Last month, we visited Istanbul for a week. Istanbul has a really unique feel to it: With its islamic heritage it feels distinctly un-european and exotic – but turn a street corner and you feel like you could be in any European city. It reminded me a lot of Malaysia in that way, which also has an interesting blend of cultural influences.
As we were visiting just a few weeks after the bombing in Sultanahmet, a lot of people asked us if we weren’t worried about safety. Walking around the square near the site of the bombing was a bit surreal, but overall I have to say the friendliness of the people and welcoming atmosphere makes Istanbul feel much more inviting than some other big cities.
I was also interested to read more about Turkey’s history and get of sense of its place within European history. You can’t help but be impressed by how much change the society has gone through in under a century, and it’s more the shame so much progress seems to be unravelling at the present.
Having said that, I’d highly recommend a visit – it’s got something for everyone, is super easy to get to from Europe and extremely welcoming of visitors.