Over the last three weeks in Istanbul I've become quite familiar with the city and it's slowly beginning to feel like "home." After weeks of exploring, I know where to get a good meal in town, where the best bars are in the area, how to bargain a bit (even though I'm still comically inept at it), and even how to navigate the Grand Bazaar without getting lost. I've wandered across the city numerous times, walking over 10 miles on most days, yet there are still parts of this great city I've yet to explore. There’s just too much to do and not nearly enough time to do it, but thankfully I had some help courtesy of a local friend.
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Five and a half months of continuous travel takes its toll on any backpacker. While I’ve slowed down my travel schedule to make my lifestyle more sustainable, eventually the constant moving was bound to catch up with me. Many people back home think it’s absurd I need a "vacation from my vacation,” but the reality of the matter is that long-term travel is far more tiring than you'd expect. While travel is absolutely thrilling, it boils down to a lot of logistics planning. Since no two days are ever the same, I am forced to constantly pay attention to my surroundings, figure out solutions to a variety of novel issues on a daily basis, and adjust my short term plans based on a never-ending array of unexpected changes. Thankfully, my three weeks in Istanbul was a return to a “normal” life that I’d long since forgotten and gave me the chance to explore the city at my leisure.
Ladies and gentlemen, I must announce today that I have a new all-time favorite country and city in the world. For months Marseille held the crown as my favorite city of this trip so far, but Split now takes the #1 spot while Germany now ranks behind Croatia as my favorite country. I absolutely love everything about Split and I could easily spend weeks of my life in this great city without even a second thought. Unfortunately, since there are only so many days left of “summer” (even though it’s technically October) I have to leave this wonderful city so I can visit the much-hyped Croatian islands before winter sets in. I've seen only a fraction of this great country, but I can already tell you I will be back in my lifetime. It might not be next year, or the one after, but as long as I'm still alive, I'm coming back to Croatia