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A Special Day in Istanbul

On a Sunday in June our good friends took us to a magical place in Istanbul where I had never been before—the Pierre Loti Café.  Perched on a hilltop overlooking the Golden Horn, the views are beyond stunning.  The Pierre Loti café is named after the French novelist who, legend has it, during his stay in Istanbul in 1876, he gazed out at the Golden Horn looking for inspiration for his literary work Aziyade.  This is a semi-autobiographical story of Loti’s illicit affair with the love of his life, an 18 year old harem girl named Aziyade. From the vantage point of the Pierre Loti café, we had a light lunch, tea, and coffee.  Sitting under the tree’s shade, enjoying good food, conversation, and spectacular views, I didn’t want to leave.  I can see why Pierre Loti spent so much time writing in this beautiful café! Before our lunch at  Pierre Loti, we visited a relatively new attraction, Miniaturk park.  Built in 2003 and situated on the Golden Horn, this park houses miniature models of 105 of the most prominent sites across Turkey.  What I loved was strolling outside and essentially being able to “travel through Turkey” and learn about the history of each one. There is also a miniature railway network, a motorway with moving vehicles, an airport with moving airplanes, and ships sailing across the Bosphorus. These dynamic models make Miniaturks a living park, an attraction not to be missed! Our special day ended with refreshments at Yildiz Saray park.  Yildiz Saray means “star palace” and on these beautiful grounds, Ottoman sultans built a palace and other pavilions in the late 19th century where they would often vacation.  We drove from the Golden Horn area to Besiktas, near the Ciragan Palace Hotel (an amazing 5 star property on the Bosporous), and went up the hill into Yildiz Saray park to the Malta Kosk pavilion which has a café/restaurant overlooking the Bosporus.  Here we had snacks and a beverage while enjoying the view and the sea breeze.  There is an actual palace on the grounds, Yildiz Saray, that is open during the week and I’ve been told worth touring. This was such a great day and we have our friends Erdem and Melahat to thank for organizing such a memorable Sunday!  I would recommend putting any or all of these three sites on your itinerary when you visit Istanbul!

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