Sunday, September 30, 2012

Istanbul - last part

helloo and welcome back....
I assure all this is going to be the last and final post on Istanbul :) Promise Promise ;)
Let's see, essentials to pack (check), places to visit (check) and now let me suggest a few must  have can I miss the best part???!!!

Myself and my husband made it a point to be experimental and try all food and drinks Istanbul is known for. Few of 'em are Turkish Kebabs (Kebaps), Lahmajun (Pizza), Simit, keshtan (chestnuts), Burma (loved them), Donor, Apple Tea, soups, Turkish Coffee and Delights (Lokum, love them too!)....GASP!!! The joy in discovering some new favorites was immense. 

Though you may be on a guided tour i would recommend all to self explore the city. I enjoyed these walks the most. Hope this too looong post was useful. Share your views on Istanbul...or maybe advice where i should travel next!! xoxo.......


Friday, September 28, 2012

Istanbul through my eyes (Part 2)♥♥

I haven't been to many places abroad so obviously right now am incapable of rating one over the other. Hopefully as years progress i would be able to do so...

Topography - The Bosporus and the Golden Horn sea divides Istanbul into 2 parts. The Asian and European side. The Bosporus bridge was erected to connect these two ends. Asian side inhabits laymen and hence high in population. Istanbul projects a half Asian, half European identity and the same is reflected in their cultures.

Most residents are ignorant to English (incl the cops), so communication becomes a problem. I often found myself speaking through gestures and a few words i learned in Turkish. But sellers do make every effort to communicate.

Istanbul in a glance (in order of my favorites)
Topkapi Palace
Mehmet II built Topkapi as his main residence. It has several pavilions to it rather than one single structure. This is now a museum show casing Armour and weapons of soldiers, clock collection belonging to Sultans (loved every piece), personal belongings of the Prophets (The best moment), jewelery and household items of sultans (exquisite jewelery made of Gold, Emerald, Ruby and pearls)

Haghia Sophia
The building was listed among the 7 wonders of the ancient world.  It is more than 1500 years old. It was constructed as a church and was later converted into a mosque by the Ottoman. Now a museum. The building houses religious symbols of Christians and Muslims.

Bosporus Cruise

To pay due justice, am going to think twice before i describe this trip. Natural beauty at its best. Laying back on the comfy seats situated on the open deck, you get to enjoy the landscape and vintage styled houses on either sides of Bosporus sea, accompanied by chill breeze and hot apple tea served......mmm lovely

Suleymaniye Mosque
Largest mosque in Istanbul, known for its architecture and magnificent interiors. One of its Minars has Diamonds mixed with cement. Of course nobody knows which of the four.
Princess Islands
The islands are a short ferry away from the main grounds of Istanbul. It takes you away from the hassle of the city. There are 9 islands all collectively termed as Princess islands. We visited the Buyukada, largest of them all. Home to nearly 5000 people to max. Horse carriages are a common means of transport here. We took a leisure ride on horse carriage's and explored the island on bicycles...loved it
Blue Mosque
Known for its interiors, designed with Blue Iznik tiles and hence the name. Its the only mosque with 6 Minars. The mosque stands out at night when floodlit.
Taksim Square
Tour to Taksim square was not included in our itinerary, but we were ever willing to try out the Tramway. An apt street to shop for high end goods. The streets are lined with Restaurants, cafe's and Bars. We took a break at one of the cafe's and enjoyed the bustle from the rooftop sipping Karpaz Suye and Portakal Suye (Lemon and Orange Juice) hahah........
Spice and Grand Bazaar
Last but not the least, Spice Bazaar takes you through an alley of small shops selling varied spices, dried fruits and Turkish Delights (Lokum). The bazaar is usually found packed with tourists and locals walking almost over each other. One can shop Souvenirs at reasonable price here. A very colorful place.

Ooppsy...just realized how long this blog turned out to be!!! am gonna wind up here and publish the closure as a 3rd part. I don't want readers sleeping over their laptops.....hope you like the post...xoxo.......

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Trip to Istanbul - Travel Smart♥

Hello all...its been so looong since i last blogged!! But here i am, back with plenty to share and talk 
This week i was away on my first ever leisure trip abroad to Istanbul! I was soo very looking forward to it and did enjoy it to the maximum. It provided me with the right amount of break and relaxation.

Why Istanbul comes the next question, 2 major reasons - my husband had only a one week holiday window plus Istanbul is known for its rich history backed up by immense natural beauty. 
FYI, this blog is going to be in 2 parts a) Travel Smart and b) Istanbul through my eyes

Let's begin with the 'To Do' before travel. Homework is a must before any journey and in my case i started 2 weeks before ... yea yea i can be quiet a cautious freak :) Anyway here goes...........

Travel Package - if your opting for a tour package, make sure you compare prices. Prices may vary depending on ON and OFF season. Also consult friends and family. Check online review on the travel agency.
Hotel Booking - the travel agency does this on your behalf, but you must ensure the hotel is located in a central area or where public transport is easily available. Check online review of the Hotel. Also additional facilities available like pool, spa, wifi etc
Travel guide book - It's a must! I purchased the DK eyewitness a week before i traveled and  made sure i read through it even before i actually visited the places. This gives you a more than a brief idea of what your in for. It provides several general info about the city - to see places, must have food and drinks, public transport, plus important phrases and words in local language..i recommend this publisher to all 
Itinerary - Make sure your package includes all must see places and this is were reading a travel guide before hand helps. 

Pack Smart - Its always better to travel light. Hence, pack smart. Carry only essentials. I made a list of  all required items including the outfits i would wear each day to avoid excessive packing. I prefer using my own skin and hair care products during my stay rather than the once offered by the hotel afterall its not like i have the finest hair and skin to tamper with. 

The best taken decisions -
♥ Carry extra camera battery. You don't want to comprise on the moments (else carry your camera charger, you can always recharge when you halt for coffee breaks - this is what i did). 
♥ Extra SD Cards. 
♥ Handbags with zippers or a backbag (Pick pocketing is common in Istanbul) 
♥ If you are a restless person like me, download your fav magazine or a movie to your ipad or lap to keep you engaged during transit. 
♥ I traveled with a budget airline and hence lunch/dinner costs extra. Don't mind paying extra but the food i get in return fail to excite my taste buds. So i bought myself a decent dinner from the airport and carried it to the flight. A decision am still proud of..heheh...

Hope these tips help! Will be back soon with Part 2! xoxo