You may be smitten by Paris or awed by New York. And if you’re my sister from another mother then you’re swearing by the gorgeous bounty called Florence.
So while you may be seduced by every other city, you’ll only want to go home with Istanbul. After all, it is the only city straddling two continents. Pun Intended.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a travel virgin or a hardened pro, Istanbul will charm you with its big beautiful river-fronts, expansive views, rich history, vibrant nightlife and of course its people, who are as diverse as its cuisine.
Imagine being on a super-date with a city that fulfills your every every wanderlust filled desire. Are you a history buff? Head to the Aya Sofya, the Topkapi Palace and the city’s many museums.
Love architecture and colours? The Blue Mosque is your canvas.
Feel like shopping? Unleash your inner Indian for the best bargains at Grand Bazaar or indulge in ateliers around the Galata Tower.
Would you rather just eat? Feed your soul on the unlimited gastronomic possibilities peppered throughout the city.
Sold your soul to the party gods? Tap into some of the world’s hottest clubs and neighborhoods guaranteed to put your concept of partying all night to blissful shame( I witnessed an exclusive ‘yacht-only’ party where patrons arrived by their yachts. I believe their ‘parking’ filled up fast!)
So it doesn’t matter what kind of romantic you are, Istanbul has the potential to become your one true love.
Tale of Two Continents
The sprawling Bosphorus is way more than the crossing between Asia and Europe – it’s a way of life. As seen from the Galata Tower
A testimony to time and diversity, the Aya Sofya has worn many robes & hats – as a church for more than 900 years, a mosque for about 480 years and then finally as a museum listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Sultans of Swing
A ‘cultural’ dance performance at a local restaurant which featured belly dancing, knife skills show and tons of food and drink.
Bazaars of Istanbul
Istanbul Markets are the best place to catch a slice of local life. Pictured above are sights from the Grand Bazaar, Spice market and a local bazaar in the Old City area.
One of the finest architectural achievements of the Ottoman empire, the Blue Mosque was built between 1606 & 1616 and gets its name from the thousands of Iznik tiles found in its interiors.
Beat the Locals at their own game
Backgammon is a very popular game in Turkey and is played with great gusto at local cafes accompanied by cups of coffee and smoking the hookah . I managed to play and (somehow) win a round with these locals, winning two cups of tea as as sweepstakes!
Watching a beautiful sunset at the Galata Bridge close to the Spice Market. Time can indeed stand still even in chaos.
Flavours of Istanbul
Clockwise : Ice cream for lunch is a big cone of pistachio, strawberry and rose. Beer & flatbread for second course at a local watering hole. Piles of Turkish Delight at a sweet store. Baked Potatoes with fixings at Ortakoy and a mixed plate of greens & fish for breakfast.
(All Images by Ishita Thakur)