Istanbul: What a Dollar Can Buy You
Istanbul today is as exciting as it was in 1987 when I first visited the city with my dad. Then, on a short 2-day tour, we saw the Grand Bazaar, strolled through Topkapı palace, had a scrumptious meal of İskender kebab and went on a scenic Bosphorus cruise. Twenty-six years later, visitors to Istanbul can still enjoy the very same things, only with one notable difference: cost!
Prices here have gone through the roof, and I have to say it doesn’t surprise me. Right now, Istanbul seems to be one of the hottest destinations in Europe, so why not charge $22 for a museum or $100 for a seafood meal? After all, visitor numbers are up. While luxury tourists feel right at home here, backpackers probably won’t (any longer). Only 20 years ago, they paid $15 for a hotel right in the heart of Sultanahmet; in 2013, they will be hard-pressed to find a sit-down meal for the same amount.
Fortunately, it’s not all bad news. If you are on a very tight budget, there are still a few bargains to be had for 1.8 Turkish lira or about one buck:
- 1 glass of authentic Turkish tea
- 1 ferry ride to Kadıköy located on the Asian side of Istanbul
- 1 piece of delicious baklava at Karaköy Güllüoğlu (min. purchase of 3 required)
- 4 liters (1 gal.) of drinking water
- 1 rides on the tram from lively Karaköy to the historic center of Sultanahmet
- 250 g of rose-flavored Turkish delight (lokum)
- 0.35 liter of gasoline ($11 per gal.)
- 1 nazar fridge magnet (amulet to ward off the evil eye)