ME and it didn’t take long time …
After the pandemonium at the airport on arrival with passport control and the private airport transport – I thought “Welcome to Istanbul, Wivi”.
I had expected Istanbul to be very rough in its edges – but as we enjoyed our transport, that pre-view disappeared the closer we came to the city.
Our little hotel, Peninsula Galata Hotel, a little perfect gem – with outstanding service, nothing was a problem … and the welcome we got on arrival I have never received at any other hotel, and I have stayed many nights at hotel in my lifetime. Located in Karaköy, only 2 mins walk to the waterfront and Galata Bridge. Will come back to the hotel in a later post.
After having dinner under the Galata Bridge the first evening (food wise not impressed) but with Yeni Camii in its evening dress as my table view – Istanbul had a hard grip around my heart.
Meeting Nia and to have Nia as our private guide was the highlight of the whole visit – if it hadn’t been for her and her husband, Ylimaz – we would have just been like all other tourists, running headless with maps and trying to get so much in as possible in one day.
There is so many things that is a MUST for a true tourist in Istanbul, things to see and do – but it’s impossible to get everything into 4 days and 5 nights. There was massive queues to nearly everything – to Hagia Sophia, I think if we had join that queue we will be still in it.
Hagia Sophia is a former Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its construction in 537 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. (text; Wikipedia.org)
A stunning building, but we didn’t join the queues and walked on to Topkapı Palace instead.
Never seen anything like in my life – the most beautiful grounds and the palace itself was enormous and it is so beauty. The wealth of Istanbul when it was built I can’t even grasp. 90 ton gold was use in 5 palaces commissioned by the Ottoman dynasty; Topkapı Palace, Yıldız Palace, Dolmabahçe Palace, Küçüksu Palace and Beylerbeyi Palace, built between 1460-1865.
We walked around for about 2 hours in the sunshine and we enjoyed a fantastic lunch at the restaurant on the cliff at the castle, Konyali, with the most fantastic view over the Bosphorus. Nia introduced me to Ayran – the Turkish yoghurt drink, which I really liked. It’s made from joghurt, salt, water and garlic. We had Doner kebab with a lovely rice.
Friday isn’t a good day for visiting mosques – it’s praying day, so we only took some photos of the Sultanahmet Camii (the Blue Mosque) and we supposed to go back to visit inside, but when we saw the amount of people that was queuing on Sunday, we decided to leave it to our next visit to Istanbul.
After leaving the Topkapi Palace we walked over to the Grand Bazaar – walked through some lovely areas, bohemia and colorful – posh and upmarket.
Grand Bazaar was too much for me to take in – far too much people for me to handle, not my thing at all. I was amazed by the whole set up, but it wasn’t for me. Have very difficult with people trying to make me buy things I don’t want.
But still I manage to buy a beautiful scarf on the way from the Bazaar to the Spicy Market.
I don’t dare to think about how far we walked the first day, my poor feet and in the evening we just had dinner at a very small restaurant in walking distance from our hotel; very tasty meatballs with pita.
The walk back to the hotel, I felt my life just flicked by me, by a passing car. Had I made one wrong step I would had been seriously injured. I could feel the draft from the speedy car in my skirt. The problem was that all pavements was under construction so we had to walk on the street. Istanbul drivers very aggressive both at land and sea.
Had a good night’s sleep and woke up with my first mosquito bites.
“Either I conquer Istanbul or Istanbul conquers me.”
Fatih Sultan Mehmet