Read My Previous Istanbul Posts HERE
All good things must come to an end, so I'll try to keep my final Istanbul post short and sweet. Our last day in Turkey had a most intriguing itinerary, and I planned to enjoy every single second.
Our first stop was the famous and phenomenal Blue Mosque. With its electric-blue Iznik tiles, the historic house of worship, officially named the Sultan Ahmen Mosque, is a sensational sight. Waiting in line, we were asked to remove our shoes and cover our bare skin. Recycled shawls were provided for those wearing sleeveless tops and short bottoms, but I had done my research—I wore pants and brought a cardigan. (I'm a major germophobe, and the idea of communal clothing horrifies me. Seriously, I'm so grateful I opted for socks.)
Inside, the Blue Mosque is truly astounding. Intricate rugs, detailed decor, and ornate artwork fill the vast venue, which dates back to the early 1600s. Regardless of one's faith, it's impossible not to see the beauty and serenity within the four walls of this immensely spiritual space.
Across from the Blue Mosque is yet another architectural gem: Hagia Sophia. The divine structure served as a church for 916 years and a mosque for 481 years. While it was transformed into a museum in 1935, it still has a majestic vibe and ethereal air. With so much religious controversy and hatred in this world, it's incredible to think that a church and a mosque both existed in this one perfect place.
After enjoying a delightful lunch at the trendy Topaz Restaurant, we set sail on a Bosphorus cruise. With the wind whipping my hair, I breathed in the fresh air and enjoyed the gorgeous views. We zigzagged between both shores of the Bosphorus, and I officially found myself crossing into Asian territory. The Asian side of Istanbul is much more residential. Many people work on the urban European side and commute home to Asia. (This bicontinental factoid still blows my mind.) Despite my geographical confusion, I can now quasi-accurately claim that I've pretty much traveled to Asia—if only for five minutes! Now that's what I call jet-setting.
We returned to the Ceylan InterContinental for a hot minute to swap out our sensible ensembles for frilly frocks and sexy stilettos. We were hitting Istanbul's super-smokin' Suada Club for dinner. The happening eatery and hoppin' nightclub is set on an island smack in the middle of the Bosphorus strait between Asia and Europe, so we had to take our second boat ride of the day to get there.
The lounge like venue hosts elegant weddings and fabulous affairs, and I saw many a beautiful bride preparing to party. There's a large pool surrounded by cushy lounge chairs for paying guests, and the bar serves up creative cocktails to well-heeled patrons. We ate a delicious fish dinner and soaked in the swanky atmosphere. (I never go to places like this in New York City. I'm just not cool enough.)
A few drinks later, we took a third private boat ride from Suada to its sister nightclub, Reina. (We're super VIP like that.) We were immediately escorted to a table, where we sipped champagne and other vodka-based concoctions, and watched the pretty people flirt, dance, and hobnob. (So this is what people do at clubs?!?)
While the evening was far from over for most of the content clubbers, I finally came to grips with the fact that I am no rock star, and my partying days are long over. The music was giving me a headache, my feet were throbbing, and my eyes were getting heavy. I was ready for a good night's sleep in my cozy hotel bed and perhaps one last dip in that bubbling Jacuzzi.
Leaving Turkey was bittersweet. I would miss the culture, the fabulous food, and my newfound friends. But I was looking forward to returning home and telling everyone about my spectacular trip to Istanbul (and of course, my awesome experience in Paris!). I had kept my engagement a secret and was dying to tell everyone before my loudmouthed mom spilled the beans. (Love you, Mom!) But I was most excited to reunite with my fiancé. This European trip was a magical adventure in so many ways, and I can't wait for my next journey ... I'm counting down the days till our honeymoon.