Istanbul on the outskirts of its heart is a place of motion: buses, speeding cars and taxies, and the trams. The buildings on either side of the wide street were like seventies apartment buildings covered in signs and placards and lights. The shops were clothes re-sellers, leather bag stalls, hairdressers, gyro-ceries, cheap wares and street food. Every so often the minarets of a mosque, a camii, would separate the stores, and through the garden grilles were grass covered sepulchers decorated with gold Arabic calligraphy.
There are stray dogs in Istanbul, but there are far more cats
Men will follow solo female travelers (but not very far)
There are far more men on the streets, men and women do not walk together, and men frequently hold hands
Don’t have Turkish coffee with sugar and baklava. The coffee is better black.
The Blue Mosque is not the Haghia Sophia. Both are bigger than they seem.
Don’t try to walk into town, use the tram. It’s cheap and easy to use.
Do take the Nostalgic Bosphorous Tour on the ferry despite its cheesy name
The streets are very clean, smell like cigarette smoke and sometimes rose perfume but not spices
Visit in December, when the weather is sunny and mild and the tourists are celebrating Christmas at home
Take the classic guide to the city Hilary Sumner-Boyd and John Freely’s Strolling Through Istanbul
Spend more than 20 minutes at the Topkapi Sarayi, the sultan’s palace
Note to self: Learn Turkish. Come back with friends.