With a inhabitants of over 15 million, Istanbul is likely one of the largest cities on this planet. It’s huge and various, full of lovely historic monuments and wonderful meals. Sadly, my household and I solely had a couple of day and a half layover in Istanbul after we flew in from Rome. We had to determine find out how to maximize our time in Istanbul, regardless of being drained from touring. Happily, the Istanbulite tour firm enabled us to see the highlights of Istanbul and familiarize ourselves with Turkish meals all inside a matter of hours! It was an intensive and academic tour that made me really feel like my household was getting essentially the most out of our quick keep in Istanbul. Istanbulite additionally has dozens of different excursions, not solely of Istanbul however different standard components of Turkey.
Keep in mind that this was a personal tour during which our information blended a meals tour together with their typical “Layover in Istanbul” tour itinerary.
Previous Metropolis (European Facet)
Our information picked us up in a pleasant van which transported us from the “New Metropolis” to the “Previous Metropolis.” She described it as “stepping again in time.” As we crossed the bridge over the waters of the Golden Horn, our information defined the historical past and geography of the area, so we might higher perceive the areas we’d discover that day.
Hagia Sophia & Blue Mosque
Our first cease on the tour was the Hagia Sophia Mosque. Of the 1000’s of mosques in Istanbul, this one is by far essentially the most well-known as a consequence of its grandiose magnificence and wealthy historical past. Visiting the Hagia Sophia had been on my bucket listing for some time. It was unimaginable to see the Hagia Sophia’s vibrant exterior, together with the plaza and fountain between it and the Blue Mosque. Each women and men should put on garments protecting legs and shoulders to enter. Girls should additionally cowl their hair with head scarves. If you happen to wouldn’t have a head scarf, I imagine it’s possible you’ll buy one outdoors the doorway.
We took off our footwear and adopted our information round. The inside of the Hagia Sophia was ornate, and our information identified particular spots throughout the mosque and exquisite relics. We discovered concerning the Christian and Islamic historical past of the Hagia Sophia, in addition to the fascinating means it was constructed. All of the artwork on the partitions and ceilings was unimaginable. The historical past of the Hagia Sophia, and the entire nation of Turkey typically, is deeply tied to Christian and Muslim roots. On daily basis that we explored Turkey and discovered new issues was a beautiful shock. It felt like such a privilege to stroll the identical streets and the identical buildings these well-known historic figures inhabited.
We lamentably didn’t tour the Blue Mosque as a result of it was underneath renovation and can seemingly be for a very long time. Our information nonetheless advised us a bit concerning the Blue Mosque and the blue iznik tiles for which it was nicknamed.
Underground Basilica Cistern
After leaving the Hagia Sophia, we walked a brief distance to the Basilica Cistern. From the surface, it would not seem like far more than a small constructing with a line of individuals outdoors. The doorway charge for the cistern isn’t lined by the tour, so I imagine you’ll have to purchase your individual tickets.
We entered the constructing and ventured down the steps into the darkish. The Basilica Cistern has not too long ago been renovated to develop into a bigger, extra creative expertise. It’s principally drained, apart from a couple of foot of water on the backside. You discover the cistern upon a metal-grate platform. Dispersed all through the waters are stunning sculptures, metallic figures, and different artwork shows from present day Turkish artists. The waters and the excessive columns are lit with color-changing lights which create an interesting gentle show as you stroll all through the cistern.
My household occurred to enter the Basilica Cistern on the good time, proper when the entire gentle and sound show had reset. We bought to expertise the present from starting to finish. Apart from all these trendy flashy touches, the ambiance was unimaginable and nonetheless felt so tied to its historical past. I assumed it was a genius technique to mix the brand new and the outdated. Our information advised us all concerning the columns which made up the cistern and the way it served town of Istanbul earlier than it was now not of use.
Our subsequent cease was the Grand Bazaar, a most well-known location for each locals and vacationers to do their procuring. As you may guess from its title, the Grand Bazaar was huge and virtually like a maze. I do not know how our information navigated us by means of the entire market. Rows upon rows of retailers bought gold jewellery, Turkish rugs, carpets, Turkish ceramics, conventional clothes. Simply after I thought I might seen all of it, we went to the out of doors part which stretched out earlier than us so far as I might see. This space had extra trendy/western garments and different on a regular basis commodities. I am glad we had a information who directed us towards cheaper shops to do our procuring and seize any souvenirs we would like.
Meals on the Grand Bazaar: Gyros, Kebabs, Kofta, Pide
As we explored the Grand Bazaar, we stopped at a number of locations to strive totally different Turkish meals. We grabbed small gyros from a spot referred to as Gul Ebru Kantin, simply to carry us over for the true meal later. Our information additionally allowed us to cease for a cup of Turkish espresso.
Lunch was at Meshur Filibe Koftecisi. We sat at a desk, and our information ordered meals from two eating places proper subsequent to one another, the second being Sehzade Cag Kebap. We ate pita bread with yogurt, salad, kofta, and lamb kebabs. All of the meals was scrumptious and an incredible introduction to what we would be consuming over the course of our journey by means of Turkey.
Later within the tour, we stopped at a restaurant referred to as Hocapasa Pidecisi that served all types of pide. Pide is usually preferred to Turkish pizza. Regardless of already having eaten a giant lunch, we ate each final piece of pide.
Turkish Delight and Baklava
To complete off our tour, we picked up some Turkish delight. Our information took us to a sweets store referred to as Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir, whose sweets have been round for the reason that yr 1777. We ordered a wide range of totally different flavors. It was my first time making an attempt Turkish delight, and I sadly wasn’t an enormous fan. Nonetheless, different family members liked it.
We adopted this up with baklava from Karakoy Gulluoglu. As soon as extra, we ordered a few totally different sorts. Our favourite by far was the hazelnut with cream. Whereas the sweetness of baklava is just a little overwhelming, it’s scrumptious.
After ending our baklava, the information confirmed us the best way throughout a bridge again to the newer a part of town. She walked us all the best way again to our lodge, the place we ended the day full of Turkish meals and new info, questioning how we might eat dinner that night time.
A Good Vacation on the Turkish Riviera