Turkey was our first adventure together. Originally we had planned to explore South East Asia but I’m so glad we changed our mind to meet friends/family in Istanbul. The first experience was the taxi to our hostel, driving is Turkey is MAD; no apparent speed limit and making lanes in the verge is common practise from what we could gather.
A quick reunion with the people we were meeting up with, a change of clothes and it was time for our first trip out in Istanbul.
Day one started with a very rainy walk to the Metro line and consisted of exploring Sultanahmet, the old part of Istanbul. We visited the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Basilica Cistern before wandering our way back down to the Bosporus and heading to the hostel.
HAGIA SOPHIA – It’s hard to express exactly what we thought about the Hagia Sophia, you get a long time to check out the outside of the building while waiting in line (and this was in October). Its HUGE, the mind boggles at how this was built without modern technology. The inside is just as majestic, gold paint everywhere and different religious icons from when Istanbul was inhabited by different people over the many years. There was scaffolding taking up half the main hall of the building and you could see why it needed constant work; loose marble tiles underfoot and pillars that had a distinct lean. But for us this just added to the charm.
BLUE MOSQUE – Directly across from the Hagia Sophia is another very large building, the minarets reaching towards the clouds and the gold dome which would shine on a sunny day. Inside the dome is covered in gorgeous pastel blue toned mosaic tiles, giving the Mosque its name. We entered just before prayer time and the tourist line had been accidentally merged with the prayer line, being our first day we were sceptical when some demanding Turkish men started trying to get everyone into the right place but we got there in the end, all that was needed was a little trust. Recommendation: if you are female, carry a scarf with you, you will need to cover your hair to enter. Also please don’t wear your tiny short shorts or cropped t-shirts it’s disrespectful.
BASILICA CISTERN – This is a really cool place, and hard to believe that it lay undiscovered for so long. All the pillars are spot lit giving the place a fantastic atmosphere as you wander your way over the wooden bridges looking in the water at the fish (Catfish?) and make your way to the back corner where there are two Medusa heads.
Day two we visited the Archaeology Museum, 100% recommend checking this out, especially if you have a rainy day like we did. There are so many wonders; huge sarcophagi, ancient sculptures and the world’s oldest love poem!
The Bazaar had been closed due to public holidays, but we would be returning to Istanbul at the end of our travel so it wasn’t a concern.
Part two of our Istanbul experience was at the end of our travels around Turkey so we will come back to this city in later posts. Next stop on our holiday was the Cappadocia region which we will post about soon.
Thanks for reading, if you have travelled to Istanbul and want to share your experience or any if you have any questions just comment and let us know!
Two Stray Kiwi