A first encounter with lovely Istanbul
Istanbul is the friendly city of the the 7 hills, the astonishingly mighty mosques, the Bosporus strait, the colors, the cats, the rooftop bars, the traditional, the trendy and not to forget – the tasty 😀 My first meeting with Istanbul was one big euphoria, love at first sight!
The pictures in this post are all taken on my first visit to Istanbul, which was June 2009. I went alone but tried the Couchsurfing network for the first time. A network that connects travelers from around the world. The original idea is to stay at each others couches for free but I more often use Couchsurfing for just meeting up with locals or joining events. This time I stayed in a hostel and met up with locals in the evenings.
The first couch surfer I met was the charismatic and fun girl Canem. We hung out one afternoon/evening and she showed me places I would never have found on my own. Around the popular commercial street Istiklal Caddesi there are many hidden gems to be found but they are not that obvious for a first time visitor. Canem and I started with a beer with magnificent view of the Bosphorus and then we strolled around, had small bites here and there and rounded of with a tea around a lit Galata Tower.
There are so much to discover in Istanbul. First picture below is taken in the Basilica Cistern, a sunken palace. It is located in the historical Sultanahmet area where many “must visit” sights are to be found. The most visited being the big mosques Aya Sofya and Blue Mosque. One more big attraction is The Grand Bazaar. It is huge and does not wake my shopping instinct (simply too overwhelming). But I love the Turkish lamps!
In Istanbul boat transfer is as common as any other mode of transport. Most common is to travel between the European side and the Anatolian (the Asian side) but also towards the Black sea. One nice stop is Ortaköy where the beautiful Bosphorus bridge connects the both sides. For some reason everyone is eating baked potato in Ortaköy. I didn´t mind, it was delicious!
On another evening I had a date with the two lovely dentists Zeynep and Gökce. They had brought along another two friends and after eating bite we all went to a Latino bar where there was a couch surfing meeting with yet a big bunch of new great acquaintances. What an amazing night!
On the day I went to Ortaköy I looked out of the metro window on the way there and spotted lots of colors in the distance on a big open grass field. I decided to go back next day. Here my love for all the Turkish “sac cafes” started. What a relaxed way to hang out. As I sat alone in my colorful puff some Turkish teenagers invited me to join them. They were curious and very friendly and we spent almost two hours chatting. They even sang a song for me and offered me some “Nargile”. Looking back this is one of my most special memories from my first visit to Istanbul.
Most first time visitors hardly make it any further than Sultanahmet and Istiklal Caddesi. But I was determined I wanted to see a different side of Istanbul. On my last day I therefor took a day trip on the Bosphorus inlet called Golden Horn and hopped of in the two small areas called Balat & Fener. It was nice to stroll around those areas and just observe people on the streets and all the colorful houses and washing hanging between them.
My days in Istanbul had thereby come to an end and I was loaded with impressions from a new found favorite 😀
Posted on November 6, 2011, in Turkey and tagged Aya Sofya, Balat, Blue Mosque, Bosphorus, Fener, Istanbul, Istiklal Caddesi, Ortaköy, Photography, Photos, Resa, Resor, Travel, Turkey, Turkiet. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.