On Friday, Carly and I left for spring break. We detoured from the rest of the group who left for Santorini, Greece by first visiting Istanbul, Turkey. We trained to Milan and had a direct flight into Istanbul.
Istanbul was amazing! We had an hour drive and traffic to get to our hostel (traffic reminded us of LA). We stayed at the Bahaus Hostel, which was two blocks away from the Blue Mosque. We drove in and were in awe that we were so close! We checked into our hostel and went to get dinner because we were so hungry. This man approached us about his restaurant on the roof of the hotel with a view of the city, so we decided to try it out. It was pretty good and of course the views were amazing.
On Saturday morning, Carly and I headed straight to the Grand Bazaar. It was huge! It is the largest open market in the world! And we were able to spend less then two hours in there (we had had practice in Morocco, which is the third largest in the world). The shops in the Bazaar were fascinating though! There were scarves, lamps, clothes, fake designer brands, sheets, towels, table clothes, jewelry…basically anything you could imagine! We left the bazaar and got lunch at this little Turkey restaurant. I had a vegetarian kebob, which was really good and nice to get some vegetables in my stomach!
Following lunch we visited the Blue Mosque. It was interesting because it is actually still used today. Men were able to walk through into the front of the church and pray, while the women were stuck in the back and had to have their heads covered. Even for us we had to take our shoes off and cover our heads. It was very interesting. We went back to the hostel and took a short nap.
After our nap we were on a hunt for something sweet. We asked a friend on the corner a good place for dessert and he told us on the other side of the river. So we took a walk through the park and across the bridge and on the other side of the water, and we ended up not ever finding the place he was talking about. However, we found a little café where you picked your meal and sat down to have them bring it to you. We bought four desserts and shared them (we wanted to immerse ourselves in the Turkish culture) and then we were still hungry and we decided to order more food. We didn’t realize how much food we really ordered and we couldn’t even finish it!
Our hostel held events throughout the weekend and on Saturday night they had a pub crawl where we paid 5euro and were taken to the bar scene. It ended up not really being a pub crawl, and Carly and I ended up leaving because we just wanted to eat and waffles are a nightlife specialty food in Istanbul.
On Sunday we met up with Carly’s friend from high school’s best friend in college (if that makes sense). She took us to a good local Turkish restaurant and then we visited the Asian side of Istanbul. On the other side of the river, we drank some tea but didn’t do too much more. We ate kebobs for dinner and went to sleep early for our early flight to Greece!