Ahlan wa Sahlan!

Jordan was one of them last minute trips where you know you’ve got a few days to jet off but don’t know where to actually go, and then you wait too long to decide so tickets are ridiculously priced or have ridiculous routes, and I basically got caught up in all of that! Literally a 4 hour flight turned into 9+ hours with a layover in Dubai (so silly I know lol) but it is what it is and alhamdulillah for being able to make it out!

Thought I’d share some suggestions based on me experience and a few of you have also messaged saying you’re headed soon or its on your list, so hope this helps!

Firstly I’d definitely recommend renting a car if you can! The option for taxis and buses are available as well but a) it’s so much more cost effective and b) it was a tad hard to grab a cab! Lucy and I headed to Jordan together as did another friend with her mate and she ended up renting so we all kinda sorta road-tripped together after the first night which made life a little easier. I’d also just got back from London so didn’t have as much time to look up transport options etc. let alone somewhat of an itinerary lol but alhamdulillah for things just working out! Thanks B love you! X

Get a Jordan Pass! This is one of them tourist passes which actually benefits you and is worth your money lol costs 70 JD and you can get it online (we did ours as we were departing Kuwait). Gets sent straight to your phone with a QR code and your’e sorted!  It waives your visa fee which in itself is 40 JD, and grants you access to quite a few attractions (UNESCO heritage sites) and museums which are places you’re presumably going to visit; attractions include Petra, Wadi Rum, the Citadel etc. Entrance to Petra for one day is 50 JD so even if you just did Petra (like we did), it still worked out in our favor!

Start down south and do Petra and Wadi Rum first and then make your way back up towards Amman and  also give yourself 2-3 days to get through them. I’d def take this route next time around as it just made more sense in terms of the physical stuff lol we started by the Dead Sea for the first day and a half and then headed south which was still fine, but after the 4 hour drive to the camp near Petra and having to be up early the next morning and legit heading back to Amman the same evening was a tad tiring for everyone (and I wasn’t even the driver). After Petra and Wadi Rum head up to the Dead Sea area for a day or two to just unwind and then head to Amman for another day or two to experience more of the city itself. We just had half a day-ish in Amman which was still lovely but I’d definitely stay longer next time. The citadel and a few other sites are near Amman as well so it would be worth your time exploring in and around the area.

Try to stay in a Bedouin camp whilst you’re touring Petra and Wadi Rum for the experience. There are a number of hotels near the sites as well, but there’s nothing quite like sleeping under the stars and 6 layers of blanket in the middle of nowhere, and then waking up to the howling of wild dogs and frigid water – fact: I did not shower this day. (I’m really selling it init!) lol but in all honesty, you’ve come to experience all you can and try new things and step out of comfort zones so why not?! We stayed at the Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp and I’d recommend them; everyone was super friendly, food was lovely, and the camp was right up my alley so I was more than happy lol one of my favorite parts of the trip!

We didn’t have enough time to visit Wadi Rum so made the most of Petra itself which gives me a reason to head back lol but Petra is doable in a day. Start off early and beat the insane number of tour groups and the heat. It’s really such a spectacular place and it would be a shame if you rushed through. We started around 9am and were back out at about half 3 only because we wanted to be on the road before dark. I had read and seen pictures about a night tour at Petra as well which I’m sure is something worth experiencing, but we didn’t get a chance this time.

For Petra itself, make sure you’ve got comfortable shoes, duh. Even if you end up jumping on a horse or donkey to get you through, at some point you’ll still have to walk some and there’s really no paved route. Sun-lotion, water (pack a few extra bottles), snacks because you’ll get munchy (snickers and granola bars were my friends that day), sunnies and a hat are pretty much staples I’d recommend you take along; in a rucksack/backpack just because that way it’ll be on your back and not in your way or you fussing with a crossbody etc…this just makes more sense to me lol but obvs. you do as you please!

There are a couple shops on the way that do have munch and water and you can always use them as pit-stops, so that’s always an option. Also if you see a toilet en route, just go because you don’t know when you’ll see another! Chargers as well; external chargers will save your life especially if you take a million pictures of the same thing like I do and your battery tends to run out quick lol interesting bit of information though which I’ll heed next time around, taking makeup or mascara with me..! This was the most requested for item by so many of the ladies we met on the way, whether we had any makeup or mascara to give them and unfortunately I had noneL that and biscuits or sweets for the kids because kids are kids duh! My heart hurt when one of the girls asked for water so I gave her whatever I had and then she asked for a biscuit and I felt so silly because mama always says to keep sweets or something to hand out to kids and I should’ve known better so ugh for Saira but inshallah next time x

Most of you here are also aware of me not being too much of a food person whilst travelling lol I’ll munch whatever and if I absolutely love something I’ll rave on about it haha our lovely driver from the Dead Sea stopped at a bakala to grab us these Turkish delight ‘logs’ if you will, I’m pretty sure it was a Turkish delight type helawa, rolled in pistachios and comes in other flavors as well, but it was lovely jubly and prob the only food item which sticks to memory! (no photos sorry!) oh also the 3JD shawarma after Petra which was blessed after all that walking lol

In terms of souvenirs or trinkets to bring back or look for if you’re interested, mud masks from the dead sea can be found everywhere or you could always grab some yourself whilst you’re there. I learnt that ostrich eggs, especially painted eggs, are something Jordan is well known for so something tourists often take back. I think I got some jam for mama, a magnet and mud masks lol sorted

If you’ve got any questions or found this helpful, do get in touch because I love hearing from you!x

this year I promised myself I’d start trying to make little travel vlogs of wherever I’d travel as a keepsake for meself, so got a gimble and tried (still trying) to figure it out haha but here you have it! (click here)! Me first attempt, maybe the last because who knows whether I’ll be consistent with it, but yay! It brings a smile to my face and I hope to yours as well and if not oh well, I like it so hah x if you’ve got suggestions of how to make these better or what kind of footage you’d like to see (because if I do make more I’ll most likely share them), let your girl know! love you miss you byee xxxxxxx

You’re probably getting sick of seeing all my Istanbul postings on the gram, but I’m not finished yet because I’m having a grand time playing around with newfound tools and making it all visually appealing so #sorrynotsorry ! but thanks to the ones who are still showing love because it makes me feel like you appreciate the werk lol love you!x

This is a quick rundown of what our 3days kinda sorta consisted of. I don’t think I ever plan or schedule things to the T, it’s often a rough idea of a few places I’d maybe like to see or check out (I’ll google beforehand to creep) and the rest is whatevers stumbled upon on the way, but there were a couple new places I wanted to share incase anyones ever in town!


Tourist Attractions 

  • Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque

Standard (written about here and here)

  • Basilica Cistern

This is the largest of several hundred cisterns that lies beneath the city of Istanbul and used to act as a water filtration system for the Place of Constantinople.  Each time I’ve been to Istanbul I’ve always wanted to go but never got around to it, which is weird because its en route to the Metro and Gulhane Park and literally to the roadside of the Hagia Sophia lol lord knows I’ve walked past it a number of times, but definitely a really neat place worth seeing!

  • Galata Tower

This is another place I’ve been wanting to go for ages and always saw it from afar. I had heard it’s a mission to get to and so many stairs and an uphill climb that goes on for days, but it was neither. A bit of an uphill climb but that’s standard and its definitely worth it once you arrive. A friend recommended to go a bit before sunset so you could catch it whilst at the top of the tower and that was sound advice. Be prepared to queue for a bit, but theres a cutesy tram café to grab a cuppa while you wait! It also gets super crammed up top because you’re only able to do a round of the top and exit, but definitely take your time to appreciate the view and if you have to find a special spot to squat at for a bit, so be it! There wasn’t an epic sunset when we went, but it was beautiful to see everything wind down for the evening and the city light up with the call to prayer echoing from each side and seagulls crying and just ugh. Beautiful!

  • Süleymaniye Mosque

This was actually a random stumble and I don’t know why we’ve never crossed paths before. We were headed to look for something else and saw this beautiful mosque and thought lets have a look and dang! Massively beautiful with a gorgeous courtyard alongside a stunning view overlooking the city. The inside of the masjid donned this burnt-orange carpet and a similar interior to the Blue Mosque, but just super beautiful mashallah! (also I had to creep on this man outside the masjid because old people are just beautiful bless them x)

  • Dolmabahçe Palace:

I never knew this existed, but came across some photos of this intrinsic gate on Instagram, did some research, and turns out it was part of Dolmabache! Mashallah times a million for how beautiful this palace is. The architectural detail and grandeur of this place was magical and cleancut and just made me feel honored to be in its presence if that makes sense lol we didn’t go inside to the museum bit, but the grounds are still someplace worth visiting! Round the back of the palace dons the prettiest pink walls (you guys thought it was a filter didn’t you?!) and a rose garden which we were lucky enough to see in half bloom.

  • Grand Bazaar

Standard; super pretty and loads of wonderful bits and bobs with shopkeepers who speak a million and one languages which is quite impressive lol I strongly suggest bargaining a shitload if you’re purchasing something and if there’s no budging don’t fret at all because chances are you’ll find it elsewhere for much cheaper

  • Istiklal Street

another standard; kind of like a high street if you will with familiar shops (zara, Mango, H&M, Sephora etc.) but also has side alleys which are great to stop at for coffee or shisha and is buzzing at night!


Views

This was probably the thing I was most excited about locating and turning into a reality! After a lot of time spent trying to read suggestions on where I could get the best view of the city (not at any of the rooftop cafes-there are many fyi), a few seemed consistent with this place near the Grand Bazaar where you’re meant to knock on a door and ask for a ‘Mr. Mehmet’, pay him a little summin summin and he gives you access to the roof lol sounds super sketch I know, but one of the sites had a google location to the exact spot and another one had photos of what the stairwell looked like so I figured I’d have a go because why not!

Managed to get to the place, and the stairwell looked like it did in the photos but all the doors were bolted shut and there was no sign of anyone residing; more like storage behind the doors. Knocked on every door lol nothing happened but it was one of those moments where you know you can’t do anything but that motivates you to find another way because you just gotta somehow (my word choice and explanation is not its finest at the moment so apologies x ) SO, I was like Hash, you can scale the wall right, you go up and help me up lol there was one of them bushes growing out of the wall and a broken pipe so Hash managed to use them to get himself up and I followed (not as gracefully and it reminded me I have crap upper body strength), cut meself and lay there for about 5 seconds, but dang. When I got up, it was such a freaking beautiful sight to look at! And I was super excited that we had made it and that I was right (because I was on about it since before we left for Istanbul and Hash was like really, you’re not going to do it, how, blah blah) and just ahh! While we were finding a way to get on, these 2 Turkish guys joined as I guess they were also looking for Mr. Mehmet but helped them get up as well and so the 3 of us had a grand time overlooking the city and taking pictures and enjoying life until Hashmat waved at someone below like a dumb and the man started shouting that he was going to call the police and gathered a group of mandem so we jumped off and that was that!

Here is the exact location which you can always load up onto your maps (Buyuk Valide Han) if you go looking for the view lol it stops you at this 4-way crossroad and theres an arched stone wall on your right with Buyuk Valide Han written on it. Turn right and immediately to your right theres a stairwell going upstairs. Go up the stairs, and to your left there are some rusted stairs (like 6-7 steps) to a closed door. Use those stairs to jump onto the tarped material or whatever it is on your left and take on that wall. I’d suggest maybe going with someone so you can give someone a boost and pull the other up (I’m sure I would’ve found a way on my own), but that’s that! Try not to get clocked, but I promise you’ll love it (both the thrill and the view!)

Another recommendation for rooftops is high rise car parks! Walk in and take the lift to the highest floor, take the stairs, but eventually you’ll get to the highest point which more than likely will make you feel on top of the world! (kind of!)


Artsy Fartsy

  • Karaköy

Someone on Instagram had recommended munch at a place called ‘Batazar Burgers’ which was a super cool place and just the general vibe of the area itself (Karakoy) was up my alley (burgers were good too lol Hash loved it so thankyou!) Lots of street art and cutesy cafes, lunch spots, boutiques and the sort. I’d recommend going here after Dolmabache; we got the metro after Dolmabache to Sultanahmet, and my GPS signaling told me to walk…tell me why we ended up walking all the way back to where we started and had munched haha I was like hey! This is such a cool place, twice in one day well done Saira #winning! Turned a corner and went oh. We were legit right here haha #fail it was a lovely walk though so aadhee.

  • Umbrella [street]

I haven’t got exact directions for this next one, but if you stroll around the same area, or even if you ask I’m sure someone will help you, you’ll come to this alley with umbrellas hanging up top. I don’t think this is the famous one, but it got me excited so yay! I thought we could get a sick photo lol but Hash had just about had enough at this point and even the man in the shop came out with an umbrella to help get the right shot but alas. This is the closest we got to the perfect shot but I love it regardless because of the backstory lol

  • Rainbow Stairs

The Rainbow Stairs are also a cutesy place to check out for photos or just to put a smile on your face. In 2013 a man named Huseyn Cetinel spent 4 days painting the bland concrete stairs in rainbow colors simply to make people smile bless him x Unfortunately it was painted over [by the government], but people are freaking amazing sometimes and volunteers repainted them and they survived! Slightly run down now but put a smile on your face they do! If you’re heading by foot you’ll come across a set of stairs that look super broken and painted over in grey; don’t get discouraged lol keep walking and you’ll see the actual ones further up on your left! (*disclaimer: I just googled a bit myself to be sure and this is the location to the ones I managed to get to; not sure if they’re the exact same ‘famous’ steps but they were still coloured steps..!)


Food

In terms of food and munch, I can’t suggest a whole lot of places to try. wallah guys I’m not much of a food person, especially when travelling lol I love trying new dishes and eating etc. but when I’m away legit a cup of tea and a croissant or sandwich or something in the morning will usually get me through til the evening. I tend to grab and go and/or snack on streets as opposed to sit down places.

I’d definitely recommend Hafiz Mustafa if you don’t know if it by now lol for baklava and Turkish tea. The burger place we tried was good (Baltazar Burgers) Definitely fresh juice from one of the street vendors; the best orange juice ever for some odd reason lol alongside street side shawarma and roasted corn and chestnuts from the side stalls. Also love grabbing pieces of Turkish delight and chocolate mushrooms and Haribos for munching-while-walking because that’s just what I enjoy lol

Actually, if there’s one place you do go to, make sure it’s this one! Last year I mentioned we went to this place which Iman highly recommended and they only did a couple things on the menu but was so good and I didn’t remember the name, but I made a point to note it this time around so here it is: Meşhur Sultanahmet Köftecisi and I’ve got the location down below! If there’s a queue just wait lol and I promise you won’t be disappointed! I suggest a plate of the kofte with the red sauce and a salad lol so simple yet so satisfying!

This was my first time not having Lahmacun which is my absolute favorite Turkish dish (its not a dish) which is flatbread with mince on top. Add a bit of lemon juice and coriander on top, roll it and munch and you’re good to go. Super basic I know haha but I’m typically not fussy when it comes to food!


I hope that’s either inspired you to add Istanbul onto your bucket list, or given you some ideas of where to hit up if you’re ever in town, or even just put a smile on your face looking at all the pretty pictures! Let me know if this is helpful in anyway and if adding locations is something you’d appreciate in future posts; I found it super helpful when I was creeping so I hope I can make your lives a little easier too!

I miss blogging and sharing and I don’t know if you guys miss it as well lol but I’m super open to interactions and suggestions on things you might like to see or read about! Xx

Hope everyone’s winding down for the holidays and super excited for time off; I’m counting down to go home and really looking forward to seeing my family and have warm fuzzies inside lol lots of love, light, and hot chocolate sent your way! xoxo