A Trip Through Istanbul

A Trip Through Istanbul

I had to jet over to #Istanbul for a luxury wedding and figured I would take the opportunity upon myself to really explore this #magnificent city and immerse myself in its #culture. I went from the #lux Çırağan Palace's banquets to the cheapest, most delicious street food. It’s a huge city, but there are plenty of ways to really see and feel it in a few short days with the right plan!


So I had to spend some time in Istanbul last summer due to a wedding I was attending. The wedding was mind-bogglingly beautiful, and extremely luxurious. I was staying at the Çırağan Palace, and partying in the last Ottoman empires' library like a fancy aristocrat. 

partying in the last Ottoman empires' library like a fancy aristocrat
from  $288.38

Hotel Ciragan Palace Kempinski

 Ciragan Cad No 32 Besiktas, Istanbul, Turkey
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The Imperial Tour of Istanbul

But all of that had to come to an end when the festivities were over and I was left with three more days to see Istanbul. I decided to really attempt to explore this city alone in a non fancy, relaxed way as I was a bit overwhelmed with such extravagance at the wedding.

Luxury

I utilized my resources as best as possible and prepared to go from lux to adventurous traveller.

I decided to stay at the Zeynep Sultan Hotel which I chose predominantly for the location and reviews. It is perfectly located, well priced and made me feel at home. 

from  $48

Zeynep Sultan Hotel

 Zeynep Sultan Camii Sok No:17, Istanbul, Turkey

The bed was so amazing, the room was cozy and chic. Most of all I felt safe, which is always reassuring when you are travelling alone.

I also had a view of the city that reminded me to tell myself ‘WOA I’M ALONE IN ISTANBUL, LOOK AT THIS GORGEOUS VIEW, I’M AN ADVENTUROUS BADA*SS!’ every time I looked out my window.

The staff were my ultimate tool on this trip, as they provided me with tips on food, transportation and even the best tv channels to check out. 

The staff were my ultimate tool on this trip, as they provided me with tips on food, transportation

They were courteous, funny and full of great information. Best of all, at Zeynep Sultan Hotel, I was able to have a Turkish breakfast on the rooftop every morning, which was really perfect. I really liked this hotel and really recommend it to anyone visiting Istanbul.

Day one I was still recovering from the long and crazy wedding I had just attended. I was not feeling like going straight into heavy tourist sites in the middle of the day, as it was VERY hot outside and I wanted to relax and take in some sights. I decided to book a tour with a local company called SheTours and picked ‘Istanbul Bosphorus Cruise with Dinner and Belly-Dancing Show’.

from  $55

Bosphorus Cruise & Dinnner

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 Bosphorus Cruise, Fatih, Istanbul, Turkey
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The Imperial Tour of Istanbul

Sounds simple and awesome, but I didn’t expect just HOW awesome this would be. It was a 4 hour cruise on the Bosphorus Strait with a delicious Turkish dinner and an Anatolian folklore show with belly dancing. 

Sounds simple and awesome, but I didn’t expect just HOW awesome this would be

Not only that, but they pick you up at your hotel in a car with AC (this time of year in Istanbul, AC is key!). I sat with some tourists who all turned out to be extremely nice. One of the ladies next to me was from California and we hit it off. 

Belly Dancing

Her name was Carol and we ended up dancing with the belly dancers in front of the whole boat! Let me tell you, Carol REALLY knew how to break it down. 

we ended up dancing with the belly dancers in front of the whole boat

On top of that I got to see sights like the blue Mosque and Dolmabahçe Palace at night. It was really relaxed, fun and not expensive. It was a perfect first night. Did I mention that the food was amaze-balls and totally local!?

I got to see sights like the blue Mosque and Dolmabahçe Palace at night

On day two, I was ready for some sights. I wanted to try to get as much sights in as I could, so I booked a tour with Turkiye Tours, for a full day of sightseeing with a local guide.

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Istanbul Shore Excursion

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 Port of Haydarpaşa, Üsküdar, Istanbul, Turkey
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Full day Tour of Istanbul

 In one day I was able to see the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome & Obelisks, Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace and the Suleymaniye Mosque. Pretty much I pounded out all the 'must-see’s of Istanbul. 

This sounds pretty exhausting, but it was quite simple. Transportation was well organized, and the guide really knew his stuff. I’m not a big history geek, but I was blown away by the vast knowledge our guide had about the abundance of rich history Istanbul proudly holds. 

I’m not a big history geek, but I was blown away by the vast knowledge our guide had about the abundance of rich history Istanbul proudly holds

My favorite sight was the Grand Bazaar. It was intense, loud, hot, and filled with crooks… but something about it felt really culturally rich and not like a simple tourist site. I bought the absolute coolest glass lamp and even bartered the price down like a total local! I also got two beautiful tiny rugs for very cheap that I was able to bring home for presents. This tour was fantastic if you want to make sure to see the famous spots of Istanbul. I liked that I felt like I was hanging out with a local, rather than paying a lame-o tour guide to shuffle me through the city.

I liked that I felt like I was hanging out with a local

On my last day, I wanted to get a real taste for Istanbul, and I really mean taste, because I booked a Culinary Backstreet tour.

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Exploring Three Distinct Waterside Neighborhoods

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 Istanbul, Turkey
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The Imperial Tour of Istanbul

Full day Tour of Istanbul

I am a total foodie, and I needed to try some local spots. I did the ‘Born on the Bosphorus: Exploring Three Distinct Waterside Neighborhoods’ tour. The tour included an Ottoman era bakery, local honey tastings and multiple artisanal, divine restaurants. 

The tour included an Ottoman era bakery, local honey tastings and multiple artisanal, divine restaurants

The guides name was Angelis and it felt like I was hanging with an old friend who was schmoozing, and showing me all around the secret fabulous spots that typically tourists don't get to see. 

Hungry yet?

The guide, Angelis, was seriously the cat's-meow, who knew so much about local food, the neighborhoods and the people. The price was 100% worth it. We ate so much food and drank a ton, as every spot we went, we had unlimited food! All in all, we stopped at eight different places, got to go to two cities and two continents! Now that's what I call a deal! I HIGHLY recommend doing this tour, its well worth it.

we stopped at eight different places, got to go to two cities and two continents

Istanbul is huge, I mean it spans two freakin continents! But if you plan well prior, it will be easy to see the top sights you are looking to check out, and hopefully have fun on the way! For me I wanted to see the city in a relaxed, local way, that was not too expensive, so I utilized wonderful tours. I got to feel the energy of the city, but also got to really feel the history. 

I got to feel the energy of the city, but also got to really feel the history

I love Istanbul and cannot wait to go back and see more of this beautiful place next time!

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