The first time I've went to Istanbul was for a stop over on my way to Cappadocia. Returning from Cappadocia, I stopped in Istanbul for an afternoon and a half night because I had a 4 am flight. Nevertheless, I had time to get a feel of the atmosphere, to see Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar and Sultanahmet. Could you say I had seen it all? Noooo, Istanbul must be lived, discovered; through the dark alleys of the bazaar, that suddenly turn into large open squares immaculate and delightful. I loved walking around Istanbul drinking pomegranate juice or eating an ice cream in the main square of Sultanahmet. Istanbul has a place in my heart and despite having been there another two times; I would go back again tomorrow.
Needless to mention the imposing beauty of the interior of Hagia Sophia and the silhouette of the stunning Blue Mosque at sunset, the luxury of the palace of Topkapi, what I loved the most about Istanbul were its contrasts.
The colour contrasts in the bazaars and spice markets. Everywhere you went you were offered a delicious apple tea (elma chay), but some of the teas that you can buy in the spice markets are simply divine, not to mention the sweets. The contrast is also evident in the way of dressing of the different generations. There are few women completely covered dressed in black, compared to those who simply wear the veil, but the girls and young women are dressed normally. Some areas of Istanbul are modern; others are full of crumbling but charming wooden houses with several floors, very unsafe to look at, but despite everything, still inhabited.
The tram through the city is very modern and without a ticket you can’t even reach the tram stop.
The Galata Bridge is fascinating for the hundreds of fishermen who line up every day along the entire bridge, waiting patiently for a few fish to bite. I've never seen so many jellyfish all together in a single day, as when I took the ferry on the Bosphorus. The ferry left from the Ortakoy Mosque, which is one of the ones I liked the best because it looks like an island in the Bosphorus. In reality, there is a real island in the Bosphorus, and at night, when the tower Kiz Kulaši is lit up, and the sunsets, the scene is breathtaking.
After a long day of walking and photographing, I allowed myself a chay and a water pipe with flavoured tobacco. My favourite was the pomegranate but also the chocolate one had a great flavour.
Another unforgettable experience is the Haman. One must organize when to go because there are specific times for women and men. A female tourist can go to the Haman with men but it is absolutely forbidden for a male tourist to go during the hours reserved to women. In addition to the benefit of the Turkish bath itself, the masseuses who rub you clean with bags of soap, which swell with water and cover you with foam, give an added value. I have a good relationship with water and this city is full of it. The Roman cistern is literally stunning, with its beautifully carved columns and big fish swimming in its waters. Istanbul is colourful and cheerful, full of life everywhere, but in the evening the nightlife takes place in Beyoglu, where a nice tram goes up and down the main pedestrian street of Istiklal Caddesi.