Landing in Istanbul felt a little bit like home since both of us spent quite a long time in Turkey last year. The passport control in Turkey is really strict and since Ása has a residence permit in Turkey they always get skeptic when they see her passport. They made many phone calls before finally letting her enter the country.
We stayed at Cheers Lighthouse Hostel, a nice hostel in the heart of the old town, owned by a friend of ours. He had reserved the penthouse suite with a nice balcony view over the Bosphorus. Next morning we had a typical Turkish breakfast, that consists of olives, tomatoes, mozzarella, special Turkish bread and tea or “chai” in Turkish.
We walked around the whole city, from the Blue Mosque, Sofia Hagia, through the spice market and over the Galata bridge which was lined with people fishing. We enjoyed listening to the familiar prayer-calls of the mosques and ate some delicious Baklava (typical Turkish desert). After crossing the bridge we explored the area around Galata tower and walked from there to Taksim square, where we grabbed some Dürüm kebab.
On the way we got lost in the Chiangir neighbourhood, which is extremely cat friendly. Turks treat wild cats with great respect and care for them as their own. It is not unusual to see a cat in a restaurant and the staff won´t mind. We even saw a cat sleeping on a couple of scarfs in a clothing store.
Fishing on the bridge
What we like about Istanbul is that it’s so different from the rest of the cities we’ve been to. Its located between two continents, Europe and Asia, so the city has a mix of both cultures.
Things To Do In Istanbul
Entering this beautiful mosque is a must. Women just need to remember to cover their hair, knees and elbows.
Hagia Sofia was originally a orthodox basilica (church), later a mosque but now used as a museum, so from a historical point of view it is more interesting than the Blue mosque. When inside the mosque, you discover how big it really is, it is huge, however you wont catch any praying inside since it is now a museum.
The largest and oldest palace to survive to our day and home to the Ottoman empire for 400 years. From there is a great view over the Marmara sea and the Bosphorus. Definitely worth visiting, don’t miss out on the armoury or the Spoonmaker’s diamond (fourth largest of its kind).
Enjoy a boat trip between Europe and Asia
The boat tour gives a great view over this big city. It’s also unique to sail between to continents. They have a bar on the boat for the thirsty one’s.
Enjoy a chai
Drinking tea is a big part of Turkish culture. For them, enjoying a tea with another person, is a mark of friendship. Even when it gets close to 40°C during summer the typical Turk will still drink around 20 glasses of hot tea per day. The tea is usually served in tulip-shaped glasses. (the tulip is the national flower of Turkey). When you enter a store, don’t be surprised if the owner will invite you for some chai.
Next up Dubai! However we almost missed our flight. We left for the airport 4 hours before our flight was supposed to take off. On the way to the airport we hit the biggest traffic jam we have ever seen. We spent 3 hours in that bus (Normally it takes 1 hour). Buuut we made it a few minutes before the check-in desk closed.*Fjúff*