Never let fear stop you from trying something new.
This past weekend I visited Istanbul. It was incredible! The city was beautiful, the food was amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Alec, Michael and myself flew to Istanbul Friday morning. After landing, our hostel picked us up for a flat fee. I would definitely recommend trying to find a hostel that offers this service.
The three of us walked around the city, found a place for a late lunch and then climbed Galata Tower. We could see for miles!
It was also astonishing to be surrounded by tourists once more. In Thessaloniki, as far as I can tell, the majority of the other tourists are actually other Greeks, and mostly high-schoolers. When I visited Crete, it was off-season and only the locals were around. Therefore, it was a new level of culture shock to be back in an environment where tourists are abundant.
Sights, Foods and the Bazaar
By Saturday, the last member of our group, Meredith, had arrived and the four of us made our way to the Old City of Istanbul.
Before we could even make it to the sights, we were dragged into a Turkish carpet store. While I knew I didn’t want to buy anything, it was really fun to watch the men try to sell a group of backpacking college student giant Turkish rugs. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience.
After escaping the salesmen, we visited the Hagia Sophia, the Basicila Cistern and the Blue Mosque.
The Blue Mosque was easily my favorite.
Next we grabbed a bite to eat at a Kurdish restaurant. One of the men at the restaurant was a terrible flirt and informed Meredith and I that the colors of our headscarves suited us very well. At the end of our meal, he also made two napkin flowers and gave them to Michael and Alec to pass onto ‘their girlfriends.’
From there we walked to the bazaar and were sold on a few items. I ended up with a beautiful ‘silver/amethyst/ruby’ ring. My favorite part was bargaining with the man who kept calling me angel and telling me I was breaking his heart when I offered him a lower price. (I talked him down from 125 LT to 80 LT, so I felt pretty good about the transaction.)
From there we watched the sunset on the water as we looked across the Bosphorous Strait before grabbing supper in Taksim square and seeing a bit of the nightlight in Istanbul.
On Sunday, we hopped on the ferry to Asia!! I know it sounds cheesy, but visiting Asia was something I did not expect to do during my semester abroad. So I was ridiculously excited to go. I also love boats and the ferry was a fun experience and great for taking pictures!
Don't Let Fear Hold You Back
Looking back on how wonderful Istanbul was, I keep remember that I almost didn’t go.
When a couple of my guy friends said they were going, I thought to myself, “I have no desire to visit Istanbul.”
Then, a group of five people from our program visited and I saw the pictures. Add to that, another group of five people was going the next weekend. So, after a lot of thought, I decided that I would also like to visit Istanbul.
I’ll admit, I was actually pretty nervous. Istanbul seems scary because Turkey borders along Syria and there has been more than one story in the news recently about attacks in the city. However, I decided that fear wasn’t going to be a deciding factor in whether or not I was going to visit Istanbul.
I’d say I made the right decision
Remember the People
My weekend in Istanbul was amazing. The sights and views were breathtaking. However, my trip wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun as it was with the group of people I went with.
Thank you Alec, Michael and Meredith for making our adventure through Istanbul a trip of a lifetime!
Left to right: Alec, Meredith, Michael and me.