Sunday, July 3, 2016

Istanbul: Sultanahmet & Taksim Square in Turkey Introduction


Traveling to Turkey wasn't in my top list. I wanted to travel to Russia, Eastern Europe, Spain, Iceland, Vienna or Germany but they were too costly and over my budget. At the end, we decided to travel to Turkey after watching some beautiful shots on documentary shows.

We arrived at one of the biggest and busiest international airport at Istanbul Ataturk Airport. Then, we headed immediately to the Immigration area once we got out from the plane. The queue was as usual very long and slow moving. It wasn't happened due to peak traveling seasons or festive holidays. A friend warned us about the slow processing at the Immigration area before our trip, so we expected it would take between an hour to two hours from the Immigration area to the baggage area right before we could walk out to the Arrival hall of the airport. 

As we walked out the arrival hall, we were welcomed by the private shutter service representative who drove us to our hotel in Sultanahmet which was about 30 minutes ride due to slow crawling traffic on the streets.

Istanbul is well-known for the worst traffic congestion in Turkey and probably, in the world. You can get stuck on the traffic for hours without moving at all during peak hours in the morning and evening, every day. Thus, it's highly advisable to take metro (subway) around Istanbul to avoid being caught in the traffic. 

Although most of the population is Muslim, Turkey is a secular country and everyone has freedom of religion and beliefs. There are minorities practicing in Judaism and Christianity living in Turkey for centuries. As such, Turkey's history of religious tolerance has set an example of living in harmony with different religions to the world.

When you're traveling to Istanbul, it's highly recommended to stay at hotels in two different places in order to experience the lifestyle of these places. All the main attraction sites like, St Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Topkapi Palace are located in Sultanahmet and it's not easy to be accessible by vehicles so, you should plan between two to three days hotel stay within Sultanahmet. All these attraction sites are situated near to each other thus, you just need to walk around Sultanahmet. 

Once you have finished visiting the attraction sites in Sultanahmet, you should plan for another two days hotel stay within Taksim Square. If you plan to take a taxi, you can find many taxis waiting by the road side. Most of the taxi drivers do not use taxi meters so, negotiate to the agreed price before getting into the car. The journey takes between 40 minutes to an hour depending on the traffic condition. Taksim Square is situated in the European part of Istanbul which is considered the heart of modern Istanbul city. 

We decided to extend our trip for another two days stay at Taksim Square since our group tour covered Sultanahmet (in Istanbul) and outside of Istanbul like, Cappadocia, Pamukkale, Kusadasi and Canakkale. All these areas outside of Istanbul aren't accessible by public transportation thus, you can either to engage a private tour or to join group tour.

The bird's eye view of Istanbul which is the most populous capital city in Turkey and the country's economic, cultural and historic center
The bird's eye view of Istanbul which is the most populous capital city in Turkey and the country's economic, cultural and historic center

Metro (subway) is running on the busy streets of Istanbul city in Turkey
Metro (subway) is running on the busy streets of Istanbul city in Turkey

The most convenient and reliable Metro public transportation as Istanbul is well-known for the most congested traffic in Turkey
The most convenient and reliable Metro public transportation as Istanbul is well-known for the most congested traffic in Turkey

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