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January 29, 2017

Hot Air Ballooning through Cappadocia – Göreme, Turkey

Our first night in Göreme was quite different than our time in Istanbul. We try our best to visit more than one city in a country because only then can you truly grasp any sense of the people, their culture, and their history. While Istanbul is a bustling, international city, the town of Göreme is much slower paced and its history is practically oozing out of each rock and cave.

Watching the sun rise from way up high

I knew I wanted to go hot air ballooning in Cappadocia the minute we booked our flights to Istanbul, so our sole purpose of going to Göreme was for this activity. We did some research before leaving on our trip and ended up booking [...]

585
 
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January 16, 2017

Touring Göreme – Cave hotels, cave restaurants, caves everywhere!

After leaving Istanbul, we headed to Göreme, in the Cappadocia region of central Turkey. The Cappadocia area is known for its unique geography and rich history. Our main reason for visiting the area was to see the famous caves and “fairy chimneys” and take a world-famous hot air balloon ride.

Trying to cram a lot into a small amount of time, our first 24 hours in Göreme involved lots of activities with little sleep: we got to the hotel (which was partly built into the volcanic rock) around 8pm, dropped our stuff, and headed to dinner at this cool restaurant we found within walking distance, Topdeck Cave Restaurant.

Kismet Cave Hotel [...]

486
 
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August 5, 2016

Trying Out a real Turkish Bath – Istanbul, Turkey

This entry is part 13 of 13 in the series Turkey/Portugal

While we were in Istanbul, we were bound and determined to get the full experience of visiting an authentic Turkish bath. We began researching the different options after we’d arrived in Istanbul and quickly found out that the true Turkish baths have separate male and female sections (that makes sense… not trying to be ogled by strange men). But, after scouting out TripAdvisor and a few other websites, we gathered that many of the “true” Turkish bath visits involve excessively awkward experiences, compliments of lots of old-person nudity.

Throw in a language barrier, and we (hesitantly) opted for [...]

4572
 
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June 14, 2016

Tour of Dolmabahçe Palace – Istanbul, Turkey

This entry is part 12 of 13 in the series Turkey/Portugal

We walked across the Golden Horn Bridge one morning after trying to take the tram to the “newer” area of Istanbul, along the European side of the Bosphorus River. No one knew why the tram never arrived, but, later that day, we found out that someone had suicide-bombed a police station, so they had closed all the tram lines as a pre-caution. Yikes.

After walking around the newer area, we headed to Dolmabahçe Palace, Turkey’s largest palace, which is located right on the Bosphorus River and was used as the center of the Ottoman Empire between 1856 – 1922.

It was ordered to be built by [...]

1656
 
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February 10, 2016

A Visit to the Blue Mosque – Istanbul, Turkey

This entry is part 11 of 13 in the series Turkey/Portugal

We headed to the Blue Mosque first thing one morning to try to avoid the crowds as much as possible. Luckily for us non-morning people, the famous mosque was only a few blocks from where we were staying.

 

By: Jenny – CC BY 2.0

By: Jorge Dalmau – CC BY 2.0

The Blue Mosque (also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque) was built between 1609 and 1616, and made bigger and higher than its across-the-street neighbor, Hagia Sophia (then a church, currently a mosque), in an effort to show Islam’s dominance over Christianity. The Blue [...]

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December 24, 2015

Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Spice Market – Istanbul, Turkey

This entry is part 10 of 13 in the series Turkey/Portugal

Jet lag on our trip to Turkey was no joke, so we ended up getting later starts to the days than planned. When we finally set out for the day, we headed for the Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian Spice Market–  one of our favorite adventures in Istanbul. Although they are very different than what I’d imagine they were like in years past (lots of tourists these days!), it’s fun to feel like you’re going back in time to visiting the bazaar for your weekly (or daily?) grocery trip.

I’ve never seen a more beautiful assortment of tea for sale

‘Mısır Çarşısı’ [...]

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September 15, 2014

Secret Travel Trick: Free Istanbul City Tour During Turkish Airlines Layover

Here’s a pretty cool travel “trick”:  Turkish Airlines will either put you up in a hotel for the night or give you a free tour of the city if you have a long enough layover in Istanbul-IST. We covered the details on the free hotel room here (Secret Travel Trick: Free Hotel Layover in Istanbul with Turkish Airlines), now for the free city tour:

The Deal

You can participate in Turkish Airlines’ “TourIstanbul” for free by meeting the following requirements (can be a paid or award ticket):

You’re flying Turkish Airlines into and out of Istanbul You’re just passing through Turkey, your origin and destination is [...]
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September 4, 2014

Istanbul: Taking a Ferry to Asia! / Ciya Sofrasi Restaurant Review

This entry is part 9 of 13 in the series Turkey/Portugal

While most of the touristy parts of Istanbul are on the European side, no trip to the ancient bi-continental city would be complete without popping over to Asia. Part of our journey was curiosity, part was for a “been there, done that” sense of accomplishment but, mostly, we went to sample a restaurant that we heard great things about, Çiya Sofrası.

Trying to figure out how to get there, we had a few options:  either a standard passenger ferry or a tourist boat. We didn’t necessarily have to take the full-on tourist-only tour of the Bosphorus and, after a bit of research, figured that our best bet was [...]

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August 18, 2014

Secret Travel Trick: Free Hotel Layover in Istanbul with Turkish Airlines

Here's a pretty cool travel "trick":  Turkish Airlines will either put you up in a hotel for the night or give you a free tour of the city if you have a long enough layover in Istanbul-IST. Here's how to get the free hotel room
670749
 
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June 30, 2014

Best Areas to Shop in Istanbul, Turkey

This entry is part 8 of 13 in the series Turkey/Portugal

Istanbul is a huge city filled with never-ending passageways to explore. No matter which part of the city you’re in, there’s an intriguing little store just around the corner filled with real-life treasures. The tricky part is just deciding what to take home with you.

If you’re in the market for a rug, good:  there’s no shortage of men trying to cat call you into their shop just to sell you a very expensive rug. Turns out, I didn’t have the #fancy budget for a rug, can you believe it? So, I focused on more attainable souvenirs – and what I could actually pack in my [...]

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