1. I accomplished *ALMOST* everything on my bucket list for Turkey! I couldn’t do Ansasör due to time constraints and I never tried Kumpir… mostly because food was not really a priority. Other than these two – I was able to do everything I wanted!
2. Istanbul is MASSIVE. I’ve never seen a city so big and with so much traffic. It’s got a population of 14 million which was incredibly overwhelming. On top of that, the driving is AWFUL. For some one who is very sensitive in terms of motion-sickness, there were many times that the thought of taking a taxi made me want to walk for hours instead. I would have felt ten times safer…
3. The history and culture in Istanbul blew me away. From the music, to the people and everything else in between it was nothing short of amazing.
4. I had my phone stolen before I even checked in at the hotel… While the true story behind my missing S5 is still a mystery, I’ve accepted that there’s a 90% chance it’s been stolen. I have a temporary phone for the time being (shout out to being over-prepared…)
5. The tea is addicting… and the spice shops will get you EVERY TIME. I’m coming home with at least 5 bags of loose-leaf tea for myself. No shame.
6. The Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar are definitely places to visit and barter, but I found some of the best deals as far away from the Bazaar as possible. I’m glad I took the time to walk around the city and visit random little hole-in-the-wall stores.
7. I didn’t like the coffee… It has a very strong taste and is not sweet enough for me… (I like coffee with my sugar, not the other way around)
8. The Turkish Hamami is a MUST MUST MUST MUST experience for anyone going to Istanbul. It is in the top three moments I’ve had in Europe so far. I wish I could do it every day. I went to a more local (and cheaper) hamami near the Grand Bazaar. It didn’t have the glamour of the other ones, but the people who worked there were EXCELLENT. I got a scrub, soap bath, and massage all for 50USD and it was worth every penny. I’d never felt so relaxed. And afterwards I could stay in the building for as long as I wanted going back and forth from the pool to the sauna.
9. Köfte is one of my new favorite foods. Along with leg of lamb. Actually, almost any meat you get in Turkey is guaranteed to be delicious.
10. People asked me what my name is and where I’m from at least 20 times a day – it was a great way to start conversation with the most random of people!