There was NO time to check out Harrods. Drat! I had to race through Heathrow’s Terminal 5 to get to my gate on time, which meant I had no time to check out all the fabulous shops and restaurants in the new terminal. Fortunately, I’ll be back in a couple of weeks before flying home so there will be plenty of time to check out what’s cool and hopefully do a little shopping!

I was racing to catch a flight to Istanbul. I know – crazy, right? I’ve been here for just over 24 hours and already I’ve seen so much. The city welcomes visitors with open arms and a first impression that’s hard to top. It’s clean, but beyond clean, I was taken by the beauty of the city I saw as I sat back in the taxi that whisked me from the airport to my hotel. Miles and miles of perfectly manicured parks line the Sea of Marmara and these parks were filled with families and couples sitting huddled under trees. I loved the instant feeling of warmth and love that exuded from the intimate vignettes I saw all over the city during that brief drive. It was impossible to miss.

I’m staying at The Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul. Keeping watch over the Bosphorus, the hotel is ideally situated for getting around, whether it’s to see the local historical sites, enjoy great food along the famous river or even take a ferry to Asia. That’s right; Istanbul is the only city in the world that sits on two continents, Europe and Asia. The hotel has 280 guestrooms, 22 hotel suites and 11 palace suites. Oprah was just here, staying in one of the over-the-top luxurious palace suites but I’m pretty happy here in my supersized guestroom, with its sweet balcony and sweeping view of the Bosphorus … and free WiFi, too!

Besides killer views, the hotel has a handful of restaurants that serve some killer food, too. I was tempted to stay in one night and order room service (hey, a transatlantic flight tires a girl out!) but I’m so glad I dined al fresco (the night air was as soft as silk on my skin) and enjoyed the good food and even better view at The Gazebo. Laledan Restaurant offers an incredible breakfast buffet with an endless (and I mean endless!) assortment of breads, pastries, cheeses, fruit, salads, fresh juices and everything else you’d expect to find at a breakfast buffet.

The staff here are friendly, always ready to help or answer a question. I check out of here tomorrow afternoon but this is a place I would come back to stay in a heartbeat! Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about the sites I visited in Istanbul and the places not to miss when you visit. The Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, Ciragan Caddesi 32 Beşiktaş, 34349 Istanbul, Turkey, Tel: + 90 212 326 46 46.

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