• Stockholm Stockholm
    5 year resident, to guide around the local wonders
  • French Polynesia French Polynesia
    6 islands in the South Seas
  • some image Tokyo Tour
    1-day walk around the best spots
  • Japanese Wedding Japanese Wedding
    The dark side of the rising sun
  • Skyline Hong Kong
    Skylines, bar streets, markets & islands
  • some image Fashion shopping in Tokyo
    The best souvenir of Japan is not omiyage
  • Sydney Opera Australia
    Sydney's NYE, Gold Coast & Great Barrier Reef
  • Gecko Hawaii
    Aloha nature wonders
  • Yakushima Yakushima
    Hiking the Princess Mononoke Forest
  • Ishigaki Lighthouse Ishigaki
    Okinawa's shades of blue
  • Yuki Matsuri Hokkaido
    Powder Snow Festival
  • Daikanyama Daikanyama
    Tokyo's SoHo
  • Cosplayer Comiket
    The Biggest Cosplay Event
  • Cherry Tree Blossom Hanami (花見)
    Sakura by the skyscrapers
  • Hiroshima bomb time Hiroshima
    The Bomb & Miyajima
  • top of mount fuji guide to climb Japan
    Top of Mt.Fuji
  • Kyoto & Nara Nara & Kyoto
    Ciervos nadando en lagos de roca
  • Formentera House Formentera
    Mediterranean Sun

11.5.15

5 hours in Istanbul

istanbul guide for the business traveller

Still bewitched by the charm of Istanbul, the frontier between East and West, formerly known as Byzantium and later on Constantinople, I decided to drop some lines for you business traveller with little time and a huge desire to experience new places, as an afternoon is enough to get a feeling of what this city can offer. Despite the excitement of having access to the Executive perks of Hilton Bomonti (featuring free drinks at floor 34) we decided to leave the hotel as soon as the conference was over, hoping for the 5h until our table at 360 to be sufficient.


Museums are closed, so the afternoon is definitely not the ideal time for sightseeing but hey, as I told the concierge, any time is better than no time at all. To avoid the traffic jam, we recommend you to hop on the subway and get off at Vezneciler or any of the stations nearby, depending on which line works best from your hotel. Just walk from there, we walked through all the main sights (Gran Bazaar, Cembrelitas - the burnt obelisque, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia) and followed the walled seaside until the bridge that crosses back to the commercial city center.

Unfortunately, a terrible rain started just when we entered the bridge, so I was forced to pack my camera and find some shelter. Hence, the absence of city center shots. There was a huge thunderstorm, lightning up the sky as if it was daytime, dripping a tone of water per square meter and a blackout that left the whole city in darkness. Apparently, blackouts are very common in Istanbul, as many businesses had there own generators. For instance, when we arrived to the building where the restaurant was located, the stairs were in darkness, the elevators were not working, but once at the top floor, it was business as usual and the party kept going at 360 istanbul.

Key tips:
- Wear pants (seriously, this was NOT the worst mini I ever wore but the eyes of the male population on the street were a little too overwhelming)
- Do NOT buy souvenirs at Grand Bazaar (try local Art Galleries for higher quality at same price)
- Try Turkish Delight (preferably from Halis Bekrizade Efendi)
- Get drinks and dinner at the supercool 360 for surprising dining shows


istanbul guide for the business traveller
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I hope you like the mix of high and low, east and west, as much as we did.

istanbul guide for the business traveller
istanbul guide for the business traveller
istanbul guide for the business traveller
istanbul guide for the business traveller
istanbul guide for the business traveller

After trying several streets without success we managed to hit Grand Bazaar by complete chance. Getting lost is often the best way, to find yourself.

istanbul guide for the business traveller

istanbul guide for the business traveller
istanbul guide for the business traveller
istanbul guide for the business traveller
istanbul guide for the business traveller

Personally, I cannot stand bargaining or utterly touristic merchandise so I did not buy anything here. Lucky me, I would discover the perfect shop later on, featuring handmade souvenirs at same price.

If you are into eatable presents, get some sweets. Baklava is ironically a staple also in Malaga. Made out of filo, nuts and honey it is heavy, typically served in tiny bites together with tea. Personally, I rather go for the chocolate Turkish Delight from Halis Bekirzade Efendi. Their sweets were well above anything I had tasted before, bought in the Muslim-friendly stores of Stockholm.

istanbul guide for the business traveller
istanbul guide for the business traveller
istanbul guide for the business traveller

The whole place is grand but showing signs of aging Empire.

istanbul guide for the business traveller
istanbul guide for the business traveller
istanbul guide for the business traveller
istanbul guide for the business traveller


Blue Mosque real name is actually Sultan Ahmed Mosque ordered by a 13-year old Sultan, to express the Ottoman Power. The money he had not gained from winning any battles, had to be borrowed from the Treasury. Six minarets, rivalling with Mecca and intricate blue decorations for this new landmark. It's the mixture of gold, blue, marble and the huge minarets reaching to the sky that makes it an impressive yet calm sight.

istanbul guide for the business traveller
istanbul guide for the business traveller
istanbul guide for the business traveller

Hagia Sophia (below) was built in 537, around 1000 years before Blue Mosque. They are really close to each other, it gives you a strange feeling. Why putting such huge structures together? Its minarets may not be as high, but her history is well more interesting. Started as Orthodox Basilica, turned into Mosque and it is now reinvented as Museum. In fact, it was the world's largest Cathedral until 1520, when Seville Cathedral appeared. Unfortunately, when Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, all Catholic art in terms of murals, relics or mosaics, was removed or plastered over. At least, they kept the building intact and added the muslim elements (minarets - spires used as towers to call for prayer, mihrab - hole in the direction of mecca, minbar - pulpit where the imam stands to deliver sermons).

istanbul guide for the business traveller

Since we could not get in, we just walked around the wall.

istanbul guide for the business traveller
istanbul guide for the business traveller
istanbul guide for the business traveller
istanbul guide for the business traveller

...to end with a sunset over the Bosphorus, boundary between Europe and Asia.

istanbul guide for the business traveller
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