Last week I had the chance to spend one week in Turkey. I came for an international AIESEC conference and apart from that explored the city with the other amazing internationals. Today I want to share with you the first part of my journey through Istanbul. My emotions in one sentence: I love Istanbul so much and you will love it too!
After arriving at the Atatürk Airport I took the Havatas bus to the Taksim Square and it was really love at first sight: So many people, colors, noises!
On the way to my hostel I had to go through the İstiklal Avenue, the coolest street to be, seriously. Here you can see this amazing old tram and around ten people normally hang from the sides of it. The side streets of Istiklal are actually even better: There you will find bars, cafes, restaurants and those amazing views.
Seyyah Hostel View
If you want an awesome hostel to stay check out the Seyyah Hostel. My room had a terrace with this amazing view, not bad for a hostel, huh?
You might know I am in love with new and different kinds of food, especially breakfasts. So of course the first thing I did in Istanbul, was to go for breakfast with my new friends from Belgium and Algeria. As far as I understood the essential part are fresh vegetables, cheese, olives, sausages, tea or coffee and white bread. But there are also more different things for breakfast like sucuklu yumurta which I didn’t have any more time to try.
We had an organized study tour to see the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Unfortunately the time we had for both was very short. Somehow they both got confused in my mind but seeing the pictures now helps a lot.
So here above you see the Blue Mosque, also named Sultan Ahmed Mosque. It was the first time for me in a mosque and I must admit I felt weird with the headscarf, without shoes and especially taking pictures made me feel uncomfortable. Here are just some small impressions, you better go there and just see everything yourself.
Hagia Sophia, in Turkis Ayasofya, is actually a museum even if it doesn’t look like any typical „musum“. In earlier day it used to be a church, first greek orthodox, roman catholic in between and after that it was a mosque. From 1931 on it is a museum. Inside you can see how the color on the walls is removed to see what was painted there in the first version.
Imagine this all is around 1500 years old! My favorite picture is this one I think: Seeing the old building above and the mass of people with selfie sticks, phones and cameras underneath :)
Grand Bazaar + Spice bazaar
I already discovered my love for bazars during my childhood in Russia, then in Jerusalem and now here. The grand bazaar is huge! Very clean and structured though. There is a street for souvenirs, one for sewing material, one for shoes and so on. What you should consider: The prices here are double the actual value so either you negotiate the price or you find another spot to buy if you don’t want to overpay.
Right opposite the grand bazaar I found this open air spot where coffee is prepared. Before going to Turkey I received this challenge from friends: Learn how to make turkish coffee! So I watched and photographed carefully every step. You need this special pot. You put the coffee in and let it simmer with the water. Afterwards it is poured in a cup and ready is the coffee. Sugar yes, milk no, and a lot of coffee grounds. Did you know it is an intangible cultural heritage of Turkey according to UNESCO?
Bosporus boat tour
The last thing I want to tell you about today is our Bosporus tour. We (which is the whole bunch of people who also came for the conference) did it at night and it was simply amazing. Next time I would still prefer to go by day to see more of the Bosporus. Now it was really impossible to see everything, just the lightened spots.