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Our Last Day in Istanbul

Our last day in Istanbul was bittersweet.

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We had just learned our way around town!

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On our last day we started out our day with a walk down to the Sea of Maramara.

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I was excited to be away from the museums of rocks and maps and down by the water!

 

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The backdrop of this photo is the Asian side of Istanbul. Another continent is right across the water!

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I went down the boat dock and had to put my feet in the sea of Maramara. It was cold!

 

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After our morning walk by the water we continued to check out the rest of Istanbul we had yet to conquer.

 

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I was obsessed with the Evil Eye during my time in Turkey. It is a charm used to ward off evil – and we saw them everywhere!

 

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Turkish lira seemed like fake money to me. It worked out quite nicely for us that it had a good exchange rate while we were there!

 

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There were also stray dogs and cats ALL OVER Istanbul. They would just be hanging out in the streets. The cool thing was they were all tagged by the city and seemed to be monitored.

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Charles and I walked down to the pier and watched these boats serve fish sandwiches fresh right out of the water.

 

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Word on the street was that these bad boys were pretty tasty – Charles and I didn’t have the nerve to try them.

 

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We then looked across the way and enjoyed the views of the modern city side of Istanbul, which is home to the Galata Tower.

 

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We walked across the bridge from Sultanahmet to Karakoy – which links the old city to the new.

 

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We took the funicular – a short underground railway up a hill – connecting the quarters of Karaköy and Beyoğlu.

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It was a 3 minute ride but was sooooo much better than walking up this massive hill! Hey! We are on our honeymoon here – we are allowed to be lazy!

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At the top of the hill was Beyoglu!

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We enjoyed a leisurely walk down İstiklal Street.

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It was BUMPIN’ for a weekday – so busy and packed full of people! It had a great vibe.

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After our stroll along Istiklal we stopped for a drink

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Obviously a local favorite – a Cola Turka!

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After our cola Turka break – Charles  and I met up with his cousin, Charlie – who happened to be studying abroad in Turkey while we were there! Seriously, what are the odds?

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Charlie wasn’t able to make the wedding, but he was able to meet up with us in Istanbul and be our guide for the day! He suggested we take a ferry across the water to the Asian side of Istanbul to check it out.

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It was amazing to get a view of the city from the water.

 

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It was really cool to see the skyscrapers in Istanbul on the city limits and not actually in the Center City by the water. We believe it was because there were so many historical buildings and artifacts by the water, they couldn’t build big skyscrapers!

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And opposite the European side was the Asian side:

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Pretty different looking, at least from the water!
 

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We arrived on the Asian side mid-afternoon. I was pretty excited to be on another continent!

 

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Charlie took us to his favorite lunch spot in Asia.

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It was a pretty neat little spot.

 

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We enjoyed some local favorites

 

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And then stopped for macaroons on the way home!

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Before heading back to Europe! 

 

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It was a pretty neat little afternoon – our last in Turkey!

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On our last night on the town we decided to check out a place with a view.

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We went out for drinks at the next hotel over, I enjoyed some Lions Milk.

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While Charles had the local beer – Efes.

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In true, old married couple fashion, we enjoyed a game of chess with our drinks and our view.

Doesn’t everyone play board games at bars on their honeymoons?

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The best part about the game was that I WON – and I never beat Charles Chess! Woohoo!

(Bow to the Chess Master! 🙂 )

 

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All in all it was a pretty amazing few days in Istanbul – but it was just the beginning of our honeymoon!

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Stay tuned for the next portion of our trip – Greece!

 

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Istanbul, Turkey – Day 1

I am a little overwhelmed when thinking of recapping our honeymoon. We did so much and saw so much over our two week trip – did I mention I took over 4,000 pictures?! So there is a lot to recap and lots of pictures to sort through, but I am excited to relive our trip with you!

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The first part of our trip began in Istanbul, Turkey. We weren’t planning on coming here for our honeymoon at all, but then we watched a Rick Steve’s travel video on Greece and it had an entire section on Istanbul and we both knew we HAD to go – and we are so glad we did!

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We left Philadelphia for Istanbul on Monday evening so we arrived in Turkey during the day on Tuesday. We had lots of time to explore and take on the day. Our hotel was located close to all the action – we stayed in Sultanahmet which was really close to Topkapı Palace – Hagia Sophia – Blue Mosque – the main attractions!

 

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Since we had some time to walk around and take in the sights the first day, we decided to walk over to see Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Both of which we were going to see the inside of the next day on our tour, but we wanted to check them out and get a little sneak peak!

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To me, the Blue Mosque was incredible. I had never seen anything like it before and I was blown away by the beautiful minarets (which is the tall pointy thing in the middle of the picture!)

  

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Charles and I just hung out in the courtyard of the mosque, we wanted to save checking out the interior of the mosque for our tour the next day,

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Just taking in the outside of the Blue Mosque was pretty impressive!

 

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This spot is called the “Facebook Spot” – I love it!

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A beautiful fountain separates the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia – two of the largest landmarks in Istanbul are right across from each other.

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Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum. It was the largest cathedral in the world for thousands of years!

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To me, the outside of the Blue Mosque is more impressive, but the locals in Istanbul seemed to be more proud of Hagia Sophia!

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Since we would be seeing the inside of this bad boy the next day too, we decided to take a walk and get to know our new surroundings!

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It was such a gorgeous day – perfect temperature for walking around! Jeans and t-shirt weather is my favorite!

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It was fun just walking around, exploring and getting lost in the streets of Istanbul, Turkey!

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The streets were really cute. Is that weird to say? I enjoyed the cobblestone.

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And it was such a gorgeous day that we ended up making our way towards the Topkapi Palace gardens.

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I had only been in Istanbul for a few hours, but I was already in love. Everything was so clean and really impressive.

 

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After taking in some of the sights our tummies began to rumble so we stopped for our first Turkish meal!

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We walked by this restaurant and I saw this giant bread basket and knew I had to have it!

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That is one big hunk of bread – but it was all hallowed inside!

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To celebrate the first night of our ‘moon we got a lovely Turkish bottle of wine.

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It was delish!

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My first Turkish meal was a chicken kebab of sorts. It was very yummy!

 

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We ended our meal with some Truva, which is a Turkish brandy, compliments of the restaurant.

 

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Check out the cute little restaurant – it was lovely to sit, watch the sunset in the sky and see the people walk by on the street.

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Pretty much an amazing first evening in Turkey.

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Not a bad nighttime view of the Blue Mosque either!

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At this point, Charles and I couldn’t wait to see what else Turkey had to offer – we had a fantastic first day and were so excited for the honeymoon to officially be underway!

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Oh The Places I’ve Been

Today I said goodbye to an old friend.

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My passport.

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I have had this passport for a while now, it has been with me on many amazing travels but today I had to send it on it’s way.

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I am in the final stages of changing everything over to my new name and my passport was next on my list.

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It is crazy to look through and see all the places I’ve visited.

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I have grown to love my little stamps

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Favorite stamps include:

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All my stamps from Australia, including a Did Not Depart

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A pretty sweet stamp from Fiji – I love being able to say I’ve been there.

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Honeymoon stamps from Greece!

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and Turkish stamp from Turkey

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I have been so blessed being able to fill up so many pages in my passport with stamps from around the globe.

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But today I had to say goodbye to my passport along with our marriage certificate and a hefty check in order to be given a brand spankin’ new passport with my new last name.

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I wish that we were able to keep our old passports, but I am very much looking forward to receiving my new one and filling it up with awesome stamps from around the globe!

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If money or time was not an issue, where would you pick up and travel to right now?


The Ancient City of Ephesus

Next stop on our cruise, we were back in Turkey – but this time we were in Kuşadası, which is a resort town on Turkey’s Aegean coast.

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Kuşadası is a small port town on the Asian side of Turkey, it was a very different visit than our time in Istanbul!

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The highlight of our trip to Kuşadası was a visit to the ancient archaeological side of Ephesus.

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Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor. During the Roman period it was the second largest city of the Roman Empire, behind Rome!

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Charles was in heaven again with his rocks.

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Here are a few random fun facts about the ancient site of Ephesus:

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The Gospel of John may have been written here.

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Marc Antony & Cleopatra honeymooned here!

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Stray cats and dogs were not only randomly around Ephesus, we saw them all over our honeymoon! Most were tagged and the city knew about them, but it was weird to see them all over the place just hanging out!

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I was really surprised to see just how spread out the ruins were – this was a pretty big city back in the day!

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Just like in Athens, we were impressed with the details still preserved throughout the city.

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At the top of this hill is where the House of the Virgin Mary sits. It is believed that she spent her last days here and died in her home.

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The fields in the distance used to be completely covered by water. Ephesus used to be an important commercial center and harbor but the water slowly silted up and is now WAYYY in the distance! Crazy, right?

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We walked down the main street and stepped back in time.

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Check out the original mosaic tile in the street. Thousands of years old – I can’t believe it’s still there!

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Seriously, how gorgeous is this?

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This is the remains from the Temple of Hadrian.

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Pretty impressive if you ask me, and I am not the rock lover in our little family.

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Next on our tour we checked out the bathroom facilities.

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This was the area for the women.

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And here is where the men did their business. Pretty impressive facilities for thousands of years ago!

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The view from the toilets!

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Charles tested out the seats for himself.

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Then it was time to head to the center of the city – which is home to the Roman Library of Celsus.

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This bad boy has been reconstructed from all original pieces – pretty impressive, right?

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The building faces east so that the reading rooms could make best use of the morning light.

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Can you find me in this picture?

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There I am!

 

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I then went inside the library, which once was home to nearly 12,000 scrolls as well as a statue of Celsus himself. The statue has been moved to a museum, so I got up there to show you where it once was.

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Ephesus was bumpin’!

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It really was a beautiful place to visit.

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On our way out of the city, our last stop was the Theatre.

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This theatre is MASSIVE! 

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At an estimated 44,000 seating capacity, the Theater is believed to be the largest outdoor theater in the ancient world.

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It’s hard to really show you how BIG it is.

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See me doing dancer pose in the middle?

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All I can say is WOW.

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I think this gives a better idea of its size!

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After our time in Ephesus came to and end, we spent some time in Kusadasi by the water. 

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Charles and I ended up stopping in a cafe for a drink and we sat right next to the little fishies! Check out how clear the water is.

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No surprise here – I got a Mint Cafe Fredo.

 

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My new favorite (non-alcoholic) drink!

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Along with our coffee break, came a lovely view.

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Next up on our travels – Patmos!

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