Istanbul, Part 2

TGIF everyone!

It’s time for another instalment of photos from our trip to Turkey and Israel!

Originally, I was going to break up the remainder of our Istanbul photos and share them in multiple posts…but for the sake of getting through these photos, I’ve just decided to go ahead and share all the rest at once!
{So I’m warning you now, it’s quite a few photos!} 

After finishing up at the Grand Bazaar, Cam and I decided to walk back down to check out the Galata Bridge where we had dinner the night before. It was a lot of fun to walk along the bridge during the day and watch all the people fishing!

Strolling on the bridge…and Cam snapping candids…ha.

After strolling the bridge, we decided to take one of the boats on the Bosphorus River. There are a million different boat cruises, but the one we took was only about 90 minutes long and fairly inexpensive. It was the perfect way to really get a sense of just how large Istanbul really is and luckily we happened to take the the boat at just the right time to catch the most incredible sunset on the way back in!

The sun was already getting low in the sky when we headed out…one of the problems with travelling this time of the year is that it gets dark super early!
I’m not quite sure what all these buildings are, I just took pictures of them because they looked pretty!
The Bosphorus Bridge links Europe and Asia…and it was also one of the many things in Istanbul that reminded us of San Francisco!
Doesn’t this totally look like it could be in SF?
As we were pulling back into shore at the end of the cruise, we witnessed the most incredible sunset! The colors were so vibrant, it was beautiful!

After the cruise, we decided to head out to see Istanbul by night. Our first stop was a restaurant near our hotel that had a great view of the city. They even had a rooftop deck so we were able to get some night photos.
The Bosphorus Bridge lit up at night
After getting drinks, we decided to head over to the Beyoğlu area of Istanbul to check out the Taksim Square/İstiklâl Caddesi area. This was definitely a happening part of the city and there were tons of people out and about. There were lots of American stores and it was interesting to observe how different it was than the Grand Bazaar.

Cam and I ended up walking around for a long time until we were starving and then couldn’t find anywhere to eat. After walking all over the area we finally ended up at this swanky modern Turkish restaurant on the top floor of this hotel in the Beyoglu area but I can’t remember the name/didn’t take any pictures…it was a fun evening though 🙂
The next day we went back to check out one of Istanbul’s main tourist sights, the Blue Mosque. It’s right next to the Hagia Sophia and definitely a must-see in Istanbul!

You were supposed to remove your shoes/women were supposed to cover their heads to enter the mosque. Not everyone was abiding by these rules but we did because we wanted to be respectful of their culture

Inside the mosque was extremely ornate…

After the Blue Mosque, we went to keep exploring more of the city. There were certain foods that were sold all over the place…

Roasted chestnut cart…we didn’t end up trying these but they sold them everywhere!
These sesame seed covered bread ring things (I’m not sure what they were called) were also really popular and we did end up buying one, but it was just ok

Our next stop was the Topkapı Palace, which was the royal residence of Ottoman Sultans for over 400 years. The Ottomans were so powerful for such a long time, so getting to see this palace was really interesting. I’d highly recommend it if you’re in Istanbul!

Outside the palace walls…
A Turkish dog, just chillin’
Giant group of elementary school kids on a field trip…lesson learned–large groups of kids on a field trip are annoying no matter what country you’re in…
There were all different elaborate Sultan’s quarters and ornate artifacts to check out
Trying to get someone take a picture of us by the water…it was a little windy!
Take 2
There was one section of the palace that was especially beautiful with lots of blue and gold details

I can’t remember exactly what these quarters were used for but they were really pretty inside!

After the palace, we decided to take a ferry over to the Asian side of Istanbul to check it out. The part we saw was definitely more of an area where people actually live vs. a touristy section of town which was cool to see. We had a great lunch and then headed back over to the European side. We caught another great sunset heading back!
Cam went outside on the boat to take these beautiful photos…meanwhile, I was inside doing this…
What can I say, travel is tiring! (Thanks to Cam for capturing this embarrassing moment…ha)

After getting back to the European side, we headed back to the Grand Bazaar to buy a few souvenirs, I had a minor meltdown because I got overwhelmed in the Grand Bazaar trying to decide on souvenirs (seriously there is SO much stuff in there!), we ended up finding some nice pottery, and all was well. For our last night in Istanbul we stayed in a hotel right by the airport because we had a really early flight to Israel the next morning. (The hotel was called Wow Hotel and it was surprisingly nice and super close to the airport!)

Overall we really enjoyed Istanbul; it’s a beautiful city with a fascinating history. While there were definitely similarities to many cities we visited in Europe, it was also distinctly Middle Eastern so it was neat to see those two cultures come together. Although shop/restaurant owners are somewhat aggressive when you’re walking down the street, overall the people we interacted with were extremely nice and helpful. I’m so glad we got to visit this magical place!

{In case you missed it, you can check out the Part 1 of our Istanbul photos here}

The next morning, we caught a {really} early flight to Tel Aviv…I’ll be back with pictures from our time in Israel next week!

View of the mountains from the plane on our way to Israel

Have a great weekend everyone! Xoxo

PS: Be sure to enter my giveaway to win a $50 gift card to Shabby Apple! There still aren’t many entries, so that gift card could easily be yours…enter here! I’ll be announcing the winner on Monday! 🙂