Sunday, April 07, 2013

Istanbul is an amazing city

I just spent two days in Istanbul and I wished I visited the city earlier. The hills of Europe and Asia meets the strait of Bosphorus and sea of Marmara creating a unique landscape that many cities in the world would envy.

My first impression was that this was a thoroughly modern city. I am used to the dilapidated infrastructure of Cairo. Istanbul has efficient public transport and clean streets.

It has one of the longest walk only boulevard I have seen filled with diverse types of shops and cafes. You can spend hours just traversing all the side streets to discover cools places.

The city is very pedestrian friendly and has a vibe of a population on the move.

Hagia Sophia is incredible. It was built almost 1500 years ago and most of its structures and details are still intact until today.

The mosques are beautiful although they started to look the same after a few hours (they are mostly designed by one prodigious master Architect Mimar Sinan). The Grand Bazaar is full of stuff but I prefer the various Han attached to it.

I stayed in Ararat hotel which has a great view of the Blue Mosque. Avoid this hotel. The location is not worth the price of admission. The room is cramped and has little facility. You have to climb up to narrow stairs to get to the room.

The only downside to Istanbul is that it is as expensive as many European cities but man, it is worth spending three to four days in it. It is a city that has manage to preserve its rich history and incorporate the progress of modernity. Highly recommended.

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