Summer 2018 | July 28- August 2
I was in Istanbul for a week and it was a blast!! The first night was a mess through and through but no need to discuss that. I met a lot of wonderful people and the hostel where I stayed was within walking distance of most of the touristy spots in Istanbul. Be sure to wear flat shoes because there are a lot of hills in Istanbul and mostly rocky terrain the further up you go. The food is absolutely great, and if I say so it’s true because I know good food.
Check out some of the places I visited below and use this link to follow my adventure:
Hippodrome of Constantinople/: Formerly a sporting and social centre of Constantinople, it is now commonly known as the Sultanahmet Square or Horse Square. This is a cool spot to visit because the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, is a short walk away from each other. It is literally like walking in a straight line to get from one site to the other. There is a park in between each site and benches where I was able to sit and people watch (like any normal human being would do), and lounge about on hot days. There are also food vendors all over the area selling pastries and roasted corn, so I was always snacking.
The Serpentine Column: I saw this broken statue of a serpent with no head and I honestly wondered why the Turks didn’t just fix it. I have my moments when I like when things are whole, I also appreciate art, and in this case, I learned to appreciate the history of the Turks. I learned from a local that it was destroyed and some parts are in a museum.
The German Fountain: The local who was walking with me gave me a whole story about this site, but I forgot most of it. The ceiling of this site is very beautiful, and as the gate was closed, I was not able to go inside and explore all it offers. I did however get a picture showing parts of the ceiling.
The Walled Obelisk + Obelisk of Theodosius: The local told me that the Obelisk of Theodosius is to celebrate a victory in the past centuries, and was gifted to Constantinople.
Hagia Sophia: This was a Church, which then became a Mosque, and now it’s a museum. The hostel in which I stayed had a magnificent view of the Hagia Sophia. I didn’t get to go inside while I was there because the lines were way too long to wait in the boiling sun. I was told I didn’t miss much as the building was under construction, so it wasn’t as pristine as it appeared in the pictures online. I, however, got pictures of the building, and hopefully, I’ll go inside my next trip here.
Blue Mosque: I didn’t go inside the Blue Mosque for the same reasons, the lines were long. It was beautiful from the outside though, and it was especially beautiful near sunset.
The Egyptian Bazaar: Is the spot to find all the good stuff to appease appetites. They sold all types of teas, Turkish delights, and spices for food. This was a beautiful market with high yellow ceilings. It smells great in there and I managed to buy a few Turkish delights for my family in this market.
The Artsa Bazaar: Was a bit smaller than the Egyptian Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar. Here I found a lot food, cute trinkets, and Turkish pottery. The merchants had cute little trinkets where I was able to pick up a few for myself and some family members. I bought a few key rings as memorabilia and they were cheap and cute.
The Grand Bazaar: Is a place that reminded me of Jamaica. It was a bit quaint looking but beautiful nonetheless. The vendors were selling the sides of the road in the markets,were constantly inviting people to visit their shops to try out their products. Everything was just loud and lively. It was a great reminder of home. I especially loved that in the markets, prices could be negotiated until there was an agreement. It brought on a wave of nostalgia and made everything better at the same time. Big plus, you can find almost anything in this market: wedding dresses, spices, teas, clothes, shoes, bags. You name it, they have it.
Eyüp Mezarlığı – Pierre Loti Tepesi:This location gave great views of the European and Asian side of the city. I walked about 30-45 minutes to get to the top of the seemingly never-ending hill, passing a cemetery – which was a bit strange- to get there. The long trip was worth it. The best part is that there are restaurants there, and I love(!!) me some food. I enjoyed a cool glass of lemonade while looking at the water and the beautiful city as its companion.A lot of people were taking selfies when I got there, and there were others with their travel buddies taking pictures. One of my travel pals pointed out to me that some of the Mosques around the city can be pin-pointed by the visible minarets and their elongated structures towering above the other buildings.
I then, to get the full experience, I took the Eyüp Gondola, or the teleferik down to see the hillsides and the water (the entire video is available on my Instastory under the TRAVELS story highlight).
Taking pictures in traditional Turkish garments: Was quite a fun and somewhat traumatic experience. The pieces that I chose from were great, but they smelled awful. It took a day’s worth of mental prep just to take the pics. The germaphobe in me was having a mental breakdown while doing back flips. I think they turned out alright, it is quite colorful, which very unlike my wardrobe but cute, and I do say so myself.
Food: The Turks are very kind and generous people. They are more than willing to let you sample their products before purchasing. The best part- their sample sizes are out of this world (it is literally equivalent to the size of a candy in the US. The food was good. It was well seasoned (which I lived for), it smelled great, they served a lot, and places to eat were not hard to find.
Places I ate: Kybele Hotel Cafe, Tarihi Hocapaşa Lokantaları, Kurtaran Kebap, Kosk Kebap, Esnaflar Lokantası, and in Çiçek Pasajı
Takeway: Istanbul was absolutely brilliant! Getting around the city was very easy and the trams were reliable. It fascinated me that people would just walk in the middle of the road and quickly get out only when they hear them. It reminded me of Jamaica (the nostalgia was so real). The only issue I had was with the public restrooms. I had to pay to use what turned out to be a hole in the ground. I was not squatting to pee- bladder be damned. I am in no way a posh or prissy person (believe me, I was raised in a Jamaican countryside), but that was just a hard no for me dawg!
- Visit All Places Above
- The Bosporous Cruise (didn’t do this because I am afraid of the water, plus I was told it’s absolutely brilliant)
- Flying in a Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia (din’t get to do this, but I was told this is great and bucket list worthy!)
I definitely recommend visiting Istanbul. The exchange rate is great so you’ll get a bang for your buck.
Until Next Time…