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August 5, 2016

Trying Out a real Turkish Bath – Istanbul, Turkey

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 the more conservative route with a much more touristy [...]

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June 14, 2016

Tour of Dolmabahçe Palace – Istanbul, Turkey

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 the sultan, Abdulmecid I, as his current residence, the [...]

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February 10, 2016

A Visit to the Blue Mosque – Istanbul, Turkey

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 [...]

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December 24, 2015

Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Spice Market – Istanbul, Turkey

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’ — the Egyptian Spice [...]

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September 4, 2014

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

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 just to take the ferry that the locals take across the [...]

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June 30, 2014

Best Areas to Shop in Istanbul, Turkey

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 suitcase.

Without further ado, here are my top areas for shopping in [...]

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June 11, 2014

Galata Tower Review – Istanbul, Turkey

Bereketzade Mh., Galata Kulesi, Beyoğlu, Turkey 18.5 TL (~$8.90 US) Hours: 9am to 8pm everyday

After lunch at another outdoor cafe (…because Charleston has exactly 0 fun outdoor streetside cafes), we walked over the Golden Horn to the more modern side of Istanbul. Trying to get our tourism on, we headed to a must-see site: the Galata Tower.

View of the Galata Tower from across the water

In the context of Istanbul, the Galata Tower is brand spanking new at 650+ years old. This is especially evident in the context of the Hagia Sofia, built in 537, whereas the Galata Tower was completed in [...]

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April 23, 2014

Exploring Istanbul: A Tour of Turkish Food

One of the many wonderful things about Turkey is the food that you find just about everywhere... street stalls, cafes, fine dining... it is all, without a doubt, the tastiest food. Just like the diversity of people, the food is a clash between Mediterranean, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Couple Mediterranean food with Middle Eastern food and BAM
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March 21, 2014

Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici) – Istanbul, Turkey Review and Photo Gallery

Basilica Cistern – Yerebatan Sarayı – “Sunken Palace”, or Yerebatan Sarnıcı – “Sunken Cistern” Address: Very close to the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque in the old city of Istanbul. Alemdar Mh., Şeftali Sk No: 6, Fatih, Turkey Price: 10 TL (~$4.50 USD) – a bargain, totally worth the admission price. Hours: Daily.  April-October: 9am – 6:30pm; November-March: 9am – 5:30pm

After touring the Hagia Sophia (click for post) with the other 6 billion people that morning, we headed just across the way to the Basilica Cistern. When we saw the crowds there, too, we were so over crowds and ready to walk around the city that [...]

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March 3, 2014

Hagia Sophia / Ayasofya Review – Istanbul, Turkey

Price: 25 TL (~$11.50 USD). It is also an included attraction with the “Museum Pass İstanbul” (cost of 85 TL). Hours: Closed on Mondays! Open from 9am – 7pm during summer season and 9am to 5pm in the winter.

Our very first stop in Istanbul (after eating extra-tasty Turkish food, of course) was the Hagia Sophia, a prime example of Byzantine architecture. After sleeping off jet lag, we headed to the museum/church/mosque first thing in the morning. Luckily, the line wasn’t too long because it was early, but I’d suggest planning to spend a little while in line.

The Hagia Sophia is right in [...]

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