Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , November 11th, 2018

In 2014 (yes, I know, it’s been 4 years already), the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul was the world’s most-visited tourist attraction, according to Travel+Leisure. If you look at the Instagram hashtags of this marketplace, you’ll be dazzled by the colors of what this well-known tourist destination would offer to your four senses.

On the day I was there, the scene didn’t disappoint me. I was enamored not just by its history, sights, and colors but also how the Turkish vendors won’t bother you just by passing through their shops. Unlike other busy markeplaces I’ve been to in many countries (like China, Hongkong, Vietnam, and Thailand), the sellers at Grand Bazaar are not the pushy kinds. They’d leave you alone once you politely say, “I’m just window shopping.”

I was there in the early morning, so the crowd was still thin, and I felt like I was the only (or most) obvious tourist going around.

The Grand Bazaar is a 15th-century shopping mall that makes your shopping experience worthwhile. However, in the frenzy of buying all good things, do not forget to revere the character of the architecture and historical vibes sprouting from the walls.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Turkey Gay Travel Resources


Hagia Sophia in Istanbul – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , October 8th, 2018

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul - Keep Calm and Wander

Aya Sofia or Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is another must-visit attraction that would blow your mind away. It served as a Byzantine Cathedral from 537-1204; a Roman Cathedral until 1261; a Greek Orthodox Cathedral through 1453; an Ottoman mosque until 1931; and then, it became a museum which we enjoy until today.

I gasped when I visited the church turned mosque turned museum. It’s a mixture of historical and architectural wonders. It’s a wonderful blend of Roman, Ottoman, Islamic and Byzantine architectures – and I couldn’t help myself but gazed at every details of the interior that stood the test of history and war times. The towering dome is, in itself, a beauty that I’ve never seen anywhere – lightened up by its innumerable windows filtering the daylight.

Hagia Sophia is just across the famed Blue Mosque in Sultahnamet area of Istanbul. You can’t skip one in favour of the other. These two are inseparable tourists destinations that you must see – once in your lifetime!

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Turkey Gay Travel Resources


Inside Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 28th, 2018

Basilica Cistern

Featured in some Hollywood blockbusters, such as 1963 James Bond film “From Russia with Love”, Ron Howard’s adaption of Dan Brown’s “Inferno”, and the recent one Marvel’s “Black Widow”, the Basilica Cistern is the largest cavernous cisterns of Istanbul. It is called “basilica” because it lies underneath the location of a Roman basilica long lost in the pages of history. I could not fathom how a place so marvelousas this one was used as a dump in the Ottoman rule over Constantinople. But it relieves me to know that it was discovered by Petrus Gyllius—a French researcher—and it is now open to the public, for all of us to see what’s beneath Istanbul’s famed Sultanahmet Square. This underground Byzantine water reservoir is just one of the many subterranean structures across the city.

Where is it? It’s just few steps from Hagia Sophia. Just cross the street and find a tiny sign leading to Basilica Cistern.

1. A Forest of Columns

When you see 336 pillars towering at a height of 33ft and supporting a massive roof right in front of you, it is almost as if you’re seeing countless trees of a forest. These pillars were not built. Actually, they were salvaged from different places and were reused here.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Turkey Gay Travel Resources

Before You Visit Istanbul’s Blue Mosque – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 22nd, 2018

Blue Mosque

Istanbul is a culmination of Byzantine, Constantinople, and Ottoman art and culture. Although, there were many eye-catching attractions in the city, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul stands out from the rest of the list.

Remember: Since this is a holy place for Muslims, you’re expected to dress decently. If you are exposing flesh (including men wearing shorts), get or borrow a shawl near the entrance and cover the exposed parts of your skin before going in. Entrance is free.

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul goes with other two names: the Sultan Ahmet Mosque and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque.

10 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul

1. The name “Blue Mosque” is not because of its exterior, which is not even blue. It is because of the blue tiles inside.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Turkey Gay Travel Resources

Istanbul in the Winter

Author: , December 20th, 2014

Istanbul, TurkeyIstanbul might be snowy during the winter, but visiting in low season means more discounts, fewer crowds, and time for (warm) pleasures like historic museums and contemporary art galleries. While it’s not too cold to shop your way through Istanbul’s famous street markets during the day, it’s easy to relax in cafes like the renown Mado Cafe when the sun sets, snuggling up to traditional drinks like Turkish tea, Turkish coffee, and sahlep — a sweet, milky, and cinnamon-y beverage. Here’s a guide:


With a cool vibe and modern, sleek design, the boutique hotel Mama Shelter Istanbul has rates starting as low as [euro]69 (about $86) in the winter, and the earlier you book, the better the rate. Mama Shelter is located in Beyoglu, where the main street, Istiklal Caddesi, remains throbbing with shoppers in winter and street vendors selling roasted chestnuts and toasted simits (similar to a sesame bagel). Don’t miss the Cukurcuma neighborhood near the hotel, where quaint cafes and antique shops dot the streets and novelist Orhan Pamuk’s award-winning Museum of Innocence is located.

With the growing contemporary art scene in Istanbul, winter is the perfect time to duck into a warm museum and linger over an exhibit. Lebanese artist Akram Zaatari, who was in the 2013 Venice Biennale, is taking over three floors at SALT Beyoglu with his cutting-edge photography and video work. International and Turkish artists wrestle with questions of religion and art in the Rainbow in the Dark exhibit at sister gallery SALT Galata. (Entry at both SALT spaces is free.) The SALT Galata building itself, by the way, is a worthy attraction. Once the former Imperial Ottoman Bank, the 19th century landmark now houses a beautiful library, museum dedicated to the bank, and a casual cafe with free WiFi in addition to the galleries — making it a great place to pop into as you gallery hop throughout the neighborhood.

By Nicole Serratore – Full Story at Shermans Travel | Turkey Gay Travel Resources

Gay Istanbul: Turkey’s Most Scintillating City

Author: , November 26th, 2014

Istanbul, TurkeyPushed and pulled by the eastern and western worlds for centuries, absorbing influences and attitudes from both Europe and the Middle East, Turkey is astoundingly resilient.

And Istanbul, with 14 million people, has been the cosmopolitan centre of the region since it was founded as Constantinople in 330 AD. The Bosphorus Strait, a shipping lane that links the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea dividing Istanbul in two, is one of the boundaries between Europe and Asia.

And although a forward-thinking region culturally, homosexuality is still relatively a taboo subject in Turkey – despite same-sex sex being legalised in 1858 (there are no anti-discrimination laws on the books of any kind). The bigger hotel chains may not blink twice if a same-sex couple asks for one bed, but the same cannot be said for the smaller places, so discretion on this, and public displays of affection, are advised.

By Doug Wallace – Full Story at Gay Star News | Turkey Gay Travel Resources

Featured Gay Friendly Tour Operator: Efendi Travel, Istanbul, Turkey

Author: , November 6th, 2014

Efendi Travel - Istanbul, TurkeyPeriodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

Efendi Travel operates customized and private tours and other travel arrangements on moderate to deluxe budgets. We offer private and small group tours for Istanbul, Cappadocia Ephesus, Mediterenian coast and gulet cruises. If you want a highly competent, experienced Turkish travel agency, you should consider Efendi Travel. We’re good on personal service, attention and follow-through.

See the Efendi Travel
Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, Vacation Rentals, Travel Agents and Tour Operators in Turkey

Lesbian Travel: Istanbul

Author: , October 27th, 2014

Istanbul, TurkeyTurkey has long been a destination popular with gays and lesbians due to its sunshine, history, picturesque ruins and architecture, gorgeous coastline and delicious food. However, it is an Islamic country and has therefor raised safety questions for women and lesbian travelers, and especially transgender people.

Now, however, a new umbrella organization has been established to help fight homophobia and transphobia in Turkey, reports It’s good news for those of us who like to sample the ancient comforts of this country that sits between Europe and Asia, whether that takes the form of a Turkish bath or a pillowy piece of Turkish delight!

While Istanbul is a cosmopolitan city of 18-million, it can be an intimidating experience for a lesbian traveler. To help cushion your travel experience you can seek an accommodation provider through The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), which recommends booking Istanbul-area tours or travel deals with select LGBT-friendly companies. But outside of this, a new Turkish LGBT organization is helping to change things across the board.

By Melanie Barker – Full Story at Curve Magazine | Turkey Gay Travel Resources

Eating Out: Istanbul

Author: , July 30th, 2014

Istanbul, TurkeyWith culinary influences extending from Central Asia clear through the Caucasus to the Mediterranean, the food in Turkey is justifiably world-famous. At the heart of the Sultanahmet district in Istanbul, however, you’re much more likely to find overpriced and under-spiced versions of Turkish favorites than anything else. For a more authentic and delicious experience, head a bit further afield to some of our favorite spots in town:

Balik Ekmek ($2-$3)

Literally “fish bread,” these sandwiches feature a fresh-grilled fillet on top of a gardens’ worth of fresh veggies, wrapped together into a crusty bread loaf and topped with a touch of lemon sauce. They can be found at countless waterfront stalls along the Golden Horn and Bosphorus, but one of the best spots is in the small restaurants midway through the Karakoy Fish Market.

By Stephen Lioy – Full Story at Shermans Travel | Turkey Gay Travel Resources

Istanball Brings Four Days of Non-Stop Parties to Turkey

Author: , May 25th, 2014


HIP SULTAN presents the 1st edition of ISTANBALL with 4 days of non-stop international parties hosted by the best world’s party brands. Expect “never seen before” productions to accompany your favorite DJ’s and sensational live acts.

%100 Guaranteed Satisfaction ; Fabulous entertainment in style, World’s best party brands with best DJs line-up, performers and out of the box parties created by HIP SULTAN like you never experienced before!

Fasten your seat-belts. Produced by Greece and Turkey’s premiere gay travel agency and producer of best parties in Turkey HIP SULTAN, is going to take you on the most exotic and stylish journey ever. With the participation of thousands of gay men from all around the world; the crowd of trend setters gathers at the exotic but modern entertainment mecca of Europe: Istanbul.

By Kelly Riker – Seasons of Pride | Turkey Gay Travel Resources | Other Gay Travel Events