I have written about experiences on a past business trip to India. That trip was supposed to be approximately a week in India, and then to return back home. Due to some last minute changes, I ended up needing to work in Istanbul before I went home. While I love the city, I wasn’t thrilled to have more time away from home. That said, after a week in India, I was ready for a change of scenery, especially since I could try to see more of one of my favorite cities.
Photo taken during a morning run along the Bosphorus
I’ve been to Istanbul a few times, but only once long enough to get out of the airport and see the city. Now, I would have most of a weekend plus a few days there while working, so I could finally see more of the area and try to experience it at a more relaxed pace.
One of my local colleagues met me and we spent the day going all over seeing sights between countless meals and snacks. We focused on slightly less touristy things since I had already seen the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia on a previous visit. I was staying near Taksim Square, and one of our first stops was for an Islak burger, a ‘wet’ burger, covered in tomato sauce, and kept in a steamer. I had heard about this before, but this was my first chance to taste it. Since the shop was maybe 5 minutes from my hotel, this first visit wasn’t the only one during my stay.
Bezm-i Alem Valide Sultan Camii, just down the hill from my hotel on the Bosphorus
I stayed at a Mercure hotel, which is not among my preferred hotel chains, but it was booked for me, and the price was right. It was a nice new property, and the location was good, so I can’t complain too much.
After eating ‘wet burgers’, we made our way down Istikal Caddesi to look around a little bit. After some walking, we opted for more food, and ate something that I probably would have been more hesitant if I looked up what it was before hand. Kokoreç is sheep intestine stuffed with other offal. Sounds gross, but actually was tasty.
Photo thanks to photographer Ankara – Licensed CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Then we made our way to the Galata Tower. We decided not to spend the time waiting to climb the tower, rather we headed towards the river, so we would get a view from the water level with a cruise on the Bosphorus.
me at the Galata Tower, Istanbul
Of course we didn’t want to get hungry, so we stopped for another snack along the way. I can’t remember what this one was called. It was kind of like a churro, a sweet pastry, with honey or some other sweet syrup.
sweet street food in Istanbul. Anyone know the name of this?
We joined a Bosphorus tour in an area with countless floating restaurants. Somehow we let this opportunity for food to pass us by.
The boat tour allowed for water views of various palaces along the Bosphorus, and a slightly detached view of the city.
After the boat tour, we visited the spice bazaar which was nearby. I’m not much of a shopper, but this was a great place to visit for the diverse sights, sounds and most of all smells.
A small selection of spices in one of many shops
The architecture was pretty memorable too. In this ancient city, there is really a mix of old and new. This photo is from the ceiling of one of the shops in the spice bazaar.
Ceiling in Spice Bazaar, Istanbul
After a great, but busy day of touring, the real work would have to begin. I didn’t have much time for touring, but we did make time for some more excellent food. My daily runs were very important on this trip with all the food I was eating.
No, I didn’t eat all of this, but our table of 5 did some damage…
but we still had room for dessert and tea.
Even when stuck in traffic, which is frequently in this rapidly growing city, there are things to see.
Valens Aqueduct, 1600+ years old, and still standing
Another thing I saw a lot of in Istanbul were various stray cats. I’m not really a cat person, but who can’t love this pile of cats? Presumably there was a steam pipe or something else generating heat.
pile of kitties, Istanbul style.
Not surprisingly, my trip to Istanbul was excellent. Work was successful, and I was able to enjoy the city for more than a few hours as on past visits. Of course, all good things must come to an end, but soon I would be back home with my family. The last stop I made before my flight was the excellent and iconic Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge in the Atatürk Airport. I’m pleased to have had a more enjoyable experience than my last visits to the CIP lounge, with the expansion to a second level, there was much more space. Other reviews of this lounge by James, Matthew and Damian.
Turkish Airlines CIP Business Class Lounge, Istanbul
After some snacks, and relaxing in the lounge, I headed towards my gate. I had a pocket full to Turkish Lira and wanted to spend it. I usually buy gum or other small items, but i found a Haribo/Gummi Bear kiosk. You can buy sweets by weight, and this was a great way to spend up my spare Lira coins. Airplane gummis!
One last sugar rush before departing Turkey
My trip to Istanbul wasn’t planned much in advance, but it was really enjoyable. We’ve reviewed this city many times on this site, and I think its well worth the trip. Food, culture, history, if you like any of those, I think you’d love to visit.