Enter the city and regions of Istanbul, Turkey: this is a trip you need to explore for yourself with Istanbul as the primary destination for this 8-day vacation. Yes, it said cities, as we also visited Athens Greece with a full day exploring Cappadocia in the central region of Turkey. Follow the story of a trip of a lifetime as I will be on the lookout for local culinary delicatessen, the beauty of Synagogs, the street around Istanbul, some restaurants without photographs as I didn’t think food photography was vital as It is now.
Six weeks before we arrive, the Taksim Square was under attack as a bomber destroyed a part of the Taksim Square alongside a few other buildings and sidewalks that lead to the Main Street in the shopping district or what we think it is.
Getting in the late afternoon, after 13 hours of flight and stopovers, we arrive at the hotel, it was a 3-star rating, the manager gave a 5-star service for us, getting all of our maps ready for our first adventure as we head out and enjoy Istanbul’s early evening nightlife. We approach Taksim Square, in shock that after 6 weeks the damage from the last tragedies is still present, but we observe the locals with smiles of their faces, utilizing what was open of the square made us feel ok about it, yet a tragedy for them. There are so many streets, street corners and streetcars that it was easy to get disoriented making the maps from the hotels very helpful, just follow the red ink the manager says, it will take you to the main streets, restaurants and shops, then return. It was easy to find my first hit of the day, Baclava’s… I was baklava heaven, baklavas everywhere in bakery windows, so fresh, sweet and OMG I want some now. A good meal at a local restaurant, exhausted we return to our hotel and will resume the walking in the morning.
Istanbul is a fishing community, but I tremendously loved the unique street vendors areas like the photo above, or the bazaar and large markets to purchase their goods like the photos below.
The Grand Bazar was an OMG moment, I’m so happy to be there when it was a small crowd. It is humongous, sectioned off in so many different directions with every vendor resembling the next one! The OMG moment is in the lamp section, the size of the space, the bright colours that blended well with the architectural design of the building. You can purchase pretty much all of your household needs for the week in one area. The spice market is situated close by for your home cooks and professional chefs. All in the day it took to explore this area we came back to learn their culture and to get lost in this heavenly shopping area again.
It’s time to do a hop on-Hop Off tour, it will bring us closer to another fairytale area. The history that these mosques, the Blue Mosque was a photogenic building inside and out and at night during the blue hour it was even better. The careful planning from the landscape to the positioning of the historical sites around the Mosque embellishes the area to maximize the beauty of their culture. FYI the Mosques closes 30minutes, five times per day for prayer time, you will hear the call to prayer over the loudspeakers.
Another beautiful day comes to an end, tomorrow we’re walking all day, exploring more mosque like the Hagia mosque that’s located 500 meters in front of the Blue Mosque. There is plenty of natural bath for your enjoyment, for our needs time was not on our side, choosing to go sightseeing instead.
The day is wet, we move forward with umbrellas, lots of stops at local coffee shops that are plentiful in Istanbul. We find the coffee shops that offer free wifi, giving us a chance to stay in contact with our families, social media platforms and to relax a bit. We walk almost every day, as we like to find many streets to explore, discover new restaurants all as we make our way to exploring mosques. Even during this bout of rain, the streets of Istanbul are beautiful, early morning routine gives us empty streets like photos below.
As the week is coming to an end, the time to change directions has arrived, we will leave tomorrow for Cappadocia, Turkey where we will explore the lava caves. We did explore more of the city today after the rain ceased. Some beautiful back streets keep the best secrets, shisha bars, restaurants, even cemeteries. It is up to you to find the beauty in every city you stopover.
The streets are filled with shops, colourful markets and much much more, go and explore it. It’s the best way to see Istanbul.
The street is filled with hidden gems, lots of decorated storefronts, fruit stands and places of worship. We truly enjoyed this trip to Istanbul Turkey. As you can see, I’m a photographer, the stories are well displayed, the writing is to fill in the blanks. Flights from Ottawa, Canada to Istanbul with a hotel can run you about $1300 each. This is the perfect way to do it, you always have a place for your personal belongings while trecking around this beautiful city. You will see lots of security personnel, in and out of uniforms, we tend to stay away from their protesting area it is located 1 kilometre from Taksim square.
This portion of my trip is over, I will miss Istanbul for the cultural differences with the call to prayer, the beauty this city holds in culinary experience, its coffee, the people we met that could speak more English and of course The Grand Bazaar. It’s up to you how you wish to see a city, it’s up to me to show you throughout my photography storytelling. I hope you travel with me again.