This has to be the most intriguing cities we have been to so far! The idea of a trip to Turkey was planted in my mind by a good friend of mine and I had wanted to visit ever since. Turkish Airlines had some great deals on flights from Chicago to Delhi with a stop over in Turkey for a week. Hence, we planned a Turkey vacation around Turkey day (Thanksgiving) 😛 !! Since it is off-season for travel everything was cheap and luckily weather was great to us. This trip is more memorable as we got to share our adventure with my parents who absolutely loved Turkey too! Since there is so much to talk about this beautiful country one post will not be enough. Hence, I will break it down and start with Istanbul. Istanbul is a unique city where two continents meet, two cultures amalgamate and two architectures concoct! Being the largest metro in Europe in terms of population, is like any other big city bustling with a lot of people and activities. But the highlight is, it is clean, safe and people are amazing. Also, they love people from Hindisthan 🙂 (Yes that is what they call us Indians). 4 days in Istanbul was enough to weave memories for life. Places not to miss –
- Hagia Sofia – Originally a church and then a mosque; just beautiful inside and out!
- Blue Mosque – Loved the low and gigantic chandeliers!
- Grand Bazaar – Largest and busiest indoor market in the world!
- Spice Bazaar – You can go in early and finish your breakfast here. The vendors are very generous with the sample sizes and there are lots of heaps of different dry fruits and spices. Largest exporter of figs!
- Galata Tower – Beautiful 360 deg views of old and new Istanbul, those beautiful mosques and the sea.
- Topkapi palace – Huge!!
- Basilica Cistern – Go inside for a great surprise!
- Bosphorous bridge – Connecting the continents of Europe and Asia!
Accommodation & Transportation – Anywhere in Sultanahmet is the most convenient. There are tons of cheap and expensive hotels in the area which is walking distance from the metro stop and all hotels in the area have airport transfers for just 5 Euros from as early as 2.30 am. Getting to and from airport is very convenient as the metros run till 12 am. Unless you have too many bags, you can easily travel around in the metro. Only flip side to using the metro is you have to pay 3Liras every time you exit and re-enter. To avoid this purchase, buy a refill card at the airport itself as most vending machines in other stations seem to have problems vending one. Here is the link to the latest metro map. Most places the new routes are not updated, so take a print of this.
Food – One of the highlights of the trip. Although I am a vegetarian, there were so many options to choose from. I especially enjoyed the simple & delicious Bulgur and beet salad which had sima (turkish spice) in it at Ziya Baba restaurant. This is the most economical restaurant in the area run by a simple, hardworking couple. Be watchful of the other restaurants who con you into getting the Testi Kebap by saying free tea on the house and throwing out amazing compliments. Testi Kebap is very tasty but extremely overpriced but the drama around it is worth experiencing once (just once). What is Testi Kebap? Watch this. You can never get enough of baklava and other sugary treats with pistachios and walnuts you find in abundance.
Let me tell you about one crazy thing we did in Istanbul – Traveled from Sultanahmet to Eminonu (Metro), took a ferry to Kadakoy (stopped for starbucks), hopped on a metro to the station where you could catch the bus which would drive over Bosphorus. Crossed the famous Bosphorus bridge, walked a mile, took the metro to Takism. Missed the nostalgic tram of Istanbul. Caught the underground funicular (Tunel) which is the 2nd oldest underground train after London. We then took our final train to Sultanahmet! Did you ask why? I have no definitive answer to that but the pure adrenaline rush we experienced, traveling among locals in those places where they do not expect us and not knowing the language at all, seemed like scary fun!
Photography Tips – Long exposure shots from Galata Tower, Beautiful sunset from Kadikoy and reflection of the blue mosque from the fountain in front of Hagia Sophia after they turn them off late night! Email us @ firstname.lastname@example.org if you need more info For pictures – D Mad Photography (Album : Turkey) Travel the world and treat your soul!