PAINTING & ILLUSTRATION
Are you considering making a trip to visit the city on Bosphorus? A long weekend is perfect to see the highlights of Istanbul and feel the ancient charm of this special city.
What to see and do? Where to eat? Here is all you need to know.
FLYING TO ISTANBUL
Flight from Zurich to Istanbul takes 3 hours. If you have the chance choose Turkish airlines. They serve amazing food! Meat balls with rice, vegetables and a chocolate mousse for dessert. Everything was well-seasoned and fresh. I must say it was the best plane food I have ever eaten. A 3-hours flight is a relatively short one, but if you're nervous or tired of reading - watch a movie. I watched some sci-fi and time passed by quickly (in combination with delicious food!).
Istanbul is the city of contrasts, where rich history connects with creative innovation. The sultans may have long since departed, but their palaces and mosques remain unaltered from five centuries of Ottoman rule. The city displays its Byzantine, Roman and Greek origin whenever you look.
If you're a lazy tourist (yes, I am! how about you?) and you don't like exploring 100 things in the area, make a short plan of the things you want to see.
Istanbul is a huge city and you cannot see everthing in one visit. Focus on one or two areas and find something you would like to see. Do a research.
Take some time to see magnificent mosques, they are everywhere. Go to Sultanahmet district.
The mosques I recommend to visit are: Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and Sultan Suleiman Mosque. Remember to dress in an appropriate way. Long sleeves and dresses below the knee will be fine.
There's a great viewpoint with panorama over the city and the Bosphorus at Sultan Suleiman Mosque. Where old meets new and the east meets the west.
To learn more about the magnificent architecture of the Sultan Suleiman Mosque Watch my new video:
b) Sultan's Harem in Topkapi Palace
Sultan's heaven on earth ;-) This was one of the highlights of my trip. This palace used to be a residence of Ottoman sultand from the 15th till 19th century. The palace complex is huge and consists of the palace, the harem, a beautiful rose garden, mosques, hospital and many pavillons. If you want to visit Topkapi Palace I recommend to go there straight after your breakfast, as during the day there are many people and queues. 2-3 hours is sufficient to be enchanted with its beauty. Then, sit back and relax in the rose garden!
c) City impressions
If you're tired of sightseeing just walk through your neighbourhood and for sure you will discover something interesting. When we were tired, we decided to stay within our area and explore the local neighbourhood. We were staying in Balat district. it allowed us to feel the natural flow of the city and taste local, vibrant atmosphere and delicious food.
The view from our balcony was breathtaking. We rented airbnb instead of a hotel to plunge into the local life of Turkish capital.
Colorful houses - usually, the apartments are not in a good condition. Not renovates, old, crumbling... It was such a nice surprise to see these colorful houses while walking down to our breakfast place.
At a local market - a shop where a local Christian Grey buys his supplies :-) Ropes, hacks, chains - a wide selection of everything for tools lover.
Did you know that taxis in Istanbul are yellow just like in NYC? Maybe Istanbul could be regarded as New York of the East.
And last but definitely not least...
I usually don't write about food on my blog but here I make an exception. Food in Istanbul is heaven for my palate. Tasty, rich in flavour, great spices that you won't find in Europe and great chefs.
So, starting from breakfast. I strongly recommend these two places:
1) Cooklife Balat
2) A breakfast place on Kiremit cd street, Fatih, Balat - unfortunely the name of the place evaporated from my memory and I cannot find it on google..
For dinner we went to Nusr-Et steak house restaurant near the Grand Bazaar. Amazing experience for all meat lovers! If you know "Salt bae", Nusret himself, then you'll enjoy it even more when the waiter makes the salt gesture in front of you or slaps the meat with his hand :-)
Turkish coffee is an essential part of the stay:
Nusret himself - the master of meat art ;)
Istanbul is a lively city with great flavours to discover. This is the place where the east meets the west and where the new meets the old. I would even dare to say that yes, it can be a New York of the East.
I enjoyed my stay there very, very much and I hope my tips can be useful to you if you're planning to visit this amazing city!
Don't forget to share your thoughts in comments or ask question.
See you soon!