I find myself finding “favourites” every time I swing my arms in this city, my favourite Mosque, my favourite tea shop, my favourite street…which has meant that the city has fast climbed it’s way up my list of Favourite Cities to Number 1. That might sound like a big claim, but when you are lucky enough to be based in a city for as long as we have been in Istanbul, you start to be able to immerse yourself among the locals and go past the surface level beauty.
We were delighted the first time we experienced Istanbul, we got to do a magical pass through, along the Bosphorous river, on our way to Russia. We all sat out on the top deck and we watched the lights of the city pass us by. The city clearly had a buzz, we could see the lights of the cars zooting around and the people bustling through the streets. The thing that struck me the most, were the beautiful Mosques, standing proud on the cityscape. And so when we were told that we were going back to Istanbul for an indefinite period of time, the whole crew thanked their lucky stars.
I remember one particular morning very clearly, when Bryce and I had rented out an apartment in the middle of the city. We had to wake up at 6am to walk to work. and as our alarm went off, so did the call to prayer begin. The sound is powerful. Even if it is not the religious path you follow, it certainly stirs something inside of you. It was a beautiful way to awaken and a beautiful sound to walk through the empty streets to.
Anyone who knows either of us separately or as a couple, knows how much we are able to fit in to a day. And I must be honest, this is one of my favourite things about our relationship. We are able to head out bright and early in the morning with a back pack on our backs, and some comfortable shoes on our feet and we can walk all day, finding cute places to stop at, going down streets other people might not notice or climbing up to a rooftop, even if there is a possibility there might not be anything there. We can go from there to a nightclub and dance the night away and both have the energy to do that all night. I love that about Bryce and I am delighted we both like to travel that way, it makes life a lot easier (and more fun!).
And so, that’s what we have done here. The first few days we arrived, we had been lucky enough to receive a list from two different friends who had been here. We marked those points of interest onto our google maps and out we went, loads of cameras in hand and some nuts to defeat any sugar dips. We spent the first few days ticking off the tourist list, walking the city flat and visiting the most impressive buildings. We have decided to do our own list for the blog and will post that on a separate blog post, as we have found some serious gems. But some of my highlights that I would seriously recommend for now,
The Haggia Sophia
The Basilica Cistern
Any and all rooftop bars you can find
A traditional Turkish tea shop (usually has spices and turkish delight)
The Grand Bazaar (although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend shopping here- it is cheaper elsewhere, but the experience is just that, GRAND and BIZARRE)
A hookah bar ( they line the streets, with old and young sitting and smoking while sipping on teas)
The Karakoy side (there is a beautiful canopy of trees that houses some beautiful restaurants and cafes).
And you must go to a traditional turkish bath (called a Hammam- one of the most amazing experiences I have had)
But above all, I would say just walk. Try not to get into too many taxis, because the most brilliant moments Bryce and I have had, have been simply stumbling upon something. I got called away to another country for two weeks in between and so I can quite comfortably say that Bryce is now the Istanbul expert. I have been so impressed by the solo missions he has gone on and the things he has found, that i can’t wait to get back to him, for him to be my tour guide. There still seems to be “a whole new world” for him to show me there.
Although we have been pretty quiet on the blog for a while, I am promising to post a couple of things we have experienced while being there, separate to this quick summary.
For now, book your next trip to Istanbul and #LetLifeSurpriseYou