Recently I had the incredible opportunity to explore three destinations I have always dreamed of exploring, with none other than two of my Australian girls Zanita and Jessica as part of an exciting new extension of Contiki called Contiki Chronicles.
We flew to Rome and continued on to to the Amalfi Coast, Dubrovnik and Istanbul. These are three places I have wanted to visit but never had the chance to work in to my itinerary. Not only that, but I’m sure you’ve all heard about one of these places from a friend or a friend of a friend who’s mentioned how amazing it is and how much you need to visit. Unfortunately I will be one of those friends after you finish reading this post.
This is my photo diary from my time spent in Istanbul in Turkey. Perhaps not the most common destination but one that was in many ways the most memorable for me. With a population of nearly 14 million people it’s not only easy to get physically lost in this labyrinth of people, but also mentally as your mind is sent into overdrive with so many colours, rich textures and traditions to absorb. With such little time here we only had a chance to visit a few of the main attractions (pictured above):
– The Blue Mosque: This was easily the biggest highlight of my Istanbul trip and a must for anyone visiting. Its interior was even more impressive than its grand exterior, with its curved roof and sky high walls consisting of over 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles. The Mosque closes during Islamic prayer (which is five times a day) so make sure you check the times so you avoid arriving during a prayer session and any disappointment, which is exactly what we did the first time we visited.
– The Bosporus: Being one of the world’s largest waterways the best way to experience it is to take a cruise down it. This was one of the best ways to take in Istanbul’s landscape and architecture as you travel past countless houses and hotels, each unique in their own design with a mixture of confusing and intriguing exteriors.
– The Grand Bazaar and Spice Markets: This is an unforgettable shopping experience. Built upon a maze of lanes, these markets are a kaleidoscope of colours and mayhem. With carpets, jewellery, spices, music, electronics and more, the place is buzzing and the perfect place to find little trinkets and authentic treasures which are sold side by side.
– Turkish Baths: In particular, the Cemberlitas Hamami Turkish Baths which we visited but unfortunately weren’t allowed to take photos inside. Experiencing a traditional Turkish Bath whilst in Turkey is a must and something I surprisingly and thoroughly enjoyed. It can be a little rough at times as you’re physically being scrubbed and bathed, but I left feeling extremely relaxed and cleansed. I would highly recommend paying a little extra to finish your experience with a oil massage (around $50 euros all together). I can genuinely say that it was the best message I have ever had. Ever.
– Galata Tower: One of the best ways to see a panoramic view of Istanbul. They also have a hilarious dress up booth inside where you can take portraits in colourful costumes for only $5 euros. Perhaps one of the most entertaining mementos I came home with.
– Taksim Square: Considered the heart of modern Istanbul, Taksim Square is full of shopping, restaurants, bars and cafes. We had dinner at the 360 restaurant which provided a picturesque view of Istanbul as the glowing sun started to set. Food was in the higher price range but the view was definitely worth every penny!
Photos by me