Old Mosque near Spice Market.
Old Mosque near Spice Market.
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Sometimes you just have to take a shot at a quick getaway. Recently, we took a short trip to Istanbul, Turkey. Why Turkey? It’s historical, boasts numerous attractions within close proximity to each other, it is fairly affordable and it’s a mere four hours or so in flight time from Dubai.

Educators within the United Arab Emirates who are looking to enjoy a bit of history with a tinge of excitement now have another place to escape to. Turkey is definitely one of those places that should be at the top of your list. Here are a few points to help you.

Over the last years, tourism has grown significantly in Turkey leading to it being ranked as the sixth most popular tourism destination in the world and the fourth in Europe.

Busy street in Galata, Istanbul - Road Scene.
Scene from a busy street in the Galata area of Istanbul, Turkey.

We hunkered down in the Galata area at one of their quaint bed and breakfast hotels. It was perfect as it was smack in the middle of a booming tourist town. Other benefits included an easy five minutes walk to both the tram and subway and brisk walks to several historical attractions. That is if you are into walking. If you are not, there are countless taxis in addition to the tram and subway so you can get to where you want in no time. Keep in mind though that if you are on a tight budget, it is so much more affordable to hop on either the subway or the tram.

There is so much to do and see. If you have a lot of time on your hands, take your time and plan your trip well so you can explore this beautiful country. If your time is short and you want to be adventurous consider staying in the busy Metropolis of Antalya, Ankara, Izmir and Istanbul.

We met a lot of friendly and helpful Turks. Don’t be shy to ask questions. We weren’t in love with the cuisine but we did sample it. If you love spicy foods like we do, you may be disappointed. We enjoyed the Turk teas, coffee and of course the truly delicious Turkish Delights.

For our quick trip in Istanbul, we visited The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia Museum, the entertainment hub known as Taksim Square, The Basiclica Cisterns, the Spice Market known for an extensive collection of spices and Turkish Delights and the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest covered markets in the world.

Here are a few discoveries that we made:

  • Travelling is so much easier on the tram! It is also super inexpensive when compared to taxis. Once you are at the airport, head downstairs and get yourself tickets. Also grab a map. You can get information from other travellers taking the subway to double check what you already know. It could be the difference between spending up to 80 pounds (65 Liras on taxis depending on the area that you are heading to) as opposed to a mere 6 Liras.
  • The Grand Bazaar is great for shopping. You can score really good deals but you have to bargain like crazy and stay firm. They will drop the price!
  • The people are good natured and friendly so be courteous, polite and kind. Ladies, Turk men are VERY friendly, so keep that in mind when you meet them.
  • Most of the people you meet will not be English speakers (this depends on where you stay). So look out for other travellers who like you will be on the hunt for someone who speaks their native language. You will make new friends!
  • Even if you are travelling alone to Turkey, you can still have a great experience. Just remember to practice being safe, let your hotel know where you are heading. They will guide you on how to get there. Use your camera to document your paces (landmarks) in case you get off track. Sneak snacks into your hotel room (mainly for bed and breakfast hotels) because the mini bar is overpriced!

Our trip was short but we enjoyed our experience a lot. We were able to pack in some fun activities and to take home cool souvenirs. We recommend that the next time you want to escape to a cool location with lots to do and see… Make it Turkey!

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