my friend from college and i have an annual bestie trip every august. this year, we set our sights on turkey and greece. they are only a three second flight from each other, so like….duh, no brainer to hit both. we made a boatload of stops on our almost two week trip, so i will be breaking posts down by cities.
first up, istanbul.
nichelle and i aren’t your average tourists. we live in two major cities, so we actually hate tourists (sorry…j/k not sorry at all). we like to blend in and do as the romans…err turkish, but it wouldn’t kill us to see a few landmarks right? right. let’s dive into that and then get into the fun stuff!
for our first magic trick, we took a ride on the bosphorus strait. istanbul has two ports that are located at the kabatas and eminonu metro stations. there are tons of boat companies when you get to the port, but don’t let those d-bags scam you! a roundtrip ride that will take you on both the european and asian side of turkey allowing for hop on-hop off shouldn’t be more than 20TL ($10). we got off on the asian side to eat and explore. it’s only two restaurants on that side close to the water, so i suggest making your food stop on the european side. since nichelle and i are worthless, we fell asleep on the ride back down, but i’m sure it looked really pretty once the sun set. the next day, we visited hagia sophia and the blue mosque. i consider the pyramids and hatshepsut’s temple as the holy grail of monuments, but these two are a close second. try not to drool looking at the pics (especially the one with me in it, heyyyy). if you can, try to catch the call to prayer. regardless of your religion, it will probably be the closest you’ve ever felt to god. it’s a truly peaceful experience.
alright, enough with history…istanbul has an insane nightlife! euro-pop is the devil’s slow jam, so i was on a mission to find a hip-hop club. thanks to my bff google, we found ourselves at riddim in the taksim square area. there are parties there every night, but we were there on saturday. there’s a 30TL ($15) cover, but you get a free drink with it. we walked in thinking we were about to show them all the booty bouncin’ and body rollin’ four years in atlanta taught us, but alas. turkish people do not play when it comes partying. the girls were droppin’ it low and the guys were following suit. the dj played current hip-hop/r&b jams and threw in some classics, so you don’t have worry about dancing to akon all night. riddim goes until 6am and istanbul has after-hours spots that rock until 10am-ish. we made friends with a gang of girls at riddim that wound up taking us out to club masquerade the next night. it has the same vibe as riddim, but the venue is alot bigger and the bathroom has swings, so its obvi epic! we had another 6am night there full of nonstop jamming. these are must-dos in istanbul!
shopping, shopping, shopping. ok! i know that every travel bookblogshow falls all over themselves about the grand bazaar, but it’s easily one of the worst places on the planet. imagine a semi-covered canal street in nyc. yup, hell on earth. i went to istanbul hoping to return with tons of suzani or ikat textiles and some kilim, but yeah…no. you are better off walking around the shops by the gulhane stop on the tram. speaking of, don’t be a loser and take cabs around istanbul. be a grown-up and take your talents to the metro. be sure to get the unlimited card to save a couple dollars. ok, back to shopping. if you’re into tea, head to the spice market. it’s pyramids upon pyramids of loose tea at a major fraction of the cost here in the states. same goes for seasonings like saffron. they will package the spices and teas in airtight bags perfect for dragging all of this stuff around until you get home. to find cool etsy-lite shops and 10,000 miles of restaurants, head to beyoglu. i stumbled upon a shop full of handmade jewelry and got a couple rings. its a steep walk up to get to beyoglu, but once you reach the top, it opens up to a huge avenue with a mix of small shops, cafes, bars, and huge chain stores like zara. there is also tons of street art and music. you could literally get here at 8pm and be here all night. europe comes alive at night, so don’t feel the need to leave your hotel before mid-afternoon.
well kids, we’ve come to the end of story time. istanbul is a great city that will totally see me again. for anyone that is considering visiting turkey solely, i suggest spending stopping by cappadocia or antalya also. feel free to leave any questions you have and i’ll be happy to answer them. hope you enjoyed this vicarious trip to istabul!
*click on the pics to see their full beauty