On a last minute whim we decided to dash away to Turkey for the long weekend and it turned out to be an unforgettable few days!!
The start of the Islamic month of Muharram spoiled us with a long weekend in Dubai and the family and I were tossing ideas around about options of a local getaway. Fast forward a few hours and we had settled on a weekend to Turkey! Quite a drastic leap from our original idea, I know, but as you get to know me better you’ll realise I thrive on spontaneity.
We decided on Tuesday morning, booked in the afternoon and were off on Wednesday. Fortunately South Africans don’t need to apply for Turkish visas in advance so we could be on our way, hassle free.
We arrived in Turkey late Wednesday evening at the Four seasons Hotel in Sultan Ahmet. The location is ideal for a short trip as all the main tourist attractions are a stones throw away. I can not emphasize enough the hospitality and amazing service we received from the hotel, from the moment we checked in till we left. The attention to detail was astounding!! From our favourite snacks to prayer requirements, we were short of nothing!! They even included an entire toiletry set, chair, toys, snacks and games for my two boys which kept them fully occupied and allowed us time to settle in. Four Seasons hotels, in general, have to be on my list of top hotel chains in the world. Turkey would be my 5th destination staying at one of their hotels and it just gets better and better. There’s so much I’d like to share with you about my Four Seasons experiences that I’ve decided to do a separate post on them soon!
With limited time, I decided to visit the most famous attractions: Topkapi museum, The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia. I had goosebumps walking from one extroadirnary exhibit to the next. Seeing the staff of Moosa (A.S), the swords of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) and the clothing of the great women of Islam was Surreal! That one experience alone would have made the entire trip worth it! This city was once part of the greatest empire in the world and the centre of Islamic learning and culture.
The kids had a ball hopping from one street vendor to the next sampling the corn, roasted chest nuts and Simit bread!! Not forgetting the extra kilos we piled on from all the delicious Turkish delight. I quickly became addicted to the intense Turkish coffee. Definately an acquired taste, my advice, if it’s too strong at first don’t give up!! Try it with water, fresh Turkish delight, opting for small sips at a time and soon you’ll be able to taste the most amazing blend of coffee followed with an underlying taste of chocolate!! If you’re a strong coffee lover this is a dream come true!
My favourite part of this weekend getaway was a treat at the Aya Sofia Hamam. It was definately the most interesting ‘bath’ I’ve had in my life!! The treatment begins with a deep exfoliation, followed by a revitalising clay masque and ends with a relaxing sultan massage!! I definately recommend you try it if you ever visit the city!! If you’re on the shy side perhaps opt for a private package or choose a time when you’re not likely to bump into another barely clothed human! Trust me, if you’re not expecting it, the sight can be quite shocking!!
Whats any trip without a little shopping! I headed over to taksim square to get a taste of the local vibe! I loved the hip atmosphere of the area and the little local treasures I found along the way. I then visited the famous Grand Bazaar. Here you can find the exact replica of almost every designer bag and shoe! I fell in love with the beautiful carpets!! Those handmade beauties are definately on my list for my next trip!
Since it was a quick weekend away, I couldn’t see as much as I would have liked to. It was just a glimpse of a city I hope to visit again soon, most definitely for a longer time to cover everything I missed! I feel like Istanbul is a city you might visit 10 times and still find something exciting and new on your 11th trip. It looks like a city full of hidden treasures I can’t wait to discover!! Send me your Turkey experiences!! Would love to hear about them and add them to my list too.