Istanbul/Greek Islands Itinerary

So often on The Juice, we discuss travel to Mexico or the Caribbean, but did you know Apple Vacations can also take you across the pond to unbelievable destinations in Europe? Sure, we sell packages to London, Paris and Amsterdam, but we also have this awesome Istanbul/Greek Islands itinerary tucked into our Europe portfolio. Below are excerpts from my travel journal from my unbelievable two continent trip!

Remember when they used to have a hot meal on the plane? British Airways does... and they ROCK!)

Remember when they used to have a hot meal on the plane? British Airways does... and they ROCK!

Istanbul Day 1:

My husband and I can mark our milestones in vacations: Where we first traveled together (Moon Palace), where we discussed my engagement ring (Secrets Capri), where we gorged ourselves with so much bacon we knew we had seen each other at our worst (Madrid). So when it came time to pick our honeymoon location a few years ago, we knew it had to be special, but with that travel twist that marks all our best trips.

We chose three nights in Istanbul, followed by a cruise through the Greek Islands and ended up in Athens. It was a modified version of this tour –we just skipped the first day at sea and embarked in Istanbul instead.

For me, our honeymoon was a return to the stories of my youth. As a third-generation Greek-American, I didn’t have endless family living in Greece to visit every summer. For my husband, he was looking forward to meal after meal of meat-on-a-stick. See? We’re a simple couple.

We departed Chicago O’Hare one evening and landed in Istanbul the next evening, connecting through Heathrow. From our photos, you can tell we are punchy.

Pita as big as my hand!

Pita as big as my hand!

Our evening arrival in Istanbul couldn’t have been timed any better. We were traveling during Ramadan, when most of the town fasts from sunrise to sunset and then breaks the fast with dinner. The cafes around our hotel were adorable and crowded.

Our charming hotel, Sultanahmet Palace, is the one in front with the lights on.

Our charming hotel, Sultanahmet Palace, is the one in front with the lights on.

The Blue Mosque is right behind our hotel — so close we could hear the call to sunset prayer over the loudspeaker. I’m hoping they’re a little quieter for their sunrise service! (They weren’t!)

We toured the old city on our own, hitting all of the amazing highlights of Istanbul: pashmina shopping in the Grand Bazaar and exploring the Spice Market, when we came across this gem:

Ist4
This is the entrance to Turkey’s pet market. I feel this is the closest I am going to come to buying a monkey, but my husband won’t let me go in. He knows better – I’d want to take everything home with me, and just from the photo, I can tell I’m going to have a problem convincing British Airways to let me bring a zebra on board.

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