Golden Horn Istanbul
Turkey, the Istanbul journey that connects the East with the West
Written by Faz Ali
On 30 May 2024

Visiting Istanbul, the city where the East meets the West, was truly a mesmerising experience filled with historic landmarks and cultural richness that captivated my soul over and over after each contact.

I return to Turkey almost religiously and whilst the country isn’t short of destinations to choose from they are extensive and diversified, Istanbul, the place where the ordinary touristic allure blends seamlessly with the local’s warm hospitality, their vibrant way of life and their gastronomic delights that tantalises ones’ senses, holds a special place in my heart.

The bustling and dynamic atmosphere of the city seeps through mundanity as soon as you land in Istanbul. 

Navigating the city from the airport to the hotel is always a straightforward process, with various transportation options available such as taxies, shuttle service and public transportation.

Turkey’s dedication to providing exceptional service for visitors is apparent in every aspect of my journey, considering the heavy reliance of the country on tourism as main contributor to its economy.

I tend to opt for a taxi ride not just because of a comfortable, transparent and fair way of reaching my accommodation, but because of the unmatched stories and connection I develop with my drivers. 

The Golden Horn stretch of water

The experience allows me to enjoy the sights and sounds of the city, preparing me for the adventure about to unfold in this captivating city.

Upon arrival at the hotel, prepare to delve deeply into the unmatched hospitality that Istanbul is renowned for as soon as you are checking in.

The staff is always keen to accommodate all my requirements and eager to assist with any questions or recommendations I may seek. 

Moreover, the hotels that offer an exquisite view of the city’s skyline, providing a breathtaking introductory sight of this captivating destinations are always a top choice in terms of accommodation.

Once I settle in, I refuse to waste time any longer and find my way towards the historic landmarks that impacted my soul after each visit. 

The Blue Mosque holds a special place in my heart, for its architectural grandeur coupled with the tranquillity and spiritual fulfilment it emanates.

Also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, one is immediately enveloped in a sense of peace and awe-struck beauty, inspired from its unearthly blue tiles, intricate calligraphy and towering minarets.

The quality of my experience here is always heightened by the genuine interactions with the locals and their genuine eagerness to present glimpses of their culture to tourists willing to listen.

View of Galata Tower

Their way of life, rooted in deep social interactions, religious connections and good food are outstanding aspects of the Turkish existence I wish to permanently implement in my life.

As I stroll through the city, the culinary scene of Istanbul beckons with savoury kebabs, delectable baklava and an extensive array of affordable gastronomic delights, truly experiencing the city’s flavour with every bite, that showcase the local’s passion for good food exchanged in friendly social settings. 

The affordability of these culinary treasures play an important role in my annual return to Turkey, allowing me to indulge in a continuous feast for the senses without suffering remarkable financial loss.

In my attempt to continue my cultural immersion, I make my way towards the Suleymaniye Mosque, equally imposing in its stance and triumphant in adding to the sense of tranquillity and serenity lurking internally from my previous visits.

Descending into the basilica Cistern, an underground cathedral, like structure dating back to the Roman times, is an extremely well-preserved masterpiece often featured in impactful movies scenes for its ability to offer the visualisers access to a place of mystery and wonder.

Sunset from Galata Tower

Having the opportunity to experience the dimly lit columns, the sound of the dripping water and the meditative ambiance carefully captured in “From Russia with Love” was a unique and unforgettable experience.

While I opt to wander the streets extensively and often lose track of time indulging in the sights of the historic landmarks, this time I also chose to indulge in the luxury of a private cruise on the Bosphorus

Uskudu Nakkastepe, National Garden

The Bosphorus Strait is filled with some much residual epoch, specific enticement, inviting me to willingly surrender my consciousness for a moment of historic fascination.

Although it displays a bridge between the two continents, it transcends its physical presence and manifests a symbolic representation of unity and connectivity, a reminder that despite geographic and cultural differences, we are all linked in a larger tapestry of humanity.

Whilst cruising along the Bosphorus, I can witness this manifestation of modernity and tradition, a voyage that highlights the coexistence of contrasting worlds in diversity and harmony.

Istanbul is a multifaceted experience that celebrates the history, culture, hospitality and culinary delights characteristic to Turkey promising to offer an unforgettable travel experience.

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