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September 9, 2009

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                    Ortakoy, Turkey

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Merhaba from Turkey! Last week, my story about arriving in Istanbul and staying at the city's most famous hotel was getting so long, that I decided to save the best for last – the city tour. If you want to see Istanbul through the eyes of a professional and private tour guide (who won't bleed your bank account), then come along with us to learn about this fascinating city.

A few things I thought I'd share with you: I just signed on to speak at the Blogger Symposium in New York City on October 15 so if you are in the Big Apple, come on by; it's free! And if you tweet about it, use @MJAMediaSymp. Lastly, made PC Today magazine last week and the week before, I was interviewed on FOX News – those are just a couple of's latest news mentions.

I know what you were thinking when you finished reading my story last week – when are you going to get out and explore? Don't worry! I did a lot of sightseeing in the 48 hours I was there and I'll tell you all about it. My first excursion was to the pedestrian district of Ortakoy. To get there, I just took a right out of the hotel and walked 10 to 15 minutes down the narrow sidewalk running parallel to the usually traffic-filled streets. Ortakoy is a charming seaside village full of restaurants, boutiques (some chains), banks, and even a major hotel (Radisson SAS). Unfortunately, I missed the weekend's colorful street market, which I hear is full of a fine selection of handmade Turkish crafts but this destination off-the-beaten-American-tourist-path was picturesque.

The focal point of Ortakoy is the Ortakoy Mosque, which is right next to the ferry stop. The mosque was built in 1854 for Sultan Abdul Mecit and like all mosques, the call to prayer goes off five times a day. When it does, it's so loud you can hear it from your hotel balcony anywhere in the city. I don't know about you but I love hearing the solemn sound. I find it soothing and I'm not even Muslim.

The first time I went to Ortakoy it was to get some cash out of the ATM and buy some bottled water (it's much cheaper than in the U.S.). The second time was at night with Natalie to eat at The House Café, which is in an unforgettable setting and has a wonderful vibe and view. We sat outside on the large terrace alongside young hip Turks and no Western tourists. The restaurant has a magical view of the Bosphorus Bridge and the Asia skyline. Although the House Café's menu has a strong emphasis on seafood I went with the Margarita pizza since my tour guide (who you are about to meet) said and I quote: "It's better than anything you will find in Italy." "Yeah right," I replied. Since I'm half Italian, those are fightin' words! But to my pleasant surprise, he was almost right. The pizza at the House Café was outstanding and not overpriced, either. The House Café, Salhanesi Sokagi No: 1 Ortaköy Istanbul, Tel: 0212 227 2699-39.

DID YOU KNOW? On July 19, 2009 the Turkish smoking ban went into effect, outlawing smoking in all enclosed public places, including bars, cafes and restaurants as well as in taxis, trains and stadiums. Yee haw!

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Copyright 2009 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


Walk to Ortakoy


Downtown Ortakoy


Pedestrian Section of Ortakoy


Ortakoy Mosque


Ortakoy Street Vendor


Bosphorus Bridge


House Cafe






Walking Back From Ortakoy



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