4 months since my 2 day trip to Istanbul and my memories are as fond and fresh as a perfectly well rested Simit. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simit I’ve been meaning to write this post forever however at first I battled terrible morning sickness as I found out I was pregnant soon after returning from Istanbul and secondly the horror of waking up every other day to news of the terror attacks in beautiful Turkey.
After giving this much thought and some serious contemplation I’ve finally decided to go on and write about my amazing travel experience of the exquisite city of Istanbul that left bewilderment and awe but mostly yearning to discover more.
For starters my trip was no ordinary one. I was lucky to be invited on an all sponsored trip by Turkish Airlines and boy how could I have turned that down. I expected nothing at first as it was all so last minute however what was delivered was more than I could’ve ever expected.
An early check in at the counter and I found out I was traveling Business Class 🙂 Could there be a better way to start the day? No I don’t really think so. Post immigration I was led up to the business class lounge at HIA ( Doha’s Hamad International Airport) which was well equipped for more than a morning cup of coffee before boarding commenced.
On our way to the aircraft I was informed by Turkish Airlines staff that the airline has an inflight chef and so I got really curious to see what service was about to be offered as this was my first time flying Turkish Airlines. All settled in and excited I was offered a lovely selection of drinks by the chef itself and boy I have to say it is kinda strange to see a Chef on board an aircraft. I’ll skip details on the amazing breakfast that was being served as I choose to skip it and pass out after all I had to charge my batteries for an endlessly long day of sightseeing planned ahead.
For my 2 day stay I was put up at the St. Regis Istanbul and I can guarantee you its quite the address to be staying at. My room came not only with a view but with a 24 butler service on demand and a free phone that I could call anyone in Istanbul anytime. Well it doesn’t just end there, with this phone I could also be in touch with my Butler via a special messaging service at all times just incase I had some special food or laundry requests. Service so personalized what more could I have asked for! Every time I got back to my room I was amused by a little surprise note from my butler Willem or an assortment of warm nuts or a gift pen that was left by my very sweet butler.
My first impression of dining in the city was at Spago by none other than master chef Wolfgang Puck. Lunch was served with stunning views of the Maçka Park and the Bosphorus on the rooftop of the St. Regis Istanbul. Contemporary design and signature details enhance the glamour of the restaurant setting and will leave you wondering if you should take time to admire the food or the displayed art. spago.thestregisistanbul.com
Now a good lunch and I was ready to explore the towering minarets, east meets west Bosporus boat ride and the mad house markets.
Sights to see:
A quick halt to breath in the fresh air at the western side of the bridge but mostly to stop and soak in the view’s of reality that I was actually right amongst all the craziness of this City. What to do once you get there? If you haven’t eaten yet try a fish sandwich at the famous – Tarihi Eminönü Balık Ekmek Also try the roasted chestnuts if you find yourself in the city over winter.
Bosphorous Tour by boat
Best way to see all the sites and get a little history tour if you happen to find or guide or just read a guide as you go along. Do not forget to sip on Turkish tea while on this escapade.
Well this much hyped controversial landmark was quite disappointing compared to all the beautiful photoshopped pictures I’ve ever seen. The structure is not as pretty as as you have previously thought so don’t get your hope up too high. For women that want to visit the mosque make sure you wear something long that covers your ankles and have a head scarf handy. If not you could get one before entering the mosque.
There’s ton to see within the palace that was constructed between 1460 and 1478 by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. It served as the home of the ottomans until the 19th century. Pop into the cafe at the palace for some more Bosporus gazing and site soaking – topkapisarayi.gov.tr/en
This Byzantine Greek structure was a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal basilica (church) in its original days which was later transformed into an imperial mosque by the additions of minarets and is now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi). – ayasofyamuzesi.gov.tr/en
The famous square is one place you have to visit to enjoy the hustle and bustle of daily locals. It is also a major tourist and leisure district famed for the many restaurants, shops, and hotels. It is what is considered the heart of modern Istanbul.The word Taksim meaning ” distribution ” is the original point where the main water lines from the north of Istanbul were collected and branched off to other parts of the city.
Once upon a time called Grand Avenue the 1.4 km pedestrian street is now known as Istiklal street. Get lost and its the best way I could describe at enjoying this energetic area. Stop at Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir to buy the best turkish delight in town. If you’re looking for a perfect donner kebab then head to hole in the wall place called Durumzade as recommended by Anthony Bourdain himself. This is cheap and probably most satisfying eat.
Also know as the french street its pretty during the day but truly comes alive at night. Live music performers and colorful table settings are combined with strong toxic drinks that are a recipe for a great night out. Absolutely loved this place however my only regret is I wish I had more time to enjoy it.
One of the largest and oldest markets in the world this place is an absolute goldmine. A shoppers paradise there is nothing under this market roof that would not tempt you to take home. With 4000 shops under one marketplace it is easy to get lost. Luckily the market is gates are numbered so if traveling in a shopaholic group decide on a gate no and time to meet at before dispersing. I bought back some lovely souvenirs,gifts and a beautiful tile that has soon become my favourite food platter to serve nibbles on.
If these pictures and stories are not tempting enough to visit this stunning city then maybe just maybe this video will do the trick!
I can’t wait for the dust to settle and head back to what soon has become one of the most beautiful and opulent cities i’ve been to. We can only #PrayforTurkey and the world that its people stay strong and fight back. The people of the world need to realize that terrorist cannot and will not shake our human spirits and refrain us from travel. We will continue to explore our planet and its people and the different cultures and civilizations.
I wish you Safe travels & thank Turkish Airlines for giving me this 2 days window into one of the greatest cities i’ve ever been to. I hope i’ve given you enough drive to go on this amazing adventure and discover beauty.
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