Relax, it feels safe in Istanbul!

Due to unexpected and surprising, but pleasant ways of life, I found myself in Istanbul in a period when everybody is avoiding approaching Turkey. Here I am for 3 weeks, right after some bombings, attacks and other scary events and believe it or not I find it safe and exciting. Well, the more than one hour waiting time in the line ( what line? ) , sorry, I meant chaotic crowd, at the arrival wasn’t very exciting at the airport, especially felling your comfort zone being invaded from every possible side. Skipping that part and ignoring the usual issue of this city: crazy, really crazy traffic – Istanbul has a great vibe!
Taksim square at any time of the day or night remains the central point of entertainment.

  
  
Obviously if I made my way until Taksim square I wasn’t going to miss taking the funicular along Istiklal avenue.

  

Istiklal avenue had everything that I could wish for: shops, restaurants, beauty salons, bars and a few really good cafes. 

Turkish people are good at many things, but what I certainly appreciate the most is their skill of preparing really delicious sweets . Sometimes delicious is not enough for them and then they make it also impressive. How? For instance with this enormous tower of sugar, honey and others they managed to attract quite a few customers, at least until the window to take a photo.

  The big variety of baklava certainly distracts, but it does worth giving a chance also for the local cuisine, which never dissapoints either . 

  
  

With full stomach of Turkish food and delights I’m feeling pumped to make the most of my free days in this awesome city full of varieties. Not that much interested in the touristy spots, but at least from outside it does worth checking out the Blue Mosque and the Galata tower. 

  
  

 Some other worth seeing spots are around the two above mentioned ones and with the small number of tourists in no time I checked them out too. 

  
   

  

  

While sipping a refreshing home made lemonade at a nearly empty terrace near the Blue Mosque , the waiter tells me how on a regular Sunday like this I wouldn’t be able to find a table. Now it’s different though…The number of visitors dropped so much that the staff are bored during the working hours…On the other hand the degrees didn’t drop at all, instead kept increasing, so actually I’m quite glad I have a spot with my lemonade.

  
 All energized I’m hitting the road, not too far I bump into the Basilica Cistern. 

  
   

In order to make it all complete a bazar must be included too . I head to the spice bazar at the suggestion of my just met American mate , not that much cause I want to buy any special spices, but more for the experience. We get to discover that the spice bazar is actually a kind of bazar of everything: soaps, towels, sweets, teas and of course spices too. 

  
   

 In case you didn’t know what a great advertising are Turkish sellers able to improvise , at a bazar you will certainly notice. “Everything is the best quality, the most intense and long lasting perfume, at the best price and just for you with a semnificative discount . If you have any doubts you can try it: have a bite of the baklava, a sip of the tea.” Still not convinced ? Maybe the names will make it easier. Lacking some love? At every stand you will find some love tea. Feeling weak today? Red bull tea for you. Having a boyfriend with issues? Hopefully one of these two will solve the problem! 

  
We didn’t purchase anything, but had heaps of fun! “Bazaring” it’s cool and Turkey, you rule!

  
  
  

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Beauties of Bangkok: the temples

 

I was super excited to visit two of the most important attractions while in Bangkok. Even though I prefer the less touristy spots, Wat Pho and The Grand Palace can’t be missed. Both of them are extremely touristy, luckily when I went at Wat Pho it wasn’t such a huge crowd though. The ferry ride there is already an adventure itself, one of those adventures that I prefer not repeating. If the traffic on the roads of Bangkok seems unorganized and chaotic, check out the ferry on the river and you will kiss the ground when you get off. I didn’t like riding the ferry, but as I stepped to the fascinating Wat Pho I forgot about all the hassle I went through. The calmness you feel in this sacred place is probably better than any yoga session. First I was completely blown away of the beauty and the so meticulously decorated walls of the complex. It’s absolutely fascinating and I’m thinking what a hard work must be behind it.

  
Wat Pho is famous for the huge reclining Buddha, so my friend, Amita and myself make sure that we check it out. We are both impressed, it is truly big and it leaves us breathless for a second. Several notes around it, saying ” be aware of pickpocketers”. I can’t believe that in such a place some mean people can take advantage. It didn’t happen to us, but seeing those notes made us be more conscious and keep an eye on our belongings every second. Quite sad, because you don’t enjoy as much the whole setting when you know that someone closeby might rob you, do you?

  
However, the rest of the complex is calmer, tourists are all spread around, so we can explore every part in our own rhythm, calmly and observantly. I get excited at every step and probably repeat a thousand times : ” wow, that’s so beautiful”. 

  
With this occasion we can’t make it in time for the Grand Palace, so we leave that for the next morning and as we get there around 9 am is already so extremely packed with tourists from all over that you can barely move. Everybody is trying to get in but there’s no order whatsoever. That’s already annoying and for that reason I already think that I prefer Wat Pho. 

  
Finally we get in the complex but no chance to get rid of the big crowd at any time. Visiting the temples is another challenge, long queues and people pushing from all sides. When you eventually make it, at least inside you can relax a bit and feel a moment of calmness while admiring the Buddhas. As you may know, before entering a temple you need to leave your shoes outside, so just imagine what an aroma is floating in the air and your nose doesn’t know anymore what’s that fresh air. With other words, this visit is a fight for air, which is painful, but during this fight you see absolutely mesmerizing buildings, which somehow give you the energy to go on and survive in such conditions. 

  
I guess you could spend hours here, visiting several sights, but I gave up quite quickly. I’ve seen the most important ones and chose to escape the crowd. 

   
 It was way too much for me and if I end up again in Bangkok I will skip Grand Palace for sure. On the other hand I do recommend in for every first timer. Just have a lot of patience with you and some water, you will need one more than the other!