Turkey

The last two times I visited Istanbul I chose to stay in Besiktas, a very lively neighborhood on the Bosporus. Running around in the narrow streets of this area you don’t feel like you are in a big city. There are supermarkets, little shops, bakeries, restaurants and a dozen teahouses and coffee shops. I was there both times in winter and still people were sitting outside under the heaters sipping their tea as if it was normal, but the temperature was below zero and I was freezing my ass off!

With so many cool things to do in Istanbul it is hard to choose how to spend your days in this amazing city. Of course I want you to check out the Old City and see the magnificent Blue Mosque, get lost in the bustling streets, and go shopping in the Grand Bazaar. Or what about Taksim or the Galata Tower and then you have not even been to the Asian side. There are so many Istanbul tourist attractions, but those you will all find in your guidebook. Let me tell you 3 unique things to do in Istanbul.

 

As a big fan of the internet there is no way I can go without being connected so as soon as I arrive in another country I check out the cell phone providers to see what they can offer me. Most of the times I buy a local sim card as roaming costs are outrageous, so as I arrived at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul I straight away checked out what they could offer me when I asked for a Turkey tourist sim card.

If you have done all the Istanbul sightseeing and still have some spare days in your agenda then you should consider taking one of the day trips from Istanbul to Edirne and pay a visit to the impressive Edirne Mosque called Selimiye. Nowadays a sleepy little town full of history, but once the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Edirne, Turkey lies only a few kilometers from the Bulgarian and the Greek border. I admit it was pretty tempting to make a little detour and cross into these two countries, as I had never been to any of them. But as we were toured around by the Turkish Tourism Board it would have been a little inappropriate to leave the country. ;) Surely some day I will end up there again!

 

What to do in a capital so big with even more inhabitants than my own country? Where to start and what for sure not to miss? I have been traveling to Istanbul for a couple days now and first did the most common sightseeing things, like visiting Buyuk Valide Han. If you would be in Istanbul only a couple days then I would suggest to take a hop-on-hop-off bus to see as much as possible. In that case you can call yourself a touristanbul! LOL

But hey I’m travelling, I’m not on a holiday and therefore I like to get off the beaten path in Istanbul. That way I found out about Fener-Balat.

When looking at pictures from Istanbul you will always find a mosque in it somewhere. They are literally scattered all over the city and their minarets are looming large above the city. In the Old City you will stumble upon several Muslim worship places and five times a day you will hear their call for prayer. This sound always makes me feel like I’m travelling!

Looking for some cool adventure in Istanbul? I found out where to go to enjoy an amazing sunset over Istanbul. A place that you for sure wont find in your guidebook. Somewhere on the rooftops of an old deserted shopping mall you will find one of the best views over the city.

Istanbul is such a huge city and you can easily spend a couple days here doing all the standard touristy stuff and becoming a 'Touristanbul'! It is not hard to find something about visiting the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque or the Grand Bazaar, but what if you are after an Istanbul off the beaten track adventure? If you’re the kind of tourist who likes to get to get away from the crowds, then a Fener-Balat walking tour is your best bid!

Nowadays there are numerous ways to meet people through the web. Just take a look at your phone and you will realize that you also have one of those apps for networking. I admit I am a social media addict and meet lots of people through the web. Staying in hostels makes it super easy to meet travellers and most of them have the same mindset and are looking to connect with people from all over the world. But in my case I meet a lot of people through apps like for example Instagram.

After a long an unexpected epic weekend in Cologne I finally made my way to Istanbul. Finally, cause it was not really my plan to stay in Germany that long. I left home Friday morning and said goodbye to mom and dad and ended up in Cologne. It was the weekend of El Clasico and since I am a huge Barca aficionado it was a weekend to remember.

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Tom Grond
travelblogger
from Holland
info@traveltomtom.net
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