And finally, let me take you back to Turkey again . . .
Even though our vacation wasn’t over, it was difficult to leave the lazy lifestyle and sparkly seawater behind for the city. I knew the sights of Istanbul would be amazing and new, but I had no idea that I would enjoy wandering the city so much. Like the rest of Turkey, Istanbul surprised me.
We arrived on a Thursday afternoon and were soon in the back of a cab headed into town. After barely acknowledging our destination, our cab driver spent the entire 40 minute ride snacking and talking on his cell phone. He was actually a surprisingly safe and attentive driver despite multitasking. I just sat back and marveled at the expanse of the city and its the hundreds of minarets dotting the skyline.
Once we were settled into the hotel we spent the afternoon wandering the streets around the district of Beyoğlu across the Golden Horn from Istanbul’s old city. We walked the length of the main street İstiklâl Caddesi, a now mostly pedestrian street filled with many shops and cafes and a historic tram line. We passed by most of the international shops and other than a stop for our first visit to Shake Shack, we just wandered off along the side streets. Most of the rest of our trip was a bit the same–not too planned, just exploring and seeing what we found.
In Istanbul there was really something new to be discovered around every corner and each new sight was uniquely beautiful and full of history. The smell of the Spice Market, the crowded Grand Bazaar, the bright beauty of the Iznik tiles inside the Harem at Topkapi Palace, the painted domes of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, the sound of the call to prayer, and the sweet tasty tang of apple tea drunk while negotiating with a rug merchant. I’m a bit at a loss for words on how to describe it except to say go visit. And if you do, I have only two recommendations: (1) leave plenty of time to wander, and (2) unless you’re headed for Shake Shack, make dinner reservations in advance as it seems some of the best restaurants with modern Turkish cuisine fill up fast. I’m already preparing my list for next time.
Here are some of my favorites, and you’ll more on my Instagram, if you don’t follow along already . . .