London to Istanbul

by Jonathan Hurcombe
Istanbul, Turkey, Capital City, Bosphorus Strait

What can I say about Turkey? Flying from London to Istanbul, Ataturk International Airport, I was filled with a mixture of thoughts. It’s staggering to comprehend the journey this city has been on, it is vast and has a population to match. Depending on who you spoke to it was either 15m, 17m or 22m people. It is a gateway between many different regions, religions, cultures and people. It stands both divided and united by the mighty Bosphorus Strait. Anybody questioning whether they should visit this city, don’t delay book your tickets and prepare to dazzled.

Travel Details – Istanbul

Airport: Istanbul Atatürk

Airline: British Airways (my favourite – I am however very biased, but also a great safety record for 2018)

  • At the time we got return flights for £373.74 that’s £186.87 per person. It felt like a good deal.

Bus: We were staying near Istikal Cd and Taksim Square, two well known areas in Beyoglu. It’s fairly simple to get to with a number of buses running for very reasonable prices.

Accommodation – Istanbul

I did have a brief look around for Istanbul hotels, but recently AirBnB hosts have offered us good value for money, a decent level of comfort and a bit more of an authentic experience.


  • Host Name: Neva
  • Number of nights: 3
  • Price: £77.38 per person
  • District: Beyoglu

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Money Talks

As I write this on 22/07/2018, now is a very good time to visit Turkey as the exchange rate with the pound is excellent. Not only do I have this fact from a very trustworthy Turkish neighbour who’s brother is enjoying the fruits of his labour from the UK in his home town right now, but has the following price featured: 1 GBP = 6.29756TRY

Beyoglu, Istanbul

Istanbul is big, at approx 2,000 sq mi it can be difficult to decide where to base yourself. With so much to see and do a little bit of selectivity is required to make the most of your time. Out of the 39 districts we choose Beyoglu on the European side of the Bosphorus Strait. It felt like a convenient spot to get to Istanbul’s attractions and points of interest.

One of the first we discovered being the Galata Bridge. This impressive structure is a bustling hive of activity bridging the gap between the new and old sides of the city. During the warm midday sun local fisherman swarm the handrails looking for the best area to land their catch. Come evening the bridge plays host to innumerate seagulls squawking and battling for any of the day’s leftover scraps. It’s quite a sight to behold their aerial acrobatics in action. The bridge is also a good vantage point to see another interesting natural occurrence – jellyfish of all sizes bloom in the aquamarine water bobbing in their hypnotic wavelike, docile dance. It’s easy to lose time staring at their unsynchronised aquatic ballet.

The bridge is a good place to go on a ferry tour of the Bosphorus Strait, it’s a short but pleasant jaunt that gives you an appreciation of the scale of this city. On returning, if you’re a bit thirsty or peckish the bottom layer of the bridge is lined with restaurants and bars – take your pick and enjoy the view.

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Close to the bridge is Galata Tower an iconic relic from the 1300s that’s stood proud over the city through the ages. I will not spoil your own journey of historical discovery by detailing everything about it here. I will say it’s a fascinating point of interest in Istanbul with stunning panoramic views from it’s peak.

I never tire of encountering the human ingenuity employed to create breathtaking architecture dedicated to things greater than ourselves. The Blue Mosque is a genuine marvel, it’s spires and domes make for an eye popping sight. This is a structure not to be missed when visiting Istanbul. Located on the European side of the city and simple to get to definitely do make the journey. If you’re not a member of the Islamic faith, which I’m not, there are particular codes of practice that should be respected and adhered to so as to avoid any disputes or unwanted attention. Women do have to cover up to enter and visitors should try to keep the noise down. Photography is allowed inside, but again it’s worth being respectful.

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Bascilica Cistern – Istanbul

If you’re in any way like me, you’ll find the creepy haunts of this world intriguing, mysterious and irresistible to explore. This underground cistern is straight out of an fantasy adventure movie, its cool air, seemingly endless pillars illuminated by glowing lights make this the perfect setting to indulge your imagination. What’s even better is the haunting fable surrounding the giant medusa heads at the bottom of two of the Cistern’s pillars. The local officials perpetuate the urban legend that no-one knows how the heads arrived at their final destination. I’m an avid student of Greek mythology and find this little tale and absolute joy.

Basilica Cistern, medusa heads, istanbul, things to do, points of interest, jonny hurcombe, jonathan, hurcombe, travel, travel journal, backpacking

Gulhane Park – Istanbul

If you begin to find the busy city slightly overwhelming, Istanbul is the home of this picturesque park that’ll dissolve any stresses or strains you might have build up from your wanderings.

gulhane park, istanbul, turkey, things to do, places of interest, travel, backpacking, travel blogger, jonathan hurcombe, jonny hurcombe

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