2018 was an especially good year for travel. I was fortunate to be able to travel somewhere fun almost every month, both in the US and overseas. Many of the locations were new to me, including a new continent-Africa. I also revisited some of my favorite cities-London, Istanbul and Washington D.C. I have written about my experiences for many of these destinations-but some are still sitting in my draft que, waiting to be finished (one of the resolutions for 2019 before I start traveling again).
It’s the magic hour in Istanbul – that time of day after the sun has set and the sky turns a deep royal blue. It’s the perfect time of day for the best view of Istanbul from the Galata Bridge. Looking uphill, the great Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent sparkles like a jewel. In the waters of the Golden Horn at the base of the bridge, the colorful Balik Ekmek (fish sandwich) boats serve up freshly cooked fish to hungry locals and tourists alike. It’s my last grand view of this wonderful city on my last night in Istanbul. What a great way to end my visit. But not my last one – I’ll be back.
As I stood on Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul, watching the large crowd of people walking up and down the street, this gentleman blowing bubbles caught my eye. He kept blowing bubbles, trying to sell his little bubble blowing toys. Most of the crowd just parted and walked around him, some smiling at his antics as they walked by. Occasionally, he would make a sale, but he just kept blowing his bubbles which added to the overall festive atmosphere on a Sunday afternoon on Istiklal Avenue.
Sunday afternoon on Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul. I read that as many as 3 million people will walk this one mile pedestrian street on a weekend day, and that certainly seemed to be the case on the Sunday afternoon that I was there. The street is lined with shops, boutiques, cafes, restaurants and movie theaters. A historic red tram can take you up and down the street, but don’t take it if you are in a hurry. The tram has to go very slowly to let the sea of bodies part so that it can pass. This certainly seems to be the place to go to see and be seen.
You’ll see Whirling Dervish performances advertised throughout Istanbul, offering an evening of entertainment. But for an authentic experience, I chose to attend a true Mevlevi religious ritual at the Galata Dervish Monastery.
Enjoying a hamam, or Turkish bath in Istanbul is a unique experience in Turkey. I wanted to try it on my first visit to Istanbul, but to do so, I would have to set aside my inhibitions about being seen naked by strangers. Could I do that?
Early morning fog shrouds the Bosphorus Bridge, the first bridge to connect the European side to the Asian side of Istanbul. At the time of its completion in 1970, it was the fourth longest suspension bridge in the world. Since then, two additional bridges have been built across the Bosphorus. In December 2016, the Eurasia tunnel connecting the two continents was also completed. But Istanbul’s expansive ferry system is still an integral means of transport as 300,000 passengers use them daily to get from one side to the other.
Street art may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of art in Istanbul. But on my recent visit, I discovered some great examples in the area of Kadikoy on the Asian side of the city. Searching out the street art in Istanbul was also a great way to explore this less touristy part of this historic city.
Simit is a common street food in Istanbul. Dough is formed into a ring, dipped in grape molasses and sesame seeds and then baked. Vendors sell it from street carts, or, as in this case, by carrying a tower of freshly baked simit around the neighborhood to sell to local residents. This gives a whole new meaning to a balanced breakfast.