My friend Vanessa and I decided to spend the first half of our two-week vacation exploring this mecca of eastern and western culture. Lucky for you, I vlogged the entire trip!
In case that video didn't send you over the edge with wanderlust, here are a few photos.
|View from the top of Galata Tower.|
|Isn't the Blue Mosque breathtaking?|
|View from Topkapi Palace.|
|The Rüstem Pasha Mosque was my favorite mosque we visited. The tiles and architecture are magnificent.|
- Bargain hard at the bazaars. All of them.
- Speaking of bazaars, Vanessa and I much preferred the Arasta Bazaar (behind the Blue Mosque) and the Egyptian Bazaar (near Eminönü Pier) to the Grand Bazaar.
- Trust your gut. If you think someone is acting strange, step away.
- Try gözleme, the savory Turkish pancake you see in the video!
- Turkish çay (tea) and apple çay are also must-haves!
- Get a transportation card for the tram, and utilize the tram. It costs a few lira, but you end up saving so much in the end.
- Indulge yourself and go to a Turkish bath, or hamam! We paid 55 TL ($23.40) for a traditional bath treatment, and tipped 5 TL ($2.13) each. Make sure to bring your own kese, or exfoliating mitt--otherwise you'll have to use the communal ones, and yuck! These are cheap and easy to find, and I think we got ours for about 5 TL. I recommend going to Kadirga Hamam, which is near Çemberlitaş.
- Look out for the wild parrots at Gülhane Park! They're green and live in the treetops. If you hear a bird call that you don't recognize...that's them.
- Have a gözleme and some çay at the Meşale Café (in the Arasta Bazaar) at around 7:00 p.m., when you can enjoy watching a traditional Dervish dance!
- Go up Galata Tower on a sunny day for the best panoramic views of Istanbul.
- Ladies, always carry a scarf with you in case you make an impromptu visit to a mosque. But fear not if you forget, because the mosques have scarves that you can borrow to cover yourselves.
Keep an eye out for a future post in which I'll show you all of the Turkish goodies I picked up!
Do any of you have Istanbul tips to add?