Things to do in… Interesting Istanbul

Istanbul  - shopping

There is not a more fascinating city in the world, than Istanbul. Upon setting foot in this incredible town, the first thing that will strike you is the juxtaposition of both the old and traditional, and the new and modern. On the skyline you will see beautiful, old historic buildings, but with office towers creeping up above them, and donkey-drawn carts carrying women clothed in long, flowing skirts and head coverings, passing by shiny and new BMWs chauffeuring others in elegant designer outfits and stiletto heels.

Just within the boundaries of Istanbul itself, the contrast of the two sides on display is so fascinating, and truly can be quite a lot to take in – especially when you’re drunkenly making your way home at dawn while others are kneeling in prayer and worship. It goes without saying though, that Istanbul cam never be called boring, or in my opinion anything negative at all. But is it unique? Well, that it certainly is.

Shopping in Istanbul is an experience in itself; the town has been a great place for shopping for many years, and the enormous Grand Bazaar has got to be one of the oldest shopping centres in the entire world! The colourful, vibrant bazaars and outdoor traditional markets don’t mean that Istanbul is set in its ways though – there are plenty more modern options for the younger, less traditional tourist. Turkish textiles are among some of the best in the world, so being able to get your hands on extremely high quality goods is inevitable.

It’s not all about the shopping though – there is far too much to see to be spending all of your time browsing around the many fascinating bazaars.

Firstly, I would highly recommend a visit to the Blue Mosque. As soon as you set foot inside, it is clear to see why it is named so, as 20,000 blue tiles shimmer in the light and surrounding you will be 260 extremely colourful stained glass windows. It is not just what surrounds you that are so beautiful though, even the ceiling has a striking pattern on it. The Blue Mosque is a very uplifting place to be, and is bright and vibrant – enough so to list anybody’s spirits.

Then, there is the Archaeology Museum (Arkeoloji Müzesi). There really are some spectacular finds within the confines of this museum, and it truly does reflect on the lives of civilizations in Turkey over many of the past centuries. There are many things to see, so taking your camera is a must. There are fascinating tombs, carvings of battle scenes and an exhibit entirely dedicated to Istanbul through the ages.

Then, for a spot of lunch or dinner, depending on how long this incredible town has kept you busy for, you must visit Doy-Doy. The cute little place is named by the Turkish term for the word full, and that is exactly what you can be here for an extremely reasonable price. There are many tasty dishes on offer from simple yet delicious kebabs and chicken or lamb stews, to Turkish spins on other dishes including pizzas. Dining here offers fine views and very friendly service, so not somewhere that is likely to leave you disappointed.

Unfortunately for me, Istanbul was merely a port of call on my cruise to Europe, so a day in port was very much appreciated. I would love to make a return trip to Istanbul, but for a much longer period of time rather than just as part of my cruise itinerary. I feel I did not satisfy myself, as I had a hunger to see more, even as the ship was sailing away from port. I will happily say though, that Istanbul is (so far) my favourite town in the entire world.

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