Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How to fall in love with Istanbul – the city of Mosques,Shisha and Tea

Because of the great (a bit exhausting) flight schedule we arrived on Saturday morning around 08.30 in Istanbul. Despite the lack of sleep we couldn’t wait to get out of our hotel and get an impression of this famous city!

Our hotel was located in a side street of Hudavendigar Street, which is a lovely Turkish (tourism) street full of nice souvenir shops, restaurants & Turkish delight patisseries. I can hear you say now “touristic street, no thanks!” and see nodding your head. But seriously it is a nice street! Look where we ended up to drink some Turkish coffee (which wasn’t that tasty… sorry Turkey!). This was at Best Western.

After a nice lunch with of course some (spicy) kebab we were ready for our first discoveries of Istanbul: the Spice Bazaar.

I like to cook and I love different spices, especially the smell, you know.. it feels like your are in ‘far far away’. Though the spices were all there (and more!) it didn’t smell like it, unfortunately. Nevertheless it is a great walk through! When we came out of the bazaar we saw our first mosque! We had a look inside and saw a lot of locals washing up their feet, hands and face before going inside for their prayers.

When you walk underneath a tunnel you will arrive at the Galatabridge where you can see all the man standing on that bridge; fishing! Very cool view. And the most astounding thing is, they stay there all night long! Not as much as during the day, but still quite a lot!

We walked over the bridge, ‘over’ the Golden Horn (no not like Mozes did ;-)). had to cross some kind of major road, putting our own life really danger since there were no cross-walks, climbed a hill like we were climbing Mount Kinabalu to finally reach the Galatatower. But YES, it is all worth it:

That night we had a great dinner and lots of wine at a very nice place, close to the shopping street at Taksim.. it’s at: Firuzağa Mh. Cezayir Sokak 13. We started off with 4 people and we ended with 7 people! Though it was a real bummer that our waiter, which I gave the name Darling to (before the screwing part), had screwed us. No people... not a nice one. He lied to us about the price of the wine. So he didn’t even deserve the name Darling, but still, aside from this, it was real fun evening!

Day 2 we visited the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and went to a Turkish tea house. The Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque definitely have the WOW factor. Not even words can actually explain how beautiful, colorful, immense and ancient it is and especially feels, and not only the inside. Outside the Blue Mosque is a park where I could wander around for hours watching families drinking, talking and having fun. You can see an impression of those two below.

Arabic sign

View from Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia, view from exit Blue Mosque

Later that day it was time for a real ‘Turkish hour’: tea and water pipe. It was a semi-open place with mostly men, colorful lamps and a sweet odour. They were all sitting there in a row; drinking tea and smoking their water pipe and having nice chats or reading the newspaper. I had to try the Shisha myself of course! Strawberry Shisha!

And then our second night just looked like this…

..meanwhile relaxing in pillows and reading a book..

On our third day we went to the Grand Bazaar, which is huge (and quite cheap =)) and you will be quite suprised by the shops and everything especially outside of the Bazaar. To me it wasn’t that amazing, but it is something you must have seen right?! For me it is too touristic. We didn’t realize we walked in a kind of circle and suddenly we were back, close to our hotel. So we decided to walk to the Galatabridge again and see what is going on there. And next to the Galatabridge you have this square where they sell fresh “Balik Ekmek”. Bread with fish…and you definitely smell that! WOW.

After our Dönör Durum Lunch we visitied the Yerebatan Sarayi (. It is the largest, underneath the city, water reservoir in Istanbul. Wonderful to see and it gives you a weird feeling you are walking beneath the most crowded area of Istanbul.

After we took a guided (ear phone) tour around this reservoir we went to the boats. Because we would meet a friend of mine who was doing her internship in Instanbul and she stayed in the Asian part of Istanbul: Kadıköy. We walked around that cite centre and it was actually much more crowded than the European part. However you think you see a lot of Asian marks, but there are pretty much none. What I liked about this part of Istanbul are the small alleys with nice shops, escepcially foodshops; cheese, meat, fish and vegetables. To see a Turkish old men being busy with his trade is so sweet =).

To finish our trip we visited the famous shoppingstreet Taksim. Just fun and chill to see =).


p.s. go visit this hamam 

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