Istanbul, Turkey.

DSC02097

I spent the autumn break in Istanbul with my mom. We arrived in the middle of the night and drove with the taxi to our hotel in Sultanahmet, the old city of Istanbul. On one hand Istanbul is a very modern city and one the other hand very traditional. Istanbul is located both in Asia and Europe seperated by the Bosphorus Strait, and actually I felt like it was literally a mix between Southern Europe and Asia decorated with alot of mosques. 

Exploring

Sometimes its good to have no plan. We knew which tourist attractions we wanted to see before the end of the trip, but just discovering the neighbourhood is an experience itself. As our hotel was so centrally located and we love to walk, we actually passed many exiting places.

DSC02019First we went to see a small mosque near our hotel and afterwards we passed the Little Hagia Sophia Mosque, which you can see in the picture below.  DSC02022We went all the way down to the river, The Golden Horn, where the fishermen stood side by side. We ended at the Galata Bridge and passed the Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar) on our way back to the hotel.  DSC02029

Sultan Ahmet and Ayasofya

The day we went to see The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii) and Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) was very sunny. The Blue Mosque was built from 1609 to 1616, and Hagia Sophia was constructed in 537 and was first a church, then a mosque and today a museum. Alot of history in one place. As we stood there in front of the Hagia Sophia the call to prayers began and you could hear the many mosques around town. This happens many times a day and its a part of Istanbuls charm. 

DSC02047
The blue mosque:
DSC02048Hagia Sophia:DSC02076

View of Istanbul

We also walked over the Galata Bridge to the other side of the Golden Horn (Still the European side of Istanbul) to go up in the Galata Tower where you have a 360-degree view of Istanbul. While we were up there is was getting darker and darker, also visible in the pictures. DSC02087 DSC02094

The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is located in the Sultanahmet District. It has many small alleys and you can easily find yourself lost between the thousand of colorful lamps and beautiful painted bowls. DSC02107 DSC02108 DSC02110

Dolmabahçe Palace

The Palace and its garden are huge and from 1856 to 1922 it served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire until the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924. From 1924, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey, used the palace as a presidential residence during the summers. He died in the palace in 1938. You can get a tour inside the palace where you can see all the apartments, and also the room in which he died. 
DSC02121 DSC02122 DSC02124 DSC02126 DSC02128 DSC02130

Other great attractions

I would recommend people to also visit the Basilica Cistern that lies beneath the city. Its an underground chamber supported by a  336 marble columns, each 9 metres high.

The Miniatürk park is worth a visit if you have many days to spend in Istanbul. It’s a park with miniature models of famous buildings around Turkey and Istanbul.

The area around the Arasta Bazaar is also great and is located next to the Blue Mosque and the Mosaic Museum.

Last but not least, you should definitely go to the Asian side of Istanbul too. The only capital of the world on two continents.

DSC02147

Advertisement

Vacation booked.

20045237878_5c252bbaa4_h

I AM SO HAPPY! I am going to Istanbul for my semester break in October. I have never been to Turkey before, but I have many friends of Turkish origin, born and raised in Denmark. I know a lot about the culture already, and I have been to several Turkish weddings before, which included dancing halay (folk dance) for hours. The Turkish people definitely knows how to celebrate. I am looking forward to experience the culture and discover Istanbul first-hand.

I borrowed the amazing picture above from the blog:

http://makingmagique.com/travel/postcards-from-istanbul/

The picture shows a view of Istanbul and the famous Bosphorus Strait, with Asia on one side and Europe on the other. It’s  a fantastic blog, and the way the girl writes and describes the places she visits is worth reading. I like to plan my trip by reading travel blogs and recommendations, because if the writers have a huge knowledge about the specific place, or are locals, they often recommend cool, and to tourists, unknown places worth visiting.

I am very interested in hearing about some less touristy must do/must see places, restaurant, markets etc. in Istanbul. If you know any good places, I would appreciate it, if you are willing to share them with me by commenting on this post.

Madeira, Portugal.

DSC01114

In the Easter Holiday, I went to Madeira. An Island in the Atlantic Ocean belonging to Portugal, but actually closer to Africa. The weather was above 20 degrees and the sun made the city and island look gorgeous from the windows of the plane. It was windy though and with a short runway, we almost couldn’t land.

Madeira has no white sand beaches but there are many huge hotels with swimming pools right down to the sea. This was not where I lived, but anyway I didn’t spend much time at the hotel. Funchal, the main city on the Island is very cozy and relaxed with many small streets, mostly very steep. Everywhere you want to go is either up or down.

DSC01092On the way to the city centre.

DSC01098Fresh fish at the market.

DSC01112Palms and a blue sky.

DSC01123Funchal City.

Madeira is a destination for adventure and exploring. Many people trek in the mountains or walk along the Levadas. The Levadas are build water channels that transport water from the mountains to the city, Funchal. I did one of those walks on one of the really sunny days, and I had a nice clear view of the sea and city.

DSC01126 Levada walk.

DSC01129Resting and enjoying the view.

DSC01135View of Funchal City.

I also went to a viewpoint where I could see down to a valley called the Nuns Valley, which was a small town enclosed by mountains. We were up very high and could see the skies move slowly into the valley. I also made the to the most Eastern point of the Island.

DSC01183 The Nuns Valley.

DSC01184Walking path to the viewpoint.

DSC01188Up in the skies. The weather changed really fast in this Valley.

DSC01247The most Eastern point of Madeira.

Another amazing experience was driving up to one of the highest points on Madeira. It was a cloudy day but as soon as we came above the skies the sun was shining and the skies looked like pillows.

DSC01208This great feeling.

DSC01210It was possible to walk the last km to the peak.

The local drink on Madeira is called Poncha. Poncha is a drink made of alcohol made from sugar cane juice, honey, sugar, and with different fruit juices according to the version of Poncha, but traditionally lemon juice is used. It’s very stong.

DSC01225John’s Poncha where we stopped to try the Poncha.

DSC01223If you have more than three of these you can speak fluent Portuguese, our guide told us.

Madeira is known for their Espada Fish which is traditionally served with bananas. The Espada fish only lives in the sea around Madeira and Japan.

DSC01234Espada fish with veggies, rice, and a local soft drink.