10 Tips to get around Istanbul

Istanbul is one of my favorite cities, its got the perfect balance for a cultural experience and to ball out! This city is a fusion of Asia and Europe as it’s the one city in the world spread over two continents, which makes it even more interesting. I personally think it’s a modern Islamic country, even compared to Dubai, I feel Istanbul was culturally forward. For instance, I was walking down Taksim square while the evening prayers were on, I walked a little further from the mosque and see a street filled with loud, vibrant bars and pubs. That’s when it occurred to me that Istanbul is culturally forward, a reason why it attracted more tourism. But, like every big city Istanbul has its pros and cons, out of my personal experiences a few tips to get around Istanbul.

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Use Public Transport
Try using public transport over taxis, I have had couple of awful experiences with taxi drivers in Istanbul. From being ripped off and paying double the fare, to not getting my change of 80 Lira back, well I did get it back but I literally had to threaten the driver saying I would call the police if I didn’t get my change. Ugghh, to avoid this I would suggest of trying public transport like their trams and metros. If you want to take the cab make sure you pay according the meter.

Walking is the key
Walk, walk, walk! So when you’re around the city doing the touristy bit, walking is essential, everything is not too far away especially the historical places like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Archeology museum are all within a miles radius.

Take the Bosphorus Cruise
If you want to go explore the Asian side of Istanbul, the fasted and a fun way to get there would be by taking the Bosphorus cruise which will take you to the other end of the of the river towards the Asian side. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go explore that part of the city, but from what I have been told a lot of gypsies reside on the Asian side and its like the suburbs of the big city.

Live Centrally 
While deciding on where to stay, there are two central locations you could stay in, Taksim is more of a young, vibrant, party and shopping area with a lot of hotels located around there, easy transport. Apart from this, the other central location would be Sulatanahemad, which is right by the historic and tourist attraction.

Ignore the stares
Istanbul is pretty safe, but it’s not an ideal destination for solo female travels in my opinion. Turkish men are attractive, I won’t deny that BUT they can get creepy with constant stares and shamelessly rolling their eyes up and down. I would suggest have a friend along to go with in Istanbul or just ignore those eyes rolling up and down if you’re traveling alone.

Use the local currency Lira
While shopping, eating at a café or even for taxi fares you may encounter people asking you to pay in Euros, Pounds or Dollars. DO NOT pay them in any of those currencies, use the local currency Lira for anything. It’s cheaper and there are fewer chances of being cheated.

Get evil eye souviners
Ladies, get your self the most exotic evil eye jewellery from Turkey, they do it the best, its affordable and looks beautiful. It’s probably the best souvenir you would take back from your trip. I was broke and yet managed to bargain a good deal for my evil eyes. Besides this, you will be lost in the grand bazaar seeing beautiful turkish lamps and cutlury.

Indulge in Turkish Teas & Delights 
So if you’re a staple espresso or a latte drinker, I would suggest on skipping Turkish coffee, its thick, dense and a muddy texture. Rather indulge in Turkish teas, they’re aromatic and rich in flavor. My personal favorite was the jasmine, rose and peppermint teas.

Early Sunday shopping
On a Sunday most places would shut down a bit early than usual, around 7 most local stores would be calling it a day, if you have shopping plans on a Sunday evening going start early, plus during early hours of the day you could bargain a good deal for yourself.

Arrive early at the Blue Mosque
For most people the first thing to do one their list in Istanbul is visit the Blue Mosque, I don’t blame you its beautiful. Tips for the blue mosque would be, its open from 9am to 4pm only, there is no entry fee, but go early as there is always an hour-long queue. For girls avoid wearing shorts or leggings while visiting the Mosque, they will give scarfs to cover your head and if yours in shorts a long cloth to drape yourself. There are chances they may refuse entering the Mosque if you are inappropriately dressed, so keep this in mind before going to the Mosque.

Milan Shopping Guide

Milan is every shopper’s paradise, you will literally drop till you shop! Of course the downside can your wallet bear the cost? Well, don’t worry there something for everyone in Milano. From every possible luxury brand to the best high street fashion, Milan has something to offer for everyone. So, not to worry you will go back home with your bag full of goodies.

First lets talk about luxury, high-end fashion in Milan, as we all are aware of Milan being a fashion capital. You will find literally every brand here, and what’s even better is these brands have their biggest outlets in Milan, which will give you a more affordable price for that’s probably been on your wish list for a while.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The first stop you need to hit is – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II located right by the Duomo. This is the oldest shopping mall in the world opened in 1867. Here, you will find all your Italian designers have their stores, the Galleria is a must to visit even if you may not be shopping here. The intricate marble flooring and long glass panels along with gothic architecture is a beauty.

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My advice, window shop here, get a feel about what’s buzzing in the fashion world, decide what you would be interested in investing, sip on caffé (Italian espresso) at a cute little café and enjoy the beauty. There after hit the outlet stores to find what you have your mind on, and get it for a better price. Bingo!

Sounds like a deal, doesn’t it?

Quadrilatero d’Oro della moda

Then there is Milan’s golden shopping triangle, Quadrilatero d’Oro della moda also known as the fashion quadrilateral. The district is cornered by four streets – Via Monte Napoleone, Via Alessandro Manzoni, Via della Spiga and Corso Venezia, hence called Quadrilatero.

Walking pass these streets is a mere eye candy as the visual merchandising and the store displays are probably one of best I have seen by far. As you walk, you smell and fee luxury, pampering and haute couture of the classic designers such as Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Versace, Prada, Chanel, Valentino, Cartier, Gianfranco Ferré, Alberta Ferretti, Louis Vuitton and every other brand and designer that crosses your mind.

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Obviously shopping here does not fit every pocket, but just seeing the displays and probably going to Armani’s coffee shop is a small luxury you could treat yourself with.

Enough of window shopping, now you want to go splurge, and here are the perfect places where you will be able to get yourself something to take back home.

Outlet Stores in Milan

 The quest in finding the wish-list handbag was still on, but lucky for you while you are in Milan there are ample of outlet stores having designer goodies at affordable prices, with discounts anywhere between 30 % to 70%. I myself managed to get three bags and couple of polo t-shirts at steal deal prices from these outlet stores, I highly recommend you go there and find yourself something. The best outlets in Milan are:

  • Il Salvagente
  • 10 Corso Como Outlet (my personal favourite)
  • Dmagazine Outlet
  • Le Sac Outlet
  • Outlet Matia’s

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These outlets are located close to each other, about 20 minutes away from the Duomo. If you have an extra day in Milan, you could also drive an hour away from the city and discover outlet villages to shop at such as Serravalle Designer Outlet, Vicolungo Style Outlet, Franciacorta Outlet Village and Fidenza Village. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have enough time to visit any of these, but a few of my local friends recommend going to at least one of them if you’re on a super shopping spree.

Corso Bueno Aires

Corso Bueno Aires is the biggest high street shopping street in the city and in Europe as well, here there are about 350 international brands having their flagship stores lined up one after another. You better put your sneakers on while shopping here, its quite a walk to complete the entire stretch.

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Here, you’ll find all your Zara’s, H&M, Top Shop, Nike, Puma and local Italian high street brands and boutiques.It’s quite reasonable to shop here at the same time there is SO much variety cause of the number of stores that are there.

This is summing up Milan shopping, I hope there is something for everyone here and this little shopping guide is helpful for all my fellow shopaholics out there.

P.S Happy Shopping xx

*comment below if there is anything more you’d like to know about shopping in Milan*

 

The Sensation Experience 

 
I’m missing my summer already, I want to share my fun summer moments with all you lovelies. I am a little crazy about music festivals, I love the vibe and the electrifying feeling. Unfortunately I couldn’t get my tomorrowland passes (as always, they were sold out so fast) so I decided to go for a not so commercial festival “Sensation White”. It turns out it was their 15 year anniversary this year, the show was bigger than ever.

The opening act is something you cannot miss, Baker Mat played the opening set accompanied by performances. It’s not your standard EDM festival. This is a show, you have to live and feel the moment. Trapeze performances, the lights and the music. And obviously the most awaited performance of Mr.White was just incredible and crazy!

 
By the end of 7 hours you are yet alive, and will find yourself dancing to sun rise, it was an exceptional experience where we couldn’t feel our feet after a the night was over.


This isn’t an ordinary music festival, it comes along with a dress code you have to follow. You better be dressed in WHITE or go home! Every person you’d see inside would be dresses in white, seeing a uniformity in the crowd and when it lights flash, it’s just an unimaginable sight. You got to see it, to believe it.

Clearly, this was the best part of my summer.
But if you feel like there’s something you’ve missed out on, don’t worry. Sensation takes place at various destinations throughout the year and the upcoming ones are, “Ocean Of White” in Dubai on 30th October 2015 and “Innerspace” in Monterrey on 7th November 2015.
If not theses, there’s always next year!

Turkey Trails 

 A spontaneous holiday turns out to be one of the best holidays. If you’re holiday criteria is having a balance between culture and partying, Istanbul would be a perfect fit. It’s a city building a bridge between two continents, Asia and Europe divided by the Bosphorus river, a cultural afternoon to a wild night. Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey, often mistake to be the capital. This city oozes exquisiteness of history and civilisation and a thriving edge to modern developments. To explore the city entirely could take you couple of days, but is definitely worthwhile as you’ll find multiple layers of history and character where this is an Arab and European influence making this destination unique. Unlike other Islamic cities, Istanbul is very modern and international, attracting tons of tourists each year. There’s a story to every place in the city, starting from The Hagia Sophia to the 500 years old grand bazaar or the spice market. And of course, the blue mosque cannot be missed, however there’ll always be an hour long wait to get into the mosque.


On a bright sunny day, taking the Bosphorus cruise would be ideal, getting a glimpse of the Asian and European side.


For a cheap but a fun night out, Taksim square, is the perfect place to be at. A long street with lots of bar lined up one after another, good music and a chilled vibe to the place is the best way to end a long day in Istanbul.


Turkish delights, the dark muddy coffee (something I didn’t personally like) but l loved the Turkish teas, baklava filled with pistachios and topped with fresh cream was my favourite, for all the meat lovers you’re in for a treat when it comes for Turkish food.


Well, there is a downside to Istanbul, the weather being quite chilly and unpredictable rain, but that shouldn’t be stopping anyone from exploring this iconic city. Besides this, taxi drivers in Turkey are big a scam, they’d charge exorbitant prices for the shorter distance, rig their meters, or play with currencies (fool tourists with Liras and Euros). Hence, always try and use public transport available, or insist on the taxi driver to keep the meter on and pay that price only.


Overall, Istanbul is a beautiful city, with a vibrant atmosphere and so much to explore. I’m already planning my next trip to Istanbul, get started and plan your next holiday!

Delusional British Weather 

Delusional British Weather Moving to London the biggest change for me was dealing with the erratic weather conditions here.
You may wake up to sun shining in your face through the blinds and the moment you step out and decide to go for a run and enjoy the pleasant weather. You’ll see how the clouds come around, the skies getting darker and the Suns disappeared before you know it!
It doesn’t stop there, then you’ll discover yourself being attacked by the cold rain and have cold wind gushing through your jumper.
It’s strange how you might see the sun shining and yet find yourself walking in a puddle, it surprises me how it can be cold, rainy and sunny at once! The weather gods are clearly hating on England.
After this weather experience I’ve always left my house well equipped with a scarf or wearing a hoodie to save my blow dried hair!

Picturesque London On A Rainy Day

Living in London, made me realise the reason behind the Brits not being the most friendly people is the weather that reflects everyone’s mood. I’ve seen that change in myself rather, on a gloomy day I find myself being more irritable and restless and not in the mood to socialise, the only thing appealing to me would be making myself cosy under my duvet and watch Netflix.

But somehow London ends up looking beautiful even on a gloomy day! That’s the best part about this city, it never loses its charm irrespective of anything!
I have to say, London is probably the loveliest cities making the weather an exception.