Inside Hagia Sophia
Pistachio apricot were my fave.
A lot of charm with a little grit, cobblestone streets everywhere
Although I always love a good low-key vacay, who doesn’t? Can’t go wrong in Hawaii. I really thrive off of trips. A trip to me, is very different than a vacation. A trip is where you push yourself out of that comfort zone and grow. At times eye opening and possibly challenging, not necessarily relaxing, but always more rewarding. It’s when you really get out of your world to see someone else’s. This is what I loved so much about Instanbul - the ultimate trip. Not just because it was my first experience in an Islamic country (besides Malaysia for 24 hours), it was everything from the art, architecture, food, shopping, traditions, language and the people, were a rich and exotic melting pot that rocked my senses (in the best way).
Despite a new world, to me Turkey feels very comfortable, very liveable, and very safe. (Also the men were very respectful of women. No cat-calls, grabs or stare downs - important when traveling with girlfriends). The first two nights we stayed with friends living on the Asia side, and the last two nights we stayed at this Hotel on the Europe side, (think The Standard Hotel of Instanbul). The hotel was cheeky, modern, clean and right in the heart of new instanbul, aka Beyoğlu. Old town and the Sultanahmet was walking distance from our hotel (over a bridge about a 20 min walk). We did a ton of walking and after 3-4 days in the city, I was feeling pretty confident with our map, and really felt like I had my bearings down.
Our last day there, time was ticking so my friend Jenna and I actually split up to do our own things in the Sultanamet. She headed to the Topkapi palace, and I headed to the Turkish Bath - a must for me, so glad I didn't miss it. My one regret (besides not buying more at the Grand Bazaar), was not getting photos inside the gorgeous sultan's tomb where they have the Turkish bath experience. It was like nothing I had seen before, but since women are not fully dressed you obviously can't take photos inside. They split the men and woman up into different tombs. Then to get to the baths, I walked into a narrow arched pathway and behind a door was a pristine, white, granite-filled room. Every corner sparkling white stone - from the ceiling, to the flooring, the walls and the stairway. All gleaming white with ornate gold fixtures. The Turkish bath sink in the middle covered in luxe gold. Women lounging around the hot-air filled room, rubbing muds, oils, and Turkish bath salts on themselves. Then you head to another gorgeously ornate room for your Turkish massage in your Turkish bath towel - was I in heaven? I thought so. The whole experience was not as cheap as Thailand, but not as expensive as the states. I paid 80 Euro for a 90 min experience, although I was told you can find them around the city for a third of the price. This one was just recommended to me as the best and the cleanest and also location wise the most convenient - so I went for it and so glad I did.
*Can't thank all you guys enough for your incredible recommendations on Istanbul!I soaked up all your advice and it really helped me filter in on the must-see's and must-do's with such limited time. Thank you, thank you!