THE MAGAZINE CONSTANTLY SEEKING ADVENTURE
SEE MORE. DO MORE. EXPLORE.
ISTANBUL TOP TEN THINGS TO DO IN ISTANBUL TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS TURKISH CUISINE a blogger’s istanbul food experience
DUSK TILL DAWN jarvis holliday chronicles: my unexpected trip to istanbul hookah lounge
BACKPACKER ESSENTIALS what not to forget when traveling the best all-around urban backpack ultralight backpacking gear list: a breakdown of weight and cost
TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS experience istanbul Istanbul Guided Walking Tour 4 Day Istanbul Tour
FUEL UP turkish cuisine
A Bloggerâ€™s Istanbul Food Diary
WORD ON THE STREET dusk till dawn
Jarvis Holliday Chronicles: My Unexpected Trip to Istanbul Hookah Lounge
THE ESSENTIALS: GEAR backpacker essentials What Not To Forget When Traveling The Best All-Around Urban Pack Ultralight Backpacking Gear List: A Breakdown Of Weight And Cost
BUCKET LIST DESTINATIONS top ten things to do in istanbul
Learn The Hot Spots And The Must Sees In Order To Get The Full Istanbul Experience
EDITOR’S LETTER KELSEY M COON W e l c o m e
F e l l o w
T r e k k e r s ,
Urban Trek Magazine is a backpackers guide to urban traveling to all the must see cities all over the world. At Urban Trek we strive to provide our fellow trekkers a magazine that provides everything you need to know in one place. We share the best hot spots to experience as much history and culture in a limited or extended amount of time that is up to you! This magazine itself should be an escape, we want inspire the reader to take the steps and make the trek. Open up an issue of Urban Trek and you’re half way there, get travel arrangements, deals, meals, destinations and ideas for the perfect trip. Read our personal accounts stories and repeat or beat their trips! We encourage spontaneity, be adventurous, make your trip a once and a lifetime experience. Our magazine is geared towards young American travelers searching adventure and a chance to see more, do more, and explore everything our world has to offer. We are an urban backpacking magazine equipping all backpackers from begin-
ners to experts with the information needed to make the trek. In this first issue we are bringing the city of Istanbul to you. Read about the best places to see and places to go, things to eat, how to save, and get there yourself. A glimpse of what’s in store this issue… Winter 2014 is the perfect time to start planning a trip to the beautiful country Turkey. Istanbul is one of the must see destinations for many reasons, its history, culture, food, environment and adventure. This first issue is capturing the ins and outs of Istanbul. I hold this city close to my heart because it was my first big time adventure which I submerged myself completely into another culture. Istanbul has so much to offer. It is a lively and exciting place with lots things to see and do. Until Next Time, Happy Trekking!
ISTANBUL GUIDED WALKING TOUR: 50 EURO Istanbul has always been one of the most fascinating cities in the world. We offer this special excursion to our client who prefer to explore most in the city and pay less. You will have a very informative but enjoyable and easy tour with your professional and knowledgeable guide throughout the imperial city center. You will see the most interesting monuments and learn their great historical backgrounds. Since that is a walking tour, you will also have the chance to observe the present day life in the area and take more pictures. Our groups are with only a few people which is providing the tour attenders the feeling of a self-explore time other than the scheduled and rush group tours. Your guides will be just next to you and will be pleased to reply all your questions. Tour Details Code : BPIST1 Tour Name : Guided Walking Tour In The Old City Duration : Half Day in the morning Itinary : The tour starts with pick up from your hotel (**only Old City and Taksim area with free pick up service) about 08:30 am and finishes about 12.30 noon in Sultanahmet square. You will visit: Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern (Underground Water Palace) and Roman Hippodrome. You may also visit the Harem in the palace which is optional. The tour cost is 30 eur per person for cash payments including the entrance fees except the Harrem Section in the palace. The cost of the Harrem Section is 15 Turkish Lira. Please note that Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays.
How To Book Turkey Tour Once you have selected your tour, please send the travel inquiry form to us. We will check the availability and get back to you with a price. If you like our program and price then you can proceed to book your Turkey vacation. About booking and payment .:We get 40 percent of the amount in reservation and rest of the amount you can pay when you arrive in Istanbul. You can make a payment with your credit card or bank transfer. If you would like to pay by credit card, we will send a mail order form for you to fill out. Then you can send the completed and signed form back to us by e- mail or by fax. If you would like to pay with bank transfer. 7
TOUR Included: Transfers to bus station or airpot, bus tickets or flight tickets, accommodation at 3-4-5 star hotels or boutique hotels, professional tour guide, meals mentioned in the itinerary, and enterance fees to museums and historical sites. Excludes: Drinks, tips, and personal expenses
4 D AY I S T A N B U L day 1: Istanbul after arrival Istanbul Airport, we will pick you up from airport and transfer to hotel, free time and overnight in Istanbul.
Day 2: Istanbul classic tour After breakfast we will pick you up from the hotel and start a full day guided tour of the old city in historical peninsula beginning with great museum hagia Sophia and you will discovert the hidden architectural beauties of this ancient basilica, blue mosque with its magnificent blue tiles and six unique minarets, topkapi palace, feel yourself as a ruler of 15th century, Hippodrome walk in the ancient arena and Grand Bazaar walk in the trade center of Istanbul. After tour free time and overnight in Istanbul. Day 3: Istanbul Bosphorus Tour Breakfast at your hotel then pick up amd begin with a brief visit to the 17th century Spice Bazaar, one of Istanbulâ€™s most colorful and bustling attractions. Golden Horn, the arm of the Bosphorus and a natural harhour of the historical peninsula. Next, we take an unforgettable cruise along the Bosphorus River, through the waterway separating the two continents, Europe and Asis, with a possibility to take photographs of marble palaces, ancient wooden villas of the Ottoman architecture besides modern residentials and luxurious apartments. Rumeli Fortress, (from the road- no interior visit) historical armarment built by the Conqueror to control and protect the Bosphorus. Dolmoabahce Palace, recent residence for Ottoman Sultans, built on a 110,000 square meters areas and served as the main administravtivee center of the Ottoman Empire, famous for its great collection of European antiquity, furniture and 4/5 tons chandelier, the palace has 285 rooms, 46 halls, 6 baths, and 68 toilets. Bosphorus Bridge, a unique chance to step from one continent to another in 2mintues. Camlica Hill, exposing a panoramic view f Istanbul and Bosphorus from the best point of the view. At the end of the tour we take you back to your hotel and overnight in Istanbul. Day 4: istanul After breakfast, our tour concludes and we say good bye to our new friends and according to youe international flight we transfer you to airport.
** Please note that there will be an extra charge for pick up service from other locations which will be informed you separetely when we get your hotel details. The extra pick up service cost payable to the driver in cash change please. Code : BPIST2 Tour Name : Guided Walking Tour In The Old City Duration : Half Day in the afternoon Itinary : Tour starts with pick up about 13.00 from your hotel (**only Old City and Taksim area with free pick up service) . You will see: St.Sophia Museum, Blue Mosque (SultanAhmet Mosque), Million stone, Tomb of Sultan Mahmud and ancient Ottoman cemetery,Cemberlitas (Burnt Column),Grand Bazaar. The tour ends about 16:30 with free time in Grand Bazaar. You will be advised by your guide for getting back to your hotel on your own. The tour cost is 30 eur per for cash payments person including the entrance fees. Please note that St.Sophia Museum is closed on Mondays and Grand Bazaar closed on Sundays. ** Please note that there will be an extra charge for pick up service from other locations which will be informed you separetely when we get your hotel details. The extra pick up service cost payable to the driver in cash change please. Code : BPIST3 Tour Name : Guided Walking Tour In The Old City Duration : Full day Itinary : The combination of the above mentioned half day tours with free time for lunch between 12.30-13.30. Free pick up service provided for old city hotels (**only Old City and Taksim area with free pick up service) . The tour cost is 50 eur per person for cash payments including the entrance fees except Harem Section. The cost of the Harrem Section is 15 Turkish Lira. ** Please note that there will be an extra charge for pick up service from other locations which will be informed you separetely when we get your hotel details. The extra pick up service cost payable to the driver in cash change please. 8% tax will be added for credit cards payments.
BY AARON SEPTEMBER 8, 2012
I was really looking forward to having a great kebab. So much so, I actually tried to have one every day that we were in Turkey – over three weeks. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep up for more than a week… mostly because it turns out that they have other great food too. In the US, people love Mexican food, with burritos being a tasty favorite. The parallel in Europe is the famous Turkish kebab. There are a few distinctions present in Turkey that a lot of people seem to be unaware of. If you just stroll into a restaurant and order a kebab you will get a plate, often with a salad and the kebab meat served with a little flat bread and a tomato sauce. While very good, it’s a sit-down version of what you probably have in mind: What you were probably expecting is a wrap with the meat and salad inside! We had to learn a few basic Turkish words to get what we really were after, “Dürüm et döner” (literally meaning “wrap meat spit”): Those were really tasty, but we paid about 10 TL for each of them (about $5). Then there are the really incredible (and cheap!) versions such as Dürümzade. This place has the best kebab in Istanbul, and it’s priced to sell at 5 TL! We happened to visit Turkey during Ramadan, a month-long Islamic holiday when Muslims fast during sunlight hours. It’s not uncommon to see people ordering food minutes before sunset. Even if the food arrives just before the evening call to prayer, they’ll patiently wait. As soon as they hear the call to prayer, they’ll begin eating.
ENTRÉES While at Dürümzade, we noticed a few people doing this. They all had a soup and salad in front of them, so we decided to order the same. We weren’t sure what kind of soup it was, but it looked and smelled great. The salad was simply lettuce leaves, lemon wedges and poached fig, which was very good. People were eating it by hand, so we followed suit. Once we were back home we looked up what kind of soup Dürümzade was serving, which turned out to be Tripe Soup – sheep intestines. Really. Wouldn’t say that I would have wanted to try it if I had known before hand, but it turned out to be really awesome.
Speaking of sheep intestines, it’s known as Kokoreç. It is often served as a cheap street food, typically as a sandwich. To make this sandwich, the intestines are cleaned and cut into thin strands. It is then wrapped tightly around and grilled on a horizontal spit. On order, the meat is then diced up in to very small pieces and put on a big baguette. From what we were told, it seems that even Turks have strong feelings about it. To the unassuming foreigner, it looks as tasty as any other mystery meat roasting on a spit, a common sight in Turkey. You would have no idea what it was without asking, but it’s actually quite good. Pide is a traditional Turkish food that many foreigners call “Turkish pizza”. It can come with many variations of toppings but some of the most popular are cheese and mince meat. They’re made with pita bread (aka pide) and shaped kinda like canoes: Galata Bridge in Istanbul has two levels. On the street level, you’ll often see many people fishing directly off the bridge. On the lower level there are many seafood restaurants. We stopped in to try “fish bread” (simply a fresh fish sandwich) at one of them. Traditional Turkish breakfast is one of my favorites. It typically has tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, lunch meats, honey, and clotted cream. It sometimes includes a spicy Turkish sausage, called sucuk (seen on the right side of the picture below). Kumpir is a fully-loaded baked potato that’s popular in a certain neighborhood in Istanbul – Ortaköy. We had ours from one stand (amongst 12+ others selling the same thing) – the competition is fierce, to say the least. You have about 20 options for toppings, or you can just get a little bit of everything like we did: butter, cheese, potato salad, hot dogs, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, cole slaw, green olives, black olives, pickles, peas, cous-cous, sweet corn, carrots, barbecue sauce, ketchup, and mayonnaise.
DRINKS Ayran is a very popular beverage. It’s a salty, runny yogurt drink that can be either hand-made or already packaged. Sounds terrible, but it was actually very good. I am not a fan of kefir, so I was surprised that I liked Ayran. Turkey’s most popular alcoholic drink is Rakı – a clear, anise-flavored liquor. It’s very similar to a few other drinks in the region such as Greek Ouzo and Sambuca. It’s often served over ice or cut with some water. In either case, it turns to a cloudy white appearance.
DESSERTS Baklava is something that I have personally always associated with Greece. It turns out that the word “baklava” itself comes from Ottoman Turkish. There is evidence that baklava, in its current form, was first baked in Topkapı Palace in Istanbul. We’ve certainly tried baklava before, but it was very tasty in its home: Turkey. Dondurma is Turkish ice cream. What’s interesting about it is the texture: it’s thickened with a type of flour. You’ll often see the street vendors stretching and kneading a large glob of it while trying to sell it. Although Turkish food is very good, the fact is – you won’t find much else in terms of other cuisines. The options are either traditional Turkish cuisine or American fast-food chains, which, by the way, we hit up a few just because it’d been so long. █
JARVIS HOLLIDAY CHRONICLES: NIGHTLIFE AND SOCIAL SCENE, STRAIGHT NO CHASER: MY UNEXPECTED TRIP TO ISTANBUL HOOKAH LOUNGE
“I FIGURED ISTANBUL HOOKAH LOUNGE MUST BE A NEW SPOT. IMAGINE MY SURPRISE WHEN I LEARNED THAT IT’S BEEN OPEN SINCE 2009.”
BY JARVIS HOLLIDAY AUGUST 19, 2013
I had no idea this place existed until Friday night. Place your order at the bar inside Istanbul Hookah Lounge and then either head outside to the courtyard or upstairs to the lounge. As a blogger about nightlife, it’s my duty (ha-ha, I said duty) to know nightlife. I believe I know it really well. So whenever someone tells me about a local bar, lounge, or nightclub, usually I’m already aware of it and, in many cases, I’ve gone there before. But on Friday night, I visited a place I’d never heard of: Istanbul Hookah Lounge. After enjoying dinner and drinks, my girlfriend suggested we go to this hookah spot she’d recently heard of from a friend. She said it was “Istanbul something…” I said I’d never heard of it, and that it must be new. After Binging “Istanbul Charlotte” on my phone, I pulled up Istanbul Hookah Lounge, and the address showed that it was located at Brevard Court. Its location immediately made it appealing to me. Brevard Court is a very cool, cobblestone-lined courtyard of restaurants, bars, and shops that not enough of people know about, despite it being historic, granted it is tucked away. Magazines gave Brevard Court a Best of the Best (BOB) Award in the nightlife category in 2011. I’ve gone there several times over the years, but I can’t say that I go regularly, though I did eat lunch at the subway there just a few weeks ago. If you’ve never visited, the main appeal is how the two rows of brick buildings form a corridor—a cobblestone alleyway—filled with plenty of patio tables and stringed lights hanging above. People often remark that it feels like something you would find in France. Hookah pipes were on many of the patio tables at Brevard Court on Friday night. One of the unfortunate things about Brevard Court, though, is there’s high turnover among the tenants—there’s always at least two or three spaces available for lease (however, Courtyard Hooligans, the pub I wrote about for this magazine three years ago, is still going strong). I figured Istanbul Hookah Lounge must be a new spot. Imagine my surprise when I learned that it’s been open since 2009. How it remained off my radar for so long, I don’t know. But I think it’s recently increased in popularity. On Friday night, all of the more than dozen patio tables along Brevard Court were filled, and at least half of them were of groups of people smoking hookah from Istanbul Hookah Lounge. Once inside, you enter the bar area which resembles more of a carryout counter. The hookah menu features more than 50 flavors—regular is $15 (blueberry, grape, pineapple, etc.); Starbuzz is $20 (Passion Fruit Mojito, Purple Haze, Sex on the Beach, etc.).
Istanbul Hookah Lounge, 138 Brevard Ct., 704-333-5175, hookahistanbul.com. Hours: Tues.-Thurs., 5 p.m.-midnight; Fri. and Sat., 5 p.m.2 a.m.; Sun., 5-10 p.m.; closed Mon.
The drink menu includes about 15 beers (the common stuff like Budweiser, Yuengling, and Stella Artois but also a couple of surprises like a Turkish and Japanese beer), 10 wines, and a standard cocktail list. Food is also served here: appetizers such as chicken wings, fries, hummus, and a few pitas and wraps, among other items. The food and drinks are simply accompaniments; the main draw here is the hookah. We ordered the grape hookah and walked upstairs where there are three lounge rooms filled with either couches or tables and chairs. It sort of felt as if we were walking into a brothel (not that I’ve ever visited a brothel, but what I’ve seen in movies) with the individual, dimly lit rooms. But nothing nefarious was going on in here; just couples and groups of friends smoking hookah, drinking, and conversing. Even though there’s an increasing number of bars, lounges, and nightclubs now offering hookah. You should give Istanbul Hookah Lounge a try if you want a place that isn’t pretentious and is a great experience.
bucket list destinations
BY CARLO AND VIRGINIA MAXWELL
The writer, Kirk Shackelton, had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful city of Istanbul, Turkey from London, and truly enjoyed his stay. A giddy excitement overcame me as I sat on the short flight that had left London three hours earlier, heading towards a place that had long been the object of my traveling desires. My destination was Istanbul, a mega city which occupies an exclusive fascination in my mind alongside Sydney and Rio de Janeiro as cities I mistakenly think are capitals. This I learned only from the in-flight travel magazine twenty minutes before landing… talk about doing your research and being prepared! Nevertheless, I am a staunch believer in unprepared travel – it makes the whole thing even more exciting, and creates a whole series of surprises. Here are the top ten things to do in Istanbul Explore Sultanahmet The historical center of Istanbul boasts many of the city’s biggest attractions, and few tourists can avoid spending a significant proportion of their visit here. Nor should they wish to take in the splendor of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Basilica Cistern, the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, the Byzantine Hippodrome, the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum and Topkapi Palace. And don’t forget to take a deep breath first!
“NOR SHOULD THEY WISH TO. TAKE IN THE SPLENDOR OF THE BLUE MOSQUE...”
“SAIL THE BOSPHORUS LIKE MOST GREAT CITIES, ISTANBUL, TURKEY’S LARGEST METROPOLIS, FOCUSES UPON A LARGE BODY OF WATER, THE BOSPHORUS. THIS STRAIT SEPARATES THE LANDMASSES OF EUROPE AND ASIA...”
Cross to the Asian Side Istanbul is a city of two halves, one European and the other Asian, and no visit is balanced without experiencing both. Getting to the Asian Side is simple – just jump aboard one of the ferries that frequently crosses the Bosphorus, or walk across the bustling Galata Bridge. Once on Asian turf, there’s plenty to see, including Beylerbeyi Palace, Maiden’s Tower and Bağdat Caddesi. Visit a Mosque Istanbul’s skyline is dominated by the slender minarets and bulbous domes of its numerous mosques, graceful places of worship that feature prominently in most people’s travel itineraries. Not only are they a visual spectacle, the calls to prayer which sounds five times a day provide an audible backdrop for the city. Unsurprisingly, Istanbul is home to the most mosques in Turkey, including many which are famous throughout the world, such as the Blue Mosque and Suleymaniye Mosque. Sail the Bosphorus Like most great cities, Istanbul, Turkey’s largest metropolis, focuses upon a large body of water – the Bosphorus. This strait separates the landmasses of Europe and Asia, connecting the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, and is the vein from which Turkey’s capital city grows. There are numerous public and private ferries departing from Eminönü that take passengers up and down the channel and offer a unique perspective on the city, from palaces and Ottoman mansions to sleek cafés, restaurants and bars.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY RON GESSEL
Brave a Bazaar To get a sense of how Istanbul was a few centuries ago, visit one of its bazaars. These ancient shopping malls teem with vibrancy and life, and are the perfect place to pick up a souvenir from your time in Turkey. The Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar are particularly popular, selling a plethora of spices and sweets within a cauldron of noise that is an assault on the senses. Remember that haggling is a way of life here – don’t be scared to negotiate fiercely. Smoke Nargile Ever since the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century, nargile smoking has been a popular form of socialisation and relaxation for Turks of all ages, and those seeking to immerse themselves in Istanbul’s local culture should not miss the opportunity to try it. Numerous nargile cafés drape the city in smoke flavoured by tobacco that is mixed with molasses, having been filtered by a basin of water and sucked through a winding hosepipe. Originally from India, nargile smoking has become deeply ingrained in Turkish culture.
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Discover the Princes’ Islands The Princes’ Islands aren’t the personal properties of a group of princes,
as you might be forgiven for thinking, but rather a chain of nine islands that lie off the coast of Istanbul, in the Sea of Marmara. They offer relief from the casual chaos of Istanbul, free from cars and replete with cobble streets and quiet waterfront restaurants. Don’t miss the opportunity to take a ride in one of the islands’ famous horse and carts, which are the best way to see all that these picturesque places have to offer. Attend a Whirling Dervish Whirling dervishes are deeply spiritual displays that ooze elegance and magic, featuring a group of dancers clad in white skirts that flare outwards as they spin with their arms raised upwards and consciences aligned with God. The ritual is a celebration of existence, and a deeply personal experience for those who witness it during their visit to Istanbul, with many establishments across the city making this possible.
Weâ€™ve all heard the descriptions of Ä°stanbul as a place where East meets West and where cultures have happily coexisted for centuries. But not everyone is aware of its endlessly fascinating contradictions. Here are the top ten ways to see how the different cultures of Istanbul unify.
1. Marvel at one of the world’s truly great buildings: Aya Sofya İstanbul has many architectural masterpieces, but one building surpasses the rest due to its innovative form, historical importance and sheer beauty. The somewhat squat exterior doesn’t promise much, but wait till you see the mesmerising interior. Words can’t do it justice; this space truly makes the soul soar and the senses sharpen. It is simply sublime. Close your eyes and imagine Byzantines celebrating the liturgy, Crusaders storming the main door, Muslims bowing their heads to Allah and the staunchly secular Atatürk striding in to declare it a museum in 1935. 2. See the world’s most stupendous skyline Most great cities have a signature skyline view that graces a million postcards – İstanbul has enough of them to fill an entire album. The seven hills of the Old City are crowned with a collection of imperial mosques that offer a visual wham-bam unlike any other. With their delicate minarets, distinctive domes and curvaceous outer casings, they dominate the peninsula’s skyline and provide romantic backdrops for diners at terrace restaurants around Eminönü and Beyoğlu. 3. Lose yourself in the bazaar district The bazaar district is chaotic and colourful. While glam Kanyon may be ground zero for sophisticated shoppers on the other side of the Golden Horn, serious bayanlar (ladies) bring their sharpened elbows here. Stroll through the hidden Ottoman hans (caravanserais) and labyrinthine shopping streets, where the waft of cinnamon and clove intensifies as you approach the historic Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı). By the shore at Eminönü, ferries belch grey clouds over seagulls circling for scraps of simit (small rings of bread decorated with sesame seeds), and street vendors sell everything from fresh fish sandwiches to fake Rolexes. 4. Climb aboard Istanbul’s ferries Spanned by two mammoth bridges, and with a third on the drawing board, the Bosphorus is traversed on a daily basis by thousands of cars, ferries, fishing boats and launches. Travelling in the famous public excursion ferry alongside massive tankers and cargo ships making their way from the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea certainly makes a memorable day trip. Climb aboard a ferry at sunset, when the grandiose silhouette of the Old City is thrown into relief against an orange-red or dusky pink sky.
5. Wine, dine and gallery hop on İstiklal Caddesi İstiklal Caddesi (Independence Ave) is a perfect metaphor for 21st-century Turkey. At one extremity is frantically busy Taksim Square, the symbolic heart of modern İstanbul. At the other extremity is Galata, home to meandering cobblestone lanes that have seen the comings and goings of umpteen imperial powers. This part of town retains a slightly louche and laid-back flavour, beckoning the traveller with its unexpected mix of churches, mosques, shops, hotels and gay hamams (bathhouses). İstiklal is as European as anything east of the Champs Élysées. 6. Join the in-crowd at the city’s amazing art galleries Socially aspirational İstanbullus know that there’s one foolproof way to build a public profile. All they need to do is build and endow an art gallery, preferably one dedicated to modern art. We can’t explain why the botoxand-bling brigade has recently taken to culture with such alacrity, but this is indeed the case. This trend is the best thing to hit the city since the tulip bulb arrived. First cab off the rank was the Proje4L/Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art in Levent, closely followed by İstanbul Modern in Tophane and the Pera Museum in Beyoğlu. All of this is great news for the visitor, who can see world-class exhibitions in drop-dead-gorgeous surrounds complete with stylish gift shops and quality cafes.
7. Listen to world-class performances In life, there aren’t too many opportunities to hear world-class classical music and opera performed in magnificent Byzantine churches and ornate Ottoman pleasure palaces. The International İstanbul Music Festival (held in June/July each year) is one of them. The biggest event on İstanbul’s cultural calendar, this festival has been enticing locals to its performances for decades and is progressively building an international profile. The main venue is the austerely beautiful Aya İrini, which offers superb acoustics and an overload of atmosphere.
8. Surrender to the steam in a bathhouse In life, there aren’t too many opportunities to wander seminaked through a 16th-century Ottoman monument. Unless you visit İstanbul, that is. The city’s world-famous hamams (Turkish baths) offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in history, architecture, warm water and soap suds – all at the same time. Many of the imperial mosque complexes include a hamam, and there are innumerable examples of historic neighbourhood baths dotted throughout the streets of the Old City – most, alas, now derelict or converted to shopping centres. Exceptions include the famous Çemberlitaş Hamamı, built by command of Nur Banu Valide Sultan, wife of Selim the Sot and mother of Murat III; and the Cağaloğlu Hamamı, commissioned by Sultan Mahmut I. 9. Sample the flavours of İstanbul More than anything else, İstanbullus love to eat. Here food is much more than mere fuel. Instead, it’s a celebration of community. Meals unfurl with great ceremony – they are joyful, boisterous and almost inevitably communal. The national cuisine has been refined over centuries and is treated more reverently than any museum collection in the country. That’s not to say it’s fussy, because what differentiates Turkish food from other national noshes is its rustic and honest base. The meze (hors d’oeuvres) you’ll eat will be simple, the kebaps austere, the salads unstructured and the seafood unsauced. Flavours will explode in your mouth because ingredients are used in season. The country’s best chefs come to İstanbul to perfect their art, and you’ll be able to order a better executed Italian pasta or fiery Thai curry from here. There’s a mindboggling array of options so the possibilities are endless. As the Turks say, Afi yet olsun! (Good appetite!)
10. Party through the night at a golden mile superclub İstanbul’s superclubs are as famous for their tough door staff and wallet-decimating bar prices as they are for their magnificent Bosphorus views. They’re worth it, though. The sybaritic strip between Ortaköy and Kuruceşme is home to a clutch of nightclubs that epitomise the word indulgence – here patrons enjoy luxe surrounds, wonderful food, perfectly executed cocktails and a passing parade of Armani-clad businessmen, models on the make, one-hit celebs and local lasses squeezed into diamante-decorated jeans so tight their reproductive futures must be in serious danger.
Credit/ATM card: of course, put these cards into different pockets; the money belt is always a great option. Passport: check validity & respective country regulations Copy of passport: Get a copy of your passport! In case your passport gets stolen or lost you’ll get a new one more easily with the copy in hand. Also store one copy in an online email client (e.g. gmail) or in your dropbox (www.dropbox.com). At the copy shop, also copy your credit card, driver’s license, social security card etc. Health insurance card/ Insurance certificate: mostly you will have to pay by credit card anyway and get the money refunded back home. Vaccination booklet: required by some countries when entering. Check out the regulations for vaccinations for each country. Driver’s license Student identification: you’ll be amazed by the discounts you can get for museums, etc.
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ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKING GEAR LIST
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WHAT IS THE BEST A L L- A R O U N D U R B A N B A C K PA C K ? Q: WHAT IS THE BEST ALL-AROUND URBAN BACKPACK?
A: An urban backpack like this Gravis Contra takes mountaineering style to the streets. The Gravis Contra Urban Backpack delivers a perfect blend of a traditional rucksack design with metro savvy features. It features a top entry stuff sack construction, internal laptop/magazine sleeve, external front zippers for main compartment entry, side zipper and pda pockets, and an external side mesh stuff pocket. Buy this backpack for a price of $84. Gravis
U L T R A L I G H T B A C K PA C K I N G GEAR LIST
I’ve made some changes to my backpacking gear for this year. The biggest change was replacing my ultralight tarp shelter with a fully-enclosed “tarptent style” shelter from Lightheart Gear. I also replaced my patch-covered 3/4 length Thermarest Prolite sleeping pad (which lasted over 4,000 miles) with a new fullsize inflatable pad from Exped. I upgraded my ULA Conduit pack to the new version (the ULA CDT) which is very similar, but with a few improvements. Ultralight Adventure Equipment makes the best lightweight backpacks in the business. I highly recommend them. The CDT is the smallest and lightest pack in their lineup. It has just enough room for all my gear and 5-7 days of food. My base weight is now around 11 pounds (up from 10 pounds last year). My total 5-day pack weight (including food, water and fuel) will be about 26 pounds. This gear will be used for three-season backpacking (Spring, Summer, Fall).
ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKING GEAR LIST - CLOTHING Clothing Packed Item
ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKING GEAR LIST - LUXURY ITEMS Luxury Items Item Camera Canon A1200 GPS Receiver Garmin Oregon 450T Music Player Coby MP301-4G Micro MP3 Player Trail Journal Small Memo Pad & Pen Subtotal
Weight 6 oz 6.8 oz 2 oz 2.5 oz 1.1 lb
Price $90 $250 $22 $2 $364
Clothing Stuff Sack Sea to Summit Ultrasil Nano (13 L) Base Layer Top Terramar Thermasilk Crew Base Layer Bottom Terramar Thermasilk Pants Torso Insulation Montbell UL Thermawrap Vest Rain Jacket Outdoor Research Helium II Spare Socks Smartwool PHD Running Lite Warm Hat Mountain Hardware Micro Dome Gloves Mountain Hardware Powerstretch Subtotal
1 oz 3.4 oz 3.4 oz 5.5 oz 6.4 oz 1.5 oz 1.5 oz 2 oz 1.5 lb
$22 $24 $24 $90 $110 $20 $18 $30 $338
“KNOWING WHAT AND HOW TO PACK IS HALF OF IT, WITHOUT IT YOU COULDN’T GET ANYWHERE.”
MALE HARNESS FIT SHOULDER STRAP SHAPE HIPBELT SHAPE
M1 S2 H2
M2 S3 H4
M3 S4 H4
F1 S1 H1
F2 S2 H2
F3 S2 H3
M4 S4 H5
FEMALE HARNESS FIT SHOULDER STRAP SHAPE HIPBELT SHAPE
Pack Weight Summary Weight Packing & Camping Subtotal 6.3 lb Clothing Packed Subtotal 1.5 lb Cooking & Drinking Subtotal 1.3 lb Survival & Hygiene Subtotal 1.1 lb Luxury Items Subtotal 1.1 lb Items Worn or Carried Subtotal BASE WEIGHT 11.3 lb Food 5 days @ 2lbs per day Water 2 liters 4.4 lb na Stove Fuel 4 oz Isobutane 4 oz TOTAL PACK WEIGHT
Price $1,075 $338 $154 $143 $364 na $2,482 10 lb na 26 lb
F4 S3 H3