Turkey can’t be visited without seeing Istanbul, the point where Europe meets Asia and one of the busiest cities in the world. Recently, the worlds largest airport has opened, which provides a great central hub with Istanbul’s central location in the world. This is where I arrived; the huge scale and modern open areas make it a very efficient and pretty easy to navigate airport so before I knew it I was on one of the shuttles to the centre. You will need to buy a travel card from the machines as the buses are all cashless. English isn’t widely spoken in Turkey but you can easily get by with basic conversations, especially in the tourist areas. We stayed at the Ottoman Hotel Park Istanbul on the European side and the host was great, showing us all the tours and information we needed for our stay. We were surprised with our own Turkish bath in the bathroom of our room, a huge range of traditional Turkish and European dishes for breakfast and lots of nice touches including Turkish delight on the bed on arrival!
The hotel was close to one of the most populous areas on the European side – Sultan Ahmet Square, this is where we headed for the evening. Two of the icons of Istanbul stand here facing each other – Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya in Turkish) and the Blue Mosque. Currently the mosque is having intensive restoration work so unfortunately only a small section of its famous blue ceiling is in view, though the scale of the mosque and the exterior is still admirable.
We had dinner at one of the big brand restaurants in Turkey, Mado which is centred between the two towering sights on the main road, reasonable prices for very good quality with a huge range of Turkish desserts to try too! I tried Manti, which is a traditional Turkish dish similar to Ravioli served with tomato paste and yogurt. Then had to get some Baklava as they had literally towers of it in the main window, luring visitors in, couldn’t resist a nice dollop of Turkish ice cream in the middle too!
More from my Turkish Travels:
Pammukale – Cotton Candy Castle
Cappadocia – Turkey’s Grand Canyon
Antalya – History, Fantasy & Paradise