We loved Istanbul! The weather was perfect – very similar to San Diego weather – and the food was irresistible. We particularly loved learning more about the fascinating history of an area with a unique mix of Eastern and Western cultures, as the city Istanbul is in both Europe and Asia! Overall, the city was a Turkish delight, no pun (originally) intended haha.
Secret rooftop directions
We found a really cool secret rooftop that has amazing 360 degree views of Istanbul! To get to the rooftop, type in the following to Google Maps: “Buyuk Valide Han” (just up the hill from the Grand Bazaar).
Google Maps will lead you to this gate ^^^ and there should be a little card on the small gate door with a phone number. When you get there, call the phone number and someone will come let you in – so cool, right??
We went at 5:30am to catch sunrise, so no one was out and about, and we were dying at how rad it was the whole time!!! When we first got to the gate, it was locked we were pretty bummed. We saw the paper with the number, but didn’t think anything of it for the first minute or two. Then we thought, “wait, lets call the number on this card what if they can help us get to the rooftop!” We called the number and sure enough someone answered. They didn’t speak english, but Brad said “rooftop,” and “pictures” and the line went dead. We were skeptical anyone was coming, especially after waiting to no avail for three minutes, then five. Then I looked through the gate and saw a little old man walking towards us! I freaked out, and Brad didn’t even believe me until he looked through the gate and saw him himself. It was pretty cool!!!
The man was very nice, opened the gate and proceed to guide us to the roof top
He took us up these stairs ^^^
Down this hall ^^^
And to this door which he unlocked!! ^^^
After he open the door, he encouraged us to go up the stairs without him and expressed that we need not pay him until we were through. It cost only $2 per person total! (though we totally tipped him)
We made our way up the old stairway to the roof, pushed open a swinging door and stood in amazement at the sight of the sunrise in front of us. It was incredible! We both ran to the end of the rooftop and bathed in the the beautiful rays from the orange, red sky. For the next hour we explored the different viewpoints the rooftop offers of the city, river and mosques. This may very well have been the best $4 we have ever spent.
We highly recommend going to Ali Usta; they have the most amazing Baklavas and Turkish Delights we have ever tried!!! Ali Usta is near the Blue Mosque (and right next to the Starbucks and McDonalds in the area). The worker at the shop were super friendly and nice too. We may or may not have gone back 4 times in one day haha! Go there and visit our friends and indulge in a 30 cent piece of heaven!
We tried this yummy balloon bread and hummus.. the hummus was delicious!
Brad was randomly interviewed not once but twice by a local Turkish YouTube broadcasters – them blue eyes and blonde hair!