Wheelchair Travel: Istanbul

Travel10

We were initially nervous about visiting Istanbul – with stern warnings from friends about how hilly it is – but with a few caveats, we would definitely recommend it to other wheelchair users.

 Accommodation:

Holiday Inn

The room was a bit shabby but spacious and well set up for a wheelchair.  Generally a nice hotel with a pool and covered outdoor space to lounge around. Excellent staff – very helpful in sorting out the problems we had (such as out fridge was not working).  Paid approx. 100 euros per night.

It was perfectly situated very near to the tram stop (Pazartekke) which is fully accessible.   This will take you straight down to the fun places around Sultanhmet.  3TL (in 2012) for a jeton for the trip but wheelchair users travel for free.  The last train leaves Sultanhmet at about 12.15 (ish).  If the carriage is packed, it is worth waiting for another train.

We made the mistake of going down a hill at the back the Grand Bazaar (north down to the waterfront) which was dangerously steep, jammed with traffic and with very poorly maintained road and sidewalk surfaces.  Resolved to move around on the tram system rather than try to roll everywhere.

Extremely friendly and polite people – very willing to help out. Some in fact would not take ‘no’ for an answer….

Favourite bits:

  • Best restaurant by a mile: Anatolia  Very friendly hosts and fantastic food.  Plus cats!
  • Beers on the Galata Bridge (west side) late afternoon – listening to the call to prayer as the sun sets (be careful of the fish hooks being slung over the side of the bridge from above though).
  • German Fountain – smooth and no traffic.  Touristy but a nice relaxing area near the Blue Mosque.
  • The food is superb. Especially the Imam Bayildi!
  • Hagia Sophia area and Topkapi Palace grounds are beautiful and quite accessible.  Nice loos too.

The Probably Won’t Bother Again bits:

  • Area around Taksim Square. A few nice side streets without outdoor cafés but quite steep and very touristy.
  • Blue Mosque (although the courtyard is stunning).

Other notes

  • Cab from the airport was 40TL.
  • Thank you in Turkish: “teşekkür ederim”.
  • Essential to have a map and a phrase book.
  • The hotel had an English plug socket and a 2 pin European socket.
  • The wifi was not great in the hotel.
  • We found a place that sold Angora red wine on Büyük Postane (16.50 TL – as opposed to 65TL at the hotel) – near the Spice Bazaar.
  • The Efes beer is a very acceptable lager. Obviously not everywhere sells booze  and there were some parts of the city where it was impossible to find a bar.Travel11

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