Şimdiye kadar, benim üçüncü favori şehri bulundu . April 26th, 2012

Posted: August 6, 2013 in Past Trips

A view of the Bosphorus and the Anatolian side of Istanbul


Unbelievable.  Anyone with preconceived thoughts that Turkey sounds too far away, too Muslim (whatever that even means), or too sketchy is just plain crazy.  Note that I refrain from saying ignorant.  As I hope the translation in my subject line reads: “I found my third favorite city, ever”.  At least that’s what it is meant to mean.


I have been here 24 hours and it’s just something you ‘know’, I suppose.  Sort of how I ‘knew’ with New York and Paris.  This might not have (yet) moved me like Jerusalem did, but then again… I AM completely non-religious anyway.  Jerusalem, compared to Istanbul, is like a tourist destination, like the Las Vegas of the middle east.  I know, I know… that’s an exaggeration as it is the birth place of a bunch of religious sites.  But I’ve been there so I feel entitled to say what I want about it.


I am four hotel sites in after a seven mile morning jog along the Bosphorus, and having quite possibly one of the best glasses of red wine I’ve ever had, Turkish of course.  To hell with my Chelsea Handler vodka diet, for now anyway.  I was just privileged enough to site the 9-room Les Ottomons, where Donald and Ivanka Trump checked out of last week.  Les Ottomons is where I sit now, overlooking the Bosphorus and loving this Sarafin Cabernet.  And I am apparently sitting across from a football team owner, and I’m not talking NFL.  Major Turkish VIP.  I will be upset if I learn it’s Galatasaray!


I have experienced so much in such little time.  I haven’t even been to the Blue Mosque or Sultanahmet yet, or across the Bosphorus to the Asian, Anatolian, side of Istanbul.  How fantastic is it to be able to cross a continent, yet remain in one city, let alone one country.  And, I love their flag.  It is flown nearly everywhere and I think, is beautiful.


Istanbul is big, diverse, authentic, cultural and just absolutely fabulous.  It lacks the snobbery of Paris, the chaos of Bangkok, and the gimmickry of Jerusalem.  I did not learn much more than merhaba but I’m getting along just fine.  MORE than fine.  I’m excited to be staying another three nights!  Since Turkey joined the EU in 2005, it has (I think) the fifth best economy in all of the EU.  It is educated, totally kick-back yet dynamic.  It is where the west meets the east!


Oh, and my flight… Turkish Airlines… wow!  Possibly best flight ever, in contention only with Air France’s new A380.  The food was amazing.  The amenities.  The time even was perfect.  I left New York at midnight, so I was in the air when clients would think I was sleeping.  I ate my truly delicious meal and slept until my next delicious meal an hour before landing.  Right now it’s 6:30pm here, and I’m a little tired.  I have the mornings to enjoy and afternoons for meetings, then along with a dab of jet lag, America is awake and ready for biz!  Thank goodness one of my busiest clients is on retreat this week!


I am as excited to bring everyone I know Turkish Delight.  Almost as enthused as AJ and I were for Belgian chocolates.  I was making my way back to my hotel after the jog, and just happened to find Taksim, or Beyoglu (kind of reminescent of the cute Brussels town) with shops, restaurants and boutiques.  Thankfully, I live where I do and frequent a multi-cultural restaurant with whom I’ve made close friends, one being Turkish.  I was told (a couple times) about Turkish Delight, but today I sampled the pomegranate Turkish Delight with pistachios.  Incredible.  I am so excited to hand pick my boxes of it!  Will try not to do so when I’m not ‘pee crazy’. Haha.


I am staying at Pera Palace which was just bought by Jumeirah.  And those UAE brothers know how to spend money well!  The hotel itself is the oldest in Istanbul, and was frequented by Agatha Christie and Ernest Hemingway.  They were ‘regulars’.  The property boasts the oldest elevator in Turkey, and the second oldest in all of Europe, second only to the Eiffel Tower.  It was built in 1892.  The hotel closed for four years and is a real gem.  I am very excited for my first hammam in their spa.  A little bit curious too.  As I sited the Four Seasons Bosphorus today, I drilled their ‘#1 award winning’ spa about what it even is!  I know it’s a Turkish bath, but still… someone is going to scrub me?  Do I wear a cosi, or just go with a towel?  And then seeing this cold-looking flat hard surface on which the ‘treatment’ is performed definitely has me intrigued.  I hope it’s not painful like the royal Thai massage was in that weird body suit!


I’ll keep you posted on that, the whirling dervishes, and Restaurant Kalamar in Kumkapi, which a lady from Izmir told me is a touristy ‘fish’ location!?


The Four Seasons sales director just emailed me his mobile number… what do you think that means!?  😉


The second oldest elevator in Europe

The second oldest elevator in Europe


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