A weekend in Istanbul, Turkey
By Clara Bosonetto, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
Budget: Topkapi is the largest and oldest surviving palace in the world, built between 1466 and 1478. Its the top Istanbul attraction, and wait times to enter can be lengthy. Arrive before it opens and plan a full day to explore this vast museum. Photo credit: www.visit2istanbul.com
Visit Istanbul, Turkey, one of three ways: on a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.
Trip tips: When dialing direct, use the prefix 011 followed by 90 (country code) + 212 (city code) + phone number shown below. For practical visitor information, visit http://english.istanbul.gov.tr.
Getting there: Rates from $915 round-trip on departures through March 10; from $935 April 1-May 16; valid on Delta (one Europe connection required; stopovers not permitted).
Stay: Hotel Lausos is located close to St. Sophia, Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cistern, the Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar. Ottoman-style guest rooms at this pretty boutique hotel are from $108, including a buffet breakfast. Klodfarer Caddesi 33, Sultanahmet (Old City), 638-0707, www.hotellausos.com.
Eat: Tiny Kara Mehmet Kebap Salonu is in the Grand Bazaar (opened in 1461) inside a courtyard on a caravanserai (shelters for travelers, goods and animals along ancient caravan routes). This quiet, out-of-the-way spot gives a different prospective to this remarkable market of more than 50 streets and 3,000 shops (city and Bazaar maps at www.istanbultrails.com). After a kabob (under $5), try a dessert of kenafeh (shredded phyllo dough and cheese pastry soaked in sugar). Ic Cebeci Han 92, 527-0533.
Experience: Orientate on arrival with an open double-decker bus city tour. Get off at any of 40 stops to look around and then board another bus to continue the tour (buses operate every 60 minutes); about $27; www.hop-on-hop-off-bus.com. Check out the treasury of jewels and the elaborate harem chambers at Topkap? Palace, the palace of sultans from 15th to 19th century; about $14 ($8.50 more with harem entry). Sarayici, 522-4422, www.topkapisarayi.gov.tr. Istanbuls official sea bus and fast ferry company offers Bosphorus cruise from Eminonu to the Black Sea, and back. The ferry makes five stops on the six-hour cruise. Get off at the final stop, Anadolu Kavagi, for a fresh fish lunch or a visit to the hilltop Yoros Castle. Audio guides explain more than 70 points of interest along the way; twice daily service (Bogaz Hatti dock No. 3 near Galata Bridge); about $14. www.sehirhatlari.com.tr/en.
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