The best of Turkey, via Instagram

The best of Turkey, via Instagram

Turkey was just about everything I could have asked for in a birthday trip: full of adventures, but also plenty of relaxation. There was the once-in-a-lifetime hot-air balloon ride at sunrise and seeing the most stunning architecture that has stood the test of history, but also plenty of wandering through side streets, basking in sunshine on the $1.75 ferry and catching up with one of my best friends.

Christine Amorose in Istanbul, Turkey

I read about five books in rapid succession, flipped through magazines on sunny terraces, drank a million cups of Turkish tea and even more pieces of Turkish baklava.

View of Cappadocia from Koza Cave Hotel, Turkey

Cappadocia is often described as other-worldly: the unusual landscape, formed by an ancient volcano eruption and years of erosion, is unlike any other place in the world. The view from my private terrace at Koza Cave Hotel over the fairy chimneys and pigeon lofts never got old.

Balloons at sunrise in Cappadocia, Turkey

People come to Cappadocia for the hot-air balloon ride: it’s big business in this small town, with up to 100 balloons in the air at sunrise almost every morning. Flying with Voyager Balloons fulfilled my incredibly high expectations for this experience: the view is simply breathtaking.

Flowers from Voyager Balloon in Cappadocia, Turkey

The crew at Voyager Balloons knew I was in Turkey to celebrate my birthday, so after the flight they surprised me with champagne, cake and flowers. The other passengers even sang Happy Birthday as I blew out the candles! It was the absolute sweetest–and those flowers were gorgeous.

Trekking through Cappadocia with Middle Earth Travel

Even though bad weather cut our hike short, trekking through the Red and Rose Valleys with Middle Earth Travel was just as fantastic as flying above the landscape in a balloon. Trekking is really just a fancy word for hiking, and it was really cool to see the crazy rock formations up close.

Balloons at sunrise in Cappadocia, Turkey

Sunrise on my last day in Cappadocia: just epic.

Christine Amorose & Nevin Binkowski in Istanbul, Turkey

The main reason why I chose Turkey for my birthday this year? My friend Nevin! She’s half-Turkish, half-American and grew up in Cambridge, graduated from Oxford and now lives in London. Her dad taught Ottoman History at a university in Istanbul, so Nevin is familiar with the city and speaks conversational Turkish. We met when we were both working at a cooking school in Nice, and have discovered we’re excellent travel buddies: we had a delightful last-minute vacay in Corsica, rented an apartment in Paris and went to The Nutcracker Ballet at Lincoln Center. I’m so grateful that she popped down from London for a few days of fun in Istanbul!

Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey

I loved learning about Middle Eastern history in middle school and high school, especially the concept of Islamic art. I was in heaven in Istanbul: there is so much turquoise, so many intricately painted geometric designs, so much gorgeous attention to detail in the art and the architecture.

Bridge & Burn dress on Christine Amorose in Turkey

We took the ferry over to Heybeliada, one of the Princes’ Islands, for a day trip on my birthday. This Bridge & Burn dress was the perfect thing to throw on over my bathing suit.

Birthday cupcake on beach in Heybeliada, Turkey

Even though our day in Heybeliada was a bit of a comedy errors–let’s just say they weren’t totally prepared for tourists before high season starts!–our waiter did surprise us with afternoon cupcakes after Nevin mentioned it was my birthday. I’m telling you, Turkish hospitality just can’t be eat!

The back streets of Istanbul, Turkey

Is anyone else obsessed with taking photos of laundry flapping in the breeze? Easily one of my favorite cityscape subjects, especially when it’s on a colorful side street.

The view of Istanbul from Galata Tower

The view of Istanbul from Galata Tower.

Istanbul train station in Turkey

We hit up all of the required tourist sites on our first morning in the city–Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Cisterns–but my favorite discovery might just be the Sirkeci Train Station. The gorgeous geometric stained glass and architectural details were enough to make us cross the street, and bonus: there was a tiny railway museum inside chronicling the station as a start to the Orient Express.

Turkish breakfast at Cafe Privato in Istanbul

The village breakfast at Cafe Privato: nothing to say except that you must go, and you must go hungry.

The back streets of Istanbul, Turkey

Fun facts about Istanbul: it’s built on seven hills. Be prepared for A LOT of stairs.

Cherries at a market in Turkey


Cherry season: officially the best season to travel.

Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey


There’s just no way to adequately capture the scale and intricacy of the Blue Mosque, but the “elephant pillar” is a good place to start: simply stunning.

Christine Amorose in Lilla P dress in Istanbul


We took the ferry over to Uskadar, just to get sea breezes on the ferry and wander a new neighborhood and eat lunch. My Lilla P dress was super comfortable without sacrificing on style.

Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey

 What’s your favorite photo of Turkey via Instagram?

I can’t wait to share all of my fun experiences from Turkey over the next few weeks!

  • Dana

    Awesome photos and recap! Glad you had a good trip- makes me want to go back!

  • Jennifer Snyder

    Okay…eating baklava in Turkey is on my life list and you’ve just confirmed that I TOTALLY need to make it happen! It sounds like you had an incredible trip!

  • Great photos! When you’re reading books while traveling are you bringing physical copies or reading electronically?

  • Hayley on Holiday

    I absolutely love that photo of the flowers with the balloon in the background. So thoughtful and the arrangement looks beautiful x

  • I’ll be going there in three months. I might look at these photos every day until then!

  • Gorgeous photos, as always. Glad you had another great bday trip!

  • Beautiful photos! Istanbul looks like a dream, it is stunning. Love those photos you took of the balloons, what a magical experience!

  • Lauren @BonVoyageLauren

    I loved your Instagram posts from the trip! Especially the ones of hot air balloons! So magical.

  • Honestly, I love them all! The colors are amazing.

  • budgetjan

    I recognize all these places. The last one is Tokapi Palace. I love Turkey and the people are fantastic.

  • I’ve always been fascinated with Islamic Art too – I think it’s gorgeous, but all of these photos are beautiful. Turkey looks like a great place to celebrate a birthday.

  • Alexis

    So Beautiful! I am living in Turkey right now and love it- totally understand your infatuation with the beautiful country!

  • food_photo_rtw

    My favorite is the one in Cappadocia with the hot air balloons. I hope so much to go there soon too. Looks amazing. I was in Istanbul last year and loved it so much. I think my favorite was the Topkapi Palace.

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  • Very beautiful! Thanks for sharing 🙂
    I went to Istanbul last March and this is my favorite, I love the bridge.

  • Gahhh, I am dying to get to Turkey soon! All of your pictures are fantastic, but I really love the balloons over Cappadocia.

  • Seeing that table spread brings back fond memories for me. I’m half-Turkish like your friend and I am DROOLING over the thought of Turkish food at the moment! Ah! Glad you love Turkey so much 😉

  • Turkey’s For Life

    Glad you enjoyed your trip to Turkey – looks like you had a good guide, too. 🙂 A great set of pics. We go to Istanbul at least once a year but haven’t been in the Blue Mosque since our first visit. Seeing your photo, we might need a revisit.

  • camorose

    Thanks–I already want to go back too!

  • camorose

    Yes! You MUST go!

  • camorose

    Just my Kindle!

  • camorose

    It was! I just wished that I had a vase and water and a place to keep them with me for the whole time I was in Turkey–so gorgeous!

  • camorose

    You’ll have the best time! Enjoy!

  • camorose

    Thank you!

  • camorose

    It really was magical! Glad you liked them 🙂

  • camorose

    More to share of those soon! Glad you liked them!

  • camorose

    Thanks! I was obsessed with all of the blues and turquoises 🙂

  • camorose

    Yes! Had such a fantastic time!

  • camorose

    It was a wonderful trip–beautiful place!

  • camorose

    You lucky girl! Enjoy!

  • camorose

    Oh, Topkapi was amazing–I was so in love with all of those gorgeous tiles.

  • camorose

    So gorgeous! I already want to go back!

  • camorose

    More of those coming soon! 🙂

  • camorose

    Yes! The food was AMAZING!

  • camorose

    Yes! It was fun for Nevin–she got to go back to all the touristy places she hadn’t been in years 🙂

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