Istanbul - Day 2
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Our first full day in Istanbul so we started early with a quick breakfast at the hotel and a walk down to the waterfront to view the Sea of Marmara up close! We got down there and boy was it windy! There was a small fish market here too along the water and we watched as the vendors set up for the day. Then it was up the hill to the Old City to tour the tourists sights of the city. We started at the Blue Mosque. It got named the Blue Mosque after all the blue tile on the inside.
It makes for a beautiful interior! What I didn't expect was all the hanging lights on the inside to illuminate such a large space. This mosque is huge inside!
But even larger is the Hagia Sofia just across the way. First built as a church and later converted to a mosque this building has been around for a long time. You could see the warn stones where
thousands of people have walked. We followed the guided tour out of the Rick Steves' book and thoroughly enjoyed our visit here.
Next on our whirlwind tour was the Topkopi Palace where the Sultans used to live. It has great views of the Bosporus. This was not our favorite attraction here. It was really crowded and their security entrance was chaos. So, we had a negative feel for this place.
But, it was pretty! We didn't spend a lot of time here so it was off to the next spot!
We walked over the Galata Bridge and stopped for a quick chai and a place to rest our feet. It's a pretty cool bridge with the top level the bridge for cars and a lower level full of restaurants with seating outside so you could be on the water and watch the boats go by.
Once over the bridge we stopped for a quick lunch then we walked up the hill to the Galata Tower. We took the elevator to the top so we could get the 360 degree view of the city. It was quite windy up there and the ledge was small and crowded. A bit scary! But the views were worth it!
Once we left the tower we wandered through the neighborhood to Istikal Street, a main shopping and arts district on the "new" side of town. This place was packed! It was full of locals, tourists, everyone. The weather was nice and a perfect day for a stroll. We loved watching the crowds and walking along the street.
We even saw a few churches here, where more westerners live and work. We stopped for a few drinks in the neighborhood and enjoyed the afternoon. Then it was back to hotel to have dinner down near the water and our first taste of Raki! This was a great day in Istanbul!