Istanbul Travel Blog› entry 534 of 658 › view all entries
People who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Hakan (Turkey)
On Friday we were going to join some other couchsurfers and visit some sights, but when we found out how much the admission fees were, so instead opted to go for a walk. The weather was superb and it therefore seemed as good a time as any to show Julia Ortakoy Mosque and the Bosphorus Bridge. It took an hour or so to walk there and along the way we stopped for some burek, which is a pastry that is traditionally stuffed with meat, cheese or potato.
Having taken a look around Ortakoy's star attractions, we wandered towards Besiktas and stopped off at the peaceful Yildiz Park. From here it took half an hour or so to reach Dolmabache Palace, but to gain entrance with our cameras would cost 52YTL ($32.
Hakan had arranged to meet us around 17.30 and this gave us time to stroll across the Galata Bridge, have an early Dinner and then go to Mavi Guest house, which was where we had planned to meet. Unfortunately we were left waiting for an hour in the cold, with no explanation given. It wasn't the biggest deal, but I'm always baffled why people don't at least offer an apology for turning up late.
Rather a large couchsurfing meeting had been arranged for the evening, with 60 people having signed up, but from what i could tell no more than 20 made an appearance. The bar agreed to provide free water pipes for us all, and large beers were a reasonable 4YTL ($2.
On Saturday we decided to catch the metro to Taksim and then partake in another long walk around the City. Our journey began by walking the length of Istiklal Caddesi, which finally brought us to the Galata Tower. We admired the structure from the outside and bought a 1YTL ($0.60) kebab and 1YTL fresh fruit juice and took these with us, as we meandered across the Galata Bridge.
The food break was a welcome one and gave us the energy to wander beside the Aqueduct of Valens, towards the stunning Sehzade Mehmet Camii. I hadn't even heard of this Mosque before, let alone been there, but i thought it was one of the nicest Mosques in Turkey. Maybe part of the reason for this was that it was not over run by tourists, in fact we were the only ones there. As luck should have it a tourist bus pulled up just as we were leaving the grounds and it made me wonder if i would have liked it so much had we arrived 10 minutes later.
Continuing through the pleasant streets of Kalenderhane took us past Suleymaniye Camii and through a small bazaar, before we crossed back over the Galata Bridge and made our way to Taksim to catch the Metro home.
The weather on Sunday reminded me of an English summers day - rain, rain and more rain. We had seen the main attractions that we wanted to in Istanbul and neither of us wanted to get soaked just to see a few b-grade sites, so we spent the day at home.
On Monday the weather was once again pretty bleak, but we decided that we would go out regardless, as it was our last day in Istanbul. It took 90 minutes to get from Levent to Yedikule, where there are some impressive City Walls that date back over one and a half millennium. There was a 5YTL fee to enter one small section, so we didn't bother with this, instead opting to walk along a fair chunk of it that was located next to the main road. During the couple of hours that we were there, we were lucky enough to get a glimpse of blue sky and more importantly the rain held off.
In the evening Julia cooked some chicken fillets with mAshed potato and salad, which was really delicious and only cost 3YTL ($2.10) each for the ingredients, which goes to show how well you can eat for very little money, when you self cater. The following day we packed our belongings and bode farewell to Hakan. It had been another memorable stay in one of Europe's - or should i say Asia's - most glorious metropolises.