We turned to Istanbulite. The challenge: find local guides who could match wits with an enthusiastic 87-year-old history buff, with a walker nicknamed Intrepid, and a mission to put Byzantine, Ottoman and modern history in physical context on two continents in three days. Oh, yes, and to eat as much lamb as possible. Chatting with locals would come naturally.
Our days focused on: 1) major sites (Sultanahmet, Aya Sofya, Grand Bazaar); 2) history (the Byzantine Chora church, the Ottoman Rüstem Pașa Mosque, and the orientalist Dolmabahҁe Palace) plus a stop at the Spice Bazaar; and 3) West meets East meets Bosphorus chic, (a ferry ride to Kadikoy’s outdoor markets and restaurants on the Asian side, followed by a ferry and taxis to the Western neighborhoods of Bebek, Arnavutkoy, and Ortakoy). Along the way: eat, drink, shop.
Whether the topic was history, shatoosh, current news, or rooftop views, for local knowledge, Istanbulite was worth the investment.
Our guides were sensitive to the pace of a senior with a walker who wanted to see it all. Clear itineraries with flexibility based on what we’d be willing to miss offered time to experience each place.
Knowledge that made a difference:
o Major sites with official handicap access and the most feasible way there;
o Manageable entrances to sites without handicap access; and
o How to get there. We prefer public transportation, so a reality check about time and distance made our history day possible.