I was in Istanbul for the first time when I was on a trip with my parents, traveling by car from Romania and going to Kusadasi for 10 days.
I was only 14 so you can imagine how a big and bustling city felt to a kid. I was mesmerized!
12 years later, at my second visit, I still was 🙂
Istanbul is a nice city which gives you the chance to meet 2 continents: Europe and Asia.
With all the hustle and bustle, the city is fresh and full of young people. But there are also contrasts.
I stayed 5 minutes away from Taksim Square and it was completely different from the downtown that was only 5 minutes away. The neighborhood wasn’t very eye catching, but it was very safe and it gave you the feeling that you are a local, not a tourist. Because we were so close to the center we could walk around as much as we could and come back late at night. We stayed in a beautiful apartment on the last floor from which we could see the city and different terraces that were near us,
We visited Taksim Square by day and by night as you can imagine, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, the basilica cistern, the Bosphorus, the Dolmabahce Palace, the Galata Tower and the Grand Bazaar.
I enjoyed mostly the Dolmabahce palace because its location in a big green garden that surrounds its whereabouts and because it was very similar to what we have in the Peles Castle in Sinaia, Romania.
The interior mixes rococo, baroque, neoclassic and ottoman elements which make it gorgeous! You won’t believe the height of the main ballroom!!! Purely this palace is breathtaking and fit for an ottoman emperor 🙂
I also enjoyed very much the Basilica Cistern because I read a lot about in the Dan’s Brown book and it was kind of mystical to be there and see the effort that they put into building the cistern that once filled with water the whole city.
If you are into shopping, good news, Istanbul is the place to be! The Grand Bazaar or the main street that starts from Taksim Square are the best locations for traditional or international shopping sprees. Be sure to negotiate when you buy from the Grand Bazaar.
Be sure to eat a lot when you come in Istanbul because the food is great! Also don’t forget to wonder around the streets because they have a lot of nice places such as cafes, shops, restaurants, houses and narrow streets. Istanbul has a great nightlife as also whether it is a bar or a club.