Travel Diaries Turkey

Unusual Places in Istanbul

September 25, 2016

Lately, Istanbul has changed a lot. Yes, it has always been big, fast, spry, nimble and chaotic. And yes, it has always been vitally important to breathe and think in Istanbul’s rhythm. Otherwise, it will throw you out.

Istanbul has become bitter and desperate. Recent terrorist attacks, the attempted military coup, a tourist embargo with a neighboring country stopped tourists from visiting the city. Hotels in Istanbul are now half empty and the souvenirs in small shops are covered with dust. The merchants can only dream of the profits they used to have over the past years.

I could really feel that there is a struggle for every Lira. No, they don’t fight for a client, they only want one’s money. The merchants lie aggressively and when I pointed it out to them they laughed at my face. During this trip to Istanbul, I felt like I was an ATM machine that had to give out banknotes upon every demand.

Of course, not all people from Istanbul act this way. Most of the people who do not work in tourism are friendly and kind. Despite the political and economic situation in the country, they have remained wonderful and helpful.

If you also experienced this attitude as we did and you want to hide from the city here is a guide to a different Istanbul. Let’s enjoy the city’s main sightseeing sites but from a new perspective.

A rooftop overlooking Aghia Sophia
This is probably the most romantic place to enjoy the sunset over Aghia Sophia and the Bosphorus and see the seagulls flying above you. This is also the time when the evening prayer begins and it can be heard from the minarets of the mosques. The wind, loud voices of the seagulls, the prayer make Istanbul sound very different from what you feel in its streets. Isn’t this a perfect place for a picnic?
This rooftop belongs to an abandoned building next to Bonhotel at Sultanahmet 5. You may get to the rooftop through the window in the kitchen of the hotel. To do this you need to kindly ask the hotel manager. You can also buy a bottle of wine in the lobby and ask for elegant wine glasses.

Inebolu Market
If you also like to meet the city’s culture through exploring its markets, then you should visit Inebolu Market where farmers bring their products. This market is very authentic and lives its own life, as it is rarely visited by tourists.
Opening hours: Sunday 7 am – 5 pm
Address: Küçük Piyale Mahallesi, Toprak Tabya Sokak Kasımpaşa
How to get there: Go to the bus station at Eminönü and take the bust to Toprak Tabya Sokak.

Rooftop above Grand Bazaar

James Bond always chooses the most scenic locations for his adventures. Do you remember his famous motorbike ride on the rooftops of Grand Bazaar? That rooftop is not accessible for visitors but there is another one called Büyük Valide Han.

Pass through the Egyptian Market and ask the local merchants where the secret door is. Pay two Liras to an old man who is guarding the door and enjoy a spectacular view of the old part of Istanbul.


Istanbul is very beautiful when you look at it from the water. The Bosphorus divides it into two parts: the old city with ancient mosques and minarets pointing up into the sky, and the new part with a modern skyline and glass buildings reflecting the sun’s rays onto the water and boats. A public ferry is a great way to explore Istanbul and its surroundings. Just take any one you like and enjoy your day. Then take another and see where it will take you. You can also take a ferry to the Prince Islands from Eminönü ferry docks. During the Byzantine period, princes and other royalty were exiled on the islands. Later, members of the Ottoman Sultan’s family were exiled there as well, so this is why the islands were named Prince.

A great place with great people

My overall stay in Istanbul was very unpleasant, that is why I want to tell you about a great place where you can meet some great and friendly people.

When we had just arrived in Istanbul, we had trouble finding our hotel so we asked a man for help. He was enjoying a conversation and a cup of coffee in a pub on the corner. He left his table and guided us to the front door of the hotel. Later in the evening, we came to the same pub for an evening drink and we met him again. His name is Nuri and he is a manager at the pub. He was very friendly, and told us about Inebolu market and gave directions how to get to the Prince islands.

If you come to Istanbul, just visit Port Shield Gulhane and say «Hi» to him. By the way, this pub has a great selection of beer there, which can rarely be found in Istanbul city center.

The address is: Ebusuud Caddesi No:2 Sultanahmet

How did you feel about Istanbul?13913944_1259113454121388_1604913165126128982_o13938088_1257992987566768_2102253903565428542_o14138724_1277751762257557_9084967974478751438_o14434886_10209114700218097_381772346874130456_o14425424_10209114700178096_7124010998395113775_o14409495_10209114700138095_3914657099107390935_o

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    Reply John Rodgers September 25, 2016 at 8:09 am

    I was in Istanbul the end of 2015 and when the president announced the potential war with Syria we left a few weeks early about 10 days before the first bomb. When we were there it was the other Istanbul, the merchants of course always try to get the last Lira but now I am sure it is a place I would not want to visit. I was a little surprised when I read your blog posts and you were there. I did love Istanbul and will be glad when this mess is worked out and it gets back to prewar status. I loved our cruise on the Bosphorus and we go great photos across the water from the Galata Tower as well as the rooftops.

    • Siniciliya
      Reply Siniciliya September 25, 2016 at 8:18 am

      Cappadocia is so different though … very peaceful and friendly. And Istanbul did everything to make me run away from there. I also hope it will become a fun place again. But as of now, I just don’t recommend anyone visiting it.

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    Reply Subhadrika Sen September 25, 2016 at 11:19 am

    I love reading your posts it always gives me new places to add to my kitty. But I must say you scared me a little in two of your photographs- sitting on the roof. I have visited a lot of seasides. So, I would want to cut down my time at the beach and probably head to the bazaar or even the rooftop.

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    Reply Rashmi and Chalukya September 25, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    Completely in awe of your pictures. The rooftop views overlooking the city flanked by domes and Minarets is incredible. We would be happy to explore a city like locals so we would definitely go for a public ferry to explore Istanbul and its surroundings.

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    Reply Sabine September 25, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Thank you for sharing the pretty parts with us…Live in istanbul must be incredibly hard at the moment, it is absolutly horrible what war and insanity can do to a colorful and facinating city. One of my friends is from Istanbul and he always used to tell me stories about the magic of the city…

    Hope the situation will improve, because damn I really want to go there and I am so pinning your tips for that time 😉

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      Reply srbrnrd October 1, 2016 at 4:16 pm

      Actually, Istanbul is really quiet at the moment, specially for expats living here. There were some weeks where the tension was obvios, don’t get me wrong, things are not at its best. We’ve experience a big change and we’ve only lived here for a year and a half, but we do our regular everyday life, go out to the same places and so on

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    Reply The Solivagant Soul (@Thesolivsoul) September 25, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Unfortunely, even if a place is beautiful (as you well show in your pictures), all the input we get from there are the bad news. I decided to pay 100 euros more on my flight to Thailand, just to avoid a stopover there. Because yes, it may be very nice, but from the outside you only get the bad… Anyway, like always, loved your pictures!

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    Reply fillmypassportblog September 25, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    I was in Istanbul in 2013 and had a mixed experience of cultural education as well as fear and uneasiness. I had a very scary experience in the bazaar, but enjoyed the spice market, Turkish baths, Blue Mosque sightseeing and other things very enjoyable. It was interesting to read of other experiences there. I hope to get back to Turkey someday, but at the moment, i’m hesitant to travel there due to security issues.

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    Reply Punita Malhotra September 25, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Your pictures are so very beautiful..its like a movie photo shoot. For me, Turkey suddenly has fresh appeal again. Sometimes, to see a place with fresh eyes, just fresh eyes are enough. And sometimes, you need fresh vantage points too!

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    Reply verushka September 25, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    I have visited Istanbul three times and fell in love with the city.It is so sad about the terrorist attacks.Thank you for sharing such a great list of unusal places I will defo check them out next time I visit.I loved taking the ferry across.

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    Reply September 25, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    I’ve never experienced any of what you mention in this post when in Istanbul and have always found the people to be open and friendly, as well as helpful, despite their desperate poverty and hard living conditions……it’s so sad to read this…..

    • Siniciliya
      Reply Siniciliya September 25, 2016 at 6:49 pm

      I loved the city when I visited it 2 years ago. I was alone and felt very safe, people were also very friendly.
      However, this time, my experience was totally different… Unfortunately

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    Reply Laveena Sengar September 25, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    I have just seen Istanbul in movies and it seems really beautiful to me. I always love the work with your pictures. Some of the pictures are just too fabulous. It’s a great list and description.

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    Reply Tom September 25, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    I like how you started this posts with recent events, not just romaticizing a place as so many other posts do, but then circled around to the charming bits. I’ve only been to Istanbul once, but recognized very quickly the charms of all the rooftop bars, perches, and just hangout spots. People don’t generally think of it as a vertical city, but it is.

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    Reply Thuymi @ September 26, 2016 at 3:34 am

    Okay that’s it, so much inspo, I better start chasing rooftops now and almost want to go back to Istanbul just to chase rooftops, LOVE this post, thanks thanks thanks!

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    Reply eckids September 26, 2016 at 4:41 am

    Istanbul seems so intriguing and I love the mystery of asking for a ‘secret door’ in a city to find a fabulous view.

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    Reply indrani September 26, 2016 at 7:34 am

    That first picture, I had my heart in my mouth. You must be brave to sit there at the edge.
    The places you mentioned are new to me and gives a fair idea about the destinations. Hope I make it there some day.

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    Reply Sheri @ A Busy Bees Life September 26, 2016 at 8:38 am

    I have never been to Istanbul. It is a place we wanted to visit but since having my little one and all the disturbance and attacks going on, it is really not a risk we can take. I wish you had a better time there. I was happy to read about the other places you visited and of course the pictures are AMAZING as always!

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    Reply EG III September 26, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Beautiful pictures and I admit…you had me from the very first image. I was last there in 2012 so I can image it’s changed a lot. Although you may not have had the best time during your recent trip, at least you were able to salvage a few positives and share them 🙂

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    Reply Joanna September 26, 2016 at 10:29 am

    I know Istanbul is an amazing city and I regret cancelling my trip there years ago, when the friend I was supposed with had to cancel because her mother got sick. I wish I would have gone anyway. Now, to be honest, I am afraid. I had to book a flight recently and even if the option with a 20 hours stop over in Istanbul was much cheaper, I chose the more expensive flight. I do hope that peace will come back to Turkey and it will rise again as a high top touristic destination.

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    Reply GlamKaren September 26, 2016 at 11:07 am

    That rooftop seems like an iconic and gorgeous place to check out! What amazing photos you would get and what a unique view of Istanbul!

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    Reply Blair Villanueva September 26, 2016 at 11:10 am

    Hello Veronica,

    It so sad that the tourism industry in Istanbul has weakened. I always think that Istanbul is a beautiful city and offers lots of opportunities and possibilities. I don’t like coup and wars – it ruins everything.

    Glad that you had a great time! And your photographs looks like postcards 😀

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    Reply Rachel Langer September 26, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    I have not heard good things about Istanbul from others. Your beautiful pictures actually shocked me!

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    Reply Judson L Moore September 26, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Oh you got me so excited with the bit about the rooftop above the Grand Bazaar! And My mind went directly to 007 before you even said it. Perfect! I spent a few days in Istanbul a few years ago, before all the recent craziness started. It was so lovely then and I hope that things will calm down soon so that I can return to there. It truly is an amazing city.

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    Reply Rebecca September 26, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    what a beautiful place. I enjoy finding new places to visit and places that tourist don’t usually think about.

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    Reply wanderingwagarschristina September 26, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    I have not been to Turkey but it is very high on my bucket list. Hopefully this attitude you witnessed will disappear and Istanbul will become a friendlier place. Thanks for the hint about the rooftop. The view looks spectacular.

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    Reply Tamz September 26, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    The tourism sector of Istanbul has changed indeed due to all the unfortunate political events that have been happening in and around Turkey. Considering that, I quite appreciate your effort to bring out some nicer aspects of the city. I already loved the shots of you and Vitaly chilling out on that rooftop that you had shared on social media before. It was nice to get a descriptive view of those moments here.

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    Reply Kim September 26, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    This looks like a beautiful city! I need to venture to international destinations. I love the photos and culture.

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    Reply Debra September 26, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    Your pictures are breath taking, my brother-in-law went once but it was during the riots and he didn’t get to see much. I would love to see what you’ve seen!

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    Reply cvnxena September 26, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    wow Istanbul looks beautiful, I love that there are options away from the usual tourist ones because it makes it feel more authentic!!

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    Reply Terri Steffes September 26, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    I’m sorry to hear your trip wasn’t all you wanted it to be. Your photos are lovely. It’s too bad the people weren’t.

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    Reply Ana De Jesus September 26, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    That first photo of you up on the roof is spellbinding. I think that you are right, though some parts of Istanbul may seem war torn and formidable but it is a beautiful country at heart.

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    Reply workoutwithdi September 26, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    Istanbul was never really somewhere I even thought about visiting. However looking at your photo’s I’m reconsidering!!!

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    Reply Jen September 26, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    I am surprised you said it was “unpleasant”, hopefully that was just a typo! That is so sweet the man helped guide you to the table. What a nice gesture.

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    Reply vishvarsha September 26, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    I love Istanbul! The Natural and the Heritage landscapes are just so enticing and pure. Lovely post and as usual stunning pictures!

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    Reply Allison Rebecca September 27, 2016 at 12:43 am

    I have heard Istanbul is amazing! I would love to go sometime, these photos make it look amazing!

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    Reply Karina Pacheco September 27, 2016 at 1:10 am

    Your pictures are always so pretty and Instanbul has some beautiful views. Love looking at the pictures!

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    Reply Karen Coghlan September 27, 2016 at 1:55 am

    Beautiful, but sad… Would love to visit after the wicked are removed… LOL

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    Reply Amanda Love September 27, 2016 at 2:44 am

    I’ve never been to Istanbul and I really appreciate that you’re sharing all the awesome places to go there. Sorry that you had an unpleasant stay. It’s really nice that you’re doing this for the rest of the people who are planning to travel there.

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    Reply Amanda Love September 27, 2016 at 2:50 am

    I’ve never been to Istanbul and I really appreciate that you’re doing this for the people who are planning to go there. I’m sorry about the unpleasant experience and I hope these places at least helped you enjoy a little!

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    Reply taylorannes95 September 27, 2016 at 4:24 am

    I have never been anywhere besides the United States and Mexico. I would LOVE to travel more with my husband!

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    Reply Robin Rue September 27, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Those views from the rooftops look amazing. I would be a little afraid to venture up there. Istanbul looks beautiful!

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    Reply Reesa Lewandowski September 27, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    I am so in awe of people that travel like this. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. It truly is breathtaking to see and learn about different places such as Istanbul I may never get to visit.

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    Reply Ellie Augustin September 27, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    I’ve never been but wow the views from these images are amazing. This would be a wonderful place to escape and find some amazing adventures to treasure for a lifetime.

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    Reply girlonthemoveblog01 September 27, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    I had a friend travel to Istanbul last year and then now reading your post makes me want to go and explore…loved your perspective on the different views

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    Reply Anamika Ojha September 27, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Istanbul looks absolutely splendid in your pictures! And it is so sad that Istanbul is lacking tourists due to past incidences happened there. I don’t know when our world will be free from terrorism and become safest place for everyone to stay in peace and harmony!

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    Reply Carol September 28, 2016 at 12:15 am

    I honestly didn’t realise Istanbul could be so beautiful. Those cafe shots make me want to go and have a coffee and ponder life!

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    Reply Dawn McAlexander September 28, 2016 at 2:50 am

    Istanbul looks so pretty. I want to visit all these great places someday. Istanbul just got added to my list.

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    Reply Jill Conyers (@jillconyers) September 28, 2016 at 9:13 am

    You got some incredible shots. Istanbul looks like such a beautiful and relaxing place to visit.

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    Reply Nicole Escat September 28, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Oh, how I wish I can go to Istanbul this year. The place looks so lovely!

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    Reply Liana September 29, 2016 at 8:26 am

    I was in Istanbul for a layover the past year, and I felt the vibe of the city as I was talking with locals. I do feel this city is quite special, it seems like the laic filled with freedom city in all the country. As you were talking about your experience, I felt like I was living through your words, and that’s why I do feel there was some kind of magic about the essence of the city. Furthermore, I love you’re mentioning all of these not so known places. I’ve heard so much about Turkey and Istanbul, and I quite love wandering on Tuula blog or yours, and overtime you’re posting about this country, I get so curious. I’ve spend 6 months in Tel Aviv and I was so closed of it, I definitely wanted to go just to check these places. One of thing I do love are the Shuk – Market, and the Inebolu Market seems just so great to discover such as the Grand Bazaar. Finally, I have to say; your photos are incredible and that’s why I love wandering on your blog. They are just making me want to jump on a plane to see all of this beauty!

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    Reply The Trophy WifeStyle September 29, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    OMG!!! What lovely photos!!!! I would love to travel to Istanbul one day! Looks like a great place

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    Reply Lucy Valdez September 30, 2016 at 12:39 am

    I have never traveled to Istanbul…honestly it was never a blip on my radar as a place I would be interested in visiting but after these pics…I may have to reconsider…Absolutely breathtaking!

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    Reply Alina Popescu October 1, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Wow, this is so sad! I’ve been to Istanbul three times and I miss it terribly. But what you describe is not the city I fell in love with. Maybe I should wait for things to calm down before going there.

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    Reply Sarah October 1, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Nice to read an honest post not just about all the good things but painting a real picture of a city in turmoil! Will save if I end up going to Istanbul any time soon 🙂

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    Reply Karen October 1, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Wow, love your photos. I still would like to visit Turkey (I haven’t been yet) and I’m sorry to hear that things are so difficult there. I’m hoping they improve soon.

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    Reply Happily Tanned October 1, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Wowww! Beautiful pictures. You would surely have gone to unusual places to click these pictures

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    Reply Sarah M October 2, 2016 at 2:34 am

    You have some interesting stuff here; I am going back to Istanbul next week, staying for a month, so I will definitely look for this.
    I’m down at the coast of Turkey at the moment and it really is quite sad to see how the drop in tourism is impacting on the lives of ordinary people.
    I do think Istanbul is a little volatile and uncertain but I really do want to get to know the place better.
    Your photos are amazing.

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    Reply Melanie Frost October 2, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    You are very brave to travel there. I don’t travel very much, but Istanbul is not somewhere I would ever think of to visit. Maybe when there is peace restored to the country, it might be a different experience but I’m not sure if that will ever happen in this lifetime. At least you were lucky enough to visit and had a decent experience.

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    Reply Jeanine October 2, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    I don’t know much about Istanbul so I haven’t a clue about any places there. This sounds interesting. Such great photos!

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    Reply toughcookiemommy October 3, 2016 at 12:51 am

    A colleague of mine just recently took a trip to Istanbul and she had an amazing experience. She commented how friendly and warm the people were and how well she and her family were treated.

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    Reply Christine Cox October 3, 2016 at 1:14 am

    I have never even considered traveling to Istanbul before. I had no clue it was this beautiful!!

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    Reply Angela October 3, 2016 at 11:05 am

    I loved reading this post! Istanbul looks beautiful. It is not a place I had considered traveling too, but now I am thinking twice about it! Thank you for sharing this informative post about it!

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    Reply Kimberly October 3, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    That city look so romantic. I love the roofline. You look like you really enjoyed it too. I’ll have to visit with my Husband one day.

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    Reply Cynthia @craftoflaughter October 3, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    The struggle they face is so sad. Bitterness would be expected. It is still quite a beautiful destination and your photo’s sure illustrate that!

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    Reply Roselle CT October 5, 2016 at 8:54 am

    My impression of Istanbul is that it’s full of vibrant colors and flavorful food based on the articles I have read from different blogs. I was not really aware that Istanbul is going through a tough time lately. Praying everything will turn better soon.

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    Reply ROBERT LEE October 5, 2016 at 9:59 am

    I am sure the city of Istanbul will be bustling with tourists again. It will all be good. I love your photos which clearly shows how beautiful the city is, and I could sense how you are feeling. That photo at the rooftop somehow tells me that there is a sense of freedom, isn’t it?

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    Reply Maaya Legaspi (@ayawillgoplaces) October 5, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Your photos are all so dreamy! It literally shows the beauty of Istanbul. By the looks of it, it shows a really romantic facade. And that the city is not something to be afraid of. I’m sure everyone will see its beauty again.

    Living in the Moment

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    Reply Sydney Fashion Hunter October 5, 2016 at 11:37 am

    I have never been to Istanbul. It’s such a shame you had such an unpleasant stay. I understand feeling like a human ATM as many Asian countries are like that also. You simply can’t buy from everyone!

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    Reply Dominic October 5, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    I love the rooftop photos you have there. The place and the mood of the photo was just perfect. I can feel that you guys were enjoying. Too bad though that you had an unpleasant experience in Istanbul. But like in any place, it’s good that you met Nuri to help you out and give you a tour. May he be blessed more.

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    Reply Carola October 5, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    It’s such a pity that tourists has stopped visiting Istanbul! I get the why. But it’s sad it’s like this at the moment. From what I can see in your pictures, it’s really beautiful (I haven’t visited Istanbul yet). The rooftop pictures are stunning.

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    Reply Nilyn EC Matugas October 5, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    When I think of Istanbul, I only one thing comes to mind – Taken 2! That movie is really nice, btw! And so as the pictures! They’re all lovely! I wish we could come here. But for now, I don’t think that’s even possible. Istanbul is too far from the PH, I don’t know if we’ll even be able to afford it! lol.

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    Reply investmnl October 6, 2016 at 3:37 am

    Your photos are great! It makes me want to visit Instanbul right now. Ok, I’m including this now to my travel bucket list. I will have to remember the tips you’ve mentioned. Thanks for sharing! 😀

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    Reply Pria Amor Bote October 6, 2016 at 10:36 am

    I like how you take me to Istanbul. The rooftop picture is so great. it’s sad that the tourism is struggling. Everyone should see the beauty of this country.

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    Reply mariaisquixotic October 6, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    I haven’t been to Istanbul at all but the view from the rooftop is just breath-taking. For their tourism, I do hope that there will be programs that could improve and see the brighter side of the country. From the photos, I could remember Taken 2 and a bit of Game of Thrones (for reasons I don’t know). Haha!

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    Reply Tabitha Shakespeare October 11, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    What a gorgeous place! It’s so sad that the circumstances are making people struggle and therefore become demanding but you captured the city so beatifully!

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    Reply Ami Bhat October 16, 2016 at 2:06 am

    The roof tourism is quite unusual. I sure would love to check that out. And the bazaar does sound interesting. Have heard so much about Istanbul but given the current situation, unsure of whether I should plan a trip here or not. Glad you managed it when you did.

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    Reply carmyy November 1, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    I am absolutely in love with your photos! Have you considering doing a post on the best places to take photos in Istanbul?! Anyway,s I would love to see the markets – it is always fun to see what local are selling!

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    Reply Monika Mizinska January 25, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Back in 2012 i spent 3 weeks in istanbul with a kurdish ffamily, but they were so protective that i didnt see as much as i think i should have seen this list is aweome veronica and i would love to go to this rooftop!

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