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.
Istanbul 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.
Our Hotel Amira had the best location and showed it with
these cool steps listing distances to all of the main sights ^^
The streets near where we stayed were so pretty & bright ^^
^^ Color, color, everywhere!
The Blue Mosque early in the morning before too many people were out.
We felt like we had everything to ourselves!
The 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 ^^
The beautiful interior ^^ We were there in between prayer times, so it was quiet.
Next 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.
The soft colors of this building against the blue sky were SO pretty in person. ^^
There 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! ^^
We relaxed with some street food snacks and took in
both mosques before the day’s crowds descended.
We had the nicest spring weather while here. It was so refreshing.
More color, everywhere!
We strolled down by the water past Topkapı Palace and stumbled upon Gülhane Park…
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!
Don’t miss this park if you are stopping through during spring time! ^^
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!
The 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.
The Turkish Delight is plentiful to try and buy here! ^^
^^ Every type of baklava … you name it.
^^ 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.
The herbal tea offerings are unreal. How pretty are these? ^^
We 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.
Turkish 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.
This 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.
The 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.
We 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.
Next 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.
I 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.
We 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!
We love this country! ^^
The roads here are so pretty, the main ones all had this design ^^
We stopped back by our pretty hotel to relax in the afternoon and enjoy the roof terrace.
And as we ventured out for the evening, we found the sights to be even more stunning! ^^
Chase tracked down the coolest rooftop to watch the sunset. It was magical. ^^
Those views! We sat up here forever, hence all of the photos.
This was one of my favorite travel memories with Chase.
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!
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!