Music, round of drinks and 20 degrees in January: that’s not a bad welcome at all, Istanbul!
The preconditions were not that good: terrorism alert, the related worries of our beloved ones (“be careful, don’t you have another place to fly to? two girls… usually in January the forecast says snow over there”), but in the end the welcoming could not be better.
After an awesome couple of hours flight with Turkish airlines – nothing to do with the return flight with BA, (British Airways) that couldn’t hold a candle to it – we arrived to the only city in the world divided by two continents.
Europe and Asia live side by side in this 15 million people metropolis, in an amazing mishmash of different cultures, sounds and scents spread in every single corner of this city.
The accommodation at the Boutique Hotel No 18 had been exactly the right choice: super position and receiving and the room was very nice too.
Putting down the luggage took us a couple of minutes and we were already by Beyoğlu streets, surrounded by the joyful mood.
During dinner we had fun with the nice people seated next to us: between one raki toast and a guitar strum they were trying – unfortunately with no success :'( – to teach us how to pronounce Teşekkür ederim (thank you in Turkish).
The day after we woke up with the muezzin call: it was my first time and definitely it’s something very special, a unique sensation.
We then followed the people flood into Istiklal Caddesi (Istanbul shopping and bar street) and we arrived in Taksim square, simply immense and full of history.
With the underground – which is the second most ancient one in the world after the London Tube – we reached Eminönü where we boarded a Bosforo tour ferry.
For nearly two hours we were cradled by the gentle swinging and by the seagull flying, while the mosques profiles peeked out from the city hills.
The aperitif could just be at Leb-i Derya: when I walked in I felt like my heart had skipped a beat because of the breathtaking view. From its windows you can see all the city, an even more astonishing show considering the sunset pink light and the muezzin chant that seem to guide Istanbul to the night.
The following days slipped away quickly among the sightseeing on the marvellous Aya Sofya, Blu mosque, Basilica Cistern, Galata Tower and Hippodrome, the never ending walks through the side messy alleys, a ride on the nostalgic red tram and obviously a tour at the Gran Bazar.
All of this was followed by sensational pastries tasting, by local dinners – Lokanta Helvetia stands over the others -, by the unbelievable chats with the nice and friendly residents and by cats, second citizens of Istanbul which seem to guide you to the thousand hints of this magic city.