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Three Perfect Days: Istanbul

The fabled capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires is a glittering, glorious muddle of influences and impulses

Author Jacqueline Detwiler Photography Jan McGready

Bargain hunting in the Grand Bazaar

Picture 11 of 12

AS THE SUN RISES ON ISTANBUL, the first call to prayer sounds from the eastern edge of the city and ripples inward, from Asia into Europe, drifting over the ruins of several empires, past the glimmering lights of the Bosporus Bridge and the late-night stragglers still dreamily dancing on riverboats.

For almost three millennia, Istanbul’s position on the Bosporus, the narrow strait that connects the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, has made it a trading hub for gold, silk, oil and spices, as well as a stomping ground for generations of merchants, hustlers and romantics. Location also made Istanbul the desideratum of conquerors the world over, many of whom decided that this place, and only this place, would suffice as the seat of an empire.

Today, this city of more than 13 million people is a muddle of influences and impulses: inscrutable and hospitable, indulgent and reverential. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed in such a place, so it’s fortunate that Turks are among the friendliest people on earth. If you find yourself lost and confused, as you well might, simply ask a local for help. You will invariably get more than you bargained for.

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3 Responses to “Three Perfect Days: Istanbul”

  1. Sue Willingham Says:
    October 2nd, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    I enjoyed your 3 days in Istanbul as that (and Turkey) are my favorite places on earth. BUT — many of United’s customers are budget travelers and these three days probably cost as much as a month traveling in Turkey. I spent an average of $50/day staying in nice enough pensions and eating delicious food and taking buses in 2008 and only a bit more than that in spring 2012. It would be good to offer a more affordable view of these wonderful places. Istanbul is a gem, and can be very affordable.

  2. Norma Kalife de Drexel Says:
    March 23rd, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    as I was flying last October to Istanbul I found the Hemisphere Magazine with this article we followed each step and we enjoyed lots more of the city with this guide, thank you and keep writing this great travel tips and ideas, I will love to go back to Istanbul one of the best cities in the worild!!!

    The only thing that we didn´t love so much was the last restaurant recommended for the the last night it was empty and no bellly dancers as the article said but then again my husband and I had a romantic, cold, and lonely nice dinner!!!
    thanks!!!!

  3. berat user Says:
    May 20th, 2013 at 10:37 am

    “Lokanta Maya” in karakoy district is one of the best restaurants in the city now. If you are staying in Kempinski i would recommend maya for the dinner.

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