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is one sexy city. it’s also one of my favourite urban destinations and it’s a place I get asked a lot about. It also happens to be a new destination for Air Canada and the international travel press is just so gaga over this fast changing, modern meets traditional euro-asian metropolis right now. I’m thinking you might even be tempted to see what the fuss is about for yourself. There have been so many hotel and restaurant openings lately it’s almost impossible to keep track, but I try - so without further ado - below is my list of the latest places you want to bookmark for when you do visit. Any you will…
MY ISTANBUL LIST
Turkish Airlines would be my first choice - they fly 5 times per week from Toronto to Istanbul nonstop, are a member of Star Alliance (miles!) and their inflight service is quite good. Air Canada is starting up nonstop flights from Toronto this summer as well. Other than that KLM and Lufthansa offer up daily flights from Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver via their European hubs.
Bunk Design Hostel: http://www.bunkhostels.com/
4 Floors Istanbul: http://www.4floorsistanbul.com/index.html
Georges Hotel: http://www.georges.com/en
Karakoy Rooms: http://karakoyrooms.com/home.htm
Mama Shelter: http://www.mamashelter.com/en/istanbul/
Sumahan on the Water: http://www.sumahan.com/
Bread and Butter: http://www.breadandbutter.com.tr/index.html
Datli Maya: http://datlimaya.com/
Karabatak Karakoy: http://www.karabatak.com/
Karga Bar: http://www.kargabar.org/
Mavra (no website) add: serdari ekrem caddesi 31/A tel: 90 212 252 7488
Nano Cafe: http://www.nanokarakoy.com/
Simdi Cafe (no website) add: asmalımescit sokak 5 tel: 902122525443
ArtWalk Istanbul: http://www.artwalkistanbul.com/
Basilica Cistern: http://www.yerebatan.com/
Borusan Contemporary: http://www.borusancontemporary.com/
Spice Bazaar (no website) add: rüstem paşa mah. ragıp gümüşpala cad. If you are to do just 1 bazaar, do this one. The sights and most important, the smells are amazing. Plus lots of Turkish delight (I’m a fan).
Tru Project: http://www.truproject.net/Default.aspx
Turkish Bath: this is one experience you should make sure to not miss. The “traditional” hamman experience can be a little rough for the newbie. If you are game I suggest the Çemberlitas Hamami: http://www.cemberlitashamami.com.tr/ (the staff may or may not speak English). My other choice would be the Spa at the Four Seasons Bosphorus Hotel - it’s an awesome treat as well: http://www.fourseasons.com/bosphorus/spa/hammam_moments/ a 3rd option is the Kilic Ali Pasa which only just reopened after a 7 year renovation turning a 1580s hammam into something very 2013: http://kilicalipasahamami.com/
A FEW TIPS
Getting Around: Istanbul is somewhat walkable, just be warned that distances are deceiving. Add to that the hills and it can be quite the workout. The local transport system includes ferries, boats, buses, trams, funicular, cable cars, metro and one of the oldest underground railroads in the world (called the Tunel). A smartcard system called “istanbulkart” is used for fare payment and collection. In terms of resources, in Istanbul each transport type is run by different companies and each have their own websites.
rail services (metro, tram, etc…): http://www.istanbul-ulasim.com.tr/about-us/introduction.aspx
buses and the Tunel: http://www.iett.gov.tr/en
TAXIS can be hailed on the street and there are a lot of them, just be advised that most drivers don’t speak English so have the address and name of your destination written down. Fares are inexpensive compared to Europe and North America however I found, in my experience, that a lot of drivers also don’t have a good sense of direction so a map is useful as well.
NIGHTLIFE is a big deal and Istanbulus love to party. The live music and club scene might not get as much press as other European cities, but I can tell you it’s pretty intense and the agenda in the summer can be crazy. Rooftop bars, restaurants and lounges are very popular - its where the evenings start and it moves to “underground” spots much later on…
read: http://www.theguideistanbul.com/ for great insider tips and the latest lists of food and nightlife openings, much like other cities, locals like new and flashy things.
another good resource for stuff to do is unlike Istanbul: http://unlike.net/istanbul
smoking is still a very big thing here and people smoke everywhere - you are warned.
When shopping the markets, bargaining is expected and practiced.
unlike many European cities, Istanbul is overrun by stray dogs and cats. It’s a problem locals grapple with how to solve but in the meantime, most are actually pretty well fed of by local shop owners, just beware that larger packs of dogs can show alpha tendencies.
via janna dream, bunk#, calcifer, hidden world, bianca f + city istabul*
Anime North Hotel Problem
An online friend of mine asked this question and since it probably effects a lot of people next weekend, I’m putting it here…
I booked a room at the Doubletree for AN as soon as the rooms were available. I called to confirm the room on Thursday and they said that even though I have a confirmed room, they were overbooked and I would be sent to another hotel. Can they do this? They still have my deposit (for religious reasons I don’t use credit cards and overnighted them a cheque).
I looked at the AN Facebook page and it looks like they did this to a lot of people. What can I do?
In the hotel industry, we call this “walking,” and it is really a rare occurrence. It sounds like this hotel has some serious problems if they are walking bunches of people (judging by the Facebook post you directed me to)
Since Anime North takes place in Canada, I don’t know the rules for “walking” up there, but I can tell you, if this happened at my property, we would secure you a room worth more than your reservation at a nearby hotel for the rate you had booked with us, provide transportation there, pay for two phone calls (this goes back to the days before cell phones), and if you were part of a conference, we would pay for your transit back and forth to our property if we were hosting the event.
1. Call the hotel and get details on where they are sending you. Make sure it is comparable and that the location is okay. (I really find it odd that they are “walking” a week before check-in. Normally it is a same day thing caused by people not checking out on the day they are supposed to, so…perhaps they booked two events and figured the con-kids would be easier to move? IDK)
2. Contact the con itself. While they are not at fault, they need to be made aware that one of their contracted properties is pulling this garbage. Again, one or two rooms being walked is one thing. Blocks of people being walked is suspicious. I wonder if Doubletree is going to try and fill a sister property of lesser quality with their higher rates?
3. When you arrive to check in, have in hand some acceptable properties. Don’t let them tell you it’s an “upgrade.” You can look on your phone and check the rate. Better yet, call them in front of the front desk and ask for their rates and availability. If the Doubletree is charging you $150/nt, they should be sending you somewhere that is getting AT LEAST $150/nt.
4. Ask about transit to the conference. If you were staying at the Doubletree because it is the conference hotel and there are events taking place there, ask them to pay for taxis or shuttles to bring you there.
5. DO NOT cry, throw a fit, or act like a brat. I know it’s frustrating and you’re annoyed, and if the staff is worth their salt they will take care of you. If they are not treating you like a valued customer, tell them that. Ask to speak to a manager. If that fails, call corporate right in front of them. You can find the number on Hilton’s website. Store it in your phone. Be firm, but polite and professional.
6. Contact a travel ombudsman. Try www.elliott.org. I read him often. I bet he could get to the bottom of this mess and make sure Doubletree takes care of you and your group.
Hope this helps and that you have a great con!