Incredible Istanbul

Incredible Istanbul

We were so close to canceling our trip to Turkey due to the recent attacks, but
we took some extra precautions
and made it. We are so glad we did.
We fell in love with beautiful Istanbul and the welcoming people.
It is one of the most unique cities we’ve ever visited, and a
place impossible to forget. From first stepping out of the taxi
into the city and hearing the prayer calls echoing through
the night at 9pm, to wandering the colorful streets and
taking in the mosques, smelling the spices in the market,
and experiencing a city steeped in so much history with
a blend of beautiful cultures and people, we loved it all.
IMG_1262Istanbul was a feast for the senses and reminded me of so many different
places all combined into one. I’ve never seen a blend of unique cultures quite
like here. I’m working on a simple guide of highlights as well as details about
the extra safety precautions we took to travel in Turkey, but for now this
post is just lots of pretty photos from our time exploring Istanbul together.
IMG_1011Our Hotel Amira had the best location and showed it with
these cool steps listing distances to all of the main sights ^^

IMG_1014The streets near where we stayed were so pretty & bright ^^
IMG_1016 ^^ Color, color, everywhere!
The Blue Mosque early in the morning before too many people were out.
We felt like we had everything to ourselves!
IMG_1033The mosque provides coverings in case you need them to go in.
You’ll need them if you don’t have full-length pants, a head scarf,
something to cover shoulders, etc. I thought Chase pulled his off well ^^

IMG_1035The beautiful interior ^^ We were there in between prayer times, so it was quiet.
IMG_1044 IMG_1045IMG_1055Next we crossed the street to the Hagia Sofia. We learned it had once been a former former
Greek Orthodox Christian basilica, later became an imperial mosque, and is now a museum. 

IMG_1052 The soft colors of this building against the blue sky were SO pretty in person. ^^
IMG_1061There are a lot of stray dogs in Istanbul (this reminded me of India)
but they seem to do okay with sunny naps on benches like this! ^^
IMG_1064We relaxed with some street food snacks and took in
both mosques before the day’s crowds descended.
IMG_1086 IMG_1068 IMG_1087We had the nicest spring weather while here. It was so refreshing.
IMG_1089 IMG_1095 IMG_1098 IMG_1099 IMG_1100 IMG_1101 IMG_1103More color, everywhere!
IMG_1127IMG_1129 IMG_1126We strolled down by the water past Topkapı Palace and stumbled upon Gülhane Park…
IMG_1115 While living in Holland, the land of tulips, we learned that tulips actually
originated in Turkey and were imported there. This made sense to us
when we saw the tulips in bloom in Turkey – they were truly unbelievable!

IMG_1122 IMG_1123IMG_1124Don’t miss this park if you are stopping through during spring time! ^^
IMG_1128 More mosques can be found on practically every corner here. They are all
massive and beautiful. Try to be outside during a prayer call during the day!
IMG_1135The spice market was next on our list and something I have always wanted to see.
As you approach you can smell the pungent aromas of spices, perfumes, etc.

IMG_1130The Turkish Delight is plentiful to try and buy here! ^^
IMG_1144^^ Every type of baklava … you name it.
IMG_1107^^ Be sure to try pistachio baklava here!!! My best friend Di recommended this
after coming here years ago and so we made sure to try it at the spice market.
IMG_1146 The herbal tea offerings are unreal. How pretty are these? ^^
IMG_1142 IMG_1160We exited the Spice Market and made our way up the hills to the Grand Bazaar.
This is one of the biggest and oldest covered markets on Earth, and it’s amazing
but a little overwhelming. I was not sure about heading to this crowded area with
safety concerns and recent issues in Turkey, but we were so glad to see that every
entrance had full security and felt really safe. This neighborhood felt 100% like India
to me, while other neighborhoods felt like Europe, and still others had different vibes.
IMG_1166Processed with VSCO with f2 presetIMG_1151Turkish kebab stands are on every corner…and we indulged in a few great 
ones, but by far our favorite meal was a full Turkish spread at Arch Bistro.
IMG_1175This restaurant is built in an arch right near old town by a gorgeous mosque.
Ships used to dock within here during the time of emperors way back when.
It is such a great setting, family owned, and the food was some of our favorite.

IMG_1179The dishes offer a full taste of Turkey, originating from the Anatolia region and
full of influence from the Hittites, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans.
You can literally taste the many influences that have been here through history.
IMG_1183We began with lentil balls wrapped in lettuce, along with gözleme & börek pastry rolls
with spinach + feta. 
This was combined with a mezze platter and the hummus + tomato mix
combined with these
starters perfectly. Chase could not stop telling me how much he loved it.
IMG_1188Next we tried their famous homemade meatballs with yoghurt sauce. ^^ Killer. 
We somehow fit in 2 more mains – the chicken breast bake,
and beef fillet with spinach… So decadent and unique.
IMG_1194I honestly couldn’t breathe I was so full – but then we saw the
house dessert and somehow sampled these nougat filled cinnamon
pastries (like Turkish churros!) and traditional goat ice cream. It makes
any other ice cream seem like a joke, it is so thick + creamy + flavorful.

IMG_1196We were OBSESSED with this meal and family who owns the place!
Orhan and his family are just a few examples of the countless friendly Turkish
people we met during our time here. We feel like we made lots of new friends here!
IMG_1200We love this country! ^^

IMG_1220The roads here are so pretty, the main ones all had this design ^^
IMG_1203We stopped back by our pretty hotel to relax in the afternoon and enjoy the roof terrace.
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
IMG_1226And as we ventured out for the evening, we found the sights to be even more stunning! ^^
IMG_1230 IMG_1241 IMG_1243Chase tracked down the coolest rooftop to watch the sunset. It was magical. ^^
IMG_1245 IMG_1254 IMG_1257Those views! We sat up here forever, hence all of the photos.
This was one of my favorite travel memories with Chase.

IMG_1285IMG_1292 IMG_1275 IMG_1296 IMG_1297 I can’t get over these photos that some fellow travelers took. I was snapping
pictures of Chase just as the sun went down and loved the background, so I
asked someone else up on the rooftop and they got the best photos here!

IMG_1298 Apologies that all of these are crammed into one big post – but with our weeks
on the road right now, I have to do this to keep up on documenting!
Istanbul, we were enthralled with you. Thanks for having us!