My story of solo travel to Istanbul.
My plane descended into Ataturk International Airport in the last moments of the night. A sprawling city lit up in all the colors of the rainbow spread out before me and the butterflies of excitement overtook any sense of fatigue from my long journey. At this point, I had the overwhelming feeling that I was about to arrive in a magical place.
You know you’ve arrived in a city of over 16.5 million people from the moment you step off the plane in Istanbul.
People from all over the world line up to enter the country. A little daunted by the sheer numbers of people in arrivals, I was soon through immigration and about to embark on my adventure. Friendly and helpful people assisted me through the airport and I found my way to the bus that would take me to the part of the city where I was staying, with ease. The public bus is a great way to get into the city, cheap and cheerful.
The first thing you notice about Istanbul is the amazing architecture. A blend of old and older, a mix of east and west, the juxtaposition of places of worship and a modern city provide the backdrop to the magic of this place. As soon as you step foot into Istanbul, the city both welcomes you and lays its spell on you.
After arriving at my hotel, and purveying the amazing view over the Bosphorus, it was a shower and change of clothes in preparation for an expedition, for me. Spring had just arrived in Turkey and although it was a little bit cold, the sun was shining as I made my way along the streets down the hill to the Bosphorus.
The cats and dogs of Istanbul seem to know I’m not from here and I felt sorry for them until I found the little houses the locals build for them and the bowls of food laid out in the neighbourhoods.
Little did I know that what was to await me at the bottom of the hill, was one of the most beautiful spots in the world. The Bosphorus weaves its magic over you from the moment you lay eyes on it.
It didn’t take me long to find a great place to find a cheap feed at a little spot where the Bosphorus boat tours come and go. I decided then and there to jump on a boat tour along this amazing waterway. Only 15 Turkish Lira (about $6 Australian Dollars) for a two hour cruise that provided a great overview of the city and what it had in store for me. From the deck of the boat, you can see many of Istanbul’s popular attractions and it was a great way to get my bearings on where I was staying in relation to the things I wanted to see for my solo travel to Istanbul.
Istanbul’s public transport, although a little crowded is a great way to get around.
Soon I found myself on a tram into the older part of the city. Istanbul you are mental! The sound of car horns blast out and you take your life in your hands just crossing the road. Mental and magical all at once I thought.
As you walk through this city your senses are heightened, the smell of coffee, beautifully colorful arrays of food, the call to prayer, architecture unlike anything you have seen before rolls out in front of you. A photographers delight! Of course I just had to have a piece of that freshly made Turkish Baklava. It’s in the old part of the city that you’ll find all of the popular tourist haunts, like the Grand Bazaar and the Blue Mosque. I would suggest you take a hop on hop off bus tour if you want to see them all or if you don’t want to get lost, as I am apt to do. Just beware of the usual tourist traps around these places. Overall, solo travel to Istanbul is an amazing adventure.
Yes Istanbul is mental, let’s face it, any city with that many people would be. But at the same time it is magical, a type of magic that takes hold of your heart and never lets go. I long to return.
Find out how to get a Visa for Travel to Turkey at Turkey Visa Guide by A Mary on the Road