travel journal (Istanbul :: days 1 & 2)

After basically 2 days of driving and flying, I made it to the wonderful land of Turkey and the magical city if Istanbul. I think the best part of it all has been that I didn’t know what to expect, so I didn’t have expectations. And so far, I have been blown away.

I got into the city and met Heidi in the late afternoon. She had quite the crazy day of hagglers, both good and bad. The good helped us get a nice place to stay for cheap and bought her lunch. The bad lured her into stores and had awkward conversations including lines like “I love you… Normal”. Yeah… Anyways, after meeting her in the center of town, we went to our little hotel only blocks away from the Hagia Sophia. We have our own room and I must say that I feel pretty spoiled so far!

We went out to eat at a fancy little restaurant (probably wont be spending that much again on a meal…) where we got a wonderful lamb and eggplant dish. The water decided to befriend these two American girls and we got 2 cups of apple tea on the house (already obsessed… I already bought the little glasses and tea mix to make it). He also gave us his card and told us we should hang out with him (yeah right). But, he was kind nonetheless.

We spent the rest of the night in the hotel talking and planning out our week (thankfully) with the help of a nice man that worked at the hotel and also for a travel/tour agency. He got us a great deal for a trip to Cappodocia later on in the week. He was just the biggest help.

We have been shown so much kindness by the people here its crazy. Most are just so genuine and willing to offer help and smiles.

This morning we had an amazing breakfast on the little patio at our hotel. And it was actually a really amazing Turksh style breakfast complete with things like yogurt, tomatoes, olives, and cheese. Score another one for our place of staying.

After breakfast, we went to the Topkapi Palace. A huge area with gardens and beautiful buildings that once belonged to and housed the sultans of the Ottoman Empire. This stuff is old. Like for real old and it’s amazing. We also had an amazing view of some of the city.

Then, it was Turkish coffee time at a cafe overlooking the street. I first experienced real Turkish coffee during my first time abroad in Bosnia in 2005 and it has been special to me ever since. But, this time it’s even more authentic (duh, I’m in turkey).

After being properly caffeinated, we took the tram up to Taksim Sqaure. What a little gem of an area! We spent our time wandering through the narrow streets. We found a Turkish delight shop that was recommended to us and probably bought more than we should have… But friends back home, get ready to share with us!

We grabbed lunch at a little corner pita place and focused the crap out of the people that worked there by asking for gyros, which they misunderstood as euros and kept trying to give us the price of their food in euros. #honestmistake haha

We really enjoyed walking around Taksim Square and getting out of the very touristy area of Istanbul. It’s a really cool area of this city.

We made our way back to our hotel and grabbed books and normal stuff and set out to find a little cafe to just sit and relax. We somehow stumbled upon an amazing one filled with antiques and couches and everything lovely. It was so nice to sit and read and drink (more) Turkish coffee. We also tried dolma (stuffed grape leaves) which were fantastic. I could get used to this food all day everyday. Then, we talked with the cafe/hotel and he invites us to see the rest of it. There’s. lovely garden patio and a little min library with cushioned benches and the most peculiar attic like room that he called the museum. Now this room was crazy. So many old artifacts and collections and jumbled piles of pillows for seats and low tables. We watched the old men play this crazy dice board game and were treated to more tea and really trippy music. It was such an odd experience but a unique one for sure. Just getting right into this Turkish culture.

At dinner, we shared a plate of a whole mess of Turkish appetizers, including a pink too that we think was beet paste??… Interesting for sure. I also tried a yogurt drink that was just so interesting, but very Turkish for sure. But everything tasted wonderful. The food here is really fantastic. Then, of course, we got treated to more free Turkish tea by the waiter. Oh, the perks of girls traveling without a guy… So many free things!

We walked around a bit and went into a few shops and got haggled/talked to the store owners. One guy really loved Germans and talked about how quality all German products are and how you can’t trust things made in America because its probably made in China. #validpoint. He also made it very clear that he didn’t think America should be so open with its borders to let foreign people become citizens. It’s always really interesting to get a foreigner’s perspective on America and what they think of the country. I just feel like we are so closed off from the opinions of other nations so its good to get a well rounded worldly pespectve. Also, people over here know about our election that just happened. How many of us (me included) know when any other country is electing a new head for their country. We are so spoiled. Everyone knows about America. It’s easy for us to travel. Almost everyone here knows English. So, all of the other tourists from places like France, Spain, whatever either have to know Turkish or English. It’s insane. We are so blessed and it makes it so easy for us to travel. So take advantage guys! Seriously!

Anyways… We ended our night with baklava and more coffee (whatever don’t judge…). The baklava was stupid good and we most likely be eating it everyday (again please hold judgement… We must full take advantage of all the goodness we can get over here!)

So wow, that was a a lot! But, we did a lot and I just love sharing stories even if no one reads it, it’s like a little reminder for me to look back on. Thanks for reading and coming song on this trip with me via blogging ๐Ÿ™‚

If you want to see photos, follow me on twitter (@jae_mae) or better yet, Instagram (@jae_mae)

Live what you love.

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