Where to go in April

I’m going to tell you where to go… again.  For March, I recommended the Mayan Riviera or Valencia, Spain.  For April, I think you would enjoy Istanbul or Indio…

Istanbul is Intriguing!

Istanbul from the sky - Topkapi Palace

Istanbul from the sky – Topkapi Palace (Photo credit: CyberMacs)

Where is that?  Istanbul, Turkey.  The capital city of Turkey crosses over the Europe/Asia border so you can step foot in two continents in one day!

Why Istanbul?  The city that has been known by many names (Constantinople, Byzantium), Istanbul has been the head of several empires and has seen leaders of different religions during its time.  These shifts in power can be seen in the stunning architecture.  The tourist square is literally magical- you look around at the beautiful mosques (some were former churches) and museums in the distance, cool down by the impressive fountains, and listen to the islamic azan (call to prayer) all at once.  It feels so foreign and exotic for a european city but with modern shopping (cheaper than many of the european cities I’ve visited- stock up on scarves!) and places to check out.

The Church of the Holy Wisdom, commonly known ...

The Church of the Holy Wisdom, commonly known as Hagia Sophia in English, is a former Greek Orthodox church converted to a mosque, now a museum, in Istanbul. It is universally acknowledged as one of the great buildings of the world. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The famous Maiden's (Leander's) Tower was orig...

The famous Maiden’s (Leander’s) Tower was originally built by Alcibiades in 408 BC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why in April?  I travelled here in May and it was a little chilly but not too busy.  Europe in the spring is nice because you avoid the huge line-ups at the popular spots.  A slightly chilly spring day would be a perfect day to check out a Turkish bath (read reviews before you go) and drink some of the popular apple tea.  Also, Turkey is a muslim country and you can wear shorts as a tourist but I wouldn’t advise it since you may look a little out of place in the city.  I hear the beaches are completely different, however.  If you go in April, you’ll be dressed a little warmer regardless.  No need to don a burqa- they are modern here- but I think a little modesty will make you feel more comfortable.

How?  Stay near the main tourist square.  Book your hotel or hostel in advance if you can.  If you are walking distance to the main tourist square, you’ll be able to check out most of the must-sees without having to navigate the public transit too much.

Must-sees and dos- Hagia Sophia, Topkapi palace (do the tour of the harem!), the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, cross over the water to the Asian side and check out the Maiden’s Tower, try a Turkish bath, smoke some hookah in a Turkish cafe, and eat a lot!  Enjoy the shopping but don’t be tempted to buy a lamp if you are a backpacker!  I made this mistake and tried to ship it home since it was the beginning of my trip- it was apparently an impossible task and after a frustrating day I was forced to return it.

Inside the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Inside the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Runner up for where to go in April:  To Indio, California.  I’m headed there for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival that runs over two weekends in April.  Pricey?  Yes!  Amazing?  I hope so!  There is music of many genres- hiphop and rap, rock, old school (lots of nostalgia this year), and EDM for the rave-lovers.  I’ve never been before but I’ll be posting as soon as I return!

More places to check out in April (as recommended by my Where to Go When book):  Cinque Terre, Banff (off-season, beautiful in the spring), Galapagos (on my list of places to go before I die!), Amsterdam (I hope it’s warmer in April than it was in November!), Savannah, Georgia (another on my list of places to go before I die),  Paris (in the spring I think it would be so romantic), and the Okavango Delta (world traveller Beau has been here… thoughts, Beau?).

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