Friday, February 12, 2016

Making the most of a layover: Istanbul, Turkey

I always get asked how I am able to travel so much. As I mentioned in this post, "Amsterdam + how to travel the world on a small budget", there are many tips and tricks one can apply, and my Istanbul trip in November was one of such.

I planned my travel for the fall, as I could not afford to go in the summer (peak season). I already had a 4 day weekend for thanksgiving, and I  figured I'd take some few days off before the holiday and have a long nice vacation in Europe. Barcelona and Lisbon were my main destination, and when I started looking at airlines, Turkish airline offered the cheapest option to Barcelona. Turkey had never rated high on the list of countries I wanted to visit, but a 3-day lay over (to and fro) was all the convincing I needed. For return lay over, Turkish airline was responsible for the hotel and breakfast, all I had to do was pay for a night hotel for the arrival lay over. 

Istanbul has great transportation and getting around was a breeze. It also helped that most of the old tourist sights are located in one central area, and  my hotel was right smack in the middle of the Old District—Sultanahmet Square.

As a black woman in Istanbul, I stuck out like a sore thumb! Uncomfortable stares, warm smiles, not so warm smiles, advances from men, and people surreptitiously (and not so discreetly too!) taking pictures of me, were just some of the things I had to deal with.

Istanbul is indeed a magical place, and I could not fit all the pictures into one post. For now, I am sharing pictures of my second day in this amazing city. Pictures of my other adventures in this city will be posted up soon. Enjoy….
Top of my to-do list was seeing the sun rise from the rooftop of my hotel, and I was up bright and early to see this

The view was amazing, and one of the hotel employees was kind enough to take my pictures. Side note: You do not need a selfie stick or tripod in Istanbul; there are nice people in every nook and cranny waiting to help you
I could live on this roof top forever!
Once I was done taking in the view of Istanbul from the roof top, I headed out for a morning stroll. It was still very quiet and I wandered a bit and took pictures of the monumental Blue Mosque.

Then I made my way to Hagia Sophia
 Check out this stray dog photo bombing my shot :-)
I am not sure what this building is, but I thought the wall design was really cool
I took a nice stroll in the Sultanahment District and headed back to my hotel for breakfast and to change to a pair of comfy jeans
When I got back out, the streets were bustling with all kinds of activities. Street vendors were setting up their wares, while workers and school children were rushing off to catch the tram
Roasted chestnut and corn filled every street corner. Unfortunately, I was still stuffed from breakfast and I couldn’t indulge in this local delicacy
I made my way to the interior of the Blue Mosque
Women are required to cover their hair, and everyone has to take  their shoes off
The interior of the Blue mosque is as amazing as the exterior. Unfortunately, I was unable to capture the beauty
A pretty neat sign post I  came across
When I was done at the Blue Mosque, I headed to the Grand Bazaar. 
So many colorful sights to behold as I made my way to the legendary market    
Look at all that color!
Seeing this shoe shiner on the street corner reminded me so much of my home country, Nigeria

There are stray dogs all over the city
...and stray cats too!
How charming!
This really nice guy wanted to take a picture with me. I obliged him, and then took a picture of him
Freshly squeezed pomegranate juice seemed to be a staple in Istanbul
Then I finally made it to Grand Baazar
These traders wanted to take  pictures with me
And then the nice gentleman above offered me some yummy apple tea 
When I was done at the market, I walked back to the Sultanahmet Square, sat for a while and took in the view around me, including the German fountain  ( a gift from the German emperor). Once I was done, I headed back to the hotel, picked up my luggage and hopped on the train to go catch my flight to Barcelona. 

I will be posting picture from day 1&3 before the month runs out. I hope you enjoyed this post, and that it encourages you to maximize your layovers. 

Happy hump day.


AntebellumChica said...

Love love love the beautiful sights of the city

TOSAN said...

You sure know how to have fun :)

Oh to Be a Muse said...

We have a friend from Turkey, and my husband really wants to go to Instanbul. It certainly looks lovely, but I've done my fair share of traveling, and I'm kind of tired of people staring at me.

Beauty said...

You have very amazing talent for capturing colorful and beautiful things; very beautiful pictures and amazing travel tips.

The White List said...

Lovely photos! Looks like you had a fun time!!!

Tonka said...

This is definitely one of my favourite posts, I love all the color, beauty and history which surrounds Istanbul. I also like how you took pictures with people, lovely!

Paola Lauretano said...

I love Istanbul and these pics are amazing!!!
Kisses, Paola.


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Unknown said...

Really enjoyed these impressions of Istanbul! Will definitely need to go there...Have a great day!

Christina ♥

t said...


Marcia B. said...

wow great photos, it looks so beautiful! Love the pic with the traders!

Anonymous said...

Hi Chic lady,

Travel Envy alert !!! Lol

You always take beautiful travel photographs, the images take us on a virtual holiday too free of charge, Thank you! :-)

Istanbul is such a beautiful city, I heard the shopping experience is great.

Have a lovely week.

hammadbutt said...

You have very amazing talent for capturing colorful and beautiful things; very beautiful pictures and amazing travel tips.
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