Some time ago, a friend of mine suggested that we should go on a trip and leave our homeland of Sweden for a couple of weeks and travel a bit. She even suggested that we should visit a country with a totally different kind of culture opposed to ours so we could experience new things. We found out that a flight to Istanbul would cost us only 100 euros, and Turkey is as contrary to Sweden as it can get so we immediately agreed on that idea. Two of our friends joined us in our endeavor and we prepared and book our flight.
We managed to find a small rental on a site called Short Term Renting. It was a rather simple apartment with two bedrooms and all the basic necessities that we needed. Since we did not plan to spend a lot of time in our room, we were very happy with our accommodation and our host, named Fatih, was really helpful with accommodating us and giving us directions and advice about the city. He even gave us a public transportation card which we used to get around and saved a lot of money that way. We recommend using this card to all the visitors of Istanbul because it is a real money saver.
Istanbul - My Impressions
The city of Istanbul is very different opposed to Stockholm. The streets are very busy and there are people running around everywhere. The constant chatter and the noise of the people is overwhelming and takes some time to get used to. Everything is very colorful while the architecture of the city is very interesting and was something which I enjoyed very much actually. The first day we just strolled around the city and simply wanted to get to know it a bit. We were exploring the markets, went through our neighborhood where our flat was and also roamed around the narrow streets of Istanbul. Particularly interesting was the market area. There were all sorts of people and all sorts of merchandise displayed. Many of the locals tried to sell us things that we did not need and one of them even succeeded in selling my friend an urn, which he later regret buying, but it was all in good fun at the end. If you are visiting Istanbul watch out for these street sellers because a lot of them will try to hustle you.
We visited a lot of sites of Istanbul. We saw the Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cistern and the Grand Bazar. We even went on a boat ride through the Bosphorus Canal and the ride was very entertaining. The girls from our group also visited the Hamam or an original Turkish bath. They even took the whole treatment there, massage and everything. They say that this experience was very relaxing for them and that it was certainly the highlight of their trip. While the girls were out on their own, we, the guys, were on our own as well, and we decided to find some bars if there were any. We ended up, at the end, on a live music performance on the top of a building which was a bar or a café of some sorts. We ended up having the best time there and were particularly interesting to the locals because of our blond hair and pale-ish complexion, which the locals are not used to seeing every day.
All in all, the trip was a complete success. We managed to achieve our primary goal of exploring a new city and their culture. The congestion of people was actually too bit for our taste and that part we did not enjoy so much, but the prices, the sites and the entertainment were perfect and we recommend to everyone to visit Istanbul at least once in their lives.
Here is the official Istanbul city guide http://english.istanbul.com/ that can be very useful in case that you plan to visit the city.