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Archive for the ‘Turkey’ Category

Today’s post comes from two of my awesome friends (Arpan and Jill) who recently returned from Istanbul in Turkey.

Blue Mosque in Istanbul

Saturday
We didn’t manage to make it to the Asian side or make it to any clubs on our 4 day trip.  We were able to stay where you could eat breakfast on a rooftop terrace, hear the prayer calls, wander cobbled stone streets, walk to street side cafes, easily reach historical sites, and ride the tram to the more distant parts.  And if you still needed more, the staff of the Agora Guesthouse and Hostel would surely help you find what you’re looking for.
Reaching on a Saturday early evening, we walked through the old city and ate at Doy Doy. If you walk up five floors, you will be rewarded with a view of the Blue Mosque and really great kepaps and Turkish coffee.
Sunday
Our favorite site was the Basilica Cistern, or Yerebetan Sarayi, which is a nondescript and misleading structure at ground level a few hundred meters from the Aya Sofya.  Water was brought from more than 15 km away to this underground palace filled with columns for storage and distribution.
It’s no surprise that people sing their praises of the Aya Sofya, which was begun as a church, then became a mosque and is finally now a museum.  The Aya Sofya is truly stunning and well worth the visit. There aren’t many signs or information to read inside so best to bring a book with some history or hire a good guide. The Aya Sofya is closed on Monday.
An evening tram to  Beyoglu for some exploration by foot in a nice side trip. We wandered up and down the main drag, ate at Konak and ended the night with a drink at 360.  Amazing views, absurd prices, difficult to find.
Monday
Topkapi Palace. It’s a place for the detail oriented. While the palace buildings are beautiful and the views are fantastic, the best part are the relics and artifacts within the palace walls. One area contains some of the most sacred relics of the Muslim world including the cloak of prophet Muhammad along with his bow and two swords. In addition, you can see jewel encrusted daggers, and the Spoonmaker’s Diamond.  Do take the audio tour.
Despite it being a tourist trap, Hamdi is worth a trip for lunch or dinner.  Around the corner, the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar are fun and easy.  Where else could you buy Turkish soccer club team jerseys, from an Albanian, who speaks Spanish?

Spices at the market

As the sun fell, we headed to Eminonu and took a 90-minute tourist ferry around the Bosphorus.  We ate right by the water afterwards.  A fish sandwich, desert and drink, all for a few liras.

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