📸 — Istanbul, Turkey

When we first came to Europe, Maeghan had hoped our travels would bring us to Turkey. She has wanted to visit since she was a kid (something to do with special ice cream and loving extreme culture differences) but unfortunately there was an election that ended with riots and political demonstrations which we were advised not to go. Then a few months later, cheap flights to Turkey were on our radar, but we had a timeline to follow (as we were meeting up with friends) and by heading all the way back east would not be a good idea.

Well, Bulgria’s adventures were booked on a whim an brought us right back to the east coast of europe. When the idea surfaced again of trying to visit, Maeghan was ecstatic and Oli was down with the idea. After all, it was only a 7 hours bus ride away from Plovdiv in Bulgaria.

So… it happened, we came to Istanbul! And this place is something special. Not only was it nothing like we had expected, we were well feed, had great company*, great weather and boy oh boy was the currency exchange in our favour!

Here are some pictures of our time in Istanbul. ❤

*We met a couple on the bus traveling from Plovdiv to Istanbul and quickly became friends. The hilarious part… I think we are twins… separated by a border. Allison & Lucus are from Minnesota, traveling the world for a year. Allison homeschooled growing up, Lucus was born and raised in the same area and this is his first big trip… so yes… we’re border cousins and we miss them very much!

See more on our website www.alittledetour.ca🌏✈️👫
When we booked our bus, the seating choice showed gender. At first we thought it was strange, but then learned it was to prevent harassment on the bus, and that they encourage the solo women travellers to sit up at the front.
Walking on the main street. Filled with people, cats, stores and music.
We went to the Cistern and they had a full blown photo shoot you could do underground — it was intense.
The Cistern is a massive water reserve under the city. What’s interesting is that is built in part from salvaged materials from, sometimes, holy sites of other religions. Two pillars rest on massive Medusa heads — and still today nobody knows where they came from or how they go here.
Allison and Lucus met us for drinks the first night, and it poured rain. We can all look back at this selfie and laugh that it is a iphone6, and how great the new devices are.
There are cats EVERYWHERE in Istanbul. If you walk around for an afternoon, I’m sure you could count a hundred.
They often go to sleep inside cafés and stores. The locals are very ok with it.
This cat was hilarious, he would want to cuddle, and then after we stopped petting him, he would put his face in the pillow.
There were tons of pigeons, but none of the really seemed to come and bother the pedestrians.
There are so many mosques in the city — both on the Asian side of Istanbul and the European side.
Suleiman mosque. The most beautiful details
Preparing for a OSNAP!
The clouds cleared, and the view was pretty great.
A tree, with mini trees. #TreePhotography
The Blue Mosque was under construction — but we still had the chance to go inside.
Leaving the Blue Mosque, you see Hagia Sofia.
The streets are filled with colours.
Oli stopping to grab a cheese pastry. The baker actually hand-fed Oli a taste — the picture missed that moment by a second.
Went to a teahouse
They serve you apple tea everywhere. We learned later from a local that this really isn’t a Turkish thing, it’s only for tourists.
Entering the grand bazaar
All major public places require that you walk through a metal detector. Multiple terrorist attacks in 2016, followed by a failed military coup completely killed tourism to Turkey for most of 2017. Apparently, it has just started to pick up again, and they have made significant changes to protect locals and tourists.
A tower of baklava dripping with honey.
All of the Turkish delights!
This man had a portable lemonade dispenser. .
Stray cats everywhere!
You can’t go wrong here, the food is all incredible.
The restaurant had us fill out a piece of paper for the wall. I had no idea where to put it!
Noir Pit — our favorite coffee shop with kitty friends.
Street performers are a bountiful on the main strip — and its awesome to hear all the different styles of tunes as you walk through the town.
Oli was inspired, so we stopped by a guitar store. This is something he is looking forward to when he gets home!
Turkish rugs are everywhere.
The city is all hills, like San Francisco — so no matter where you go, you can find a stellar look out point.
We did a night of street food with Allison and Lucus. Trying Turkish ice cream (it is sticky and chewy!), Kumpir — loaded potatoes!

The man stabs the ice cream with a long stick to pull pieces of it apart. Then he hands it to you on the cone, and pulls it away, then adds more cones, and pulls the top two off, and this game continues until you get it… Maeghan did not get it… so it lasted almost 5 mins and her chocolate pistachio ice cream dipped in chocolate was the entertainment for the block.

All of the diners / cafe’s here are so cute. We tried Turkish coffee, Moussaka (delicious), Turkish breakfast and soup! Oh, and it was all (for the two of us) $13!

It’s so easy to make kitty friends here. It is also amazing, these wild strays are cared for by the locals, but they have learned to beg! so while you eat, they meow and try to get your attention.
Cat at a store, selling some goods… or rather sleeping on some goods.
Our 2nd last night with Allison and Lucus we went to a rooftop bar to hang out, but there was a musician who had the speakers SO LOUD, that I think all of us lost our voices the next day.
There were lots of police out this night — but as Maeghan was looking around spotted a woman figure in this glass building! it was super cool.

We’re a well oiled machine at this point when it comes to our bags. We have the right amount of clothing, shoes and accessories for every climate / adventure we go on! But Maeghan has worn down a few things — in Bulgaria, she retired her jean shorts that were more like rags… and in Istanbul, it was time to say goodbye to her runners (1) because she was tired of everyone staring at her feet. (2) When it rained.. they were not so water proof any more. (3) Bugs, dirt and rocks can be crafty… and let’s say new shoes equals less complaining which makes both Oli and Maeghan happy!

Maeghan saw a really awesome city walk that included these colourful stairs… we decided to check it out.

The stairs themselves were underwhelming, but the walk around town was pretty cool. Istanbul has a population of 28 million people!!! Yes, that is right. The city of Istanbul has almost the same population as the entire country of Canada. So walking through areas of town that are not so visited was interesting to see and still filled with colour.

Sunsets here are incredible. The sky turns orange! Just like the pictures!!! Maeghan doesn’t know how to properly take a photo with that type of lighting… (needs practice) so the photo on the right is from Google and shows what it actually looked like!
This massive doggo friend came to visit us at our table.
Community cat feeding by night.
The clock cafe, amazing food and cute decor!
Menemen, a breakfast dish made of eggs, tomatoes, garlic, sausage and peppers.
Street art.
walking down the hills — this doesn’t do the hill justice… there are SO many of them. Our legs are so strong now.
All the fishermen on the bridge at all hours of the day.
Little boy, checking out the fish bait with his parents.
Boat cruising towards the black sea.
We’re in Asia again!
Maeghan doesn’t understand why people enjoy playing wth pigeons… they have so much bacteria and could be considered the rats of the skies.
Doggos crossing the street!
Checking out the one craft beer bar in Istanbul. Right in the heart of the university part of town.
We will get better at sunsets, but they are awesome.
We booked a hamam — and went all out to experience the traditional bathing tradition.

These pictures are pulled from there website, We went to a hamam for a thorough clean and the experience was pretty special. The place we went to was opened in 1454 and is the oldest Turkish bath in Istanbul.

The ottomans did not have a bath at home, so the hamam is way the Turkish people were able to wash, and would come once a week to do so. There would be someone there to help scrub you, wash your hair and body.

We did the whole package, so on top of the scrub got a massage, a facial and a… head massage?

You sit in a chair, and they spray a menthol type liquid in your hair, then rub your head really really quickly. You know, like when you see a dog, and you want to pet him really fast? It is like that… but on your head. And feels really nice!!

Most of the roof top restaurants have incredible views — this is an authentic Mexican place with a stellar one!
Leave it to Maeghan to find dessert. We’ve had some treats!
Maeghan’s brother and sister-in law are so awesome and facetime often to talk to this little dude. On the left, is the first time Maeghan Facetime’d Jude right after he was born. On the right, this is us Facetiming today. Maeghan is glad she is looking younger ;)
Hagia Sophia or Aya Sophia was originally a catholic cathedral that was later converted into a mosque.
When you walk inside, you can see all the original catholic designs were covered up with plaster and painted over top of.
They are currently removing the plaster to reveal the mosque pieces underneath!
Lots of restoration is underway.
Last sunset over Istanbul.
See more on our website www.alittledetour.ca🌏✈️👫