Ohhh, Turkey. Istanbul captured me. I wasn't sure what to expect when I stepped off the plane. Landing there, I was a little intimidated and uneasy. My comfort zone had been stepped out of on our first visits to Europe, and I knew Turkey was going to be very different than the several other countries we've visited together in Europe. Well, it was different. But, wow! This country was unlike anything we've experienced. It's a beautiful place. Instantly, I think of the Bosphorus and the beautiful Mosques that litter the city's rolling hills. Istanbul is a very special place. We had one of the best experiences of our lives there and were swept away by the magic of the history of this place.
Istanbul is OLD. Very, very old. It makes our early 1800 & 1900's history in California seem like yesterday. Some of the places we visited have been untouched since they were built more than 1,500 years ago.
It's also crowded. We got to know a few locals and they told us about 20 million people live in this city. And it's obvious in the traffic. LOTS and LOTS of traffic. Everywhere you look. It's insane. Probably the worst city for traffic in the world.
But it's easy to see why 20 million people would want to live there. It's truly a beautiful place with a lot of diversity. It's the only major city in the world that sits on two continents. And it was really neat going back and forth from Asia to Europe via the Bosphorus Bridge.
I could write a book on the 5 days we were in this city. I am going to share bits and pieces of our experience in Istanbul through separate posts.
We stayed at the W Istanbul. It's a bit expensive, but for us, it was worth it. We knew this could be the one and only time we may ever go there in our lives. We had the absolute best concierge who led is in the right direction for restaurants to eat at... and while we were eating at one of his recommended restaurants, we ended up meeting 3 new friends. These friends changed our entire experience and I can't even put into words how amazing it was :)
Here's a taste of Istanbul. While we were there, we visited the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia, Dolmabahce Palace, The Grand Bazaar, we took a boat ride on the Bosphorus, and did so much more... can't wait to share!
The little cafe we got breakfast at - right next to our hotel.
The streets are FULL of TRAFFIC!
The Bosphorus Bridge that separates Asia & Europe.
The only thing that was difficult for me were the hundreds of thousands of stray dogs and cats that live in the city. This is one of the dogs that I made friends with. It was hard for me to see these animals with out homes... to read more about why they are there, click here.
Istanbul is incredible. It's one of the most memorable countries we've ever visited.