I have fallen madly, deeply, head-over-heels in love with Istanbul. I spent every day in the city grinning from ear-to-ear, and we even had to extend our stay as we just couldn't bear the thought of leaving. I do not remember the last time a city had such an impact on me; I'm prepared to go as far as calling it my new favourite city, in the entire world.

Istanbul is the definition of east-meets-west, and seamlessly combines the best of both worlds. There's an abundance of museums to explore, bazaars to get lost in, history to learn about and culture to absorb; there really is something for everyone. I could probably name three-hundred things I love about the city, but for the Accor Hotels' A Tale Of Three Cities competition, I have just about narrowed it down to three.

The Bazaars
The Grand Bazaar is an absolutely magical place. As one of the largest covered markets in the world, you can spend hours wandering around the maze of shops, looking at the array of beautiful, colourful objects on display. Lanterns, rugs, ceramics, jewellery, clothing; you name it, they've got it. Every few steps you will be met by a cheery 'hello' and a smiling face inviting you to look inside; with the displays so alluring, it will be hard to resist. Yet while the Grand Bazaar steals the lime light, it is just the tip of the iceberg; there are a multitude of other bazaars across the city just waiting to be explored.

The People
We did not meet a single person we did not like in Istanbul; everybody was absolutely lovely. There were helpful strangers who pointed us in the right direction each time we got lost, friendly shop owners who started out trying to sell us something but ended up inviting us in for tea, and curious passers-by who had never seen an electronic cigarette before and wanted to know all about it. There was the rug seller who ended up giving me medical advice, the restauranteur who was so excited to discover we came from the home of Yorkshire puddings, and the local who stopped us in the street just to make sure we were having a good time on our travels.

The Little Things
You know you're really in love when you start to notice all the little things that bring you joy. I love that wherever you go there is somebody playing backgammon. I love the endless supply of kebabs, and the fact that no two are the same. I love the call to prayer, ringing out across the city five time each day. I love that a taxi is a 'taksi', ketchup is 'ketçap' and mayonnaise is 'mayonez'. I love the dogs and cats roaming free on the streets. I love that everyone is constantly drinking tea, and that the tea is served in cute hourglass-shaped glasses. I really could name three-hundred things I love about the city!

Have you been to Istanbul? What did you love about the city?

PS. If you liked this post, take a look at 8 Reasons Why You Should Visit York.