TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL

TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
TURKEY 2016 // ISTANBUL
This being our 2nd time in Istanbul, we really didn't have a need to go all out photo fine art crazy. If anything, we just wanted some much needed downtime and leisurely sightseeing. So we stayed a week. Took our time, woke up late, overused the hostel's resources. Caught up on Game of Thrones. Chatted with even more Internationals.

Like in 2008, we stayed in the European side of Istanbul. But 8 years ago, we were all about hitting up all the major tourist sights with our friend, Ricky, so we stayed quite close to the Old City. This time around we opted for a much different neighborhood, get a feel of another side of Istanbul. The Galata/Karakoy area seemed like a young, hip part of town. Streets lined with really cheap restaurants and cafes, unassuming tiny shops, various nooks and crannies. And that's before we even hit up the massive commercial shopping avenue of Istiklal Cadessi!

In addition to roaming the narrow, busy hipster streets with wide-eyed wonderment, we set out on a massive foodie adventure of sorts. Something we never really did the first time around in Istanbul. We sought out the best Baklava, the best Kumpir, the best Iskender Kebap, the best Islak Burger, the best Rice Pudding, the best Turkish Coffee.

Of course all that while visiting some old friends: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace. And I tell you what, only a few vivid details of these historic treasures pops into my mind from 8 years ago. It's amazing (and kinda sad) how much the mind forgets! So we visited Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque TWICE to doubly make sure it'll be harder to forget.

It's quite refreshing to see the trendy side of Istanbul. Reminds me of Austin back in the day when the new and the old seemed to live harmoniously together at one point. I firmly believe this is one of the reasons why we loved this 2nd visit way more than the first. Loved it so much Vince actually envisioned his future self living in this city!

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When: May 2016
Temp: 60-75F
Stay: Downtown Istanbul Hostel, $9 per night for 8 bedroom dorm.
Transportation: Tram/Train. 4TL per trip.

>> Istanbul Museum Pass: 5-day pass. 80TL. Valid for one entrance to the following - Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Istanbul Archeological Museums, Museum for the History of Islamic Science & Technology, Istanbul Great Palace Mosaic Museum, Chora Church Museum, Rumeli Hisarı, Yıldız Palace, Galata Mevlevihanesi, Istanbul Fethiye Museum. (We've visited in BOLD.)
>> 2 Hour Bosphorus Boat Ride: 12TL.
>> Galata Tower: 25TL. Panoramic views of Istanbul and Bosphorus.
>> Also Visited: Blue Mosque, Istiklal Cadessi, Taksim Square, Grand Bazaar.


-jin-

TURKEY 2016 // PAMUKKALE

TURKEY 2016 // PAMUKKALE.
TURKEY 2016 // PAMUKKALE.
TURKEY 2016 // PAMUKKALE.
TURKEY 2016 // PAMUKKALE.
TURKEY 2016 // PAMUKKALE.
TURKEY 2016 // PAMUKKALE.
TURKEY 2016 // PAMUKKALE.
TURKEY 2016 // PAMUKKALE.
TURKEY 2016 // PAMUKKALE.
TURKEY 2016 // PAMUKKALE.
TURKEY 2016 // PAMUKKALE.
TURKEY 2016 // PAMUKKALE.
TURKEY 2016 // PAMUKKALE.
TURKEY 2016 // PAMUKKALE.
TURKEY 2016 // PAMUKKALE.
Travertine fail.

They were nothing like what the posters had promised. No pristine bright blue waters filling the terraces to the brim. Every single travertine - all dry!

Except the man-made ones, but what's the point?

Nothing like crossing an ocean, flying into Istanbul, flying to Kayseri, taking a van to Cappadocia, catching an overnight bus to Denizli, then hopping on a minivan to Pamukkale - only to find out the hard way that every terrace dried up. The hot spring water redirected. My excitement crushed. I don't think I've ever felt this so disappointed about a tourist sight falling short.

But ya know, not all was lost. This way, with no water, the travertines actually looks like the 'Cotton Castles' that Pamukkale is known for. Everything is just so insanely white. Yah, it was still a nice dreamy vision.

The city itself doesn't have much to offer. It's so small and full of restaurants and hotels geared toward tourists. I can see why most people only do day trips here. We were probably the 1% who decided to stay overnight, all for photography purposes. Glad we stayed an extra day, because our 2nd visit to the travertines ended up being a photo gold mine, despite no water. Once we've hiked to the top of the mountain, rounded the corner - lo and behold - an expanse of dry travertines with no tourists. We even walked upon them, taking our photos with ease, not having to fight for elbow space.

Overall, I wish there was a website that tells you whether or not the travertines are full. That be nice. Otherwise, I would have redirected our travels elsewhere in Turkey!

--

When: May 2016
Temp: 60-75F
Stay: Sahin Hotel, $35/night for private room.

Bus ride from Cappadocia to Denizli: $55/person.
Entrance fee to Travertines: $30/person.


-jin-

TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA

TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.>
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
TURKEY 2016 // CAPPADOCIA.
The land of Fairy Chimneys and sunrise hot air balloon rides. Cappadocia/Kapadokya is every bit as charming as everyone says it is! V and I woke up very early for 2 days in a row to catch these hot air balloons in their pre-dawn flight. (Opting out of riding in one due to the expensiveness, but those who've ridden it says it's worth the $$$!) Our 'cave hotel' is located on the side of a small mountain in Goreme, making the 20 minute scamper up to the top quite convenient. It's absolutely magical, seeing these balloons float over the fairy chimneys, whilst the sun peaks over the faraway mountains, the sky slowly changing hues of pinks to oranges.

Totally worth waking up at 5am for!

Goreme isn't very big - in no time we knew our way around. And it's super cheap here! The sole reason why we decided to stay a week. Mainly to catch up on work and to wait out the rain which lasted a few days. During this time, we've met a handful of people in our hostel, most notably a woman from Uruguay, who's been traveling nonstop for 7 years! Yowzers. My wanderlust hero. Her never-ending travels pretty much confirms my suspicions - there's no way we could see the world in just a year or 2! Oof.

Aside from the fairy chimneys and hot air balloons of Goreme, we did a few mini hikes around the area to Pasabag and The Open Air Museum to see various other fairy chimney shapes, in addition to taking the 'Green' tour. It's an all day, exhausting tour - but it's nice to learn about the lengthy history of the area. The underground city tour is one of the many interesting highlights included with the package - it's actually quite cool.

Traveling to Cappadocia is no easy feat. We took a 1.5hr flight from Istanbul to Kayseri, then hopped on a van provided by our cave hotel. That took another hour to Goreme. But once here, it's an instant visual feast! Fairy chimneys galore!

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When: April 2016
Temp: 50-70F
Stay #1: Divan Cave Hotel, $60/night for private room.
Stay #2: Terra Vista Hostel, $8/night for 6 bed dorm.

Green Tour: $60/person. All day, lunch included.


-jin-

TURKEY 2008

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This is one of those countries I wished we had more time to explore. I don't know what we were thinking - V, Ricky and I (While we're on it, what were we thinking??) - but a few days just didn't cut it. Founded circa 660 BC, 2nd largest in the world, straddling one of the busiest waterways in the world - Istanbul has an incredibly rich history and culture busting at it's seams. Not many cities boast of having 2 worlds in one city. The very ancient mixed in with the very modern. There's so much to see, eat, discover - both past and present! And that's just in Istanbul! The rest of the country is just as rich and cultural, if not more - probably one of the most varied I have ever seen in any country. Next time. One month in Turkey. That's a must.

I'll tell you what else is amazing in Istanbul. Standing in between 2 continents. At the same time. One foot in Europe, the other in Asia. Pretty epic stuff!

besos ... jin.