Istanbul

I love exploring a country for the first time. When I found out I was going to Turkey I spent so much time planning an itinerary, only to realise that two and a half days in Istanbul could barely get me half-way through the city. Especially for someone like Sadia and I who loves to just wander around, accidentally stumble across every sweet shop that offers free tasters, and befriend locals who will seat you down at a table, serve you Turkish tea and literally talk for hours. People of Istanbul are so kind and welcoming!

Anyway, there's a lot of pictures coming up so I'll try to keep it brief with the captions. I hope this post will inspire you to visit Istanbul one day if you haven't already been - and to never let fear stop you from exploring this very beautiful world we live in. 

Grand Bazaar

One of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world located in the heart of Istanbul Old City. Grand Bazaar felt like a big maze. It has more than 4000 shops inside it and attracts up to 400,000 visitors, daily! Everything from Turkish tea, spices, lamps and carpets - you're sure to find it here in thousands different varieties. 

Hagia Sophia

Lunch with a view? A few hundred meters from Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque is Seven Hills Restaurant, perhaps the best place (for Instagrammers that is) to have a cuppa.

The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque, also known as Sultan Ahmet Mosque is the most famous mosque in Istanbul. As beautiful as it is, I personally think it's an unfortunate imbalance between religion and a tourist attraction. With so many people and so much noise all around it lost a bit of its spiritualness, but that's just my opinion.

Topkapı Palace

A large museum which was once home of the sultans and harems of the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul. Gorgeous architecture! 

Bosphorus Cruise

My biggest recommendation if you're in Istanbul is to take a Bosphorus Cruise. I love everything about the sea, but what is so special about this is that you're cruising between two continents, both Asia and Europe. Meanwhile you're passing through unique waterfront palaces and mosques on either side in close-up views. The cruises varies in duration, but we took one that lasted about two hours which was more than good enough. It's cheap too, shouldn't cost more than 5 Lira. Just make sure to buy tickets at the official ticket offices by the dock and not through tourist booths. They're usually ten times more expensive.

Galata Tower

So where do you get the best views of Istanbul, you ask? Galata Tower, just before sunset. You're welcome.

If you enjoy smoking shisha (which I personally don't however), LuLu Hookah Lounge is a really cool place to go at any time of day. Just wanted to put it out there anyway! It has good views, good food and tasty drinks - i.e. mocktails and smoothies for people like us.

Asian Side of istanbul

Located east of Bosphorus and geographically on the Asian mainland. Easy access with either metro (that goes under water) or a five minute boat trip across the waterway. We didn't have much time to explore this side of the city unfortunately other than a quick drink before heading off to Nurs-et. Definetly a place I would've loved to explore more of though.

Nurs-et Steakhouse Etiler

Saving the best for last: dinner at Nurs-et Steakhouse, famously known as #saltbae. We had to take a 45 minutes bus ride to get here from our hotel, but it was well worth it. The steak was amazing and the baklava (famous Turkish dessert), oh my days... the baklava was so good I shed a tear of joy. I can only recommend this place to everyone, or at least to all the steak-lovers out there. Our last evening in Istanbul was made complete.

So, that was my recap from Istanbul! I hope you enjoyed the photos. Since I've been so busy with exams these past couple of weeks I didn't have time to make separate posts, but something is better than nothing, right? Anyway, next month I'm going to Brussels with my boyfriend, which I'm really excited about. I have never been in Belgium before so I can't wait to see what it has to offer. Shortly after, a big celebration in London awaits! Stay tuned. xx

Hagia Sophia

Spanning over two continents, Istanbul was such a special city to visit. The moment I stepped out of the metro station and into the city centre, I just knew this trip would be too short to possibly explore everything. However with the greatest attempt to maximise the duration of our stay, without exhausting ourselves too much, I created a brief itinerary of all the must-visit places which I'll share over the next couple of weeks. 

Hagia Sophia Museum was our first stop on Saturday morning. Formerly an Orthodox Cathedral, the building was later converted into a Mosque in 1453. Today it is considered the world's second largest cathedral and the display of giant domes and mosaic art was an incredible experience for the eyes. We came at 9AM just when it opened its doors to tourists (keen) so we didn't experience any longs queues or overcrowds. With so much to see and so little time, the last thing I wanted to do is to waste my time queuing. 

Hands down, Hagia Sophia is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I've been to (not that I have been to that many, but still a few to conclude so far!) So if you ever visit Istanbul, you know where to go. Entrance tickets are 40 Turkish Lira, which is about €10. Or in my currency, equivalent to about three kebabs.

In the next post I'll share more photos from the outside as well as the Blue Mosque. Meanwhile I have two exams in the coming week, so it's about time I get my priorities straight: stop booking flights and start studying. Yesterday I spent the whole day booking my upcoming East Asia Pacific trip, which I'm excited to share more about later! Until then, good luck to myself, queen of procrastination.

Magical Moments

- in Istanbul, Turkey -

My flatmate, Sadia, and I made an impulsive decision the first week we moved in together in Copenhagen: We booked a trip to Istanbul! Last time we felt spontaneous like that we ended up in Taiwan, and I count it as one of my favourite trips per date. I love having a travel partner, friend and flatmate who are as wanderlust as me. On top of that she radiates so much positive energy and good vibes so needless to say, Istanbul was an amazing experiencing. I never thought about traveling to Istanbul before, but I'm so happy I did because I fell in love with the city. Can't wait to go through all the photos on my DSLR camera and share more about my first time in Turkey very soon!