Happy Fri-Yay!! Another long overdue 2016 travel diary today… Istanbul! Waseem & I traveled to Greece and Turkey last spring for our third wedding anniversary. All of my Greece posts went up in a somewhat timely fashion but I really dragged my feet with sorting through my photos from Istanbul. I feel like I’ve mentioned it so many times already but I got so sick in Greece that our few days in Turkey were such a delirious blur. I slept almost the entire time and barely got to sightsee so TBH looking at these photos makes me a little sad too! I’ve always wanted to visit Istanbul and while I’m so happy to have visited, I do really wish I was able to soak it up a little more! We did get to check off two of our top sights to see though – The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet was so generous in hosting us and we really couldn’t have picked a better location! Sultanahmet is the heart of old Istanbul and many of the major attractions are all here and in walking distance. The cobblestone roads were so charming and it must have been a little off season when we went (maybe?!) because nothing seemed to be crowded. It was very quiet & serene, we loved just strolling.
The Four Seasons is actually a century-old former jail! Who would think something like that would be converted into a luxury hotel?! The jailhouse was the first in Istanbul and was built in Turkish neoclassical style and underwent redevelopment in the 90s to preserve its history and architecture. The property now has 65 hotel rooms and suites with a gorgeous landscaped courtyard filled with flowers where we had breakfast every morning. The courtyard used to be the jail’s exercise yard, what a serious makeover! I love visiting places with tons of rich history, the property has so much character making our experience all the more unique.
We checked in at night and there was a yummy platter waiting for us (Waseem gobbled up all the Turkish delights!); we room service’d some tea for my throat and I went right to sleep. I woke up to such a lovely view of the Blue Mosque right from our balcony in the morning! You’ll see everything I’m describing in the photos below :)
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This year has been quite the doozy! I think I’ve traveled internationally at least once a month since March, with the exception of May. Not only has it been an exciting year traveling the globe, I got to visit my dream destination twice in the same season! My husband and I visited Santorini during our anniversary trip in March and I was back again in August! Santorini Secret Suites & Spa was generous in hosting me and their property was such a quintessential Oia dream – everything was so white, clean & dreamy. Located right off the pedestrian walkway in Oia, shopping and restaurants were available all around the property. During our first visit at a different property, our room was on the street level so it wasn’t built into the cliffside like the rest of the hotel and like most of the residences in Oia. At Santorini Secret, we had such a Cycladic experience living and sleeping in our cavernous room!
Everything is carved into the cliff so be prepared for a ton of stairs! I get tired easily so I was happy to have a higher room; but the lower you get, the more private the rooms get as well. I had no issues with guests walking by when we were lounging on our terrace though (which was rare anyways!); & from inside the room you can’t hear a thing! So peacefully quiet & private.
Santorini is the most photogenic place I’ve been & any picture taken outside on the terraces or stairs at the hotel will be flawless by default. You can’t take a bad photo with all the light reflecting everywhere and the ever-so-perfect backdrop! You gotta check it out below to believe it!… View Post
If you keep up with my travels, you know that I was super blessed to visit Greece twice this season — in April for our wedding anniversary and again earlier this month for work! I was especially excited to find Folegandros on my work-itinerary since its not only a place I’ve never visited, but also a place I’ve never even heard of; it seems to be a hidden gem of the Cyclades. Even after being featured in Condé Nast Traveler as Greece’s Most Beautiful Undiscovered Island and seeing a huge increase in tourism afterwards, it remains so quiet, private, and peaceful. The island’s entire population is only 765 but it felt like it’d be a tiny fraction of that! We hardly saw anyone, but we were nearing the end of the Summer season.
Folegandros has three main villages, Karavostasi, Chora, & Ano Meria. We stayed in Karavostasi literally right across from the port, at Anemi Hotel. I liked staying away from the “city center”, Chora, even though the whole island is super quiet. I really enjoyed the additional privacy and seclusion, it felt good to just relax and check out. We did have a rental car so it was very easy for us to visit Chora and explore the whole island. The drive from the hotel to Chora was seriously less than 10 minutes & parking was unbelievably simple. The centre is closed off to motor traffic so after parking we explored on foot and you’ll see from the photos below that the streets are so charming. I wasn’t sure what to expect as my only frame of reference was Santorini; which of course is stunningly beautiful but Santorini comes with hoards of tourists and commercialization. Folegandros maintains its authentic traditional charm and Chora is actually one of the oldest medieval villages in all of the cyclades. Chora sits on the edge of a 200 meter cliff & its said that the views are second to Santorini! Just a 45 minute ferry ride from Santorini, I think adding Folegandros to your itinerary is well worth it! Just take a look at the photos below to believe it!
Thanks again Anemi Hotel for taking care of us & of course Seajets for getting us to Folegandros!
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Finally! My Santorini travel vlog is done! I feel like I dragged my feet with it for months and then these past 5 days or so I worked on it around the clock – from the moment I woke up until 4am every night. I am really happy with how it turned out & hope you love it too! If you’re looking for tips please check out my written Santorini Travel Guide; I also have a review of the hotel we stayed at in Oia – Andronis Luxury Suites.… View Post
This post is so long overdue! How is already June?! It feels like we got back from our trip a week ago (it’s been almost 8 weeks!). I might be heading back to Greece very soon, so I just had to revisit my photos and share my Greek memories with you before I make new ones! If you haven’t checked out my Santorini Travel Diary, get on it – it’s such a beautiful post, definitely one of my favorites. We spent the first few days of our trip in Santorini and then headed back to Athens for a few more days before visiting Istanbul. I fell so incredibly ill between packing up my bags in Santorini and arriving at Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens. :(
I have never been so sick in my life & my luck’s timing could not have been worse. I’ve always loved Greek mythology and could not wait to see the historical sites in Athens. All those years of playing God of War and taking Greek myth classes in college were preparing me for this trip haha! One thing I can always give myself credit for is being a trooper – from my entire body being covered in heat rash in Hawaii to my feet being painfully swollen in Paris.. it has always been in me to seize the day. I rally and push through to be able to see whatever I can regardless of the unfortunate circumstances but this flu (or whatever it was) left me down for the count. I spent most of our time in Athens and Istanbul in bed but was able to conjure up a couple hours of energy here and there to get my explore on.
First up, you just have to see where we stayed! Hotel Grande Bretagne. The property was originally the home of a wealthy businessman, later headquarters for different groups during different wars, and even housed the prime minister during the Greek Civil War. In 2006 it went under a massive renovation to restore it to its former glory and now.. here we are!… View Post