Let me start off by saying that if I could fly everywhere on Turkish Airlines in business class for the rest of my life, I would. The food service was out of this world, with an extensive menu, wine pairings + adorable magnetic salt + pepper shakers. Not to mention the fact that it was so nice to be able to lay flat + sleep for a few hours. The airport lounges are some of the best I’ve ever seen (especially the massive one in Istanbul’s airport). And no, this isn’t sponsored. I just love them!
(Warning // this is a photo-heavy post because this amazing city is just too pretty to narrow down my photos. Believe me, picking just these few was a difficult exercise for my soul.)
On our first day, my dad + I headed to the Sultanahmet area (the Old City) to visit the Haya Sophia + the Blue Mosque. The history of the Haya Sophia is really fascinating, with all the switching back + forth between a cathedral + a mosque + eventually a museum. It houses some beautiful gold Christian mosaics on the second floor that have been uncovered beneath the later Islamic paintings. However, in my mind nothing beats the architecture of the Blue Mosque – while I’ve visited before, I had forgotten how stunning it is on the inside.
We stopped for tea at an outdoor café with an amazing view of the Bosphorus + both the European + Asian sides of Istanbul. I could have sat there all day. How many places in the world can you sit for tea with a view of two continents? The Turkish tea was perfect + came in such a fun setup.
The second day in Istanbul was rainy. We climbed Galata Tower, which was built almost 100 years ago + has been used as a battle tower, a prison, a fire water tower, + now it’s a restaurant + a viewing balcony. The panorama of the city you get from the top of this tower is really beautiful. Thankfully the rain cleared for a few minutes so we could enjoy it.
We also explored Topkapi palace, where we saw some lovely architecture, traditional tiles + treasures of the Ottoman Empire. I forgot how much I love the patterns + colors of Turkish tiles. At the palace, we also saw an exhibit on the past 500 years of Turkish coffee. It included all sorts of historical instruments used to make coffee (pots, grinders, cups) + coffee house furniture + accessories. There was even a photo of Ataturk drinking Turkish coffee with his wife, and a collection of sketches done by a famous Turkish artist done in coffee shops.
On our last day in Istanbul, we drove along the Bosphorous to find a place for Turkish coffee + some dessert. We got gelato + watched to boats go by on their way to + from the marina. My favorite moments in this fascinating Turkish city were spent sitting by the water, just watching the activity. There are so many layers of culture + history here to appreciate.
Have you been to Istanbul? I’m already scheming to make my way back, so I’d love to hear about your experiences there!