I’m having a little ‘pinch me’ moment as I begin to write this edit, as I’ve just realised that I’m about to tell you all about my fourth press trip of the year… how crazy is that! Never did I think my little London Blogger universe would take me on such an amazing journey, and I genuinely need to thank each and every one of you who support me even by one single ‘like’ for getting me here. You truly are the best bunch of females on the planet!
Now, to business! Yesterday I got back from a three day trip in Istanbul with the Ramada by Wyndham team. I’d never really added Istanbul to my bucket list because, although I knew it was there, it never really called out to me. However, this summer I saw so many people visiting this city and, like the undeniable sheep I am, added it to my travel to do list. As you can imagine, as soon as I received the invite from Ramada by Wyndham I was booking those days out of my calendar and packing my bag within minutes!
The purpose of our trip was to get a first taste (literally and metaphorically) of Ramada’s new red wine list. Inspired by the global footprint of the Ramada by Wyndham brand (they have 650 hotels in 80 countries!!), the Ramada Red Wine List was crafted in partnership with UK-based wine expert and author Jamie Goode and features wines from some of the world’s most renowned wine regions as well as lesser-known yet distinctive tastes. Some Ramada hotel’s lists differ slightly by featuring wines from their local region. This, I think, offers wine aficionados and casual drinkers alike an opportunity a taste of where they are.
Our group included three UK Insta girls and several from Istanbul. From the UK, I was travelling with mega babes ‘TheWonderingDreamer‘ and ‘NatInstaBlog’ and yet again I fully lucked out with being put in a ‘blind date’ situation with some of the sweetest girls!
We spent our first night in the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Istanbul’s city centre; a proud, spacious hotel in walking distance to Taksim Square and Istanbul Convention & Exhibition Centre. My room was a ‘standard’ but was huge, with a corner sofa with coffee table, desk area, amazing bed and bathroom with a walk in shower I could genuinely live in. No ‘frills’ or ‘wow factor’ as such, but a really great, clean, spacious hotel with the most lovely, attentive staff and in a good of a location as you could hope for to explore Istanbul.
Before our first dinner, we hopped in a taxi to get a glimpse of Istanbul’s old town (about a 20 minute drive away). The old town is still very much up and coming so was a bit ominous in parts, but beautiful at every single turn, without exception. Beautiful age old architecture, quirky coffee shops and colourful houses lined each street.. I just wish we could have spent longer there!
That evening we were getting our first glimpse of Ramada’s new red wine list with a stunning dinner by their rooftop pool (are you all proud of me for not drinking too much wine and jumping in? Because I am). Each of our seven courses was perfectly paired with a wine, and each wine was so distinct from the last. It was so amazing to hear about how each bottle came to be granted place on the list as well as their unique heritage and flavours and notes. A wine connoisseur you will make of me yet, trust me!
The following day hopped in our car to visit some vineyards in the Thrace wine region of Tekirdag; About a two hour drive from Istanbul. Barbare Vineyards was our first and most photogenic stop, with beautiful views from the terrace over their grape-rich land. This was also one of the wines features on the Ramada Red Wine List, so it felt that little bit extra special! We toured the estate’s land as well as their barrel room and production factory and it was so warming to see how much love goes into their work – they really adore what they do and are so proud of what they are making.
If you ever visit the area I hugely recommend you pay Barbare a visit, especially in the summer months.
We then travelled a couple of minutes down the road to Umurbey Winehouse; a smaller vineyard and much more charming, intimate and so, so full of love. We sampled some of their reds and learned about the vineyard from its founder before tasting some wine straight out of the barrel. I could have honestly stayed there for hours, it was such a mesmerising place. I, of course, left with several bottles under my arm too. Their ‘Reserve’ is easily the nicest red wine I’ve ever tasted.. so much so that I was more than willing to take the risk of taking them back in my rather flimsy suitcase (they survived the trip – thank god!)
That night we were staying in a different Ramada Hotel; this time in Tekirdag. Very similar vibe but this time with gorgeous views over the rolling rural landscape. I also managed to make use of their spa and have a Hamam which I’d never tried before and oh my GOSH I need one every single week from this point forward! Some people I’ve spoken to said they didn’t like ones they’ve had before which I can understand because it’s quite exposing (you lie on a marble slab and a woman scrubs your naked body for about an hour) but I have no qualms or shame and left feeling the silkiest I’ve ever been.
The next day we explored two more beautiful (and delicious) vineyards, Barel and Chateu Nuzun before heading back into Istanbul and having a stroll around the Grand Bazaar. Being one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world (61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops and up to 400,000 visitors daily!!) the Grand Bazaar was a chaotic but mesmerising place which I’d have loved to spend a few more days exploring if I had the chance.. So much stuff that I didn’t need but SO desperately wanted… and the smell of spices, oh my! Such an amazing culture that I will definitely be revisiting one day soon to immerse myself in for a bit longer.
So that’s my Istanbul experience in a nutshell! I truly recommend paying this stunning city a visit, and of course, sampling Ramada by Wynham‘s Red Wine List. As always, drop leave me a comment with any questions!!!
*My visit to Turkey was complimentary, but all views are my own.