I find it quite hard to write about Istanbul because it was where I reached breaking point from months of non stop travel. When you’re so tired and your mind just can’t keep up with your body, the littlest thing can easily set you off and poor Emma copped it big time. It takes a lot for me to ‘lose it’ but when I do, I can be a total biatch with a capital B. I’m like the Ice Queen incarnate.
Combine continuous jet lag, fatigue/exhaustion, stress, lack of sleep and not eating on time and you get mean scary Geri. The quote ‘I’m sorry for all the things I said when I was hungry’ comes to mind. Emma was going through the same thing and we we’re basically feeding that almost delirious state of mind off each other and venting our frustrations towards each other.
Our trip to Istanbul pretty much got off to a rocky start. Having only slept for 3 hours to catch a very early morning flight, to then have a delayed connecting flight and not have our tour people pick us up at the airport on time, was just what we needed. Then came this Kuwait national who was getting picked up by the same hotel transfer service at the airport. At first he seemed friendly, he asked if he could have his picture taken with me and that was fine. He then asked if he could take me out to dinner, and started asking which hotel I’m staying. Apparently he wants to have me picked up from my hotel because he will organise a trip with me to the islands, etc. Emma and the two local guys couldn’t believe he would be so forward to ask me out in front of them and they were laughing so hard. It provided some kind of humour but it was escalating to creepy territory pretty quickly. I was politely saying ‘No’ but he was like the type of person that won’t take no for an answer, so you can just imagine my relief when I found out we were riding in separate cars.
Being certified FOMO’s (Fear Of Missing Out), we thought it was a great idea to do back to back tours, but back to back tours only ever work if the tours you’re doing are highly organised. Unfortunately, that is not the case with the tours we did in Istanbul, they were just all over the place. For instance, they’ll give us a schedule of what we’re doing on that day and they’ll totally change it in the afternoon and swap it with activities scheduled the following day, and you’re left wondering what’s going on because you thought you’re visiting a mosque and you find yourself at grand bazaar but you don’t want to be stressed so you just try and go with the flow anyway. Luckily, the sites we visited made up for it.
Mindblowing details on this mosaic found in Chora Museum, a beautiful legacy of the Byzantine era. This almost feels like cross stitching back in the days (on acid). One word, dedication.
Our Moroccan scarves came in handy when going inside the many beautiful Mosques found in Istanbul. Here in the popular Blue Mosque.
At first glance this looks like colourful plates on top of each other but you’re actually looking at the beautiful ceiling of the Blue Mosque.
Part of our tour was visiting this luxurious carpet store ‘Matis’. We were offered this yummy apple tea upon arrival. Each time they lay a new carpet my heart would skip a bit. The more amazing the design, the more expensive it gets.
A visit to Istanbul is not complete without getting lost inside the Grand Bazaar.
Another mosque, another selfie. Here in Rustem Pasha Mosque, considered as one of their most beautiful mosques (they have about 3000), the pictures don’t do it justice.
This was the entrance to Topkapi Palace. Disneyland must have drawn inspiration from it.
And what’s my trip without my door picture?
Morning views from one of the first hotels we stayed in Istanbul, Megara Palace Hotel in the old city.
If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’d know that I love seafood dishes so I have extremely enjoyed the seafood dishes I tried in Turkey. Like this fish that was cooked in brick oven, it had eggplants, tomatoes, some parsley, mint leaves and lemon which I ordered at Rumist Cafe and Art Bistro.
During Ramadan, we decided to have lunch at this place located in the Sultanahmet area (out of the many others) called Divane Cafe and Restaurant. The servers were uber friendly and the food, well, divine. They invited us to come back after 9pm because that is when they can eat again. They told us it’s almost torture on their part serving food the whole day to tourists like us but they do it because of their faith. I get why it’s almost like a personal victory for them each night, and why they say they celebrate it like a big party, with music and all. If I was deprived of food the whole day, (provided I haven’t gone mad yet) the next food I see/eat would be like the most amazing food ever.
Emma joked that I should make a collage of all the guys that asked to have their picture taken with me. A selfie never hurt anybody.
I was never a fan of Turkish delights until I tasted the real thing in the famous Spice Market (a.k.a. Egyptian Bazaar). All the flavours you can possibly think of, they have it. And all the possible pick up lines from Turkish guys, they’ll throw your way too.
I liked the idea that we were cruising on international waters to see both the Europe and Asia coastline of Turkey.
Shoutout to the guys at Shadow Cafe Bar Restaurant, for giving us free desserts, shisha, drinks and for playing awesome music. One of the waiters gave me a rose that he made out of a tissue paper (bless him). Turkish guys are total charmers to tourists, but we couldn’t take the free drinks because we were too tired from all the tours we were doing during the day.
Leaving Istanbul for a few days, we made our way to Canakkale. Our first stop was Troy. Funny story, I thought Troy is found in Greece, lol. Anyway, in the ancient city of Troy, you’ll find not just one, but two gigantic Trojan horses. The one found in the town centre is the one silly tourists like me can touch and climb, while the other horse was the one they used in the movie and is displayed in the city centre.
Inside the Trojan horse, it was quite high up and comfy inside.
Thousands of years ago, the infamous Trojan war happened here, on the western gate of Troy VII. I was reminded just how much I love studying history before. The amazing architectures that lasted centuries which also survived many natural disasters, make these people visionaries because they were so ahead of their time. Buried underneath are cities on top of cities still waiting to be discovered by archaeologists. So excited to what they’ll find next.
If I lived in this era, I would be hanging a lot here, the Odeon or the singing place, because reason one, I love to sing and reason two, I can’t live without music. The Odeon is said to be built in the Roman Troy era.
The things I do that usually embarrass Emma.
And the ‘piece de resistance’ the Trojan horse used in the movie Troy. I already checked, Brad Pitt wasn’t there lol. The horse is displayed near the port of Canakkale city centre and yes, it is pretty awesome and no you can’t climb or touch it.
After visiting Troy, our next stop was ANZAC cove in Gallipoli. One of the reasons why I wanted to go to Turkey was to visit the ANZAC memorial. It’s a pilgrimage for Australians and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to pay my respects to those who have fallen, personally, on it’s 99th year. It was an emotional day but one that I will never forget.
ANZAC Cove, then and now.
Doing a tour is a great way to learn the country’s history or if you want to check a lot of places in a short period of time, but I prefer exploring the city on my own and it’s the same for Emma too. Anyway, after our crazy back to back tours we stayed in this beautiful hotel in Beyoglu called Art Nouveau Galata Hotel, owned by our friend Meftun and is situated beside Galata Tower. Beyoglu is just across the bridge from the Old city.
Doing some writing and enjoying my tea in the balcony of our hotel.
Beyoglu is a hip place, I would say, its New York equivalent would be Brooklyn.
I remember walking into a shop and the store owner offered us Turkish coffee (which I am not a fan) and then proceeded to read our fortune. Never a doll moment. The store owner Murat, looked like Weird Al at first glance. Just as cheeky but more fabulous.
We couldn’t buy plates so we went bonkers buying pillow cases.
On our last night in Istanbul, our friend Meftun took us to dinner at this seafood restaurant located in the bay area and there were a lot of cats lounging around. Got attached to one particular cat because it didn’t want to leave me, just wanted to sleep in my lap and be loved. Aw.
Meftun also gave us a quick city night tour which was the perfect way to end our Istanbul trip. Almost kind of bittersweet that it wasn’t until our last few days that we started to really enjoy and appreciate the city. I guess I will just have to come back again soon. Until my next visit Istanbul. Tesekkurler Love and light, Geri