Istanbul is a kaleidoscope of sounds, smells and people. Everywhere we venture into there is a crowd of varying facial features accompanied by the smell of kebabs or cigarette smoke and the sounds of traffic intermingled with the spoken dialect. We are befuddled by the exotic ethnic appearance of the locals and yet intrigued by their origin and how they came to be today one of the most exciting cities in the world.
The sights are plentiful and something to behold. The Aya Sofia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Basilica Cistern are noteworthy tourist attractions rich in history. But just walking down the streets and having locals stop you for a chat or just observing how these city dwellers go about their lives on a Friday night offered us a glimpse into modern day Istanbul, the model city for the Arab world.
We have seen both the best and worst of Istanbul and no other city will come close to delivering the sorts of experiences we have had in Istanbul.
We couldn’t have picked a better location for our first ever hot air balloon ride. We floated gracefully in the air over the most peculiar looking rocks and landscape with the sunrise providing a magnificent backdrop to our surroundings. Beautiful is an understatement. Magical is probably the closest word to describe the entire experience.
Cappadocia or Kapadokya in Turkish is incredibly unique and surreal in its natural beauty. One of Turkey’s best attractions, its biggest highlight is a hot air balloon ride before dawn to take in the vastness of this alien landscape. I think what made it even more special was that we were not alone up in the air. Numerous other hot air balloons dotted the sky, painting a dreamy picture.