I know, I know, I say this about almost every new city I discover- but believe me this time when I say that the vibrant and sprawling Turkish metropolis of Istanbul has become one of my favorite places on earth. I was so impressed by the city’s unique fusion of ancient and modern as it effortlessly intermingled with the traditional and trendy.
The decision to visit Istanbul was ultimately a difficult one for my husband and I. He wanted to go and I did not.
The Syrian War and the rise of the Islamic State to the south of Turkey’s border coupled with the recent conflict between Erdogan’s government and Kurdish rebels has lead to a rise in terrorist attacks targeting military and tourism. Just a few weeks prior to our trip, there was a suicide bomber that killed several tourists in Sultanahmet square. There was also recent conflict with Russia, when Turkey shot down one of Russia’s fighter planes near the Syrian border leading to cold thaw in relations between the nations. I remember telling a few friends Soley and I would be traveling to Istanbul, and receiving “be safe” text messages and calls. (Read my blog post regarding our brush with the Syrian crisis here)
Having spent three days in Istanbul, I guarantee you that it is still definitely worth traveling to, despite the danger. With traveling there is always a risk, anywhere you go.
Istanbul is comprised of three areas- there is the European side which includes the Beyôglu district, ancient Sultanahmet and the Golden Horn, and the Asian side with its multitude of Istanbulli suburbs. The Asian and European sides are connected by the only bridge in the world that connects two continents- the Bosphorus.
We stayed at the Four Seasons Sultanahmet for two nights and it was more than we could imagine. We went to Saudi Arabia after our trip and detoured back into Istanbul before we started our travels to Greece. On our third night, we stayed at The Witt in the Beyoglu district. Fell in love with Istanbul so much we canceled our Athens trip to stay in the city of seagulls a little bit longer.