Istanbul: A City of Culture
“Culture is mix. Culture means a mix of things from other sources. And my town, Istanbul, was this kind of mix. Istanbul, in fact, and my work, is a testimony to the fact that East and West combine cultural gracefully, or sometimes in an anarchic way, came together, and that is what we should search for.”
This quote from Turkish novelist, Orhan Pamuk, perfectly sums up the beauty of Istanbul.
I had dreamt of visiting Istanbul for years. The idea of one city connecting two continents always amazed me. It felt magical crossing from Europe to Asia in a matter of minutes, being able to gaze in one direction knowing a whole different continent lie beyond. In Istanbul the eastern and western world are not divided, but united.
Istanbul has one of the longest recorded history and post upon post could be written about the historical significance of this city. It has been the cultural hub for centuries. A place that has seen many different empires, been dominated by different religions, and only in the last hundred years become part of a relatively new country, Turkey. Check out a brief history from the blog All About Turkey.
Highlights/ Sights to See:
1. Visit Hagia Sophia
2. Take a boat tour on the Bosphorus
3. Wander through the Grand Bazaar
4. Visit Dolmabahçe Palace
I’m a huge fan of airbnb, I think it is a great affordable option when traveling. The best thing about finding accommodation on airbnb is that I get to feel like I’m really living in the city with my own apartment. Given that I spent an entire week in Istanbul, airbnb let me have a great space with a kitchen so I could save a bit of money by eating in for some meals. The host was wonder and the location was very convenient to move about the city (I stayed on the European side near Taksim). Check it out here.
This is a topic I got lots of questions about, seeing as currently Turkey and the USA do not have the greatest relationship. The US Department of State has issued a travel warning to Turkey. However, I got my visa before my arrival and was able to enter the country (you can apply online). Personally, I did not have any major problems, except for a certain border official telling me I was not wanted in his country, however, most Turkish people I met were extremely welcoming and kind. Istanbul is like any big city and you need to be street smart, just as you would be in New York or Rome.