My friend and I are thinking about taking a trip in the spring. We were tossing out some ideas for more "exotic" places like India and Russia and then we sort of settled on Istanbul. We're not even 100% certain we're going to do a trip but I can't help but start researching costs. I mean, we might as well figure out how much this is going to hurt our wallets and then make a responsible decision. Plus, planning the vacation is half the fun.

Look at how pretty!
Blue Mosque
I'm using Kayak to research flights and I found one for $556 but I want to try to do better. I'm tracking the flights on Yapta and praying that the costs go down.

I found a hotel (Raymond Hotel - great reviews on Trip Advisor and recently renovated) for less than $70/night, which is a pretty good rate in general and even better once it's split between the two of us.

I'm doing some research and the weather in Istanbul in the spring is similar in temperature to what I'm used to - between 40 and 50 degrees. It tends to rain a lot in Istanbul so I'll be sure to bring an umbrella.

Apparently taxis are the easiest form of transportation to use to get around. They have visible meters (big sigh of relief from a New Yorker) and are readily available and inexpensive. The metro system is also supposed to be rather easy to navigate and great for tourist sight hopping.

As far as culture, Turkey is modernized and they have a normal dress code (in fact, headscarves are banned in many places - like public offices and universities) but I have a feeling my tendency to wear whatever I want will have to be subdued. Women must have their heads covered when entering a mosque and sleeves are advisable.

Even if this particular trip doesn't pan out, I'm glad to do the research now because I definitely want to visit Istanbul some day. I love the Ottoman architecture and I really want to venture outside of my comfort zone a bit. I'm doing a lot of digging beforehand, especially on the US Dept of State website, for any weird/special conditions, just in case.

I've already started a map with the spots I want to visit!