I finally sat down and making up my Istanbul sightseeing wish list. It is short. As in, we could probably do it all in a day if we had to.
My list (not in order of preference):
- Hagia Sophia/Ayasofya
- Blue Mosque
- Topkapı Palace
- Yerebatan Cistern
- Galata Bridge and Tower
- Grand Bazaar (specifically the Book Market and Egyptian Spice Market, while my grandmother wants to track down the fabrics)
- Checking out the Bosphorus, which would be hard to avoid, so I’m not sure it should be on here
This is all in Old Istanbul, all within five (maybe even three) miles of each other. And I would hate to do it all in a single day, because we would end up rushing and missing too much.
I’ve been on trips where every minute is scheduled with stopwatch precision. I hate that. Probably a big reason why it took until now to create this list.
My priority sightseeing stops are the Cistern and bridge (don’t ask me why). My grandmother’s are the Hagia Sophia and her fabrics.
My family’s travel itineraries tend to revolve around the sightseeing. Most do, I think. But sightseeing is a given. How can you not when every step takes you farther into an entirely new and different world from the one you’ve known?
In my experience, trying to pack in everything that must be seen, everywhere that must be visited, means that things will be left out, dropped out of sheer necessity, or barely seen in a haze of exhaustion. You’ll never be able to see it all. Accept that and you’ll be able to appreciate what you do experience so much more.
My in-laws are foodies and meals — trying new food, asking and following locals’ restaurant recommendations — tend to take center stage in their itineraries. There is a certain genius in that.
Making meals a priority means that you’re properly fueled (at least most of the time). You’re not dealing with sugar crashes and emergency food-finding. You’re not realizing that you forgot to schedule time for lunch, so you don’t end up scarfing down whatever you can scrounge so fast you hardly taste it while wondering if you can shave ten minutes off your allotted museum time.
Been there, done that, not interested in a repeat.
As a kid, I was a contender for World’s Pickiest Eater, but now I will try just about anything. I love finding new favorites. Even the really weird (to me) stuff at least gives a good story and bragging rights. And food tends to be an excellent way to get to know a new place and its people.
So I have a sightseeing list to help structure to the wandering, but I think I might be even more excited about our food adventures.