My Favourite City: Istanbul

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It was 2012, a year where I didn’t have a big holiday but did many city breaks.  I visited Vienna, Barcelona, Rome and Istanbul.  If you’d asked me at the start of the year to put them in order of favourites it would have been Rome, Barcelona, Vienna then Istanbul.  What actually happened after I’d visited is the list is exactly the other way around!

My sister and I, had decided to go away together with no real destination in mind.  We checked what direct flights went from our local airport, and it actually worked out best based on the dates we could go  Yes that’s how we decided to go to Istanbul – convenience!

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We picked an amazing boutique hotel, ideal for a diva like me, in Sultanahmet part of the historic old city.  The little cobbled street that our hotel was on was quaint.  We loved all the restaurants on the roads.  One of the things I loved about the city, was how much everyone spoke to you, for example one night the waiter barely left our table, and we had some great conversations.

Being in Sultanahmet we felt in the middle of everything – we could even see the blue mosque from our hotel balcony.

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We were able to see all the main sights that were close to our hotel in one day.  At one point we were stood looking at the map, and a local came over and said “you don’t need a map, I can show you the way.”  And he did!  Everyone was so friendly, and I think the city certainly knows how to treat it’s tourists.  We did a lovely boat ride one day, and it’s always great to see a city from the water.

I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this, I’m now going to share a secret.  To be fair we had an ultra light tour guide book, and it was in there.  What was interesting is that not many of the locals had even heard of it.   Milka – a rooftop bar.  The taxi dropped us off and we still weren’t even sure where we were going and was told that it was in the Marmara Pera hotel.  I don’t know what I was expecting from a rooftop bar, maybe 5 or 6 stories up?  We got in the lift and I noticed that the lift went up to the 17th floor.  Once at the top we had to walk up a couple of flights of stairs.  But at the top of the stairs, oh my, my breath was taken away.  The view was amazing!

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We could see Europe and Asia from the same spot.  It’s an awesome bar and I’d recommend it time and time again.

I will always think of this city fondly.  The hospitality was what made the trip, along with the beauty of Sultanahmet.  It was so sad to hear of all the troubles that have happened since our visit.  I’d recommend to experience the city, but please check https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice before travelling.

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