I traveled to Istanbul, Cairo, Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos - of course I'll be writing about all of them (see last summer's travels).
- So many animals on the streets! The city has a program that vaccinates the cats and dogs, and they're all quite friendly as well. When we took an early morning walk, a couple of dogs followed us around after we pet them.
- It can be a bit tiring to navigate shops, as the sellers will call out to you repeatedly. In my case, they also tried to guess where I was from "originally".
- The call to prayers are so exotic and interesting to hear, especially being from the US. I think the associations with the hijab and niqab are frequently negative, but I found people to be friendly and interesting to talk to.
- The streets and public places were all clean and well maintained - I saw people maintaining it everyday around 5am!
- Although Istanbul isn't near the border, there were some Syrian refugees who would ask for money, especially children.
Where to go + what to do
- The Sultanahmet district is quite nice, and you can visit the Aya Sofya/Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, Hippodrome, and Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque) easily. Within walking distance is also the Grand Bazaar.
- A Turkish bath is a unique experience! Especially after a long day of walking around, it's very relaxing. We went to Cagaloglu Hamam, also within walking distance. There are different options and price points, but it's basically a scrub and sauna.
- Lots of eating - there are so many vendors in the Grand Bazaar that have delicious kebabs. Ask the locals where they go for better prices.
- Turkish tea, Turkish delight, and baklava are everywhere as well! We went to Hafiz Mustafa, but there were many shops in all neighbourhoods.
- While we skipped Topkapi Palace, we did visit the Archeological Museum, which is in the same square. They have a large selection of art, with great descriptions so you can actually understand what you're seeing as well!
- We did go to Dolmabahce Palace, which was well maintained - you can only visit with a tour, must wear shoe covers, and can't take photos. While a little restrictive, it pays off with the incredible works they have on display as they were in the past.
Blue Mosque early in the morning.
The view from the room, and in the upper level of the Hagia Sophia.
Stray cats and dogs everywhere!
Color: taking advantage of jet lag, and Dolmabace.
I hope everyone's had a great month so far - I'm excited for summer! I've been experiencing new things, and doing lots of shoots, so I'm excited to share it all.
Have you been to Istanbul or Turkey before? What's your favorite kind of food? Do you take lots of photos when traveling?
Good to be back!