TURKEY TRAVEL DIARY
Istanbul has always been among the top on my list of cities I wanted to visit. And when I finally got the chance to go, I had to jump at the chance. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed. From the ornate architecture to the historic culture, I was completely fascinated. I tried my best to capture my vacation, but for once in my life, I had the misfortune of leaving my camera behind and I broke my phone during my trip and basically only documented a portion of my trip. However, thinking back on my experience, it was probably for the best because I felt completely present for the beauty of this amazing city. Something so simple as exploring the street traffic and observing daily life in Istanbul was incredibly fascinating. From the food to the many different bazaars, I felt right at home and never wanted to leave. Istanbul just felt like the best mixture of people I’ve ever seen anywhere else. Everyone was so happy and kind. Except for a few shady cab drivers, the people were so kind.
WHERE WE STAYED:
We stayed at the Conrad Hotel Istanbul Bosphorus. We chose this hotel because it is located in the lively Besikta area which is a 5 minute walk from the Bosphorus. Hotel is also beautiful with fully renovated guest rooms and suites and a stunning rooftop restaurant that offers an amazing view of the city. They also have indoor and outdoor pools which were great for my kids. For a full tour and view check out my Istanbul Vlog here.
OTHER NEIGHBORHOODS TO CHECK OUT:
BALAT: One of the most unique neighborhoods in Istanbul hands down. This areais filled with colorful homes and buildings. Very rich in history and yet the least amount of tourists in this area. Which is perfect because this is the perfect place to snap some of the best photos if you’re looking for great shots.
TAKSIM: This area is similar to Time Square in NYC. Very crowded with people at all hours of the day. Go here for great shopping, shopping and nightlife experience.
SULTANAHMET: This area is filled with tourists and with that comes higher prices, lots of souvenir shops and over populated restaurants. While I do recommend visiting this area, I would opt to dine/shop elsewhere for convenience and lower prices.
KADIKÖY: This area is very laid back and kind of gives me such hipster vibes. Lots of trendy restaurants and cafes.
OTAKÖY: considered to be one of the best neighborhoods in istanbul. This area features a picturesque view of the mosque on the bosphorus. This is the area we stayed in and trust me when I tell you, you will not run out of amazing views, restaurants, shops, and café options… all within walking distance.
My favorite items to pack are maxi or midi dresses for a summer vacation. Its super breezy and flowy and just perfect for hot weather. I like that I can dress it down with sandals and sneakers during the day and dress it up with a pair of heels at night for dinner. Below are my favorite maxi and midi dresses currently available in stores. Click the images below to shop these dresses.
HAGIA SOPHIA:This incredible church-turned-mosque-turned-museum is probably one of the most architectural landmarks I’ve ever witnessed. The lineups are super long on the weekends as tourists seem to always flock to its beauty. But, if you purchase the VIP tour, which is what I did, you can bypass the lineup and get in within minutes. There are usually ticket dealers outside who can give this access. Since I was travelling with my kids, I opted for this option because convenience was absolutely a priority for me.
THE BLUE MOSQUE: As a muslim, I LOVE to experience the different mosques around the world. So seeing The Blue Mosque was an absolute must for me. And this famous landmark definitely did not disappoint. So much detail and remarkable architectural in every square inch of this structure. It almost makes you wonder how they ever accomplished such thing. The only thing to remember is that this mosque is a functioning most so they do close down for 5 prayers a day. During this time, anyone who is praying is allowed in to pray and the rest of the tourists are politely asked to wait outside.
THE GRAND BAZAAR: This had to be one of my favorite shopping experiences of all time. There were so many things I wanted to take home…ESPECIALLY the carpets. However, because I was traveling to Dubai for 7 more days before heading home…it was nearly impossible for me to take home as much as I did. The quality is amazing in Turkey. Whether it be jewelry, carpets or clothing, the quality was unmatched. I loved scouring for all sorts of gems. I’m not much of a hagler, but it’s an absolute must at the Grand Bazaar. Everything is negotiable so go in strong otherwise you will get GOT!
TURKISH BATH: If you’re looking for a once in lifetime experience, you must go to a Turkish Bath. Getting a Turkish bath and a full body massage at Cagaloglu Hamami had me feeling like a Sultan’s wife. The staff is very experienced and super friendly. Beautiful atmosphere coupled with a wonderful experience all around. Turkish bath’s are among the many spa experiences in Istanbul. I highly recommend it.
CURISE THE BOSPHORUS: If you’re visiting Istanbul during the warmer months, a cruise on the Bosphorus is always a great idea. This unforgettable experience will give you a remarkable overview of the city both on the European and the Asian side. There are many options from a short cruise to a full day and also from a public tour to a more private one. We did a private tour since we had kids and had such a beautiful time.
GALATA TOWER: If you wanna see a 360 panoramic view of Istanbul, this is your best bet. The tower also has a restaurant/cafe on the 9th floor which is quite busy at all hours of the day. The Galata tower is also surrounded by many cute patios, shops and cafes. If you ever get the chance to visit the Galata Tower, be sure to schedule your trip around the sunset hours.
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