Istanbul provides a unique experience offering a modern European city, as well as an ancient culture with Eastern-style bazaars and Ottoman architecture. I would even make a bold statement and say I personally think it is crazier than New York! People everywhere, iconic landmarks steps away, and food that leaves your mouth watering for more. Istanbul is full of colour for every traveller.
If I can suggest one thing for a hot Summer in Istanbul, it is to hire a car! The heat is on another level and you will be thanking me after. A main highlight of the trip was seeing inside the iconic Blue Mosque. Although the line to enter is often long, it is well worth the wait. The beauty of its sheer size, and intricate detail in the painting captures the historical passion of the structure. Thankfully pictures are allowed, so enjoy taking in the sight through your eyes and camera lens.
Leather goods are everywhere in Turkey, so make sure you pick yourself up some special gems! My journal is a hand crafted embossed piece that I picked up from a street market not far from our hotel. My hotel was near Taksim Square which was terrific for shopping but at the same time, buzzing all night through! If I did it again I would be stay in the Ortakoy area – it’s a short cab ride to all tourist locations, close to the water and near one of my favourite restaurants The House Café. In my short stay in Istanbul, I ate and drank here three times. The restaurant is bliss – day or evening this place is oozing with cool. Highly recommended.
My next most loved is indulging with a traditional Turkish bath! Before you book you need an open mind. There are many places that provide this experience and all are pretty much the same. Men and women quarters are differing sides of the complex, this is done because this is great deal of nudity involved! As you un-robe and lounge yourself on to the soapy cement central foundation, you will soon overcome the vulnerability you may feel entering the large room, as you will find, all women clients or practitioners are wearing very little. The ‘bath’ actually happens amongst everyone on the stone, you are scrubbed, soaped, washed and dried all in the foundations of a beautiful looking temple. The scent of the cosmetics are fumes you will be glowing with for days. Of course I brought a few soaps to bring home with me. Look into where you want to have your bath, there are both private and group experiences possible. But definitely note you might never been as clean ever again!!
My final day couldn’t be my final day with some serious shopping, and where else could this happen except for the Grand Bazaar. The oldest shopping mall ever to exist. Note – you will get lost, you will spend money and you spend hours there! If you are really wanting to dint the credit card, I would suggest visiting 2 days – a morning and an afternoon as the whole experience is quite tiring.
I gained leather goods, some beautiful hand made jewelry and a few Turkish towels which I now cherish from my days in Istanbul.
TOP TIPS IN A NUTSHELL
- The Blue Mosque
- Visit Street Markets
- Buy leather goods & spices
- Visit Hagia Sophia
- Take City Tour of all the iconic Istanbul sites ie. Sultan Ahmed
- The Grand Bazzar
- The House Café