Have you been somewhere that’s so completely magical that you vow to return again and again? That’s how I feel about Istanbul. I didn’t know what to expect but when I got there, I was impressed by everything. I loved it.
I stayed at a cozy little hostel tucked away in Kadikoy with one of my best travel buddies, Keri. I met Keri for the first time in Los Angeles, then again in Morocco. She always knows the local language and the cute little cafes nearby. She’s literally the best travel buddy. Keri was busy at work but I got to explore a lot of Instanbul on my own. The best area was probably where our hostel was located- Kadikoy. It is the “Asian” side of Istanbul. I was just a block away from a hammam and had probably the best scrub of my life. I didn’t know that such a therapeutic little haven could be just off a busy city street. Kadikoy is lined with bars serving raki and hookah, bakeries, and open-air shisha bars. It is really a place where locals go to wine down.
Other parts of Istanbul are fun – like Istiklal street for shopping. I also saw the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilicia Cistern, Topkapi Palace, Galata Tower, among other “attractions”. I visited most of it on my own and found people inviting, non-creepy, easy to ask for directions. It is a really modern place with all sorts of people. I would say that chilling at a cafe and eating lula kebab is probably my favorite thing to do there.
I loved the serene oasis of the Blue Mosque. I loved getting lose in the modern art museum. My favorite walk was through Istanbul University with it’s stone buildings, open-air book sales, and watching the most trendy people.
It is one of the best places in the world and certainly not off the beaten path. I love telling people how fun Istanbul is. I hope to return one day.