What I see, hear and feel

What I see and did..
Biei-Furano, Hokkaido

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Turkey Travel Summary Part II: On our own in Huge Istanbul

This is the final post on my November Turkey trip. No more bus tour. This was a walking tour. A friend told us that two days are not enough to cover the huge city of Istanbul and she is right. Even with 5 days extra we still didn't have enough for shopping, eating and sightseeing, especially sightseeing. I felt disappointed for not having another go at the Blue Mosque, especially performing a solat in there and it was so near Ayasultan.
I really love this part of our Turkey trip because we were able explore more of the city  at our pace and to absorb in a little bit more the life of the Turkish in the city especially during our shopping sprees. We asked some questions and had conversations to the point that we talked about our families (a few could speak English). The result? We got special price for a few things that we bought.
We also relished the variety and savored the flavors of food, curiously entered the eateries and bakeries and ended buying one of each product. Fortunately, they understood our touristic mind and obliged to our whims. Ha ha. The Turkish were friendly lot especially the young men and the children.

After that long trip, I still dont have enough of Istanbul and hoping and praying to go back again but not soon, of course.

Based on this friend's fb pictures and other bloggers, we embarked on the self-tour unconfidently after relying so comfortably and effortlessly on our tour leader, Nicki.


courtesy from Istanbul Trails.

From the map above, basically, there are 6 important areas a tourist will visit; the Historical part, the Modern part, the Golden Horn, the Asian Shore, the Princes' Islands and Along the Bosphorus. Although we went to 5 of these areas, we were not able to cover all of them. Shopping was done only in the historical part, mainly The Grand Bazaar and The Egyptian Market (Spice Market).

Ok, for easier reference map of where to go (without any travel guide) use the Shopping Map of Istanbul (i.e. Global Blue Shopping map which can be acquired at many hotels).
To go to all the places, the trams, metros, buses and ferries are convenient public transportation modes. 
We only went to Kabatas and Aksaray and stopped in between with the swipes of the Istanbulkart. From Kabatas to Ortakoy, we boarded a bus and use the same kart for the 6 of us. It was also used when we took a ferry from Eminonu to Kadikoy. It's an all-round transportation boarding pass and can be topped up (reloaded). Very convenient and cheaper (10% discount on normal fare).
See the metro train and the car sharing the same street?
The coach during non-peak hours.
On double-decked ferry across the Bosphorus Strait only for TL3/person and cheaper with the kart. At the background is a light house at Kadikoy.

1) The Historical part or Old Istanbul covers Sultanahmet, Eminonu, Beyazit, Cemberlitas, Fatih and Sirkeci. The attractions are the area itself including the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar or Egytian Market.

I love the Old Istanbul, the atmosphere, the architecture and the weather. They are just great. I like the homely hotel (it's a boutique hotel) we stayed in too.

On the first day we were on our own, we accidently visited the Sultan Mahmud Musoleum on our way to look for food (ended up eating at Burger King nearby) and other days, on our way to the Grand Bazaar from our hotel. It houses the tombs of three Ottoman Sultans and their closest relatives.
 Courtesy of Wikimedia. We had totally forgotten to take a picture from the street although we passed it daily on our way to and from the Bazaar


Captured this moment from our moving bus on the last day of the group tour.
 Sultanahmet area. Walked down daily from Ayasultan to the Sultanahmet metro station. The station was our starting point to Eminonu, Kabatas, and Aksaray. Otherwise, we walked.

 Sultanahmet area. The Blue Mosque at the background.
 Meeting Tuba, my daughter's Turkish friend she met in Bosnia. Initially, she had asked us to meet at Uskudar, her place,but due to time constraint, we changed the location to Sultanahmet. Uskudar is a place I wanted to see because it's not a tourist place.
 The Yeni mosque at Eminonu
The shopping area between the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. Things sold along these corridoors are said to be cheaper and  we bought some skirts, jilbabs, and scarfs. The skirts were pretty and we won't find those with their cheaper price tags, in Malaysia.

2) The Modern Istanbul covers places like Tunel, Karakoy, Taksim/Beyoglu, Galata, Ortakoy etc. We visited Taksim Square, Istiklal Caddesi, Dolmabahce Palace, Galata Tower, The Ortakoy Big Stuffed Potatoes and others..
Going to Ortakoy-Taksim
 Going up huff and puffs the hill (not the easiest way so please take the the bus or the Kabatas-Taksim funicular to Taksim Square)

 Taksim Square
 The tramway, the only transportation along the Istiklal Caddesi which is a pedestrian street
Istiklal Aniti or Independent Monument
 Istiklal Caddesi; we bought those at TL10 and I like their sweety and nutty taste


If you are at Istiklal Caddesi, you turn into the lane at the side of a coffee cafe and walk till the end of it. Note the name of one of the cafes along the lane (below pic).

 We walked and searched in the rain for this restaurant at Beyoglu as the children were craving for tomyam and Thai omelet
The meal cost us about almost TL200 including rice, meats and veges.

 Galata Tower

 enjoying hot soup in the cold evening
Just after a few hours after lunch at Cok Cok Thai, we entered this small eatery to try their pide and yogurt drink.

 Ortakoy Pier (below) and Bosphorus Bridge at the background (above pic)


 The famous Stuffed Potatoes and Waffles of Ortakoy

 The Saturday Craft Market. They also have a Tuesday Market. Make sure you visited either one of them.
 Ortakoy Stuffed Potatoes and Waffles
After filling our stomachs with stuffed potatoes and waffles, we took a bus to see Dolmabahce Palace, the presidential palace of Kamal Atartuk where he stayed and spent his last days.
The grand entrance to the huge Dolmabahce Palace. This Ottoman Empire Palace was built between 1843 and 1856 for the Ottoman Sultan Abdulmecid after he decided that the Topkapi Palace was lacking in up-to-date luxury and style. Was the administarative center of the empire at that time until Turkey turned into a republic under Kamal Ataturk.


Dolmabahce Palace side entrance which would open to the main road.

The living palace of the royal ladies and children which we visited. The charge or entrance fee was TL20 a person.
One of the rooms

Kamal Ataturk's bedroom where he drew his last breath.

3) The Golden Horn is the islet separating the Old and Modern Istanbul in the European Shore.
Yeni Mosque at Eminonu
Fishing activities at Eminonu. Took this picture after coming back from Kadikoy.
Galata Bridge. Walking across the bridge is not uncommon from Eminonu to Karakoy.

4) Along the Bosphorus where we just viewed from the cruise boat, not enough time to explore the towns of Bebek, Arnavutkoy and Yenikoy
The cruise ship
The European side of Istanbul. The Galata Tower is seen at the background
The European side of Istanbul on the Bosphorus shore

5) The Asian Shore covers Kadikoy, Uskudar and areas nearby. Here we went to explore the market and had our meal at one of the restaurants there. Baghdat Caddesi near Kadikoy is a class shopping avenue. Lots of restaurants here.
We took a ferry to go to Kadikoy market which took about 2 hours and TL3. The day looked bleak because it rained that day.

We walked up the lane at the side of Starbuck till we came up to the market on our left

 At the Kadikoy market

I love the various breads in there, felt like tasting all of them but I knew they would go wasted . I ended up eating the few I bought the next day, were not that fresh anymore.
 Olive varieties.
 Opened eggs to show their freshness
Same with the fish. The vivid red color means they are fresh.
Had our lunch at the corner of the market. A small cami for praying is located nearby.
Communicated with the Chef about how we wanted our fish to be cooked as the waiter didn't understand English well. And how we waited for the fish.
The chef cooked it in a heavy iron pot..was this the cause for the delay?





Thank you for reading and visit me again.

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