I am no stranger to the magnetic pull of Istanbul’s Old City, having sampled most of its delights. When I walked the cobbled streets and beheld the pleasant smiles, I was struck by the dreaminess of the place. My ISTANBUL TRAVEL DIARIES will leave you charmed by the spirit of hospitality and the desire of its citizens to savour each moment of life to the fullest!
Being part of a country that has seen its fair share of political unrest, Istanbul has held on its graciousness and its quaint past-present connection with tenacity. And I am glad to say, if I have the opportunity to return, I will do so in a heartbeat.
We visited a few years back and had the pleasure of staying at the W Hotel in Beşiktaş, İstanbul. At the risk of sounding somewhat stereotypical, I have to say that the façade made me expect a flying Persian carpet to swoop down and take me to my suite.
The impression is breath-taking. The Marmara marble, the Ottoman patterns, the gilded golden trimmings of the structure and the spaciousness of the lobby – all come together to transport you back to more luxurious and more glamorous times. The hotel promises history meets chic, and it delivers on every count. I am so convinced that W Hotel Stands for WOW.
Istanbul Travel Diaries
Travel to me isn’t the aloof pleasures of a tourist. It is the fine art of vicarious living. I am never content with “sightseeing” or the guide’s version of a city’s heritage. I love diving deep into its melting pot. Using all five senses, I adventure to absorb as much of its alluring past and present as possible.
Shopping fits right on the agenda. I always convince myself that I am carrying back memories and experiences frozen in delightful objects. I love collecting unique travel souvenirs that spontaneously transport me to the picturesque vistas of faraway lands once visited and cultures I adore.
Istanbul has lots to offer when it comes to shopping. I picked up beautiful evil eye bracelets for myself and friends. We also invested in a lovely Persian silk rug and gave in to the fad of the moment and got a gorgeous hookah pipe. I have to admit that nothing beats the authentic handicraft. I wrapped up my session at the Grand Bazaar with a Turkish tea set and lots of envy-inducing scarves.
More Old City Delights
As night falls in Istanbul, the beautiful people head to Club Reina and rub shoulders with the who’s who of the city. Holding a dazzler aloft I also gave in to the rhythms spun by the DJ and later enjoyed a sumptuous dinner two overlooking the beautiful Bosphorous.
We also found time to pay a visit to the Vogue rooftop Bar and Restaurant known for its world-famous Sushi – YUM. I would also recommend a visit to a charming Hookah Bar called Gülhane Sur Café. Gülhane Sur Café is set on a historic cobblestone street between Hagia Sophia and Topkapı Palace. The two stone walls on either side of the street are as scenic as this small Café gets but the vibe is amazing. You can take a break from your sightseeing and try out the local coffees or ‘nargile’ (also known as ‘shisha’ and ‘hookah’).
Our trip ended with a ride up the Bosphorous on the upper deck of the ferry. From the stunning blue waters that splashed everywhere to the haunting cries of the seagulls and the skyline kissed by the spires of the ancient architecture inspired buildings, it was about the best way to end the idyllic tour.
With time people change, and the “vibe” of a country also shifts. But I hope to someday return to an Istanbul that is just as charming and alluring as ever.
Travel Tip | Istanbul in Turkey
Don’t leave without trying out the local ‘nargile’ (also known as ‘shisha’ and ‘hookah’) at Gülhane Sur Cafe. Their teas and coffees are as marvellous as their shisha.
To your wanderlust dreams!
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