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Good Holiday Ideas | May 21, 2024

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Istanbul – The world’s best apres ski city!

Istanbul – The world’s best apres ski city!

Istanbul has enthralled visitors for centuries  and is Turkey’s cultural capital, and a must-do for not only Muslims but tourists seeking the extraordinary, writes  regular visitor John Hill.

I was, US-style, doing Istanbul in a day, whilst waiting for a London flight  home after a few days skiing at the Black Sea resort of Kartalkaya  And regard this sizzling city is the best I have ever apres-skied in.

I still enthuse over  the city’s many wonders, but   not having visited since pre-Covid, I was rather put out by the way developers  had filled in every foot of green space  with  view-spoiling   skyscrapers, though  thankfully the city’s fine mosques are still  always  on view.

Culture lovers aiming to visit the splendorous mosques should  start early to avoid the masses visiting to pray  or just admire the  fantastic domes and tile-covered Sultanahmet’s Aya Sofya Meydan as the blue mosque is flanked by the Byzantine-era church which is now the Museum of Turkish & Islamic Arts, with  impressive antique carpets. Then take a leisurely stroll through the Hippodrome, where chariot races were held in ancient times.

Escape the blazing afternoon sun by shopping in the Grand Bazaar, and get lost, as I did decades ago on my fist visit, when I was rescued and directed out of the incredible maze of stalls by a giant of a man named Bullent (surname indescribable) but truly memorable as he was in a heavenly mood, having just scooped 18million Euros in the Turkish lottery.

In celebratory mood, Bullent volunteered to be my guide and first introduced me to the delights of the hamam at the city’s largest and best-known establishment right opposite the huge market’s entrance.

Beaten up by masseurs then spruced up Bullent took me on  a tour of the city’s best nightspots he claimed were nearly as rowdy and scary as the Galatasaray FC ground where the Ultras benefitted from a large donation from Bull’s significant winnings.

Two more must-dos are to follow our steps and cross the famous Galata Bridge over the Bosporous  to Karaköy , the city’s newest  fun area.

The other is a visit to the seat of Ottoman power for centuries, Topkapi Palace, to see how the Sultans lived and loved.

Istanbul ancient capital of the Eastern Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire, is a spectacular city full of charm, having  absorbed the best of both worlds.

With its beautiful historic landmarks, outstanding cuisine, vibrant nightlife, festivals of art and music, a celebration of faith, labyrinths of market places and shopping arcades, it is a traveller’s dream.

Historically known as the Grande Rue de Pera, this street in Beyolgu area is home to many famous neoclassical arcades, fantastic shops, restaurants, bars, “meyhanes” (Turkish taverns), confectioneries, pastry shops, pubs, museums, art galleries, stages, and cinemas. Home to the city’s vibrant cultural and artistic life for centuries, its symbol is the iconic bright red, nostalgic passenger-filled tram that runs down the middle of the street.

Home of St. Antoine’s Church, Galatasaray High School and the Narmanh Inn, Istiklal street has served as Istanbul’s cultural and artistic hub for over a century. Leading museums, such as Salt Beyolgu and the Pera Museum, are also on this route. The Atatürk Cultural Center, which stages the modern culture and arts scene, welcomes art lovers at Taksim Square.  Then there is St.Antoine’s the largest Roman Catholic church in Istanbul, whilst nearby St.Anthony of Padua is, considered a minor basilica.

Poking out of the skyline, this impressive monument  was built in 1384 by Italian immigrants and has incredible 360-degree views across the Bosporous.

Near the Galata Bridge is Karaköy is one of Istanbul’s most historic districts, is today an important commercial centre and a hotspot blossoming with new art, design, and dining options.

This major waterfront development of Bosporus coastline has brought to life an area closed  for 200 years. It has become a complex of museums, shops, restaurants, and breweries appealing to the cruise passengers and locals alike.

Travellers come to see not only the Grand Mosque or Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque) and experience a new neighbourhood dedicated to culture, art, design, new-generation shopping, and gastronomy.

Galataport is also the world’s first underground cruise terminal with a hatch system separating the customs and security (ISPS) areas when no ship is berthed it creates a temporary customs area open to the public. Galataport also houses the finest works of modern art in Türkey.