As mentioned in a previous blog, though I was in Istanbul for three days with family friends, we did get to see some of the most historic buildings, here are some tips I think can help you prepare for a trip to these cities:
Get ready for lots of locals trying to sell you things, postcards, tourist books, other souvenirs. Since Iranian citizens do not have to get a visa in Turkey, they go there to vacation a lot so these local salesmen have learned a few “flirtatious” phrases like, “Pretty ladies, buy postcards!” So we were being haggled in two different languages which was pretty funny (and it only worked a few times).
In one day, we went to The Blue Mosque and then right across from it, Hagia Sophia. In the later, it has the biggest Islamic calligraphy in the world. They are truly beautiful and peaceful, it has such a rich history. I recommend having a guided tour that is offered in Hagia Sophia because it was used for different purposes including a Christian church and a mosque.
Be prepared to spend most of the day in Topkapi, we were there at 11am and left at 4 pm which it kinda ruined our plans because we didn’t think it would take that long. They have royal jewels, wardrobe, and other beautiful antiques. They also carry acclaimed religious possessions such as Abraham’s turban, Moses’s stick that He used to part the seas, Muhammad’s swords, among others. Now none of the workers spoke English which we found pretty convenient for them. I wouldn’t take this too seriously but it is still interesting to at least see. And remember, dress modestly because they will give you sheets to cover yourself.
It is a great city that we all plan to go back again! If you have visited Istanbul and have some extra tips, please comment below!