We all grow up watching the world through our television screens and envision our first international trip in our dreams. I was no different. I always thought that my first international trip would be to New York because God knows i love that city with every fibre of my being or London given my love for Harry Potter but never did i possibly imagined that i would end up in Istanbul, Turkey. It was a surprise of the best kind.
My first time abroad was everything i hoped it would be and more. I got a new sense of purpose on that trip and funny enough i didn’t find myself as a stranger in that beautiful city.
Istanbul is as rich in history as it is in culture. From its famous kebabs to the magneficient Blue mosque the city has a mystique charm which enthralls you. Alphonse De Lamartine once said “ if one has but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul”. Being a part of Eurasia it connects Asia to Europe. It is a perfect amalgamation of western and asian cultures and ethics. The city represents modern islam.
The streets of Istanbul are filled with beautiful women dressed in couture along with their main accessory i.e. their Hizab. You will find Hizabs in all colours, shapes, sizes, prints and textures.
The main attractions to the city are the historical monuments such as the Blue mosque, Hagia Sophia museum, the Bosphorus bridge , the streets of Taksim Square and so on. From the colorful streets of Balat to the vast expand of Marmara and the black sea, the city has a lot of life to offer.
You must definitely visit the spice market and the Grand Bazaar. The architecture of the spice market leaves you open mouthed in awe of its grandeur. The spices, turkish delights, turkish ice creams and turkish coffee are a must buy. Turkey is known for its turkish rugs and crockery which is just as mesmerizing as the people of turkey. The people are full of warmth and heart. I was offered a delicious cup of apple tea free of cost by a very generous cafe owner who absolutely refused to let me pay. In return he only wanted me to tell him more about my country and its people.
The open air cafes of Istanbul will remind you of roman cafes as they are based on the same concept. At night the streets are full of people dancing to live music playing at almost every cafe. The city is very well connected by metro and if you want to ride the tram you can go to Taksim Square. It is the luxury market where you can find all the popular brands and where the streets are nothing short of a runway. The architecture is again so beautiful encovering the Taksim Square its like taking a stroll in europe itself. At the end of Taksim is the famous Galat Tower.
One of the best spots to sit and have the famous turkish tea is outside the Hagia Sophia, the lawn is just so pretty and full of happy faces and misty fountains. The blue mosque contains marbles in every shade of blue, even the window panes are blue so when the sunlight enters, it truly becomes The Blue Mosque. Its very enchanting!
Tukish vendors accept dollars, euros as well as turkish lira so keep your money accordingly. There are several atms but no atms inside the grand bazaar and spice market. When in turkey, turish delights are a must. They can be easily brought back home as they stay fresh for quite some time.
During night time do take a cruise ride across the city and see the bosphorus bridge and the city skyline in all its glory. This city has a lot to offer and if you are planning a longer trip do visit Izmit on the outskirts of the city. It contains all the beauty and serenity of nature minus the hustle of a city life.