In Istanbul, there's a cheap, simple-to-use tram service on the bridge just beside the dock, which the tour advisors didn't tell us about. Stick a note into the machine beside each stop, push a button, and it'll give you a ... Read More
In Istanbul, there's a cheap, simple-to-use tram service on the bridge just beside the dock, which the tour advisors didn't tell us about. Stick a note into the machine beside each stop, push a button, and it'll give you a little red token (or more than one) and change. pop the token into the stiles and hop n the next tram. The line runs from the dock area up through the centre of the city, passing the Hagia Sophia and the Grand Bazaar. Very easy to use, and runs every five minutes or so. (There is also a hop-on, hop-off bus which can be caught from the opposite side of the Galatea Bridge to the docking area - but it only goes every hour). There are also appalling queues for entry to some of the attractions, notably the Hagia Sophia museum and the Topkapi palace, which the tour advisors also didn't tell us about, and which, ironically, would have been a very good reason to take one of the organised tours they were selling. (While gazing aghast at a two-hour queue for the Hagia Sophia, we were accosted by a Turkish tout who offered us two tickets and a guide book for 30 euro. Since the tickets cost 10 euro each, we took this deal and jumped the queue. We felt a bit guilty about this, but what the hell -it worked! There was also a very slow queue for entrance to the Topkapi palace, and another when you get inside for the Harem area. There is a special ticket window for official tour guides - might be worth taking one just to avoid queueing. Also beware - you must have Turkish Lira at these ticket windows: no credit cards, dollars or euro will do, so if you haven't enough Lira, off to the ATM, and then back to the back of the queue!
Best moment: a snack in a beautiful Turkish cafe in the city, just down the street from the Hagia Sophia. Recline on great piles of cushions and sample the 'Dolmi' - great!
Istanbul is a stunning city, and the highlight of our cruise. I could have done with three days rather than one-and-a-half we had. It deserves to be savoured at a less rushed pace than we saw it at. Read Less