Istanbul

A rich historical land with some of the best cuisine you will ever taste, diverse scenery from beaches to mountains and the great city of Istanbul. With these words in mind we planned a trip to the magical city of Istanbul.

How to spend 3 epic days in Istanbul. We’re about to find out. Turkey, here we come.

As a child I always loved the stories told by Scheherazade in Arabian nights and I always wanted a taste of the magical atmosphere of these tales. Topkapi palace offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of Ottoman sultans, royal wives, children, concubines, eunuchs and servants. The palace takes you back to the place where these stories originated from.

Daily life in imperial court.

Istanbul is the only city to straddle two continents, separated by the sea of Marmara. You cannot leave Istanbul without visiting both continents, a scenic ferry ride between the shores is definitely the best way to travel.

A scenic ferry ride brings you from Europe to Asia.

One of the wonders of the historical world is definitely Aya Sophia. This church of holy wisdom (Hagia Sophia) and exceptional architecture and beauty was later converted to a mosque. Nowadays this church brings both religions peacefully together.

Hagia Sophia: From church to mosque to museum.

Go for a walk and explore the colourful area of Balat. This is one of the oldest and most spectacular districts of Istanbul. Perhaps the most iconic part is the district’s colourful houses along sloping cobbled streets. The neighbourhood is incredible welcoming and definitely the place where you can find the best spots to have coffee with something sweet.

The best desserts are found in Balat.

Istanbul’s most photogenic building must be the Blue Mosque. When you are visiting the Blue Mosque make sure you are dressed accordingly. The Mosque is a popular attraction that admissions are controlled to preserve its sacred atmosphere.

The best views can be found from one of the many rooftop bars in the city.

Our hotel was located in the Beyoglu area, ideally located on a walking distance to all the main sights and the best location to find a nostalgic Turkish restaurant, lovely boutique shops or one of the few pubs that are serving cocktails.

Beyoglu; the area where the best cocktails are served.

The colourful and chaotic Grand Bazaar is the heart of Istanbul’s old city and has been for centuries. Crawl through the labyrinth and when you find something interesting, try your hand at the art of bargaining.

The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. The place where you can find things you do not need, for a price you do not want to buy it for.

Another sight that is worth visiting is Basilica Cistern. A so called underground palace from the Roman days that can take you back in time instantly.

Basilica Cistern: The underground ghost palace.

The easiest way from the airport to the city is by taxi. The ride can be a challenging experience. We said our prayers during our time in a Turkish taxi, never have we been in reverse on the motorway when our driver missed his exit, offered a smoke and been ripped off during the same ride. But we made it in one piece. Luckily.

Bali

We have been planning our trip to Bali for a long time. Two years ago a dear friend of mine was going on a solo trip to Bali to find herself. We joined her to help her find her way the first couple of weeks around. Well, that was the idea. The unfortunate case of events happened that my passport was expiring within 6 months so we were not allowed to enter Indonesia. This nightmare has been haunting me for years. But fears need to be conquered so that’s why we decided to give Bali another chance.

The greatest gifts we can give our children are roots and wings

As we are staying in Kuta but also want to travel and explore the island you can easily find drivers to take you all over Bali. As all drivers are local, they can help you find the hidden gems on your way. Recommendations from friends and family are best but you can find many tours online. We found our drivers on Tripadvisor. Just check the reviews.

Once upon a time…. (Tirta Ganga)

On top of our bucketlist is meeting elephants. We found an elephant sanctuary in Ubud where we could not only meet elephants but also wash and brush them. Dreams came true that day. Look at those shiny manes.

Working at the Jumbo Wash

After a series of narrow roads we found a perfect lunch spot on the lake side with an astonishing view on the volcano Mount Batur. Bear in mind that this volcano is still active and the last eruption was only two years ago.

Today’s lunch view is astonishing. And the food as well, 6 spring rolls and counting.

When you are visiting Bali you cannot leave without visiting the rice terraces. The rice fields are part of Bali’s ancient rice growing culture. The emerald rice fields will exhaust your ability to describe the word green and are a must on your trip to Bali. We finished our hiking trip with the Insta famous jungle swing.

It’d be fun they said…. Mama, you can go first. And so I did. Never again.
One of the most terrifying things I have ever done in my life.

The Balinese Hindu Temple Pura Lempuyang is one of the most popular and sacred temples on the island. The Gate of Heaven (Pura Lempuyang) has recently become famous due to countless photos posted on Instagram.

Picture perfect at the Gate of Heaven

If you want to have the same photograph taken, bear in mind that the queue for taking your photograph can take up to 2 hours. Make sure you arrive at the temple at 8am so there is no tourist to be found yet and you will have the temple to yourself.

Following the famous stepping stones at Tirta Gannga

Tirta Gangga literally means water from the Ganges. Strictly, the name refers to the water palace built here in 1946 by the King of Karangasem. Today it is one of the hotspots to visit when in Bali. The palace is absolutely stunning but overcrowded by tourists. We bought fish food to feed the fish but they kindly declined our offer for a snack. These fish are severly overweight due the all the tourists that feed them to take their perfect photograph to claim Insta fame.

And so the snorkeling adventure begins

The blue lagoon is the best place to go snorkelling. Local fishermen took us to the best spot in the Indian ocean on a traditional boat. Cheap and lovely experience. So many fish in different shapes and colours. It is an absolute dream to explore the coral and pretending to be mermaids.

Virgin beach

Picture a desert island, fringed by a white sand beach and coconut palms, sitting in a turquoise sea: Virgin beach is a vision of paradise. And luckily still a hidden gem in East Bali.

Tanah Lot

One of the most popular sights in Bali is Tanah Lot. It’s the most visited and photographed temple but it has the authenticity of a stage set. Especially overly crowded with tourists and vendors around the overhyped sunsets. So the best time to visit is before noon and after you can watch the sunset from one of the many beachbars.

A must for coffee and tea lovers

When traveling to Indonesia you must to try Kopi Luwak coffee (a.k.a. Cat poop coffee) at least once. Visiting a coffee and tea plantation is a must for all coffee and tea lovers. We had a hard time picking our favourites.

Tradition al Indonesian fire dance show

You will be haunted for hours after you see a Kecak performance. The sounds of dozens of men chanting and singing more than an hour is bewitching and mesmerising. The movements of de dancers seem impossibly robotic and rigidly controlled.

Bali is more than a place. It’s a mood, it’s magical. It’s a tropical state of mind and we never want to leave.