These images are from my first few days in Istanbul. For my last days I decided to leave the camera at home and focus on genuinely ‘being’ there instead of behind a lens. There was something about Istanbul that I can’t quite explain, except that it felt like I’d finally made it to wherever I was looking for. This city of two continents marks the furthest East I have been in Europe and sparked a wanderlust that has been building in me for years. I always wander but have been playing it safe with familiar countries and continents, whereas the places at the top of my list have always been like Egypt, India, Morocco, Alaska, Peru (the list is endless). Arriving in Istanbul made me feel completely out of my element, which is exactly the way I want to feel.
Not knowing what to expect was the best way to arrive, and have everything from the food, spices, scents, traffic, heat, noise, population, culture and energy awaken seemingly previously numb senses.
Here are some of my personal tips for Istanbul-
This was probably my most anticipated ‘to do’ while in Istanbul, and it was better than I could have ever imagined. We visited The Cemberlitas Hammam which I highly recommend although may not be for the faint hearted or anti nudity. Prepare to strip down, lay on the hot tiles under the overhead dome, be soaped up and rubbed down by a Turkish woman (or man if you’re a man). We finished ours with an oil massage, and I do not say this lightly but it was one of the most euphoric experiences of my life.
Bosphorus by Boat.
During the first few days we took a tour boat along the Bosphorus, but unfortunately the main dialogue was only regarding how expensive each waterfront property is. Later I took the public ferry from the European to Asian side of the city. I think ‘the journey, not the destination’ applies directly here as the moment I landed on the other side, I just wanted to get back on board. For only around 4euro each way we sailed past every monument and mosque that can be seen from the Bosphorus, while sipping tea (çay). The other bonus is of course the people watching!
Standing alone in a Galata quarter square is the medieval stone tower. Boasting views across Istanbul and the Bosphorus it is the perfect advantage point to put Istanbul in to perspective. I didn’t get the chance but I guarantee sunset would be amazing from here.
I visited both the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market, and each were their own incredible experiences. I wish I had more time to explore the markets lining the streets and alleyways, completely bustling full of locals with only a random clueless tourist or two. But just another thing to add to my list for when I hopefully get back to Istanbul as soon as possible… x