Day One: The Bazaar District

Istanbul Travel Blog

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Getting on the tram.

I got out of bed at five in the morning, but before meeting Derk at the airport I just had to do one more thing: turn of all the lights except the moodlight in the shower and have one of the most atmospheric showers of my life, bathing in blue. ;-) Our flight to Istanbul was uneventful besides Derk breaking of part of a tooth before we had even taken off. His questions for a container of water were initially misunderstood by the stewardess. Maybe it had something to do with him telling her several times that 'it needs to be moist!'. Close to noon, we arrived at the Ataturk Airport after a slightly bumpy landing.

After initial confusion about the way the metro worked we figured out how to buy tokens (any trip, regardless of the destination along the line has a fixed price of 1.

In the Grand Bazaar.
50 Lira) and after transferring from the metro to the tram we finally arrived at center of Istanbul. Fortunately I had been texting with Biedjee, who was on his way by boat, since the address of the hotel we had looked up on Google Maps proved to be incorrect. In the end we arrived in the hotel only 5 minutes before Biedjee walked in and spoke the immortal words 'don't trust these guys!'.

We had to wait a while for the room to be prepared and then it turned out that we had one single and one double bed. After waiting for the staff to fix this we decided we'd waited long enough and headed into town. We first checked out the nearby Grand Bazaar. With over 4000 shops and several kilometers of maze-like lanes this must be every shopaholic's wet dream. We wandered around for a while but quickly grew tired of all merchandise and after having a quick kebab we headed out towards Beyazit Square.
Beyazit Mosque.
On one end of this square you'll find the impressive gate of the town's university, while on the other side the Beyazit Camii mosque is located. It turned out to be a nice building with lots of marble, an impressive dome and a courtyard with fountain where the Turks were ritually washing their feet.

We proceeded past the university walls to another mosque, the Süleymaníye Camii. This is supposed to be one of the more impressive mosques of the city but unfortunately turned out to be closed for renovations. We were only able to visit the cemetery and tombs of Süleyman and his wife. Nice but nothing extremely special.

The end of the afternoon found us in the sunken courtyard of the Lale Bahcesi cafe near the closed mosque. Here we enjoyed a couple of cups of Turkish tea and a nargileh (the Turkish name for a sheesha or waterpipe).
The three Seeshateers chilling at Lale Bahçesi.
For me this was extremely welcome after two months of non-smoking. ;-) After a quick stop at the hotel to pick up some warmer clothing (the temperature dropped down considerably in the evening) we walked towards the Golden Horn, a natural arm of the sea that separates the north-western part of Istanbul from the south-western part. We had dinner at the popular Hamdi et Lokantasi restaurant, which offers nice views from it's third floor. Unfortunately this spot was fully booked but we did manage to get a table on the second floor. Unfortunately we had the feeling they tried to serve and get us out as quickly as possible. We ordered a selection of cold and warm meze (imagine a Turkish form of tapas) and a few baklava deserts. The food was nice but the whole thing felt a bit rushed. We calmed down in a bar beneath the Galata bridge with a glass of raki (the Turkish version of Oozo) and Biedjee and I shared another nargileh before we caught the tram back to the hotel and called it a day.


Pictures by Biedjee, Derk & Ed. Click here for the story from Biedjee's point of view.

Biedjee says:
so, shall I just copy your text into my blog then?
Posted on: Apr 28, 2010
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Getting on the tram.
Getting on the tram.
In the Grand Bazaar.
In the Grand Bazaar.
Beyazit Mosque.
Beyazit Mosque.
The three Seeshateers chilling at …
The three Seeshateers chilling at…
Strange merchandise at the Grand B…
Strange merchandise at the Grand …
In the Grand Bazaar.
In the Grand Bazaar.
Beyazit Square and the university…
Beyazit Square and the university…
Beyazit Mosque.
Beyazit Mosque.
Beyazit Mosque.
Beyazit Mosque.
Beyazit Mosque.
Beyazit Mosque.
Derk
Derk
Ed ... as always absorbed in the L…
Ed ... as always absorbed in the …
Süleymaníye Camii.
Süleymaníye Camii.
Cemetary of Süleymaníye Camii.
Cemetary of Süleymaníye Camii.
Dome of the tomb of Süleyman.
Dome of the tomb of Süleyman.
Lale Bahçesi cafe.
Lale Bahçesi cafe.
Tea ... any colour you like.
Tea ... any colour you like.
The three nargilehs.
The three nargilehs.
Making plans for dinner.
Making plans for dinner.
Where have we seen this image befo…
Where have we seen this image bef…
Fountain made of a nargileh.
Fountain made of a nargileh.
The Yeni Mosque in the evening.
The Yeni Mosque in the evening.
Baklava !
Baklava !
The Golden Horn and Galata bridge.
The Golden Horn and Galata bridge.
Restaurants and bars beneath the G…
Restaurants and bars beneath the …
Raki and nargileh.
Raki and nargileh.
Raki.
Raki.
Having fun in Istanbul. ;-)
Having fun in Istanbul. ;-)
Istanbul
photo by: Memo