Istanbul - Four

I can't believe I forgot to post the last of my Istanbul photos! I was saving the best for last, too. I blame the sunny weather, it's cleared my head of everything but sunbathing and cocktails on the back porch.

My favourite thing we did in Istanbul was go to the Rustem Pasha Mosque. It's a smaller mosque and less grand than some of the other ones but in my opinion it's the most beautiful, it's the one thing in Istanbul I would say is absolutely not to be missed. Also the sunsets... but those can hardly be avoided. They're so beautiful!

I'm so looking forward to my next trip. Canada is coming up in the near future, and then after that who knows... I've got a few plans in the works but nothing is certain. It's definitely going to be somewhere amazing though.

Istanbul - Three

While in Istanbul we spent one entire day indoors. Several hours went into wandering all around the Grand Bazaar, which is one of the most intense and adventurous shopping arenas I have ever entered into. We got completely lost and turned around several times and somehow we ended up buying a carpet. I'm still not too sure how that happened.

The cats in Istanbul can be pretty shy.

Until they realise you have food. They have fine-tuned the art of the awkward stare to perfection.

I find shopping a bit stressful at the best of times, so shopping in an environment where people are actively trying to sell you something can be very overwhelming. Having said that, the Grand Bazaar was one of my favourite things about the city. Setting aside the usual designer knockoffs and the tourist memorabilia, the place was full of genuinely beautiful handmade jewelry, scarves, paintings, lamps and carpets. I have to confess, I definitely spent a bit too much.

We also went to the Egyptian Spice Bazaar which was much smaller and a bit more manageable, but much more touristy - so much so it almost wasn't worth it. I think if I go back to Istanbul, I would visit the Grand Bazaar again but give the Spice Bazaar a miss.

A day spent shopping really takes it out of you, even if you take the occasional break to fuel up on baklava, so we spent a relaxing evening watching the sun set over dinner on the Galata Bridge.

Istanbul - One

A few weeks ago I arrived in Istanbul on my own. I wasn't expecting to go, it was a last minute trip, and it was one I was a nervous about taking. For all kinds of reasons, I wasn't at all sure the city and I were going to get on. But it turned out to be amazing and any preconceived ideas and feelings I had towards it were completely changed after only a few hours of wandering around.

I had a day to myself before my family arrived and so I decided to just explore. I marked my hotel on a map and then put it away; I just walked out the front door, turned right, and one of the first places I came across was Gulhane Park. I think it's where young couples go to spend time with each other away from their families, it felt like a very romantic place.

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In every corner couples were sitting and talking, sometimes smoking, sometimes holding hands - they all seemed like they were trying to keep a low profile but maybe that's part of the fun (that or they weren't supposed to be there).

Doesn't she look beautiful in her wedding dress? I like to think that she chose to come here for her wedding photos because it was where her and her husband used to secretly meet against the wishes of their parents. 

I stopped at a cafe every so often to try all the things I knew I should try while in Istanbul. Baklava, yum. Turkish coffee, not so much. 

Turkish tea on the other hand, I'm hooked! I love tea no matter where I am in the world but I just couldn't get enough of this stuff. Turkish food is great, turkish delight is amazing, but the tea tops it all in my opinion.

I also ended up in the Blue Mosque which was unlike any other religious building I have ever been inside. It took my breath away. Everywhere in the world I travel I make sure to visit the mosques, churches, temples... basically any religious building I'm allowed in. I just love it, they are my favourite.

I love watching people pray. I always feel a bit guilty about photographing them during such a private moment but it's just too beautiful to miss.

Everywhere you look in Istanbul there's something to see, some beautiful little thing or a moment between two people. Being both asian and european it's such an interesting place to just sit and people watch.

The sun sets in this city like nowhere else, it was so beautiful and almost peaceful. Later my brother would tell me that he thinks it's because of the smog - but I like to think it's because it's just naturally a romantic place.

And did you know that Istanbul is where my blog name comes from? But that's a story for another time.