A sea of tulips in front on the Blue Mosque in Sultanahmet; markets bustling with bodies as the aromas of spices fill the air; smiling faces standing outside restaurants ushering you in to sample their meals; stray cats and dogs milling on the streets in search of the scraps given by kind locals; cobblestone pathways winding through the streets that are lined with cramped buildings.
These are the images that come to mind when I recall my time spent in Istanbul, the city where the East and West meet.
Filled with culture, history, religion, and delicious food, my time in Istanbul was fleeting. Four days felt like a long time to spend there, but when I think of the sheer expanse of this city compared with what we saw, we only scratched the surface. The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, the Grand Bazaar and the Topkapi Palace Gardens were all on the to-do list. The mosques were stunning with their intricate mosaic walls and ceilings, and the gardens surrounding them flooded with tulips in full bloom. The bazaars hummed with the constant stream of people moving through the stands looking at the sweets, spices, mosaics, carpets and Turkish wares.
The highlight though of my Turkish adventure was most definitely the food. Oh my, it was delicious. Fresh Turkish bread straight out of the oven with baked hummus, kebab plates filled with charred meat, vibrant salads, manti (Turkish ravioli), baklava, Turkish delight and apple tea are just a few of the highlights.