A City for your senses– Istanbul.
” A city that should be experienced at least once in a lifetime. It is a place of mixed cultures, rich and beautifully preserved history, kind people and whirl of colors, that will leave you with awe.
I stayed in a centrally located Galata, which was a perfect hub for exploring the town. The neighborhood is hip, with some great galleries, boutiques and artsy cafes, which provided a beautiful resting spot at the end of the day.
There are multitude of tours for visitors, but through my travels, I learned it is way more exciting to explore your own way. I like to have that kind of freedom. Do it like a local. Definitely catch a ferry for only 5 turkish lira (about 1 US dollar) to see Istanbul’s European and Asian side. While on board, feed seagulls some Simit (a form of Turkish bagel that you can buy at a stand on almost every corner for less then 1 lira) and sip some tea while watching spectacular shore skylines and shimmering waters of Bosphorus.
Another great way to get familiar with Istanbul is on foot. Walk and get a little bit lost. Turkish people are friendly and always eager to help you find your way. Take a walk around Beyoglu – a home of beautiful old European houses, brasseries, patisseries, restaurants and charming little antique shops. I got some gorgeous vintage suzani pillowcases and throws over there.
Cross the Galata Bridge to get breathtaking skyline views of old mosques. A lower bridge passage is a spot of great seafood restaurants, where you can eat with locals and gaze into lively Bosphorus Strait. My favorite seafood experience though, was a grilled fish wrap, prepared freshly by a vendor on his cart.
Make sure to visit the spice market to stock up on seasonings and taste some colorful Turkish delights or sweet baklava. Up the street is a bustling Grand Bazaar, that you can spend the whole day shopping for ceramics, jewelry, textiles, leather goods and other beautiful craft products. Store owners will treat you to an apple tea and a great conversation – they are truly sales masters 🙂
Sultanahmet district is a mekka of iconic, and most amazing architectural monuments: Basilica Cystern, Byzantine Hagia Sophia cathedral and the Blue Mosque surrounded by spectacular Roman-era Hippodrome. I recommend visiting them on a weekday, early in the day to avoid long entry lines.
When your senses get a little bit overwhelmed, plan a day trip to a Princes’ Islands, which is only an hour south east ferry ride from center of Istanbul. It is an idillic, car-free chain of small Islands in the Sea of Marmara. The only sounds you can hear there are birds and hoofs of horse drawn carriages. Definitely hike to the 6-century Hagia Yorgi Church, and have a little halvah picnic there, with panoramic views of pine forests and quiet waters down below.
Another wonderful relaxing pastime is a visit to a local Turkish Hammam: a historic sauna/bath house which has separate women and men sections or hours. A few lazy hours spend on warm marble benches, being professionally scrubbed and foam-bathed will leave you feeling like an empress or a sultan. What a pure pleasure it was to find my inner goddess..
Istanbul nightlife is as opulent as daytime. Try one of many hangouts in Karakoy and have a dinner in one of the rooftop restaurants. Mesmerizing view of Istanbul from above is the best way to end the night.
It is easy to instantly fall in love with Istanbul. It is like a dervish dance. You get bombarded by magical moments and get pulled into visual vibrancy, tastes and sounds. I spend 7 days and 7 nights, but felt like my senses got years worth’ of indulgence. ”
Thank you to New York based photographer, Basia Ambroziak for submitting us this story! We simply love photo-journalism linked with travel. ♡
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