I have to admit that the Arab countries in principle did not attract much attention. I turned on the computer. I put the name Istanbul and thousands of links appear with information, photographs, travel blogs, and food. I said why not? I started to search flights, which were very expensive!
I also booked the hotel and once everything was finally confirmed I dived to collect all the information that was necessary.
We took the car and our next destination would be the airport, but not before leaving the car in a parking lot that surrounds the airport. After checking in, the departure time is at 2:55 pm, with a flight duration of 4 hours.
During the flight they gave us some nuts at the beginning to continue later with the food. Once at the Ataturk international airport, it was already getting dark and a chaos started because no one was clear where to go first. We could not take our bags as we did not pass immigration first and this could not be until we had paid for the Visa. Once settling everything and with the suitcases at last, we headed to the exit.
There are signs everywhere with the names of the people. We managed to locate the our van. Half an hour later we arrive at the hotel and after leaving the bags we went out to travel around the city and finally assess where to dine.
As soon as we left we see perfume sellers and we go on to the Beyazit square with its mosque next to it. We walked along the Yeniceriler Caddesi avenue in the direction of Sultanahmet Square. Hundreds of Nazares (Turkish eye), watched us. They were in shops, restaurants, and everywhere.
We passed the Column of Constantine and arrived at the restaurant. It was full and we could not take a table outside. We started to look at the menu and order beer and ginger peanut chicken prepared with raisins and a sauce.
With a full belly we went to the square to see the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia illuminated. Under the spotlights they were beautiful as they would be in full sunlight. I wanted to stay around for a while, but the body was a little tired. So I turned around and strolled towards the hotel.
The alarm clock announced a new day. We were very far from home and had to exploit the time to the fullest. The hotel has a full breakfast buffet. We go to the dining room and enjoy the views through the large windows. Once in the street we went to the Sultanahmet square. Our first visit would be the Topkapi Palace.
About 09:00h we were in front of the entrance where a lot of people were already crowding. After taking the tickets we continue until we cross the Babusselam.
After passing through the scanner we took the door separate from the Harem. We go to see the rooms and meeting places where lived the royal children, and concubines. I do not want to think about palace intrigues to achieve the favor of the Sultan! We see mosaics, different rooms, chimneys with a curious shape. Even being early there was a line to take a picture.
Then we see the rest of the Palace, with jewels, weapons, thrones, sumptuous rooms. One thing that struck me was the presence next to the room of the relics of an Imam praying verses of the Quran! We enjoy the viewpoints to the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus. Watching the amount of maritime traffic that crosses the area is simply bestial!
The morning progressed and we continued touring the different parts of the palace. At the time the tourists started coming in waves we decided to leave finally. When we were out, I remembered that we did not see the kitchens. So we have an excuse to return!
We went to the Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi), where we loved the temperature change due to the heat prevailing outside. It is gorgeous with the columns and indirect lights makes a very special atmosphere. Of course we saw the heads of the jellyfish.
After the visit and since we were near the restaurant, we booked a table on the terrace after walking the whole day in Istanbul. It's time to eat the Testi Kebab, and the ginger chicken with honey. We had a great time chatting with the owner. He is a charming person and knows how to win over the clientele. We also have a beer.
After saying goodbye thinking about returning another day we went to the Blue Mosque. When leaving, we passed by Hagia Sophia but we could not enter being closed on Monday. So we continued walking towards Eminonu with the intention of taking the Ferry to cross to Uskudar on the Asian side and watch the sunset.
We enjoyed the shade and an orange tea that I got used to as I took more and more. Finally it arrived the moment. A picture is worth a thousand words. Returning back to the hotel, we went through the pastry shop next to the Sirkeci train station, (where the Orient Express arrived)!
I wanted to eat fish but the truth is that it was not in my plans. I remembered that near the hotel was the Kumkapi neighborhood full of fish restaurants. We went for a walk among them avoiding being pursued by the waiters so that we enter their premises. Finally we sit in one of them in a pedestrian street.
Each one has its own musicians who take care of the party especially by dancing and singing to the Turks who are dining and who also do not hesitate to do so. We left and convinced the rest to approach smoking a hookah in Corlulu Ali Pasa Medresesi! Within the same venue there are about three different bars and each of the waiters fight so that we sit in their area.
We ordered tea and a hookah to try. They brought the apple flavour but it had a very good licorice taste. Once finished we went to the hotel. The day had been intense and the dream was already making a dent in us. We go for rest.
The alarm clock on the phone rang with its tinkle. We go for breakfast. The waiter indicated that they put a large piece of honeycomb in one tray. Today was the pending visit of the previous day. It was nothing more and nothing less than Hagia Sophia or Aya Sofya as they call it. An example of Byzantine art, the dome is spectacular.
Once inside we take photos and more photos. We chose to continue to the top floor to closely view the mosaics, as well as the views of the Blue Mosque from the windows. People came in waves and we decided to go to our next goal. A while later we enter the Grand Bazaar (Kapalıcarsı). A raft of tourists crowded the interior with desires to bargain.
Several laps later, the clock of the stomach began to ask for attention. Since we were in front of an exit we dedicated ourselves to look for something to eat. The shops continued down the street. We watch at that time a kiosk no more than five feet wide, where the Turks came as bees to honey.
They cook was making a type of round dish that they then chopped together with pepper, spices, spicy, and warm bread. They accompany with yogurt and salt. It was great. The only bad thing is that there was nowhere to sit and we had to take good account of the foodstuffs. It cannot be all perfect! After calming our stomach a little we went back to introduce us to the vortex of the Grand Bazaar.
After having a Turkish coffee, we followed our steps along the street that borders the University, towards the Suleiman Mosque or Suleymaniye Camii. During the way we could observe the contrast and the differences at the time of dress. We get to see the extremes in the local women's wardrobe from the most western to the ones fully covered.
The mosque is another beauty but when we go the prayer started. Anyway we stayed a while in the inner square resting, and then enjoy the views. We passed the Suleymaniye Hamam. We went to the Eminonu area next to the Galata bridge, where the boats are located, which sell the typical mackerel sandwiches.
We have a quick snack, and then go up to the boat that makes the hour and a half cruise through the Bosphorus. While we enjoyed the views the feet rested for a while. We could enjoy the sunset, the sea breeze as well as the start of the bridge lighting. It was worth it!
Once again in the port we take nocturnal photos of the new Mosque. We see in passing how they removed some exterior stalls that they mount to the side of the Spice Bazaar. We did not know where to dine. As we were already near Sultanahmet Square, we walked through the back of the Blue Mosque where there was a kind of market and restaurants with dance shows, and music. We finally decided to enter one and enjoy a great evening.
The dinner was fantastic. We walk to Corlulu Ali Pasa Medresesi. It was time to taste another hookah along with some tea. We stayed a while until the smoke and fatigue told us it was time to rest. So we get back to the hotel. I think I fell asleep before even putting my head on the pillow!