1. I'd take you out for dinner at Seven Kebab. You can order whatever you want (but I'd probably stop you!), because I'd strongly recommend Kaşarlı İskender. This is an amazingly delicious meal with pita bread on the bottom, shaved meat in the middle, and topped with a tomato sauce, Turkish yogurt, melted cheese, and hot butter. It's generally accompanied with some tomatoes and fries around the edges. Although their is yogurt on the dish, I might recommend that you try the national drink of Ayran, a watery yogurt drink that (after getting used to) is actually really delicious and refreshing!
2. It's famous for a reason! You shouldn't miss the Sultanahmet tourist district. This area on the Bosphorus includes Topkapı Palace, an enormous palace from the time of the Ottoman Sultans; the Hagia Sophia, which has been changed from a church to a mosque to a museum; the Blue Mosque, an incredibly huge and beautiful operating Islamic mosque where visitors can not only see the beautiful Ottoman decor, but also learn a little bit about the religion of Islam; and the Indian Jones Basilica Cisterns, an underground water holding room which gives visitors an eerie feel of being in an action movie.
3. Calories don't count on vacation, so we'll stop in and grab a treat in Bostanci, on the Asian side. My favorite are the waffles. You'll get a fresh waffle and can choose any of the toppings in the case that you'd like! I recommend white chocolate sauce, kiwis, strawberries, caramel pieces, caramel sauce, and chocolate rocks. Ah! My mouth is watering now!
4. The weather is perfect and getting outdoors is a must. We'll take advantage of the gorgeous day on the Bosporus. We'll board the ferry in the mid-morning and take a tour up the straits to nearly the Black Sea. The trip will make a few small stops along the way, and most likely these stops will include introducing passengers to famous snacks from the villages along the water. You should definitely get a fish lunch up on the top of the hill near the old castle ruins when we stop and disembark! And get to the boat early to grab an outside seat right down by the water!
5. You're so fortunate to have an Istanbul insider showing you around. The locals would stone me if I didn't show you . . . actually, okay, probably the real answer to this is they would stone me if I didn't take you to their family's house and let them cook a traditional meal for you! So, I'm sure we could work that in, but if not, then I would personally choose to take you to Eminönü for fish sandwiches from the rocking boats and an overwhelming walk through the Spice Bazaar. Here you can find any of the souvenirs you'd like to take home with you from the beautiful little çay glasses (did I mention you'll probably have at least four cups of çay - black tea - a day?), beautiful ceramic plates and tiles, scarves, jewelry, and of course, it wouldn't be the Spice Bazaar with the tantalizing spices that line the corridors!
6. You didn't ask, but I'll tell you anyway that a trip to Istanbul wouldn't be complete without visiting Taksim and Galata Tower - although, at the moment, it's not the amazing tourist spot that it normally is due to some protests. Please keep Turkey and Istanbul in your thoughts as they work through some difficult issues! Taksim is the central hub of activity, so if you're looking for anything - shopping, clubbing, coffee, exploring, this is the place to go! Taksim feeds into Istaklal street, which is just lined with shops and restaurants. You'll end up at the bottom of Istiklal at Galata Tower. I highly recommend you climb it! Go up to the top (especially right before sunset!) This will give you an awesome view of the city. It will remind you just how small you are and just how huge this city is.
Want to share your city? Email Me!