I have been to Turkey twice now. The first time to Bodrum and the next was to Istanbul ,both were interesting in their own ways.I will talk about both ,but there is one destination that I liked much more and that’s the one I would always recommend to others
Bodrum is located in south west of Turkey and is a great beach holiday destination and is popular with many tourists .These areas were specifically developed for tourism so they ensure that everyone is well catered for.
I was six months pregnant at the time and I had learned that the middle trimester is the best time for travelling as your energy levels are good and vitamin D from the sun is great for the babies bones development,that was an additional benefit .
Once we got to Bodrum we stayed at the Azka ,a lovely five star, all inclusive hotel ,with private access to the beach and all the pampering facilities you could wish for,but you soon realise that there’s only so much pampering you can take.
This is a tradition in Turkey.
It’s one of the most relaxing experiences, I have ever had,you are in your swimwear and you have separate sections in the dome for men and women and I asked for a women to give me a bath, “Never thought I’d ever say that sentence,!
You walk into the bath’s dome like chamber where there are heated marble platforms it’s like a massive steam room after building up a sweat a woman came in and and started to exfoliate my body scrubbing down with a loofah and hot soppy water it was halfway between a slippery massage and a vigorous rub this lasted about 20 minutes.
After that, I had a hot oil massage where I could only lie on my side as I was pregnant but that massage was one of the best unwinding massages ever and the proof of how relaxing it was,is that I fell asleep.The masseuse did not even wake me up after she had finished.
We also booked the boat trip to Turtle beach and then onto the mud baths. It is a very long day with lunch on the boat but worth it and so much fun. We took the big boat over the sea for about 2 hours and stopped at Turtle beach for an hour or so, then it was into the little boats for the journey up the river. There are many beautiful sights on the way such as the tombs in the mountains.
The mud bath was interesting. You do have to dig around at the bottom for some fresh,soft mud to coat yourself in but this is half the fun! Then it’s onto a shower to rinse once it has dried and then into the sulphur pool which smells like rotten eggs but the mud leaves your skin beautifully soft for a good few days afterwards.
Even though I was sick after I got back to the hotel, due to all the travelling from this trip because it is a long day and quite exhausting.
The rest of the time we went to many small villages and a few more boats rides and to a nearby markets,I think Bodrum definitely is a great place to go and take the family but I wouldn’t go there again,as for me ,its one time visit sort of place.
Well this might be a long, you might wanna make a cuppa,
I went to Istanbul a couple of years after I had been to Bodrum and I was expecting the same as Bodrum but just more fast paced,this trip was a long weekend and it was the first time I had left my kids,it was just me and my husband and as soon as we got to the airport we decided take our time and explore so we took the tram from the airport to city centre and had lunch in a cafe and after we hopped back on the tram, to our hotel and everything was so easy to find and the Turkish people were so friendly and helpful. For example, someone on the tram gave us directions to our stop when he realised that we were tourists we did not even ask him, it must have been our confused faces that gave it away.
Generally the people were all so helpful and polite.
We got to the Erboy hotel ,it was perfect ,a central location from which we could see the Blue mosque from our hotel window,I could see people sitting around the square relaxing,chatting and having their afternoon Turkish tea,the atmosphere in Istanbul is so calm and composed everything looked so peaceful ,even though it was late autumn, it was not particularly cold.The weather does not affect the warm atmosphere in Istanbul.
It’s all so relaxed and everything looks at peace,a perfect chill that takes over you,putting you in a very tranquil state of mind,a very surreal feeling.
We went for our evening meal to a restaurant where even although it is shut down now,it was unique in that ,you sat on rugs and leaned on large cushions on the floor.We opted for a mixed grill with saffron rice and roasted veg till this day even although we have visited so many place and had many new dishes but that is still one of our most memorable meals .
In the morning we started our tour,first we went to the Blue mosque/masjid it was a building of stunning beauty and architecture.Built between 1609-1616, this impressive masjid has six beautiful minarets.Apparently ,there are two stories as to why it is called the “Blue mosque “.The first and most popular is that because the interior is decorated with blue Iznik tiles. The second, is that ever since it was built,sailors who sailed by the mosque on the Marmara sea, saw the blue colours of the sea reflected on the marble walls . The Blue Masjid is truly an architectural marvel, and the interior is absolutely stunning with marble flooring and walls and with beautiful Quranic verses everywhere. Inside the Blue Masjid you really get a sense of pure peace and tranquility .We had a wonderful time seeing this beautiful and majestic masjid.One of the many holy sites to visit whilst in this historical city.
As a Muslim it is a great treat to pray in this exquisite masjid.
Built nearly 1500 years ago,words cannot really do justice to the magnificence of this amazing building.The Byzantine emperor Justinian is who commissioned the building of this great “Church of Holy Wisdom”.
It now functions as a museum although the site itself is saturated in historical events.There is so much that can be said about this building alone, in that ,there are many books written about it.
The sheer size and beauty of this Basilica will leave you breathless and amazed even more so, when you consider it was built in just six years ,long before any modern building machinery.
Words cannot express the sense of awe you feel within this ancient cathedral which to me feels like one of the unlisted wonders of the world.
It bears the signs of multiple eras, with Christian, Viking and Muslim components. It is over a large site and has so much to see.
This magnificent temple, which was built in the heart of Constantinople beautifully reflects the merger of two cultures. The amazing mosaic artwork is preserved on the walls. Also notable are two candlesticks, which are from Cathedral of Buda. These candlesticks were placed here by Süleyman the Magnificent in 1526 to mark his conquest of Hungary.
My advice is to definitely visited the both places the mosque and the church as they are both in the same square
This palace served as the residential and administrative centre for the Ottoman sultans.Built in the 15th century it now serves as a museum displaying various artefacts from various areas of the Caliphate which covered a vast region.
The skill and imagination of craftsmen from all over the Islamic world showing their talents in the design of extravagant clothes,jewellery,weapons and various utensils are on display.You can rent,quite inexpensively a head set which has a recording explaining the history behind the various exhibits and guides you around the tour.Again there is too much to list in a blog but all I can really say is that it is without doubt an amazing experience.
These three historical jewels are in close proximity to each other and can be visited in a day which would give you time to explore and take plenty of photoes.There are also plenty of places nearby to eat and drink also a wide variety of street vendors serving up local dishes and treats.
The Grand Bazaar
Recently listed as one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world with over 91 million visitors every year.
The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest “shopping malls” in the world.It covers 61 streets and houses over 4000 shops where you can find almost anything.The layout is like a department store with categories of shops grouped together clothes,shoes,ornaments,local delicacies and so much more under this one great big roof.
Do remember to practice your haggling skills as that is definitely a requirement and adds to the fun of this unique experience .You can easily spend a few hours just exploring the variety of goods on offer.It is something that you could easily adjust depending on the amount of time available in your own schedule.
So from all this I’m sure you can tell which one I recommend to others
Yes it’s Istanbul and I would love to go back one day with my beautiful little explorers.Now that they’ve caught the travel bug.
Let me know what you think about Turkey?