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20 Things Women Should Know Before Visiting Istanbul...

 

Journeywoman Sally Peabody specializes in Turkey, France and the Pays Basque. She advises independent travelers on crafting memorable trips on and off the beaten path, and, leads culinary/cultural tours several times a year. Her clients include women traveling alone, mothers and daughters, families, couples and friends sharing travel adventures. We asked Sally to share her knowledge of Istanbul with our Journeywoman Network. P.S. If you would like to contact Sally Peabody please check out her website here.

 

Istanbul is one of the most richly layered cities in the world: Uniquely, it is European and Asian. Visitors are diverse, you will meet sister travelers from the Middle East, from Russia, from China and Japan, from Europe and thewest.

 

What is the Bosphorus: The evocative Bosphorus divides the two continents and connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea. Always full of ferries, ships, tankers, even with small fishing boats, a ride on the Bosphorus is quintessential Istanbul.

 

Get on the water: Don't miss a chance to take a ferry across the Bosphorus! Sturdy whiteand green ferry boats ply the Bosphorus between Europe and Asia leaving from various points on either shore. Visitors generally catch the ferry from Eminoniu in the Old City to Kadikoy or Uskudar on the Asian side. You can also catch ferries from Karakoy and Kabatas on the European side. For about $1.00 you have a gorgeous ride across the Bosphorus and can enjoy the enchanting skylines of the Old City, Beyoglu, the Galata Tower and more. Fabulous at sunset.

 

Turkish culture is enormously hospitable: Turks have been welcoming travelers for centuries! Women will have no issues traveling alone or in small groups in Istanbul. Indeed you will shop alongside stylish women wearing headscarves, no scarves, miniskirts and even traditional village dress.

 

Culturally-correct: It is important to remember to bring a scarf to wear into any of the magnificent mosques but otherwise, Istanbul is utterly modern, hip and energized with an enviable cultural and historic side as well.

 

Istanbul is growing exponentially: The population now tops 15 million.Unless you are in Istanbul for business, find a comfortable hotel in the Old City or in 'European' Beyoglu. These neighborhoods are packed with fabulous archaeological and historic sites, remarkable shopping, loads of clubs and restaurants of all kinds´┐Ż ultra gourmet to humble kebab stands.

 

Where to stay: Istanbul is packed with accommodations from the most luxe to humble hostels. For first or second time visitors the Old City, Sultanahmet, is a great choice to base yourself. There is so much to see, do and experience within an easy walk or tram ride in this vibrant neighborhood. One very good, centrally located, moderately priced choice is the intimate Hotel Djem with only twelve rooms and a lovely manager and staff. The Djemis a boutique hotel installed in a recently renovated wooden house just behind the Blue Mosque. The family that runs the hotel has been in the Carpet and Kilim business for years and the hotel is beautifully decorated with textiles. www.hoteldjem.com

 

Must-see historic sites: Check out the Hagia Sophia, the Basilica Cistern, theTopkapi Palace, the Islamic Arts Museum on the Hippodrome, the stunningByzantine Chora Church, the Grand and Spice Bazaars. Add in the magnificently renovated Suleymaniye Mosque and the intimate, be-tiled Rustem Pasha mosque. And the newer Blue Mosque too. And that is just for starters.

 

Getting around: Istanbul has a modern tram line that runs through the Old City and across the Galata Bridge, then through Karakoy and out along the Bosphorus on the European side. There is a modern metro serving the newer parts of the residential and business city but chances are visitors won't use it. There are zillions of taxis and public buses too. Metros, ferries and the tram cost 1.50 Turkish Lira or about one USdollar.

 

Soaking and steaming: Visit a traditional hamam. Your skin will thank you for it! In the Old City, Cemberlitas and Cagaloglu are two beautifully tiled historic hamams accustomed to and priced for visitors. Both are in the Old City near the Grand Bazaar. You'll want to have a steam, a bath and scrub (gommage) at least, add a massage if you have time. Separate men's and women's sections. Wear a bathing suit if you must or wrap yourself in a hamam towel and enjoy the experience. www.cagalogluhamami.com www.cemberlitashamami.com/ Rates, maps and more information are on the websites.

 

 

 

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