Istanbul, Turkey

September 15, 2016
istanbul, turkey, layover

In August 2014 we took a long trip to Iraq and Malta and along the way Kyle scheduled in two long layovers in Istanbul, Turkey. One between Iraq and Malta, and one between Malta and our trip home to D.C. We took the metro from the airport to the hostel we stayed at.

We had one room to ourselves with a private bathroom for both layovers, which was perfect. All we needed was somewhere to put our luggage while we were exploring the city, a shower, and a bed to catch a few hours of sleep.

These were two very quick trips so we focused our time on the more well known, touristy parts of the city because I hadn’t been there before. And I definitely learned why everyone always talks about the cats in Istanbul – they really are everywhere!

istanbul, turkey, layover

One of the many mosques.

One of the first stops were the Hagia Sophia and The Blue Mosque, both of which were stunning. We also walked around some older ruins right by the sea before heading to The Grand Bazaar.

To say it’s easy to get lost in The Grand Bazaar is an understatement. It twists and turns down every way imaginable. There’s a very slim chance you would ever be able to make your way back to a booth once you pass it, so if you see something you like, haggle when you see it or forever hold your peace. I ended up with a pair of lovely soapstone earrings from a booth deep in the depths of the bazaar. Next trip, I have my heart set on a scarf : ) which won’t be the least bit hard to find.

istanbul, turkey, layover

Inside The Grand Bazaar

My favorite thing that we did in Istanbul was sitting on the bridge. We ate fresh fish sandwiches for dinner, and then sank into some comfy couches and watched the sun set as the boats went in and out of the docks. As beautiful as Istanbul is during the day, it’s arguably more so at night. I highly recommend spending some time on the bridge if you’re ever in Istanbul.

istanbul, turkey, layover

Sunset from the bridge.

Istanbul is very much a city for tourists, which was one thing I didn’t necessarily love about it. Everywhere you went, people were constantly trying to sell you something – toys, trinkets, books, you name it. I don’t mean just in the Bazaar, it was everywhere – standing in line for the the Mosques or walking around.

The other rather disheartening thing I found in Istanbul was the use of children to make money. Whether it was an adult forcing a very young girl to continue walking up and down a line of restaurants trying to sell balloons to the same people over and over, or young kids playing an instrument on a street corner very late at night, it has been one of the most unforgettable characteristics of Istanbul.

While I still can’t wait to go back to Istanbul, I am also very excited about seeing different cities in the country, Antalya being at the top of my list. Now that we’re so close we will likely be flying through there quite a lot.

Traveling the world is not all lollipops and rainbows and gorgeous beaches (although they certainly do exist). Traveling is about experiencing other cultures than your own, realizing that everyone in the world has a lot more in common than we might have thought, humbling yourself, and learning to embrace all of the beauty in the world – even the not so {traditionally} beautiful parts. And I don’t plan to ever stop learning about them all.

istanbul, turkey, layover

Another mosque from the bridge.

 

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