The quickest trip to Intanbul ever, leaving me hungry for more!
I stayed at Jumeirah Pera Palace hotel, in the heart of Beyoglu – the Hip SoHo esque district of the city
The hotel is famous for hosting travelers on the Orient Express, with Agatha Christie writing her famous novel in this hotel (Murder on the Orient Express). Very impressive property.
8am Started my day having breakfast at the hotel then made my way to the old city – no more than 15 minute cab ride away
9am: The first place I visited was the Roman Hippodrome. A few steps away is the Sultanahment Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque due to its blue handcrafted tiles throughout. It is still an active mosque, you see worshippers throughout.
10am: Quick snack
10:30am: Tour of the Hagia Sophia. The Hagia Sophia has changed through many hands over time, First being the center of the Eastern Orthodox church and was converted to a mosque in the 15th century before becoming a museum in 1935. The Hagia Sophia is famous for its massive dome, which represented the epitome of Byzantine architecture and was the first dome built over a basilica formation. Walking through the mosque, you can see how its timeline is reflected in the architecture. From byzantine Mosaics and icons representing early christianity to beautiful arabic calligraphy.
12pm: Took a cab to the famous Spice Market – as an amateur chef, this place was heaven! Saffron, Sumac, Curry-you name it! Vendors will package the spices for you so that they are easily taken by plane. My only regret is that I didn’t buy more!!
2pm: Made my way to the Grand Bazaar – which is a shopping experience like no other.
Vendors know every language – you must be able to bargain before walking through which makes this a Perfect place for souvenir shopping
Just outside the Grand Bazaar, I visited an authentic Turkish Rug dealer who provided a demonstration on how the rugs were made which is mind-blowing. Everything is done by hand, and there is a particular technique passed down through family tradition. As the country becomes more modernized, fewer and fewer young people continue the tradition of rug making, which is making it a dying (and expensive) art.
4pm: As I made my way back to the hotel, I decided to walk around Beyoglu/Pera district. It was interesting to see the contrast graffiti with American cities with the Roman architecture. There is also a historically Jewish area of the city, Galata, in which the Galata Tower still stands – build in 1348
7pm: After a quick nap, I headed to the Kumkapi quarter of Istanbul, known for having amazing seafood restaurants. I had dinner at Neyzen restaurant – fresh Sea Brim from the Sea of Marmara chased down with Raki – a drink famous in Turkey. The taste is very similar to greek ouzo.
The restaurant had a live band.. so I of course had to join in!
8am: After breakfast at my hotel, I headed to the docks in order to catch a Bosphorus cruise. Have you ever wanted to be in two continents at once? The Bosphorus is a river continental divide, dividing Asia and Europe. Along the Bosphorus you will see historic mansions, were Turkish celebrities, royalty, and other dignitaries live along with Ottoman ruins. Many of the Ottoman empire’s defense stations were located along the Bosphorus as it was a very important shipping channel for goods between Europe and the middle east
5pm – Headed to my next destination !