On a seven hours bus ride from Ankara to Istanbul, I arrived around 7 pm to Istanbul bus station, waiting for the ride that will pick up the other girls to the airport, and me to a low-cost hotel for a three days stay to match with what I have left on my spending budget.
I ended up staying in a newly built/opened hotel by Syrian refugees very close to the heart of Istanbul.
I can not express how happy I felt when I found out that Syrians work there; it gave me hope for the future and I felt encouraged by their persistence to rebuild their lives again.
The hotel was clean, modern looking rooms and all new furniture. They served breakfasts every morning and just really looked out for you.
The first morning in Istanbul, I made plans with a friend that I met in Ankara who originally lives in Istanbul to go out and explore Istanbul like a true native.
I asked the front desk to my hotel to call me a taxi; they happily did (besides I don’t even speak Turkish) I decided to split the fare ride with another hotel resident since we were going to the same location. Tourist attractions area!
I met my friend at the beginning to of the grand bazaar (I wanted to go in but I was advised to go later because Aya Sofia closes early.. all of them are a very small distant of walking away from each other)
First, we headed to Aya Sofia.
There’s no need to describe how I felt.. I am pretty sure you’re having the same feeling now!
If you made a wish and washable to make a full turn with your thumb inside touching the rock inside the hole; it is believed that your wish will come true.
After Aya Sofia and Sultan Ahmet we decided to get some food.. and the best thing was being with a true Istanbul-ian, who knows what’s good and what’s the best.
We went to eat at a hotel rooftop restaurant that gives us a view of all Istanbul (especially sultan Ahmet)
We headed to the grand Bazaar.
colorful Shoes, clothes, glass art, food, spices, everything you can everything of was there. I wanted to buy everything there. (No picture because I ended up dropping my phone at Istanbul airport when returning and had so many pictures to be able to upload them all on medium quality internet service 🙁 )
I was able to hold myself and not buy crazy stuff (so proud of myself) felt like everything was yelling at “buy me, buy me Salwa”
I ended up buying my favorite coffee cups that I saw in Ankara, and some delicious Turkish delights (OMG)
From the bazaar, we went all the way down the hill (something tourists don’t know) to reach the really traditional shops all the way to the Galata bridge and the beautiful sea.
We later walked on the bridge to the shore for a secret “no tourists allowed area” to reach the cool cafes and spots.
And street performers.
After having the best Coffee shake ever!! (seriously) (sorry no pics.. can’t expose the secret location, LOL)
We went back ashore for some ice cream and a ferry boat ride
In the Asian side of Istanbul we found this:
The next day was Eid the Islamic holiday of Ramadan (the writing on the Blue Mosque said that)
So on the first day of Eid, it is most;y spent with family members.
Unfortunately, my family wasn’t in Istanbul 🙁 and I just spent my First day of Eid in my Hotel room watching Turkish soap operas (all shops and mostly everything in Istanbul was and is closed till sunset or around the afternoon)
Besides I was crazy tired and needed to get rid of my jet lagging that doesn’t seem to go away!
I looked like this:
I wanted to meet the Syrian workers in the hotel, I had breakfast with a lady that works on my hotel room’s floor. (nicest person I ever met) 😀
At night, I met with another friend who took me around his side of Istanbul. I got to experience Istanbul on a road trip with an amazing extended history lesson.
We went to what is known as the best pastry shop in Istanbul for some tea and baklava.
time went so fast so we decided to finish our tour in the morning (before my flight)we went for some breakfast near a park that has a magnificent view of the sea.
I wish I had my pictures saved on my drive before.. because in Istanbul airport I was trying to check the gate for my flight and my phone just flipped out of my hand straight to the floor 🙁 the screen refused to work and all my gorgeous pictures were gone.
but to be honest, it made me enjoy the scenery behind the camera screen.(I was already doing that but sometimes a picture is not a bad thing LOL) So, I did just that on my next country.