For all those victims of dreaded long haul flights especially for my fellow travelers who cannot sleep on planes, the blessed respite called “Free Stopover” in any airline booking brings welcomed relief. We found Turkish Airlines to be one of the best layover locations being situated not just conveniently between Asia and Europe but also fascinating in it’s own right (As compared to other stopovers that are simply all endless malls).
The beautiful arches of the Ottoman Imperial Mosque known as the Hagia Sophia. It truly felt solemn and awe inspiring to be in the midst of all this history. You have to respect the amazing detail set against the grandeur of the Byzantine Empire marking the glorious age and wealth of this empire (Thank you to my husband for supplying the context).
Turkish delights seem to be most of what people remember of Turkey do not forget the Baklava which in my opinion is even better as it is soft, chewy and moist with a flaky crust. I would say they are just the appetizer to this amazing journey through history.
The Grand Bazaar is truly a wonderful place to experience the Turkish salesman’s amazing deal making and haggling culture as the premier trader in the world.
The brightly colored displays compete for your eyes which bewilder and confuse even the most seasoned of shoppers like my aunts. You could spend days in there and still not see half of what it has to offer.
Travel tip: Antiques and decor are probably the most uniquely Turkish items for sale. Make sure to have a budget in mind as they will quickly haggle you up on the price before you know it.
If you are just on a short layover, then a private boat ride along the Bosphorus is an absolute must. This amazing crossroad between Asia and Europe is marked by an amazing collection of forts like the Rumeli Fortress which has lovely violet trees peaking above the stone walls that made for such a unique picture. There is the island with the “Maiden’s tower” which has its own legend . Of course the iconic Mosques dot the landscape providing for an amazing skyline.
I highly recommend stopping by the restaurants in Fish point located underneath the Golden Horn bridge across the Bosphorus for some great seafood (We had the salt encrusted fish and squid). It may be a bit of a tourist trap but nothing beats the amazing view of the boats cruising along the Bosphorus
We ended the trip with Dondurma ice cream who had a hilarious guy tossing taffy like ice cream back and forth located just off the famous square. You will find several of these ice cream stalls so be sure to try it!
Turkey is such a varied and interesting place that requires several trips to see it all. If there is one thing I reflected on is that the melding of Christian and Muslim cultures in Turkey is a testament to how similar both religions are and how we can live peacefully together to produce something even more magnificent.
We will definitely be back on another lay over next year. Until then we will savor our baklava and dream of the blue Bosphorus waters lapping next to the shores of Asia and Europe.