, link your HES Code to your IstanbulKart.

Both registrations are completely free online:

https://register. gov. tr/ health. gov. tr/

https://kisisellestirme. istanbulkart. istanbul/

By the way, this HES Code is asked all the time everywhere – you can't go anywhere on a tour without showing it. Many carry printouts, but we showed them on the phone - that was enough.

And yet, if you do not link the HES Code to your Istanbul card (IstanbulKart), then you will not be able to use one card to ride the whole company. Now the rule is: one person - one card (we tried - they didn’t let us in).

So, check-in for the flight (it doesn't cost anything on your own, at the Airport it costs about 20 dollars) and forward to Duty Free through customs control.

What else can I give advice for Duty Free is to ask about promotions, otherwise we would have bought the Bacardi Mojito we need so much at full price, and now when buying 3 units there will be a 30% discount, that is, the third bottle is free !

And one more piece of advice - do not leave your passport in Duty Free on the shelf with champagne, as we did, and then, as you will find, the same Bacardi Mojito goes not like alcohol, but like water!

The flight took about an hour, a little more. They don't feed. They give water. The Istanbul Airport itself is empty. It's for the best - there are no queues.

What caused bewilderment was the fact that the Turks did not remove the Christmas decorations in June. Although very beautiful. But June, after all... is not even May anymore, as in the notorious old joke about a Christmas tree not thrown away.

Further way in the direction of buses to the city (we write for independent tourists).

By the way, on the way to the bus platforms, you will pass currency exchange offices, in which the farther from the customs control and closer to the buses they will try to deceive you less and less: the exchange rate when we were there was about 8.5 Turkish liras for 1 dollar, and at the Airport you will be offered 6.8 lire per dollar. True, the closer to the buses, the closer the course to reality.

So the currency exchange offices at Istanbul Airport are a kind of confirmation of the theory of the materiality of the world: the farther from the clouds, the closer you are to the real world.

If you don't have an IstanbulKart, then you can buy it on platform number 1 - it's immediately to the left of the exit from the Airport. With this card, after linking HES Code to it, you can pay on the bus to Istanbul. Now booths with the sale of tickets for these buses have also been added. And you can pay with your bank card directly to the bus driver. The course is normal (about 3 hryvnia per Turkish lira).

Based on the above, we can offer 2 options for vacationers:

First - do not calculate the exchange rate at all, but consider the resulting lira as your own hryvnia and count during your vacation on the money that is in your wallet, without thinking about the exchange rate. Then everything is easy and simple, for example, after exchanging 100 dollars, I have only 850 lira and for me a tram ride is 3.5 lira - it’s not expensive and even leather slippers for 255 lira are also tolerable or lunch for 40 lira is quite acceptable.

Or Second option - just multiply all prices in Istanbul by 3 and get the cost in hryvnias. Also an option: the fare will cost 10.5 hryvnia, and, for example, lunch for 120 hryvnia and so on.

So, bus platforms at Istanbul Airport. There have been changes. There is no platform 17, from which we previously drove directly to Sultanahmet Square between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia - the Wisdom of God, Hagia Sophia of Constantinople, Hagia Sophia.

The fare is 30 liras per person.

Now the bus goes through the whole city from the 15th platform only to the Grand Bazaar (Kapala charshi).

But it's okay, because Google and Istanbul Kart (IstanbulKart) - our everything. It is very easy to figure it out and traveling through the center of Istanbul will take about 30 minutes on the strength, despite terrible traffic jams (trams and buses have separate lanes on the road).

So, the MINEL HOTEL is located 10 minutes walk from the Grand Bazaar in the immediate vicinity of the Hagia Sophia just opposite the Gü lhane Parki.

This is not the first time we have been in this Hotel - everything is familiar. Clean rooms and very friendly staff. Now communication is only in English: Russian-speaking Kazakhs, from the last trip, have disappeared somewhere.

By the way, if you do not want to mess with the buses, you can order a transfer directly from the Hotel:

Phone/WhatsApp: +9.545 32.26 12 (Faruk manager)

The cost is 30 Euro or 250 lire.

The price of an Uber taxi is the same.

The Room has everything you need and there is a terrible secret - when you leave the Room, taking the card from the cell, the refrigerator will not work. It is, of course, logical that the light in the Room is turned off when there are no tourists there, but it is very strange that a tourist cannot leave the air conditioner running or enjoy cold drinks from the refrigerator upon returning.

What's bad now is no breakfast. They seem to be there: on a plate from 8 in the morning to 11 you will find one cookie, butter and thinly sliced ​ ​ ​ ​ cucumber, covered all over the plate in cling film, but still - this is not breakfast, but just one disorder. On departure, we even refused breakfast.

There is a restaurant Antik Cafe Gü lhane directly under the Hotel.

Prices are moderate. Everything is very tasty and fresh. Portions that seem just too big to fit on the third day of travel are easy to fit, but do not yet require supplementation. Beer is served in aluminum cups in a very original way. There are doubts that the capacity is 0.5 liters, but it is very beautiful. Dinner will cost about 50-75 lire per person.

The only thing we could not put up with was discussions at night of seagulls, which, apparently, all over the city chose the roof of our Hotel and were hotly discussing something all night long, judging by the heart-rending cries, splashing opponents with saliva. During the day, the discussions were not so hot, most likely, they need to refresh themselves before the next night round of negotiations. We even wanted to find out the essence of the dispute in order to calm at least half of the flock of seagulls so that we could fall asleep, but this time it didn’t work out - there would be a reason to go to Istanbul again.

On the morning of my birthday, without being reminded, the manager made us happy by personally presenting a cake with a lit candle and singing with us to the birthday girl: “Happy birthday to you! ". The cake turned out to be unusually tasty and did not add a single gram to the figure. In general, the manager is a great fellow!

OVERALL EVALUATION OF THE MINEL HOTEL - GOOD (a solid four because of the location and cleanliness of the Room, despite the lack of breakfast and seagulls screaming at night)

Where you can go right away is:

to the right from the Hotel - to Sultanahmet Square

directly opposite of the Hotel - Gü lhane Parki

to the left from the Hotel – Spice Bazaar also Spice Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Mysyr-charshysy (M? s? r Ç ar? ? s? )

Of course we went to the left - vacation after all.

No change here. There are few people. There is no crowd. The sellers are very friendly. We even took hryvnias for purchases (when the third day came and as they say in Tunisia: “tourist bankroto”). Be sure to serve free tea. This time it was pomegranate. I liked it so much that I took half a kilo home.

Prices remain unchanged: tea, depending on the content, from 250 to 450 lira per kilogram, there is a more expensive one for 750 lira, silver prices are something around 3-10 dollars per gram, shirts and T-shirts around the bazaar are only the most real "original" of all world brands for 10 dollars (80-90 lire), sneakers for 120 lire.

By the way, what is worth noting right away is that everyone is wearing masks. Not only at the entrance to a public place, but in general, everyone and everywhere is wearing masks. On the street. In the shops. In parks. On the squares. Everywhere! Some tourists go without masks...

So, EGYPTIAN MARKET (MISIR CARSISI) - aka the Egyptian market, aka the Spice Market, aka Mysyr-charshysy market, located in the old part of Istanbul, in Eminonu district, by the way, this is the second largest market in Istanbul after the Grand Bazaar. On the territory of the Egyptian market there are about 100 shops and there is everything or almost everything or almost everything. The market was built back in 1660 by Sultana Hatice Turhan (formerly a Ukrainian Nadezhda), who was the concubine of Sultan Ibrahim I and the mother of the future Sultan Mehmed IV, and initially the market was part of the New Mosque complex.

OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF THE EGYPTIAN MARKET (MISIR CARSISI) - EXCELLENT (we found everything we were looking for and the rain is not a hindrance)

As we were able to make sure, the Egyptian Bazaar smoothly flows into the GRAND BAZAAR (CAPALI CARASI) - aka the Covered Bazaar, aka the Covered Market, aka Kapali-charshi - this is one of the largest covered markets in the world, which is located in the Old part of Istanbul and covers an area of ​ ​ more than 30.000 square meters and more than 4.000 shops are located on 66 streets of the bazaar.

It is also worth going to the Grand Bazaar, both to admire the interior, and in front of the main entrance in exchange offices, the exchange rate is always higher than in the city center.

Where we can advise you to go in the evening upon arrival is the Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi) - located in the European part of Istanbul on a high hill of the Galata district. It can be seen from almost all points of the central part of the city. The tower is 67 meters high, 9 meters in diameter, and 140 meters above sea level. The tower is one of the symbols of the city.

Why we recommend going in the evening - there is no queue. How many times have been in Istanbul, just so many times they didn’t get in because of the long queues. Now there is no queue at all.

You can get from the city center on foot, across the Galata bridge - 20-25 minutes, or you can take the T1 tram in 5 minutes.

In general, if you figure out the transportation scheme in Istanbul (with the help of Google), you can save a lot of time and effort, but we decided that movement is life. The daily standard is 20.000 steps, it is even better to write in words - twenty or more thousand steps a day!

Entrance to the Galata Tower seems to cost 40 lira. At the entrance they will definitely ask about the HES Code, otherwise they will not let you in. Rise upward on the elevator, down the descent along the most beautiful stairs.

The view of the city from the observation deck is simply amazing. Not even incomparable. Not even stunningly incomparable. At the same time, we regretted that we didn’t get here earlier and were just as happy that we could now.

I didn't want to leave - we couldn't breathe. We recommend to everyone.

Below, on the second floor of the Tower, there is a souvenir shop.

OVERALL EVALUATION Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi) - EXCELLENT (almost perfection)

You can get up from the bridge towards the Tower by funicular (Tunell). The cost is 2.5 lira, payment by the same Istanbul card (IstanbulKart). You need to cross the street to the left in the direction of the tram and there will be a funicular (Tunell).

But why hurry, because right at the end of the bridge there is an unusual cafe Muhallebicisi.

We authoritatively declare that here is the most delicious local coffee and the freshest confectionery for every taste. We recommend to everyone.

The price of coffee is 9 lira.


And then a surprise awaited us!

Istiklal Street is one of the most popular pedestrian streets in Istanbul, located in the Beyoglu district. The street originates in Taksim Square and goes towards the Golden Horn Bay for about a little over a kilometer. Istiklal Street has the shape of a boomerang, at the bend point of which is the Galatasaray Square with the Galatasaray Lyceum.

However, in those days that we were in Turkey, there was a curfew and on the street at 11 pm, on which earlier at the same time of day we saw crowds of people, we were alone.

Nothing worked!

Therefore, having lost the last strength, we decided to return to the Hotel.

We recommend ordering an Uber taxi - prices will be almost homemade.

For example, from Istiklal street back to the Hotel in the Sultanahmet area, we paid 90 lira.

And, for example, from the Hotel to the Aquarium (Florya Caddesi) we also paid 90 lira.

We decided to return to Istiklal Street in the afternoon.

Everything was fine during the day - every shop window had ads about discounts up to 50%. Junk sea, but you can find something of high quality. Turkish brands like ADL are not very expensive and stylish. Cards are accepted everywhere.

Conclusion - you can go, though who came to Turkey for what.

So the next day we decided to rest spiritually and go to the Aquarium (Florya Caddesi).

It turned out that there are two of these aquariums in Istanbul. We have not figured out the names - the main thing is that the right one is located in the airport area.

Entry costs something around 130 lira.

At first, it may seem to you that you were deceived and after passing through 3 pavilions you will begin to have doubts about what you paid so much money for.

But this is a misleading perception - the aquarium is very large. Each step of the tour is divided by small pavilions, which are innumerable.

In the end, you will get to the lower level, under a large pool, and if you're lucky, they will feed the fish in front of you, and they will all gather in front of you behind the glass.

There are many marine life we ​ ​ love, but this time the stingrays have won our hearts.

Firstly, they rushed around behind the glass, as if specially for a photo shoot, and when they started to hand-feed them and they arranged a real folk dance ensemble and, we suspect, songs, we just fell in love with them.

Therefore, a stingray is a thing! About like a raccoon, but a stingray is funnier.

Here, in the Aquarium, you can take your time - we were lucky: there were few tourists.

At the passage between the pavilions there is an observation deck overlooking the city, by the way, everyone smokes here: both tourists and scuba divers who feed the fish.

The exposition ends with a huge pavilion: a jungle with greenery up to the ceiling and you enter a huge shopping center.

There are no copies of brands here - only elite goods are presented. Prices are standard, as high as the quality of goods.

OVERALL EVALUATION OF THE AQUARIUM (Florya Caddesi): EXCELLENT (if you get especially at the feeding time of the fish)

Returning back to the Hotel by taxi, a surprise awaited us - an earthquake.

On June 19.2021 (Saturday), an earthquake of magnitude 3.9 was recorded in Istanbul.

The earthquake occurred around 15:00 local time in the Kartal region. The source lay at a depth of 7.06 km.

There are no damages or casualties after the earthquake.

None of us expected such a surprise on the eve of the birthday.

After sitting on the street for about an hour and calling all the relatives, telling them that everything was fine with us, we moved on (otherwise, because of the taxi ride, it was still far from our daily standard of 20 thousand steps).

Dolmabahç e Palace (Dolmabahç e - "mound garden") is the palace of the Ottoman sultans on the European side of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, on the border of the Besiktas and Kabatas districts.

It is very easy to get there: from the city center, the same T1 tram to the final stop Besiktas (Besictas), then 5 minutes on foot and here it is - the palace!

A lot has been said about the Palace itself, including that you can't take pictures inside. At the entrance you can take a free audio guide, leaving your passport as a deposit.

Prices vary depending on the places you want to visit in the Palace, such as the harem.

We took a standard tour without a guide and a harem - only the Palace itself.

Opinions on the tour were divided. Someone saw the beauty of architecture and 14 tons of gold and 70 tons of silver invested in the construction, and someone could not understand why this Palace is considered more beautiful than Topkapi (Topkapi Sarayi Muzesi).

In the end, the general opinion is that it's worth going.


Where else we recommend to go:

Suleymaniye Mosque (Sü leymaniye Camii) is the second most important and the first largest mosque in Istanbul (the first one is Sultan Ahmet Mosque), can accommodate more than 5.000 believers. The mosque is located in the old part of the city, in the Vefa district.

There is a cemetery in the courtyard of the mosque, here in two neighboring mausoleums lies Suleiman himself and his beloved wife Hurrem (Roksolana) with their daughter Mihrimah.

OVERALL ASSESSMENT of the Suleymaniye Mosque (Sü leymaniye Camii) - EXCELLENT (especially for connoisseurs of the TV series "The Magnificent Century").


In the past, a patriarchal Orthodox cathedral, later a mosque, then a museum, now a mosque, a world-famous monument of Byzantine architecture, a symbol of the "golden age" of Byzantium. Until recently, it was the Hagia Sophia Museum (Ayasofya Mzesi). The official name for today is the Great Mosque of Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya-i Kebir Camii).

I would like to tell you about my impressions - now the entrance is free. But workers who have decided to bow to the shrine and are now arriving in the status of a tourist, respectively, dressed out of uniform, will have to buy overalls from top to toe for 20 lira and only then will they be allowed inside.

It's strange that they don't give out hoodies for free at the entrance, which can be returned, but offer to buy them, maybe as a keepsake, will remain as a souvenir?

The splendor of the cathedral is amazing.

Now the hall is divided into 2 parts: one for men, the other for women. At the same time, all tourists go to the common room, not divided by gender into "m" and "g".

The floor is covered with a carpet, so now under the main lamp of the cathedral on the floor you can’t see how circles are cut out of colored marble - the place of the coronation of the Emperors of Byzantium and this place is also called the Navel of the World or Omphalos.

The central mosaic icons are hung with canvas, the rest of the frescoes have remained in place.

They are not allowed on the balcony.

Also, to the left of the main entrance of the cathedral, you cannot approach the column, which is said to have cured the emperor Justinian of a constant headache by accidentally touching it. It is believed that if you lean your forehead against a stone, think of a wish, insert your finger into the hole and turn it clockwise, then the wish will certainly come true. But now this column is separated by a low fence.


First of all, we recommend walking through the Gü lhane Parki - an unforgettable experience. Everything is very neatly arranged. Rest, as they say, both in body and soul.

Moreover, walking around the city center you will constantly find new places, lanes, squares that you have not been to before and that will delight you with their views and give you positive emotions for many years to come.

For example, this time we once again admired the Obelisk of Theodosius (Egyptian obelisk) (Dikilita) - the ancient Egyptian obelisk of Pharaoh Thutmose III (XVIII dynasty), erected on the dividing barrier of the Constantinople hippodrome (today known as At Meydan or Sultanahmet Meydan), which was erected by the emperor of the Roman Empire Theodosius the Great in 390 AD. e. - this is one of the best preserved obelisks brought to Constantinople and the only one brought directly from Egypt, the second surviving obelisk, from Egyptian porphyry, badly damaged, is located in the courtyard of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, as well as the Column of Constantine ( emberlita Stunu, which means "girded column") - a Roman triumphal column, which is located on Chamberlitash Square and was installed in 328 at the Forum of Constantine and solemnly opened on the day of the founding of Constantinople in 330.

For lovers of gastronomic pleasures, we recommend going to the eatery Balik evi fish house just opposite the main entrance to the Grand Bazaar (Kapala-charshi) towards the Bosphorus.

The freshest fish is always here and evil tongues say that this is where waiters from more expensive restaurants resort when they order Balik Ekmek (the local name for a sandwich with fish).

Homecoming always comes predictably unexpectedly.

We were completely unprepared, although upon arrival home, the sadness of parting with Istanbul smoothed out the expectations of relatives and friends to receive souvenirs and sincerely rejoice with us from the unforgettable impressions of this trip, including the loss of a passport, heavy rains and an earthquake.

Of course, it's good in Istanbul, but houses in Odessa are generally cool!


Translated automatically from Russian. View original
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