Istanbul is forever

Have you ever been to Istanbul, or anywhere in Turkey? I had apprehensions about visiting the city of Istanbul after the warnings from friends and family at home. They were vague, useless warnings, but I was nervous nevertheless. So, when I got to Istanbul, I was happy to find that splurging a little cash here to feel good was not just great, but fantastic.

I was picked up from the airport by a plush car from the hotel and taken to a swanky place. I’ve saved up long enough, so I didn’t feel guilty about the cold drinks on arrival. I’d done some research before travelling to the city, so knew I should be dressing conservatively to avoid unwanted attention (ugh) and I learnt thank you or “tesekkür ederim”, as it always pays to be polite!

However, I was slightly disappointed to hear how regulated gambling is in Turkey, meaning I couldn’t go to a casino very easily and enjoy playing cards with the locals. Instead, I made do with Agent Istanbul online which is worth checking out.

I didn’t let the lack of a casino bother me too much. Instead, I pulled on my walking shoes and met a local guide who showed me some of the hidden delights in the city. I tried as much food as I could get my hands on and it was great being with a local who could order for me and made bartering a whole lot easier.

I learnt that it’s illegal to make any disparaging comments or jokes about the government, the Turkish flag of the military. I learnt this when looking at the Atatürk monument. I also learnt that I shouldn’t be taking photos of people without asking for their permission first – oops!

After a long walk around the city with my guide, we headed to a small tea place where we drank a lot of apple tea. Delicious! I’ve never tried any other tea than plain, black tea before – this was surprisingly tasty. I chatted to my guide about our interests; travel, casinos, friends. I think he’s really cute, but I won’t be going there!

After my great experiences with the tour guide today, I might either brave the city alone or ask him to show me around again! My new plan for the week is to visit a “hammam” or Turkish bath, a local historical bazaar and Suleymaniye Mosque.

Have any of you visited Istanbul? I’d love for you to get in touch and give me your tips. I’m heading to bed now, but not before I finish playing on Agent Istanbul online. I might try and buy a book of facts about the city tomorrow too as I would like to learn some of the language, about the history and maybe extend my stay. I can’t stay in this fancy hotel for much longer – my budget will run out. Where do you think I should head to next – I quite fancy seeing some of Asia soon!