My husband’s grandparents have traveled to the European side and Asian side and back in Istanbul during the past 2 weeks.
We’ve been busy which should explain my lack of posts recently. Here’s a summary of the top 5 tips I’ve learned from our grandparents while touring around Istanbul.
1. Ask them what they would like to see.
Since I’ve lived in Istanbul for more than 2 years, I know the main tourist sights to see. However, it’s best to ask them what they would like to see and do. Grandpa had requested a boat ride and to be by the sea. So we made sure we did a two-hour Bosphorus cruise, took a ferry to Kadıköy and had brunch along the Bosphorus near Rumeli Hisarı.
|Taking a 2-hour Bosphorus cruise is a very relaxing activity to do with grandparents in Istanbul.|
2. Then, hire a private guide.
I contacted several of my expat friends and asked for tour guide recommendations. I chose Salih of My Local Guide Istanbul. His girlfriend is in one of my expat groups, so I felt comfortable going with someone whom I kind of knew.
One morning, I dropped off the grandparents to meet Salih in Sultanahmet. They toured through Topkapı Palace, the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque and the Bascilica Cistern while I went home to bake. I chose these places as I’ve already been through them several times. Around 5 p.m., I picked up the grandparents and we enjoyed a drink together with Salih before we headed home.
They told me Salih was very patient with them, allowed them to rest often, assisted them up stairs and also was knowledgeable and funny. Exactly what I hoped to hear! And the tour was affordable! Some of the private tours I had been quoted as much as 300 to 350 Euros for 8 hours.
On the second day, we joined Salih’s Istanbul Heritage Tour. Lucky for us, we ended up being the only ones so we had another private tour, just a half-day this time. This tour took us through Istanbul’s neighborhoods of Balat, Fener, Eyüp and up to the Pierre Loti Café. (More on this tour in another post.)
|Grandma and Grandpa with Salih, our friendly guide, at Pierre Loti Cafe in Istanbul.|
The grandparents really enjoyed marveling at the 16th-century Greek Orthodox Church in Fener called The Church of St. George (Aya Yorgi Kilisesi).
On the second to last day, we did a third tour with my friend Kathy at Istanbul Personal Shopper. She helped us navigate the maze of streets that make up the Grand Bazaar.
3. Take a taxi.
I usually prefer to take public transportation in Istanbul because it’s cheaper. However, with the grandparents, I realized a taxi often was an easier solution. A taxi to Kabataş and then a tramway ride for 3 people (with my akbil) would cost 18 tl while a taking a taxi all the way from our apartment to Eminönü was just 15 tl. If I took a taxi all the way to Sultanahmet, cutting through the neighborhood of Cağaloğlu, the cost was 20 tl.
Taking a taxi cut down on the amount of walking we did, making the trip more enjoyable for the grandparents.
4. Go slow.
I am a fast walker. Grandparents are not fast walkers. I learned to take my time, helped them go up stairs and get across the busy streets of Istanbul and chose different sidewalks or streets that I knew were flatter or more accessible.
Going slower also made me less stressed. I knew I didn’t have to hurry or rather couldn’t hurry. If we arrived a little late, no worries. Or I planned ahead and allowed myself to have more time to get somewhere.
|Grandpa enjoyed the views along the Bosphorus.|
5. Be flexible.
I’m a planner, but sometimes my plans fell through. On Sunday, the Bosphorus boat cruises were packed full of people. We scrapped that plan and toured the Ayasofya instead.
If you’re older and hesitated before about traveling to Turkey, I hope this post shows that you can do it. Grandma is 82 and Grandpa is 89. Luckily, they are both in fairly good health so we were able to show them Istanbul and spend a weekend in Fethiye. We've been quite fortunate!
Grandpa says he’s going tell all his friends back in New Jersey that he’s felt very safe and enjoyed his visit very much in Istanbul.