I was in Turkey a couple of years ago during the Eid holidays and didn't face any problems. Most tourist sites are open and the tram service is free (not sure if that is still the same). My only disappointment was the Grand Bazaar which was closed for the end of Ramadan holidays. However, I got to see that this year on my second trip to Turkey! Hope you have a great time! Turkey is one of my favourite places. The magic...can't describe it!
While I enjoyed sudden winter time in Istanbul, I gues majority of locals were a bit annoyed...
...like the owner of this nice Beatle, who probably had to dig it out of pile of snow ....
Every day the news block was showing what damages the suddent snowfall and negative temperature caused, my friend got stuck somewhere in the east of Turkey not able to fly back to Ankara.....
But still being not that much affected I enjoyed that sudden winter, a rare chance to see Istanbul in snow....
Fish from the boat
In the late afternoon and in the evening there are many fishermen boats, along the piers in central Istanbul, who cook and sell fresh fish.
Sandwiches with grilled or fried sardines are the most popular with locals, as well as mussels stuffed with rice and spices.
Beylerbeyi Palace is the most elegant Ottoman Palace on the Asian Shore of the Bosphorus. The palace is open everyday except Mon and Thu from 9 am to 12.30 p.m, 1.30 pm to 6.00pm.
The palace and the neighbourhood was named for a beylerbey, a title which means "lord of the lords", this was Mehmet Pasha, Governer of Rumelia(Turkish territory in European Side). The first sultan who resided here was Mahmud II. It was constructed in 1861-65 by Sarkis Balyan, a famous Armenian architect. It was mainly used as a summer residence, first famous visitor was French Impress Eugenie in 1869, later visitors were Franz Joseph of Austria, King Edward of England. The palace is now used as a museum.
The palace is divided into two sections as the other Ottoman Palaces, selamlik and harem. Selamlik was the section which was open to men and where the meetings, receptions took place. The building is a 3- storey one, the first one was for service departments, the upper two was for state rroms and imperial apartments, a total of 26 elegantly designed chambers, 6 grand halls. It is very elegant in general, with Hereke Carpets, Czech Bohemian Crystal Chandeliers, French Clocks, Chinese, Japanese and French Vases, furniture from Damascus and France, paintings from Russian Aivazovsky.
Unlike the other palaces, there is no heating system in this palace, because it was only used for summer-time purposes. There is a marble pool with a fountain which operates as a natural air conditioning. Another point about the palace is its very European atmosphere. The gardens and the design of the rooms show this. The kitchens of the palace are located in the adjacent building, because the smell of the food disturbed the sultan and there was the risk of fire.
Right by the Bosphorus Bridge and the waterfront, the palace is lovely and worth visiting. The tours are conducted in Turkish and English and one should join the tour group which will be leaded by the Palace Guide.
You will find Arasta Bazaar behind the Blue mosque. Contrary to the hectic rhythm of Grand Bazaar you will find a much smaller and quieter market here. Although it is right in the heart of the most touristy area in Istanbul you will not crash into crowds of tourists over here.
Arasta Bazaar is the perfect place to go if you are interested in buying handmade woven carpets and jewelry - mostly silver. You can also find here Iznik type of ceramics (these could be good souvenirs for your friends back home) as well as antiques.
The prices here are much more reasonable then on Grand Bazaar, and of course, as in any other market in Turkey you can bargain about the price.
I usually go there because I just like to go around this charming small bazaar without the need to push my way trough the crowd. It seems that every time when I go there, I end up drinking tea and chat with the merchants over there for about an hour while I try to buy some belly dancing stuff :)
The other reason to go there is that you can find the Mosaics museum there. Part of the museum as actually underneath the market.
In case you were wondering what Arasta means, like I did, here is the explanation I got from Alper:
Arasta is an old word that is not in use today. Most Turks don't know its meaning. It means the part in which the same type of sellers with similar stuff exist in shopping centers or bazaars.
Thanks, Alper :)))