IF you’re itching to go to Istanbul

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain

After a sunny week spent in Santiago, I, for some unknown reason, am reminiscing on a snowy weekend spent in the iridescent Istanbul. So, I thought I would share some of my favourite things to do in the double-continent city!

 

imperfectly-free

1. Buy, bargain and nibble on Turkish delight in the Bazaar’s

This was definitely one of my highlights on this trip. We went to both the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar. Having read some reviews online I read that the Grand Bazaar was a terrible tourist trap full of pickpockets, pushy salesmen and overpriced souvenirs. And thankfully, those reviews couldn’t have been any less accurate. Obviously, always be careful of your belongings in busy cities like Istanbul but I found the pushy salesmen to be extremely charming and everything sold in the Bazaar was beautiful and I think, worth every penny. My favourite part of the Grand Bazaar experience was chatting to the salesmen and making friends with the people of Istanbul. In the Spice Bazaar, we died and went to heaven. The only Turkish Delight I had tried prior to my trip to Turkey was Cadbury’s chocolate Turkish Delight and I hated it. Rose-flavoured sweets don’t do it for me… However, Turkish Delight in Turkey is the most delicious thing. You can get it in any flavour you like. It’s amazing. My sister and I loved it so much we actually brought home a kilo of it back to Ireland… I know!

imperfectly-free

imperfectly-free

imperfectly-freeimperfectly-free

2. Mosey around the Blue Mosque…or any mosque for that matter

The Blue Mosque is so very impressive, so-called for the blue tiles on the inside. I love visiting Moques – the inside is always mesmerising and I can never quite get over the height of the ceilings. More importantly, I love visiting tiles! The Blue Mosque is definitely worth the trip, but I’d also recommend stopping into any old Mosque you see on the way – they’re always fabulous. We also passed the Church of St. Anthony on our escapades – another beautiful structure to gaze at.

imperfectly-free

imperfectly-free

 

imperfectly-free

 

3. Submerge yourself in the culture-steeped Hagia Sofia

Hagia Sofia is close to the Blue Mosque, so I’d definitely recommend doing the two in one go. It was once a Greek Orthodox church, turned Mosque, turned museum. It is known to be the epitome of Byzantine architecture. Where else but in the formerly known Byzantium!

imperfectly-free

imperfectly-free

4. Continent-hop on the Bosphorus

OK, so I don’t usually pick my ultimate favourite part of a trip, but this is an exception. The river cruise of the Bosphorus river was by far the best thing we did in Istanbul. As we have all established, I love boats! I genuinely will be happy no matter where I am happy as long as I’m floating on water! And where better to be floating than between two continents. Istanbul is the only city in the world that is located across two continents. It is built half in Europe and half in Asia. Amazing! And, it is split by the Bosphorus river.. so one minute you’re cruising along in Europe and next thing you know, you’re in Asia. I mean, I’m having a hard time trying to decide if I’ll put Istanbul in my Asia or Europe down-bar on my blog… (major first world problem, I know! But I think I’ll put it in both!).

imperfectly-free
Bosphorous Bridge connecting Europe and Asia

imperfectly-free

imperfectly-free

imperfectly-free

5. Revel in royalty at the Topkapi Palace

Don’t be too shocked, but Topkapi Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site and we all know how much I love a good UNESCO World Heritage site. I actually forgot to mention last week in my post about Santiago that I basically live in one here. The Old Town in Santiago de Compostela has been dubbed a World Heritage site since 1985. How could I leave that out! But I’ve also been to some in Barcelona, Granada and Jordan… I can’t skip one if I know one is around! Topkapi was one of the residencies of the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years. How alluring!

imperfectly-free
The Sultans also have a thing for tiles, apparently!

6. Burrow down into the Basilica Cistern

Near to the Hagia Sofia, you can visit the largest of 700 underground cisterns in the city formerly known as Constantinople. I loved the larger inverted statues of Medusa in the far left hand corner from where you arrive. They are huge. The cistern itself is apparently as large as a cathedral.

imperfectly-free

7. Toddle around Taksim

Taksim square itself didn’t seem to have a lot to offer (bear in mind we visited Istanbul a week after some Taksim Square protests took place) but the streets off it are beautiful and they’re lined with great shops, trams and an atmosphere of general hustle and bustle. Who doesn’t love to soak up some atmosphere when travelling abroad. You’ll also see some outstanding street art.

imperfectly-free

imperfectly-free

imperfectly-free

imperfectly-free

imperfectly-free
A rainy Taksim Square

8. Savour the street food and try Turkish tea

Of course, the street food is to die for. For those of you that encourage the devouring of kebabs in Charcoal Grill after a night out or some other similar establishment you won’t know what has hit you when you get to try the real deal. Also, the Turkish tea is amazing and amazingly strong. We happened to stop into a travel agent along the way for some reason (I think were were asking for directions or booking the boat tour, I can’t remember) but of course the man working in there offered us a seat and some tea while we waited. The tea was stunning and properly authentic because the travel agent seemed to be linked with his sitting room and he hopped into the kitchen to make it! The very same man claimed I was the spitting image of Miranda Kerr, so we decided we probably shouldn’t trust his judgement on anything. You know, us white girls, we all look the same!

imperfectly-free

On that note (I’m imagining you all running to get a photo of me to see if I really do look like Miranda Kerr, I can assure you, I don’t!), I’ll leave ye and love ye. I have some sun to soak up while it lasts here. As ever, if you go to Istanbul and try out any of these recommendations, please do let me know. I’d be delighted to hear all about it – if I find the name of the travel agents, I’ll tweet about it and maybe you can also go and get some false confidence too! You can always get me on snapchat (imperfectlyfree), facebook or I’m usually istagrammin‘.

Wingin’ it,

R x

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s