Category Archives: Turkey
In September this year I visited Istanbul for the third time, read more about that HERE >>
One of the reasons me & my friend Louise makes such a great travel company is that we share the same view of how a great vacation should look like. We are looking for the same ingredients and the same balance 🙂 Party is not the primary need for us but we do like to experience the local nightlife in most places we visit. We share the joy of dancing to really good electro music now and then but we also share the curiosity of discovering the local flavors.
When we were in Istanbul we decided to try to capture different scenes into one night. We dressed up to start of with the famous Golden Mile in Istanbul. The Golden mile is a strip along The Bosphorus that hosts some fancy clubs with great international line ups of DJ´s. We wanted to see how it looked like, even if we suspected the ambiance would not really be ours. Before hopping in to the taxi that would take us there we bought ourself some delicious Turkish kebab around the corner from our hotel. The taxi ride was so much fun with a driver that decided to get us going with some great old hits like “Mr Vain” with Culture Beat. The ride took a while and it was one big party in the backseat 😉
Our pick was the glamorous Anjelique. Luckily the entrance was for free because the drink we had was damn expensive. But it was not that that made us flee, but the uncomfortably bratty atmosphere. The night view over the Bosphorus bridge with the Ortaköy mosque in front was amazing and the DJ played great house. But the people were so cold that we left after just one hour. Before heading to our next target, which we hoped would be a more chilled place, we quickly went by our hotel since I wanted to change clothes.
Our next goal was a place I had read about called 5.Kat. It was supposed to be one of those splendid rooftop bars in Istanbul that are hard to find but with rewarding views. After some help from the locals we hit our target but the rooftop restaurant/bar had just closed. Instead we ended up in the basement of the same building in a small, trendy club with great music and a hipster vibe. The place had a few smaller rooms with an intimate living room feel and each with a separate DJ.
On our way back to the hotel we strolled the Istiklal Caddesi and when we were almost past it I heard great Turkish club music from a window above and asked the doorman about the entrance which turned out to be free. So we ended our evening in a place called Club Lupe which turned out to be my favorite. The atmosphere was just fun and the DJ played the kind of club music I really had hoped to find, upbeat house with Turkish sounds. I loved it and it was a perfect finish of our evening out in Istanbul, the city that never sleeps!
Istanbul – the city where where East meets West! And where traditional meets modern and melts together in one colorful, vibrant and magnificent waterfront metropolis! 😀
Since my list of “want to visit” places is long, going back to a city for the third time really means I am hooked. Here you can read about my first and second visit to Istanbul. This third visit was done in September this year with my friend Louise. Our three days were pretty much about relaxing and just loading ourself with impressions. I do warn you, Istanbul is among the most photogenic places I have experienced and I had a very hard time choosing my images. And I do know they are too many. But what drives me when it comes to this blog, apart from securing a nice memory library for myself, is to give the reader a nuanced picture of the places I visit. And in this case that requires many images. I hope you enjoy 🙂
In Istanbul very much takes place along the waterfronts. I really like to enjoy a moment on one of the cafés under the Galata Bridge each time I visit Istanbul. The one below where Louise is enjoying a beer is my favorite 🙂
On our first day we took a short boat ride to vibrant Kadiköy on the Anatolian side. It is a very local area with lots of shops and eateries. Great getaway from the tourist scenes. And the sunset views over Sultanahmet and the two most famous mosques in Istanbul, the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya, are allways breathtaking.
Before day 1 was finished we strolled the narrow bar and restaurant streets around Istiklal Caddesi before heading back to our hotel. Istanbul is one of those cities which never sleeps as I am sure you can imagine from below pictures.
Day 2 was dedicated to the beautiful area Sultanahmet, better described in my first post about Istanbul. Even if I had been to Istanbul twice before I had never visited the famous mosques. I simply find them so extraordinary from the outside and that, combined with big queues and crowds, always put me of. But this time we did visit Aya Sofya. And my conclusion is, it is nice to have done once but nothing beats the view from the outside. Apart from the mosques Sultanahmet has a very special architecture and many places to rewind. And close by is the famous Grand Bazar and Spice Market. They are nice to stroll through but the crowds and the impressions are a bit too much to get me in to a shopping mood 😉 But it did get me in to ice cream mood. Turkish ice cream is delicious. It is made out of goat milk and for some reason the ice cream is really chewy in the texture.
After sleeping in after a party evening, day 3 started with a visit to Ortaköy. I will not describe that further here since I did that in my first Istanbul post. But it is a nice neighborhood for a Sunday stroll. After that we took an expensive beer in one of the most extraordinary rooftop bars in Istanbul, the 360. 360 is both a restaurant and a nightclub. When we were there it was quiet and the rooftop terrace empty due to rain. But it was still a nice stop before making our final stroll over the Galata bridge and all the way back to Sultanahmet where we were going to end our last day with a Turkish bath at a classic Hamam. On the way we stopped by at our favorite “Pide place”. A kind of pizza alike foodie that quickly made us addicted 😛
This was all from Istanbul for now. In my next and last post for this year I will share some images from a fun night out in Istanbul! See you then 🙂
Appendix – Taksim Nacre Hotel
On this trip we decided to base ourself near Taksim square and found charming Taksim Nacre Hotel which lies in a regular neighborhood but with close walking distance to Taksim and Istiklal Caddesi. As most houses in Istanbul there was a rooftop terrace where breakfast was served every morning. Apart from hotel guests two hungry Seagulls were present every day, jealously looking in through the window 😉 Nacre was a very friendly small hotel but ask for a room on higher floor since the lobby on ground floor could be a bit noisy.
In September this year I visited Istanbul for the third time, together with my travel mate Louise (often mentioned in this blog). Before making a post about that trip I felt the need to organize my previous posts about the city. Istanbul was the first post I ever made and I merged the trip 2011 with my first visit 2009 and did not do the city justice at all. With so much material I decided to re-do my my first post to cover only 2009. This post covers the re-visit 2011 and the following one, which I will blog about next week, will cover the third trip 🙂
So, before reading any further I suggest you take a look at my first post, “A fist encounter with lovely Istanbul” 🙂 That will also give you some background to how I met my friend Canem and the network Couchsurfing.
My 2011 visit to Istanbul was done in connection to a round trip I did in Turkey that summer. I had picked the hottest month July which unfortunately is when I am expected to take my main holiday due to the Swedish laws. I started with a few days at Canem´s place which gave me a new insight to Istanbul. Canem lives on the Anatolian side which I had no time to visit 2009. She let me see a totally non touristic side of Istanbul and I had a few wonderful days with her. I also managed to meet up with a guy from Istanbul that I actually got to know in Tokyo on a night out with a bunch of Couchsurfers. It was great to see Armagan in his home environment and we had a lovely dinner together one night.
After a few days in Istanbul at Canem´s place it was time to board the night bus to Göreme (I did totally three night bus journeys in Turkey on my 2011 trip and they were all excellent!). I can only say that Turkey went up to my Top 5 favorite countries rather fast. Learn more about my Turkey trip from following posts:
Cappadocia – one of the most extraordinary landscapes you will ever come across
Kas – lovely Mediterranean town that made me postpone my departure and reschedule my trip
Fetiye – the hub for sailing tours on turquoises waters and much more…
Pamukkale – top tourist attraction in Turkey famous for the hanging white chalk pools & ancient Hierapolis
Selcuk – cozy town close to the famous archaeological site Ephesus (ancient very well preserved Roman city)
Before flying back to Sweden I had another two nights in Istanbul that I spent in a hostel in Sultanahmet. I dedicated my full day to a boat trip on the Bosphorus. The boat departed from central Istanbul, at Eminönü, and stopped at different small harbors on the way towards the Black Sea. You can hop of any time and board a new boat whenever you area ready discovering. On the way you can view the magnificent residences along the waterfront. It was a perfect day! And a nice ending of my first re-visit to Istanbul.
One of my first posts in this blog was about Cappadocia in Turkey, one of the most remarkable and fascinating places I ever visited. Welcome to check out the moon landscapes of this area here >>. A very spiritual moment was when I went up early one morning to watch all the hot air balloons take of. Due to my phobia I could not take a balloon ride myself since with the claustrophobia also comes fear of being stuck in a small space without control. But honestly I was so grateful right then to just be able to have the moment I had. I still get goose bumps when watching the pictures from that very special morning. Originally there was a few pictures of this in my Cappadocia blog but I decided they deserved their own post and more space 🙂
The last stop on my Turkey trip was the small and cozy city of Selcuk. The main reason people go there is that the best preserved ancient city in Europe is found just outside Selcuk. We are talking about the archeological site Ephesus which was home to 250 000 people during the Roman empire. Below are some pictures of this impressive location.
One part of the Ephesus open air museum is the so called “terrace houses”. You do pay extra to see this museum but it is worth every penny. Under roof you find houses dated older than BC and it is pretty amazing to be able to view what once was the home for rich people during the Roman period.
In Selcuk you can find the Ephesus museum. It is a really great place filled with objects found during excavations. My favorite was the beautiful marble statues.
A 15 minute drive up the hills from Selcuk lies the old Greek town of Sirince which also has a very rich history. It is famous for its fruit wines and everywhere you are offered to sit down and sample them. It is a bit touristy but a nice afternoon trip if you are staying in Selcuk.
Turkey know how to make you comfortable, just check out this wonderful chill out space in the hostel I stayed in Selcuk, Atilla´s Getaway. An Australian owned place with a great ambiance.
Pamukkale is a small and pretty boring town. But there is one really good reason to visit. To walk up to- and to walk around the ancient town of Hierapolis, surrounded by the beautiful natural chalk pools hanging from the cliffs, is a great way to spend one afternoon. Watching the, so called, travertine’s at sunset is a must. Unfortunately most of them are today dried out but there are two places where the pools are still filled with water. It is strictly forbidden to swim in them, but to watch their beauty from a distance is at least as satisfying. I walked up the hill around four in the afternoon. Took a walk around Hierapolis and then just managed some nice shots of the pools before sun set.
After Kas I decided to take a stop in Fethiye which is a middle sized city with a big harbor, best known as a hub for the famous sailing tours that departs from here and for paragliding. I however was very keen to see the abandoned ghost town Kayaköy. Kayaköy lies a bit outside the city, in the countryside, but can easily be reached by minibus (dolmus). The best way is to go there late in the afternoon to avoid the heat and get great pictures. I absolutely loved this magic place. It was so quiet and even if it was high season not many people were around. Before 1923 this was the home to 4000 Greeks that had to move after the Turkish War of independence.
You just cannot go to Fethiye without going out on a sailing tour to discover the astonishing coastline around this area. Many people jump on a one week long tour from here but there is enough other options. I went out on a one day tour starting from the famous beach Öludeniz. It was an absolutely magnificent day, although be prepared to take medication against seasickness. The boat stopped at different beaches in the area but also made stops out at sea. Plenty of opportunities to swim and relax and to make new acquaintances.
Kas is a charming little village on the south coast of Turkey. My intention was to stay three nights but I kept on prolonging my stay which led to that I had to reschedule the rest of my trip a bit. But it was really worth it. I found this little family place called Ates pension, run by a lovely Turkish couple. They had just one small dormitory and some private rooms. I stayed in the dormitory and got to know some really great people whom I spent nice moments with. Almost every night the pension arranged BBQ on the rooftop terrace to a nice price. To accompany your meat or fish was a choice of many different mezez. Actually some of the best I had during my stay in Turkey. In Kas you swim from cliffs, I really like that. Some cafes around the harbor had beach clubs and you could use one of their comfy sunbeds just by buying one drink in the bar. One day I went out on a one day boat tour just to relax and swim in the absolutely wonderful turquoise water. The last stop on that tour was the small fishing village Ucagiz who offered great photo opportunities. Wonderful lazy days in a very memorable place that need a re-visit for sure!
Last summer I did not only visit Istanbul but I did a little round tour in Turkey. My first stop after Istanbul was to the amazing area Cappadocia, located in the middle of Turkey. I went there to see the extraordinary landscapes formed millions of years ago by volcanic eruptions. The area has a rich history and besides watching the landscapes people without claustrophobia can also visit the many underground cities, once inhabited by Christians wanting to hide from Arabs and Persians. The biggest underground city in Cappadocia held 10000 people. Anyhow, since I have claustrophobia myself I was very happy to enjoy the views above ground. I stayed in the small city of Göreme and spent time visiting different natural wonders in the area. Most hotels are actually in the caves as well, a very funny sight as you stroll the town. I hope you enjoy the tour 🙂
The only thing I did not appreciate with Cappadocia is that I had my first every bedbug encounter. Something I did not realize until I was already gone. A terrible experience that gave me nightmare for a few month after coming home again. But that is a different story.
Below dinner with a nice Aussie girl I met on a tour and my bed bug hotel 😉
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 😀