Traveling smart to Istanbul; thanks to Skyscanner!

I have always dreamed of traveling to a foreign destination alone. No friends. No family. Just my backpack, DSLR and me. Wanted to roam around and explore the streets of an unknown city where I don’t know anyone or anything – the roads, the people, the local language, the cuisine. For that, there are many such cities in my bucket list, but the one that tops the list is Istanbul, Turkey.

The fascination with Istanbul first started, thanks to one of my favorite authors of all times – Orhan Pamuk. After reading, ‘Istanbul: Memories and the city’, ‘The Museum of Innocence’ and ‘Snow’, all I ever wanted to do was book the tickets, pack a few clothes, and go explore every nook and corner of Istanbul.

Beautiful Istanbul..

This year-end, I actually plan on doing the same for around two weeks. And thanks to Skyscanner I would actually be able to travel smartly without much to worry about. On searching for flight tickets for December 6, 2014, Skyscanner gave me a detailed comparison of ticket prices. I decided to pick Oman Air that leaves Mumbai at 15:40 IST and reaches Istanbul via Muscat around 8:35 IST, because that was the cheapest option. It was so easy to decide! Plus, the smart thing to do would be to book it months in advance, so that you get the cheapest option. Sometimes, people keep everything for the last-minute, and that really isn’t a wise thing to do.

tikcets

So easy to choose which flight to book!

The Skyscanner website even showed me different hotels that I can choose from, to stay in Istanbul. It showed the tariff rate for the 14 days that I want to stay, reviews, ratings and had pictures of the hotels, which made it very easy for me to choose the one that fits my bill. I browsed around and liked ‘Hotel Sapphire’ with a 9 point rating, which is also in the heart of the city, in the Sirkeci district of Istanbul. I was happy to see that they offer single rooms, has internet access, a minibar, and the price also fitted my budget.

Hotel Sapphire

Now that flight and hotels were sorted, the next thing I needed to do was to decide what to carry. Since I’m traveling alone, I need to take care of myself in a foreign land. So, obviously I need to carry a medicine box that has all necessary medicines in it, for fever, stomach upset, headache, cold etc. I want to travel light since I won’t be able to carry so much luggage alone, plus, more the baggage, more hassle at the airports. I also want to carry a big bag that carries my lipstick, purse to keep money, passport, a small mirror, shades and all the other necessary everyday items.

In order to pack my clothes, I first needed to know how the weather in Istanbul is actually going to be like in December. A little research and I found out it is going to be cold (around 6 – 12 degree celsius). So, yes, need to pack jackets and woolens. And yes, my favorite boots!

Skyscanner also helped me with a major thing, that is, car hire. Traveling alone in a new, strange city would have been overwhelming after coming out of the airport, but thanks to this option, I felt a lot relieved. You enter the pick up point, pick up time and you can even choose the driver’s preferred age, and your car will be there to pick you up from the airport and drop you back! You can choose the class of car, for example, Mini, Economy, Compact and Intermediate and the price varies. Since, I’m alone I would be comfortable with the Mini car which comes for around Rs. 20,496.

car hire

I also want to visit the famous mosques in Istanbul – the best one being, The Blue Mosque, which is considered the greatest masterpiece not only of Islamic architecture, but also of the world. Apart from this, I also want to visit Hagia Sophia Museum and the Suleymaniye Mosque. Care should be taken to cover the head and shoulders with a scarf before entering the mosques (yes, must remember this while packing clothes)!

The beautiful Blue Mosque at night

All I really want to do is roam around the streets of beautiful Istanbul and get lost in the crowd, and eventually find myself in it. I have heard so much about Istanbul’s delicious cuisine! Want to dig into some authentic Turkish food that definitely includes Simit, Mezes, Hamsi, Hunkar Begendi and Tavuk Gogsu. YUM! Among the most popular mezes are those made with the ubiquitous eggplant, which is served fried, smoked, stuffed, and just about every other way it can be cooked.

Mezes

Visiting Istanbul has been a lifelong dream, and planning a trip can be a bit stressful. I’m grateful to Skyscanner for helping me plan and travel there smartly; and for reducing half my traveling tension!

This blog post has been written for the “Travel Smart with Skyscanner” contest, organized by IndiBlogger and Skyscanner. The topic was – Pick a destination that you would like to visit in 2014, and tell us how you would travel smart to this dream destination!

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