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Istanbul, Turkey - Goodbye Europe

Destination 5/9 June 18 - 21 Where we stayed: Azre Hotel

Transportation ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ General costs ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Sights ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Food ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Accommodation ⭐️⭐️⭐️(⭐️) Sunday June 18 Our flight got into Istanbul around 8:00pm, one thing we were not told was that before the passport control there was a mandatory €50 (for Canadians) visa fee. You could get the visa just around the corner from the passport control and there were atm's right there as well but it was still an unexpected cost. It was late and pouring rain so we decided to get a taxi, turns out the airport we had flown into (Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, SAW) was about a 45 min drive from our hotel. We had no other way to get there so we sucked it up and did it. It costs about $50 CAD but it got us there safe and sound with no hiccups. Except for our old man taxi driver having to stop and ask another taxi driver for directions to our hotel which was more cute then a problem.

It was about 10pm and we just couldn't hold off until the morning so we walked just up the street to find somewhere to eat. We came across this awesome Turkish resturant Asmali Saki Meyhanesi. They were so sweet and the food was amazing!

(Excuse the iPhone pics of food, wasn't expecting such a great meal!)

Monday June 19 We had breaky at Noir Pit joined by our lovely feline friends.

Today we headed across the river and made our first stop at Topkapi Palace.

From there we walked along and passed by some shops.

And we also saw all these stray dogs having naps.... all at the same time. It was kinda weird. The locals are so kind to the cats here (and seem to tolerate the dogs). They leave out food and water for them and we saw many many locals go over a pet them and show them love.

But some weren't napping at all.

We continued down the street until we hit the blue mosque, unfortunately it was not open on Monday so we will be going back tomorrow.

We made sure to nip by the Grand Bazzar and walked around this huge market with little streets and shops everywhere you look. It seemed to just go on and on and on. The majority of the shops we saw were jewelry stores with beautiful pieces... to look at. But we came across many rugs and lights as well.

We carried on over the river and back to the area of our hostel and stopped at Sahrap for some late lunch.

(Deep fried salmon salad, life if all about balance lol)

Late afternoon we made a special stop Aga Hamami and treated ourselves to traditional Hamami Turkish bath ritual. Here's what we got: Full Package Entrance (Self Service): 50 tl Peeling(scrubbing): 10 tl Foam bath: 10 tl Oil Massage: 40 tl Mossy Facial Mask: 20 tl Total Price: 130 tl ($50 CAD) We started off with 30mins in a gorgeous marble sauna. I wasn't able to get a picture of the interior because of privacy there were other people in there. There was one big room with a heated marble slab in the middle where you lay. There were taps around the room with hot and cool water and you used little sauce pan looking things to fill them and pour the water onto yourself. There were 2 very small rooms with open entrance from the big room. They were just slightly hotter then the centre room. From there you continue on to the peeling(scrubbing) and foam bath. Here, a older Turkish women (60s ish) who was stripped down to her nickers scrubs you down and lathers you up! It was a unique and authentic experience to say the least. You're given some time to relax in the main waiting room with some tea before you head up for the oil massage and face mask. Once the face mask is dried to simply wash it off and head back downstairs where you're given some rose water to out on your face. You're welcomed to sit for as long as you wanted but we had already been there for 2hrs and we were starting to get a bit hungry. It was such an amazing experience and I would recommend this to anyone who wants an authentic relaxing Turkish spa excursion.

It was raining buckets by then time we were finished so we hustled back to our hostel stopping at Miss Pizza around the corner for some pizza to go before we called it a night. Tuesday June 20 First stop on today's agenda was the Museum of Modern Art. We had some tea and chocolate sufle on the balcony before heading to the next stop.

From the museum we walked along the water back to the area of our hotel. We continued along to a long shopping street where we window shopped and took in the atmosphere.

Wednesday June 21 Since we had some time before we had to leave for our flight to Athens, we made one last crucial stop. The Blue Mosque. It was closed to the public yesturday so we made sure we got to see it today. It was free to enter and they even gave us headscarfs to wear while inside. We also had to take out our shoes before entering and they gave us little plastic bags to put them in.

This was a great goodbye to Istanbul. We truly had a great time in this city with its modern twist and friendly cats (everywhere!).

Follow us to our next destination, Athens Greece!

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