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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.