Sunday, January 2, 2011

Istanbul DEC 2010

Istanbul is another great city to visit and I had the chance to be there for 3 days and 2 nights. Although time was limited i was very satisfied and I might consider a second trip because there is just so much to see and do here : ).

At the time of my visit, the weather was 6 degrees in the afternoon I didn’t bother to know how many degrees it was at night. Winter limits my movement so I think I need a thicker winter jacket next time.

Arrived around 7 on Monday morning and started the day by touring Topkapi Palace since it closes on Tuesday. Took the hotel shuttle bus around 15 minutes to reach sultanahmat area (that’s where all the tourist sights are) .

Paid about TL20 to enter Topkapi and an extra 15TL to enter the Harem and spent roughly 3 hours touring Topkapi and the harem. I would recommend paying the extra money to enter as you get to see the wonderful insights into the lives of those who lived in the Harem. You can also get to see the Sultan and the princess room and the bathroom.

Topkapi used to be official and primary residence of Sultans from 1465 to 1856 during Ottoman Empire Era. Inside Topkapi you will get the chance to see holy relics of the Muslim world such as the prophet Muhammed's cloak and sword, clothes, gifts from neighbouring countries.

Before entering Topkapi Palace youwill find a souvenir shop on your right selling the a guide book for 5 TL, I would suggest to purchase that so you wont miss any important places in the compound.

Opening hours:- open daily between 09:00 – 17:00 except on Tuesdays
Price:- 20 TL for adults and another 15 TL to the Harem.


Around sultanahmet area there is an information centre which I discovered on my second day thus I managed to get myself a map to use for my second visit (I hope) It’s just across the railway tracks opposite the shops.

Since we had time after touring Topkapi Palace we decided to visit the Basilica cistern which was a walking distance. A visit can take 30 minutes to an hour depending on your interest. Could be boring to most but if you appreciate history this place would be worth a visit. A pamphlet explaining the history is free and you can get it on your way out.

The cistern was built in the 6th century under the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian, to provide water for the city but after the Ottoman conquest in 1453, it was covered over and forgotten. In 1545, the Turks rediscovered it, and used it to provide water for Topkapi Palace and nearby buildings. There is a small café located before you exit the cistern.

MEDUSA'A Head!!! : )

Opening hours: every day from 09:00 am to 17:30
Price:- TL10 (TL3 for Turkish citizens)

Second day was to visit Ayasofya, blue mosque and the bazaars.


Ayasofya was initially a church and after the conquest of the city in 1453, Mehmet the conquerer made it into a mosque. It served as a mosque until 1935 when kemal atartuk (turkey’s 1st president) saw it as a historical place and proclaimed it as a museum till today.

Don’t miss the upper gallery which houses beautiful pictures of the museum taken by a professional. Upper gallery closes an hour before the museum.

Opening hours:- Tuesday to Sunday 9.30am to 4.30pm.

Blue Mosque

It is named as such because of the interior which is so beautifully blue. Blue mosque is still used as a mosque so its closed to visitors for a bout 30 minutes during the five daily prayers and maybe closed for a longer time on Fridays for Friday prayers.
Bosphorus Cruise

I planned on taking this cruise but because it is winter I can’t afford going on a cruise and the wind blowing directly so i had to say no to this.


I stayed at Novotel hotel which is not very far to the city. From the hotel to sultanahmet we took the hotel shuttle which took us about 15 minutes tops.

Important: if you are using the shuttle please reserved your seats the day before and reserve your return seats as well so you won’t get stranded : )


I went to spice bazaar and Grand bazaar. Because of my time constrain I visited both bazaar in one day thus I didn’t get the chance to tour the whole bazaar. I bought t-shirts and the ceramics as souvenirs.

I made a mistake of not listing how many souvenirs I wanted to buy thus ended up buying different t-shirts at different shops and ended up loosing quite a bit of Liras. Adult t-shirts I bought it for 10TL, I bet you can get like 9 TL or 8TL if you buy more than one. Kids t-shirt I got about 8TL.

This is what i found while walking... its kinda nice to frame and keep at home


loved the turkish delight at this particular tore in spice bazaar... the turkish delight is mixed with honey and not sugar so it wasn't sooooo sweet. here is a picture of me with the store owner.

Had fresh fish sandwich, they made it on the boat and we have it on land... it taste so good and you eat it with what they provide that is some lemon juice and some salt... i would add my own ketchup if i were to have this again.

I love the freshly squeezed juice they offer , im actually more interested on the juicer hahaha

I found this website to be useful

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