Information about the Basilica Cistern
It was our last day and there were various things each of us wanted to do, so our little group split up after breakfast. We wanted to pick up a few souvenirs from the trip including an elusive coloured glass light cover which we'd seen around but not for the price we wanted. What we discovered was on arrival at the Grand Bazaar is that it's actually closed on Sunday which was a bummer to say the least. So we headed back out onto the main street hoping to come across some small shops which may be open and selling souvenirs. We didn't really have much luck for quite a while, but we did have a nice walk around.
We stumbled across the Basilica Cistern which is the largest cistern in Istanbul
The many marble columns supporting the roof
After walking down the stairs we found ourselves in a damp, dark large open space with large marble columns in a grid like pattern supporting the roof (which is also the ground for those in the outside world). It was an amazing thing to see especially after learning it was built in the 6th century and has stood the test of time (with the help of some restoration). The strange thing was that there is a considerable number of carp swimming around in the water. As you walk along the walkway elevated above the water level you see carp everywhere. We spent a while in here wandering around, looking at the carvings on the columns and reading the informative plaques dotted around. The most popular area of the cistern was the carving of medusa which was located at the far corner.
Columns in a different light
The number of people squeezing along the tight walkways to get a look and a photo was quite silly - felt like cattle being herded through the stalls.
We still had a little time left before our airport transfer was to arrive so we slowly walked back to the hotel. While doing so we stumbled across a few shops and found a souvenir or 2 to bring home. We also came across a large park which was hidden from the main road big a large brick wall. The park was very nice and tranquil, with most of the flower beds in full bloom. There were a few snack vendors so we took the opportunity to enjoy some fairyfloss and roasted nuts.
We got back to the hotel in plenty of time before our transfer, stopping on the way to pick up some postcards (which for some reason we keep and never send to anyone).
Happy little carp
Now after being put into a cheap hotel I guess we couldn't have really expected much from the transfer bus but we didn't expect to be completely jammed in with luggage strewn all over the place and the so called "co-driver" spending most of the trip standing up as there wasn't enough seats in the small people carrier. Thankfully he was quick enough to duck when ever we passed the police.
Check-in at the airport was smooth as there wasn't too many people around, we said goodbye to Jamie and Mish and headed off to the departure lounge, dreading the two flights coming up and just wanting to get home.