“People were right when they say there is no other place on earth
as beautiful looking as Istanbul.”
… first full day in Instanbul we woke up to sunshine, gorgeous!!! With our apartments did it come to breakfast, which we got at the hotel next door. A very Turkish breakfast, nothing wrong with the buffet and it kept us going until lunch. The juice and coffee weren’t the best, but one of the male staff members gave us proper cappuccino automatically every morning. A very nice gesture.
I decided that so long as the weather was on our side … we better visit Sultanahmet Square with all the major tourist attractions, it was Bärbel’s visit to Istanbul. By Sultanahmet Square is the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace Museum, Basilica Cistern, Topkapı Palace, and Museum plus the Sultan Ahmet Türbesi (the tomb of the family of Sultan Ahmed).
For getting there we first had to take the little tunnel train from Beyoğlu by the Swedish Consolute, only a couple of minutes walk from our apartments … and that took us to Karaköy and from there tram #T1 with the destination Bağcılar.
Beyoğlu is a station on the historic Tünel funicular railway in Beyoğlu, Istanbul. Located on Tünel Square, just of İstiklal Avenue, it is the northern and upper terminus of the 573 m (1,880 ft) railway. Beyoğlu station, along with its counterpart Karaköy station, is one the oldest subterranean urban railway stations in the world. Construction began in the summer of 1871 and was completed in 1874.
Glad that the tourism has picked up in Istanbul when I was there the time before was only a couple of months after the military coup in 2016 and then the Sultanahmet Square was nearly empty. Now it was fairly business.
Bärbel wasn’t really interested in any of the landmarks, but I told her that to be in Istanbul and not visit the Blue Mosque is like been in New York and not visit Times Square, so she decided to visit the Blue Mosque. There was a queue, but it moved very quickly. The mosque’s courtyard was under maintenance so the whole building was covered and so was most of the mosque’s beautiful ceiling inside.
After sitting and watching the world go by The Dancing Fountain of Sultanahmet … it was time for some coffee.
When visiting Istanbul MADO – it is a MUST!!! … that is first of all about one of the best ice creams in the world, but today more or less full restaurants and to be found in nearly every corner of the city. I have a need to indulge myself with their fantastic ice cream. Today there over 365 branches working as cafes and restaurants all over the world. It was founded in 1850 by Yaşar Kanbur. The ice cream shop became a chain after 1991.
It has more than 305 restaurants and cafes in Turkey and also has branches in Melbourne and Sydney, The Netherlands, Dubai, Beirut, South Korea, Cyprus, China, Taiwan, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, Greece, Georgia, and Berlin.
There was a little cafe just by Sultanahmet tram stop … very tiny establishment when it comes to the width, so stairs over 5 floors – on the first floor we found a table, but the worst waiter I ever been served with. He was so bored that when he toke our order he had his eyes closed????!!!! If I hadn’t been in such a desperate need of a washroom had I left there and then, but the ice cream was heavenly as always. It has a unique quality: a texture that makes it stretch, thanks to salep (orchid flour) that keeps it thick and slow to melt, and mastic, a plant resin that makes it chewy.
And they also make the most beautiful cakes.
As we left MADO the sky went dark and it felt like the rain was hanging over us … so we decided to go back the same way we came .. back on the busy İstiklal Caddesi to do some shopping at GRATIS, Turkey’s biggest drugstore chain, a place to find great products to excellent prices.
After taking a nap before dinner I realized that I messed up our restaurant reservation for the evening because I had two restaurants for the evening and when checked my email, the restaurant I had booked for the evening I had booked for the 22nd of January and but they didn’t have any table free for the evening.
So I looked around with Google’s help and found out that just opposite our flats was a very highly rated restaurant and when we passed the evening before it was packed, Pera Antakya (http://peraantakya.com/en/).
It’s the restaurant to the very little trendy hotel, The Westist Hotel Pera (http://thewestist.com/). So we just went across and found it empty … but the food was brilliant and the service was impeccable.
We enjoyed the most fantastic tomato salad (CHERRY TOMATOES SALAD – cherry tomatoes, onion, fresh mint, parsley, sumac, and olive oil), oven-baked cheese and I took their warm “rounded beef, spices, grilled tomatoes, garlic and onion, their signature dish. I even got a dessert into me, CRISPY PUMPKIN (winter pumpkin, tahini, and walnut) … and had Turkish tea for the first time, which we was treated to.
I’m not a tea person, but I manage to drink it. I should have taken some sugar *smile – then it was just to crawl across the street to No 9 and into our beds. A first-class dinner.
In an overall brilliant day, even if there wasn’t much “touristing” done – I have done it all before … so I didn’t have any urge to see it all again this time.
“If you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl,
but keep moving forward!”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Related post: things at we did in istanbul (part I)