Kumkapi is the seafood restaurant district located to the southwest of Sultanahmet, just off Kennedy Caddesi and the main railway loop. I read a lot about this historic area in tour guides, but it was a huge disappointment. Our first mistake was to walk to Kumkapi from our hotel in Sultanahmet, which took us through a confusing maze of streets in a run-down, dirty, and somewhat frightening residential area. We made it safely, but I certainly wouldn't do it after dark.
Once we got to Kumkapi itself we found a vast sea (ha, ha) of seafood restaurants all offereing almost exactly the same menu, with almost no uniqueness. None of the food looked particularly appetizing anywhere we looked, and it was all very overpriced. We didn't receive very good service and we found poeple to be less friendly than in the two restaurants I mentioned in my restaurant section. To top things off, when we took a cab ride back to our hotel our driver took us to the wrong part of town completely, despite the fact that I showed him the address of our hotel and the precise location on a map. He then acted annoyed when we informe him that he took us to the wrong place.
Our trip to Kumkapi was our first meal in Istanbul, and one of our first experiences in the city. Needless to say, it was not the right way to kick off our trip, and it was during this experience that my wife and I began to seriously second-guess our decision to visit Istanbul. Fortunately things did get better as our trip progressed, but Kumkapi certainly didn't endear us to the city.
Unique Suggestions: Just don't go. Period.
Fun Alternatives: There are lots of great places to eat, two of which I cited in my restaurant recommendations. When in doubt, ask someone at your hotel. Hopefully they're as helpful as Mustafa at our hotel.
The local salesmen, merchants, and "tour guides"
This isn't a specific location, but rather a kind of person you will encounter hundreds of times as you walk around Istanbul. They are the incredibly pushy, aggressive, and pesky salesmen, merchants, and tour guides. Of these, the first two groups can be brushed off easily enough because you can simply smile, say "no thank you," and briskly walk past their stores. They can't follow you because they have to stay and watch their stores. It can be a bit like running the gaunlet when you have to endure an entire street of these guys, but at least there's an end in sight.
However, this limitation does not apply to the countless "tour guides" roaming around, particularly in the Hippodrome/Blue Mosque area. These are the truly pesky men who will literally follow you trying to make conversation, when all they really want is to take you on a "tour" that ends up at a shop of one kind or another. Or they are would-be tour guides who are hoping you'll hire them for a personal guided tour of the city.
We were constantly hounded by these annoying men every time we stepped foot near the Hippodrome area (i.e. every day, several times a day). If you stop walking for even a moment it's all over. You'll never get away because they'll never stop talking. After learning this reality, and after our polite attempts to get away failed us time after time, I'm afraid my wife and I both resorted to being fairly short and rude with them. Sadly, we found that the best thing to do was to simply avoid making eye contact, always keep walking, and just dismiss them with a quick "no thank you" anytime one of them even hinted that he wanted to talk to us.
I know that sounds horribly rude, and perhaps people will criticize me for behaving this way, but I swear to you that I'm not normally like that at all and that I love meeting and mingling with locals when I travel. But this was just another world, and drastic measures were necessary. If you know a better way to handle situations like this, by all means please post a comment and tell me.
Unique Suggestions: Don't stop to talk to these people, just smile and say "no thank you" and keep right on going. This is especially important for women traveling without a male companion. ALL the salesmen in Istanbul are, well, men. And they do not take "no" for an answer from the women they pester. We witnessed two young women get harassed (not sexually though) for nearly an hour while attending an event at the Blue Mosque one night. I came very close to just standing up and telling these guys to get the hell away from them, but with my luck they'd pull a knife on me and that would put a quick end to my vacation. These poor women told the men time after time, very explicitly, to leave them alone to no avail. I really felt sorry for them, so when the same group of men approached me and my wife afterwards, I told them to take a hike immediately.
Fun Alternatives: One thing we noticed is that these pests are apparently not allowed to harass tourists inside the walls of the mosques, palaces, and other historic buildings. When one particularly persistent guy followed us into the courtyard of the Blue Mosque after we made it clear that we weren't interested in talking to him, a security guard chased him off and immediately became our hero.
We also noticed that we never once got approached by anyone while we were in Gulhane Park. This made the peaceful, tranquil, and relaxing atmoshphere of this beautiful park even more enjoyable, and we sought sanctuary there more than once.
be careful with taxi drivers
as i heard after that happened to me..it happens often to tourists..especially when you are looking distracted or tired..
after a drive when you are giving money to a taxi driver, he's taking it and after says to you you gave to him the wrong bill...at that moment you usually cant remember exactly which bill you gave to him or you have doubts.. so driver is giving "your bill" back to you (of course lesser amount of money, he changed bills) and you give to him another "right bill" that time looking carefully and paying much more attention to it...BUT IT'S TOO LATE:((
Fun Alternatives: just be more careful..
- Road Trip
Buying a carpet
Turkey can be a shopper's paradise, but in the meantime you should be careful not to get ripped off. Especially when buying a carpet, it's really difficult for you to estimate the real value of it.
The price depends on different things:
The number of nods per cm³: 25, 36 or 49.
The material: silk or wool
The region were it was made: Hereke near Istanbul is the best, don't believe that they sell Hereke in Kayseri.
What a friendly guy....NOT
In the park between the Aya Sofia and the Blue mosque there is a park.
You will find all kinds of salespersons( = con artists).
One friendly old man walked up to us asked me for a cigare wich I gave and he started to polish my girlfriend shoes.How nice of him to polish them as a return favour for the (expensive) cigar.Then he started mine,not asked for that either.
He demanded 10 Euro for this 5 minutes work !!!
Unique Suggestions: Tell him he didn't do it right so at least you have the pleasure of not being a to easy victim.
Tell him your life story before you pay,so he is forced to listen to YOUR story for a change and waste his time.
Fun Alternatives: Tell the fuc ker to fu ck off.
"Hello whats your name,where do you come from..." hear the intro recognise the con artist time to harden up.
Turks who come to you and ask where your from and being so interested are only interested to rip you off or to lure you into their shops where you waste you valuable holiday time looking at capets and sh it you don't need and definately don't want.
No need to be polite,they aren't either if you don't buy something.
Rip off places of Istanbul
Grand Bazaar shop owners know from your eyes you are foreigner or not.Your clothes your face and eyes.Gives you touristical price.For be awaring from rip off.Check the stuff which you buy from about 20 different shop.
Bargain and bargain.This is just for Sultanahmet area.Grand bazaar and surroundings.
Rest of the istanbul you can pay the label what says.
Dealing with hassle in Istanbul - Sultanahmet
The conmen-salesman that hassle you in Sultanahmet are a complete pain but they are playing on your polite instincts. After all, we are brought up to react with politeness to polite enquiries. Sadly, you need to abandon this notion in advance - teach yourself to 'blank' them, just don't hear the rude remarks or react in any way. If you stopped and allowed yourself to get into conversation with even a tenth of them you would spend hours covering 100 meters!
Unique Suggestions: I found that using random soundbites of a variety of languages disadvantages them - most only understand Turkish, German or English. 'No quira', 'niet tovarich' and any other random remark made while walking on your way without deviating does seem to help. In addition try not to look too predictable - I know this sounds a bit weird but they guess from your clothes, any books you carry etc your nationality and use that as a 'way in'. Keep your chin up and remain confident and aloof and above all just keep walking on by! They have NOTHING to interest you but the area around the Blue Mosque is lovely and fascinating. You've come a long way and paid good money so don't let anyone else spoil it for you.
- Historical Travel
Obscene exorbitant prices
Don't whatever you do have a meal at the Konyali restaurant at the Topkapi Palace unless you are prepared to spend, spend spend for "ghastly" food. We ordered coffee and a spinach pastry (10YTL). The pastry was just that..a spoonful at most of spinach.(see photo)
Only problem is that you need to spend at least half a day at the palace and there is a nice view from the restaurant. My advice is that you take something to eat and eat in the beautiful gardens and if you must sit and admire the view order only a tea or coffee at the restaurant. Prices start at 6YTL and go upwards (see price list photo).
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
TOURIST CRUISE UP THE BOSPHORUS
THE FERRY IS NOT A TOURIST TRAP, THE TRAP IS IF YOU BOOK A "TOUR" OF A CRUISE UP THE BOSPHORUS.
Want to save yourself a heap of money, well, instead of doing a cruise up the Bosphorus, go by local ferry.
This cruise is very popular, so make sure you arrive early. I arrived half hour early, and already the queue was long. They started letting you on not long after I arrived. Later, people were standing!
It departs from the Eminonu wharf.
COST IN 2009 was 20t/l
Departs 10.30 - Returns 4.30pm
See my Bosphorus cruise tip for more information
- Sailing and Boating
new turkish lira
Since 01/01/2006 the the new turkish lira (YTL) is being used and the old turkish lira is no longer valid. So while you are shopping, keep that in mind. 6 zeros (000000) were deleted from the new notes. so 1.000.000 TL is now 1 YTL. (5.000.000 TL - 5 YTL / 10.000.000 - 10 YTL, etc...) So while you are shopping, when you get the change, make sure that none of notes have more than 2 zeros. the notes in use now are :
as of 15.04.2006 1 euro is 1.60656 YTL and 1 US$ is 1.33720 YTL
Unique Suggestions: In case you have some old turkish liras you can change them with new turkish liras in several banks.
- Study Abroad
- Work Abroad
- Budget Travel
I had to pay 2.5ytl for a small bottle of water. In the city shops its 0.5ytl for the same thing. 500% mark up to buy at the airport. Total rip-off!
It cost 8ytl for a small cappucino, and 6ytl for cheesecake. Never again!
They wanted 11ytl for a small local beer...not that desperate.
Unique Suggestions: take your own water, beer, whatever, and carry with you!
Fun Alternatives: You could always fill up before you get there (well, maybe that won't work with the beer)
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Taxi drivers will try sometimes to get an extra money for the ride - for example to tell you a sum of money instead of running the meter , to take you in circles to get more meter time.
Unique Suggestions: Always know where you are going even if you don't know the exact route try to remember names that you are passing on your way.
Always ask for a meter and check if the word "GUNDUZ" is written (this is morning and it is until midnight) or GECE (after midnight).
Fun Alternatives: You can try to go to another taxi driver more trustworthy , try a ferry or Dolmus.
free yoghurt anyone....nothing is for free !
On the boattrip on the Bosporus river there is a guy selling "worlds best yoghurt".
Making everybody laugh,being sympathetic and friendly but nobody bought one .
He left 1 yoghurt by an older man like it was forgotten or left for free.
Everybody thought he didn't come back everybody laughed and the older man ate the yoghurt.
Then the "sympathetic" yoghurt seller came back demaning 4 dollar !!! for this small cup. Not so friendly at all,a big loud scene on the boat and the old man paid in shame.
A terrible experience which ruined my afternoon.
Started to hate all the salespersons that I encountered from that point.
It learned me a lesson: no more mister friendly for me when a salespersons tries to lick me up.Please come in have some tea,hello where are you from.
Fu ck off I have seen the real faces now.
Unique Suggestions: On tourist hotspots you only find vultures trying to get your money.
If you want to see the real friendly turkish population go off the beaten road.
"Hello how are you" , "Where are you from","Welcome to our beautiful country" hear the talk recongnise the con artist !
Don't let a cheap trick destroy your day,getting deceived only makes you smarter.
Fun Alternatives: NOTHING is for free !
"Hello how are you" , "Where are you from","Welcome to our beautiful country" hear the talk recongnise the con artist !Time to harden up.
You have the money they want it ....ASAP.
I suppose this does what it says on the box....just. As you would expect, it delivers a truly spectacular view over this city. And Istanbul surely offers some of the most spectacular city vistas in the world. Its astonishing geographical situation, hilly nature, and abundance of domes and minarets all conspire towards the picturesque.
It's ten smackers to get in (i.e. the same as the Topkapi palace) and really offers nothing except the view.
inside there's no physical reminders of this edifice's history: and this was the site of the capstan which operated the chain which could be stretched across the mouth of the Golden Horn.
Rather you enter into a wood-effect formica and chrome lobby, pays your money and are whisked to the top in a lift. At the top there is a cafe and a touristic restaurant. Which offers "an evenings entertainment you will remember for the rest of your life" (not taking the chance) and little national flags to put on your table.
About the only concessions to history are some display boards in the lobby, some celebrating the alleged aeronautical pioneering of some bloke who is meant to have strapped on a pair of stick and canvas wings, jumped from the top, and glided to the shores of the Golden Horn. Call me a sceptic, but they give you the figures and I did the arithmetic. He would have needed the glide ratio of a modern glass glider to get anywhere near the Golden Horn.
Be careful in Dolmabahce Palace
If you plan to visit Dolmabahce Palace, be careful to get inside for a guided trip. It happened to our English friends the day before: they were not allowed inside because there was a very long queue - although they had tickets which are valid one day only. They tried to discuss and change the tickets for the day after or to get their money back, but did not succeed. They came next day but had to pay once more (16 YTL plus 6 YTL for using camera).
- Budget Travel
- Castles and Palaces
- Book now for big savings!
- Hotels.com Outstanding choice of hotels all over the world at fantastic prices.
- Save money, Book now!
- Booking.com Excellent choice, Low rates