istanbul, trip diary, world trip

Istanbul – World Trip Day 1-4

Day 1 – Start of the World Trip

Hey everyone! Thursday, December 7th, marked the beginning of our grand adventure, and let me tell you, the start wasn’t the smoothest. Sleep? More like a series of frequent awakenings. Maybe it’s the fact that we’re setting off for six months, even though I couldn’t fully grasp that at all!

The day kicked off with a chilly 0°C walk with my dog, followed by a bakery pitstop before a one-hour ride to the airport. Sleep-deprived thoughts filled the journey, pondering why, despite the excitement, a good night’s sleep eluded me.

Arriving at the airport early meant some unexpected downtime, so I put it to good use by finalizing a blog post about Colombia (check it out here). Boarding the plane at 11:30, I must’ve been more tired than I realized because I dozed through the entire flight. By 4 pm, our feet touched down in Istanbul. Check-in rituals completed, we embarked on a 1.5-hour metro and tram adventure to immerse ourselves in the heart of the city.

First order of business in Istanbul was a visit to a local restaurant for a feast of eggplant pide and Adana skewers. The flavors were a delightful introduction to the city’s culinary offerings. As the night fell, we strolled through the illuminated streets, enchanted by the magical glow of neon lights.

Our accommodation for the night was a cozy guesthouse (definitely recommend it for low-budget travelers – click here), where a warm welcome awaited in the form of apple tea. Exhausted from the day’s journey, I gratefully sank into a comfortable bed.

Day 2 – Exploring Istanbul

Day 2 in Istanbul brought a refreshing start. The weather was as expected – windy and cold. As our world trip is set to explore mostly warm countries (except for Istanbul), we packed light with summer clothes, one pair of jeans, two sweaters, a rain jacket, and beanies to layer up. Despite our efforts, the cold persisted, but hey, it’s all part of the adventure!

Our day began with a visit to the majestic Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet) and the historic Hagia Sophia. We strolled through Gülhane Park, explored the Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar, and indulged in the delightful flavors of potato pide for lunch – our newfound favorite. Next on the agenda was Balat, a picturesque neighborhood that’s been making waves on Instagram lately.

Wandering through its streets adorned with colorful houses, we paused for a traditional Turkish tea (Çay) before realizing the chill had gotten the best of us. A swift retreat back to warmth was in order.

Evening brought a grand Turkish feast. We ordered so much food that we had a table full of ekmek (fluffy bread), lentil soup, different mezes, lahmacun, chicken skewers, baklava, ayran, lemon mint tea, and, of course, more Çay.

Strolling back later in the evening, we were treated to the sight of the Sultanahmet Mosque bathed in orange light – a stunning spectacle that capped off our chilly yet enchanting day in Istanbul.

Day 3 – Freezing in Istanbul

Day 3 had its fair share of surprises, mostly in the form of unpredictable weather. Our early morning plan to visit the Sultanahmet Mosque was thwarted by a line longer than a novel and weather nastier than a grumpy cat. The day was full of rain, wind, and a bone-chilling 5°C – no thank you, especially without a winter jacket. So, we opted for Plan B.

A quick tram ride transported us to the beautiful Beyoğlu area. We meandered through picturesque streets, including Istiklal Caddesi, and finally decided to try kumpir (baked potato stuffed with a variety of delicious toppings like cheese, vegetables, and meats).

We explored different shops, admiring the old traditional tram making its way along the famous street. As the cold persisted, we made an early retreat home, cozying up with a laptop to catch a Bundesliga game and enjoy a rainy afternoon indoors.

The evening brought a break in the rain, prompting us to venture to a charming rooftop restaurant in Fatih, near our guesthouse. What we anticipated to be a casual dinner took a turn toward the romantic side – a bit too romantic, perhaps. When we arrived, the restaurant switched their music from hip hop to love songs, catching us off guard. We were in for a dinner serenaded by romance, but we secretly wished for a bit of hip hop to spice things up!

Day 4 – Sunshine and Boat Tour in Istanbul

Our last day in Istanbul greeted us with a cheerful sunshine and a pleasant 11°C – a warm departure from the previous days. Eager to make the most of our final moments, we retraced our steps along the Spice Bazaar, indulging in some local treats – dried candied fruits and lokum (Turkish delight). The colorful olives were a particular standout, and we couldn’t resist grabbing simit and corn fresh from the grill.

Spontaneity took the lead as we decided to embark on a Bosphorus boat cruise, priced at a mere 5€ for two hours. However, the weather had a surprise for us – it was cold. For the first hour, we braved the chilly winds, taking in the scenic views. Eventually, the cold got the better of us, and we sought refuge on the lower deck, continuing to enjoy the beautiful landscape from the warmth within.

Post-cruise, our stomachs led us to familiar territory – pide. And for dessert, we ventured into new territory with Künefe, a Turkish delight made with shredded phyllo dough, layered with cheese, baked to golden perfection, and sweetened with syrup. It’s a delightful blend of crispy and gooey, and trying it for the first time was a taste sensation.

With snacks secured for the journey, we bid farewell to Istanbul, not expecting the evening to unfold as eventfully as it did. The details of what happened on our flight to the next destination and the subsequent 24 hours will be revealed in the next post! Until then, see ya!

Make also sure to check out my Istanbul travel guide as well as the visual guide for some cool photos of this amazing city! 🙂

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