Istanbul, the New York City of Turkey, was a humbling experience for both of us. This 72 Hours in Istanbul, Turkey video reveals our best and worst times in the city. Lanee flips out at a boat tour company who promised one thing and delivered another and Lindsay confesses that Istanbul was a circus of rookie travel mistakes (we know better!), among many other misadventures.
We got lost numerous times. We dragged our luggage up endless streets, sweating and cursing, to find our hotel and yes, we even got scammed on a boat tour of the Bosphorous and literally jumped ship when the opportunity arose to get off early and take a cab back to the city. We wish we were kidding! Word to the wise: if you go on a Bosphorus cruise in Istanbul, Turkey (and you should because it’s beautiful) only go with a trusted private guide or use TurYol, which boards at Eminönü on the opposite side of the river from all the other boat operators. We think the 90-minute round-trip cruise to the Black Sea is just enough, but there are options for longer excursions as well.
Despite the negatives in Istanbul, we also had incredibly positive experiences in the historic city that links Europe to the Middle East. We sampled the hopping Istanbul nightlife, compliments of our guide Erk Erkaya of Locally Istanbul, we had a lovely woman with her son unexpectedly pay for our meal at a restaurant, we had an amazing Turkish hammam scrub-a-dub-dub, we discovered a plethora of “Made in Turkey” fashions and we had a luxury top-down convertible sightseeing tour with Hakan Gurger from Guides of Istanbul.
Note: We loved the House Hotel Galatasaray because of its convenient location in Beyoglu, close to the Old City and nightlife in Taksim. That is, once you find it (also shown in our Istanbul, Turkey Video) … Be prepared if you’re not fit — there’s no elevator and the dining room and bar are on the fourth floor in the converted mansion. Our room was on the top floor, so this worked out lovely for us, but just so you know… That said, we preferred the House Hotel Bosphorus, which is about 25 minutes from the city center and worth the drive to stay along the water. The hotel also has a terrific outside patio to enjoy drinks or lunch, located next to a quaint shopping area (where Lindsay bought her floppy hat).
Istanbul, Turkey taught us we aren’t always the expert travelers we think we are. But hey, we’re ok with that. That’s why we go; to push our boundaries and expand our minds and souls.