In an on going effort to expand my passport’s horizon (It hasn’t had a visa in it since the good ol’ days of Trabants, the CSSR and Iron Curtains) my wife and I will be traveling to Istanbul in the near future. This will be her first visit to a country that is not on the european continent and since we depart on her birthday, it dovestails nicely as a birthday present as well.

The flight plan is entered and has us flying from Grand Rapids to Chicago (30 minute long haul), connecting to a Lufthansa flight to Dusseldorf (this surprises you?), then onward to Frankfurt (Need to take care of my DUCK fix and add the Olympic Edition to my collection) and then finally onto another Lufthansa flight to Istanbul. It’s easier than it sounds.

On the return, it’s Istanbul to Munich and onward to London for a few days(guess what airline). From London, we head to Frankfurt (Guess Why…) and then from Frankurt back home (Yes, on THAT airline again).

We’ve both been to London several times, so it will be as if we are visiting an uncle we haven’t seen in a few years. Maybe a bit older, but we are still very familiar with the place.

Istanbul is the wildcard for us. Having never been there I am open to all and any suggestions for things to do and see. So far, I have the Bazaar and Spice Market on the list and thats about it. For you Anthony Bourdain Fans, we have hired the same cab driver that he used during his Istanbul episode, and are really looking forward to that experience. We’ll have a day with him to show us things not found on the tourist menu. To that end, I am looking for ideas from anyone who has been there. I would love to have a list of places to see ourselves, or to provide to our guide and let him work his magic from there.

Since the trip is a few weeks away, I’ll start a contest that will have a weekly winner. Each week, I’ll pick my favorite idea and that person will receive a souvenir from Istanbul as a token of thanks. I had hosted a similar contest for my trips to Hong Kong and that resulted in some great things for me to see and do that otherwise I would not have been aware of! You can win multiple times throughout the contest period (4 weeks ending Sunday April 7).

This week’s Idea Contest deadline will be Midnight (Eastern Time) on Sunday, March 11. Each subsequent week’s contest deadline will also me on Sundays at Midnight.

Thanks And Keep The Ideas Coming!