Fall break part II in Istanbul, Turkey!
Day 1: Exploring the city by foot!
We stayed in a hotel that was in Sisli, so we didn’t exactly live in the center of Istanbul where the main tourist attractions are–and public transport is a bit tricky in Istanbul…especially because mostly everything is Turkish and there aren’t really any good navigation apps to use. However, we did end up stumbling upon a pretty useful app for getting us around the city by public transport called Trafi Turkiye (available for apple & android!) that is definitely worth a look if you’re traveling to Istanbul in the near future.
Anyway, we ended up walking all the way from Sisli down to Taksim to check out Taksim square! Passed by this lovely festive trolley while walking around that area…
…and made it all the way down to the Galata Tower! This was our first touristy stop of the trip–going all the way to the top of the Galata Tower for some absolutely breathtaking views of Istanbul!
I would definitely recommend going during the earlier part of the day so that the queue may be shorter and observation balcony less crowded. Nonetheless, this was definitely a great start to exploring Istanbul!
Afterwards, we made our way across the Galata Bridge here and into the main part of the city, starting at Eminönü! The mosque here near the bridge is called the New Mosque.
Anddddd on to lunch! I couldn’t wait to try the gyro in Istanbul and we saw a lot of different places that were selling it. Fortunately, we had a native Turkish classmate who was showing us around that day, and was able to recommend a good place to get gyro. I ended up getting one of their doner kebab plates with some fresh squeezed pomegranate juice! (Unfortunately, I’m not sure what the place we ate was called).
After lunch, we decided to hit the bazaar! On day one, we decided to stick with the small bazaar, where there is typically more food/sweets and our friend made sure to take us to her favorite place to get turkish delights!
And finally, last stop for the day: a visit to Maiden Tower at sunset. Albeit a bit hard to get to (you have to buy tickets at a window and ride a small charter boat to the island), it was definitely worth the trip! The little exhibition inside on the tower explains the different uses of the tower throughout history as well as the original reason for its construction. Climbing all the way to the top, you get another one of the most gorgeous views of Istanbul.
Day 2: Sultanahmet Square
My roommate and I dedicated this whole day to all the tourist destinations that had been recommended to us…first up, the Hagia Sophia!
From afar, we could already see a very impressive structure of a mosque. But what we saw inside was absolutely breathtaking. The attention to detail in the decorations and mosaic patterns is unparalleled to anything else in the world. These photos do not do the magnificence or elegance of the Hagia Sophia justice.
We were lucky enough to go into the actual mosque itself. Since the Blue Mosque is still a working mosque, there are prayer times where tourists are not allowed in to make sure the worshippers are not disturbed. If you’re planning on visiting, definitely check the times when the mosque is open for public visits! It is definitely worth the trouble to see the gorgeous detailed ceilings inside, as well as be able to actually immerse yourself a completely different culture.
Day 3: More Tourist Cites + Final Dinner in Istanbul
We got to kind of a slower start on our third day. Having somewhat figured out the public transport by now, we headed off to see the beautiful Topkapi Palace. Inside the palace, we were able to see various exhibitions displaying the different jewels and gifts that were in the possession of the Sultan and the Turkish government. Other displays included many different muslim faith relics as well.
Our last tourist destination: The Basilica Cistern! The cistern once held the freshwater of the city underground, as is one of the oldest examples of Roman architecture that has survived to present day. Inside the cistern are the two Medusa heads–one that is completely turned upside down and the other on its side.
And finally, enjoying some apple tea in the Grand Bazaar! Taking a break from all the sightseeing to sit down and take it all in. I can’t say that apple tea was exactly my favorite drink in Turkey, but it’s definitely worth a try! There is a sweet and bitter taste to the tea that emulates the flavor of apple very well. Of course, following this little respite was a whole lot of shopping around for pretty souvenirs!
Last dinner in Istanbul at Mikla Restaurant!
We chose this particular restaurant because of the 360 degree views it had of the city–plus it’s reputation for modern turkish fine dining. We opted for the three course prix fix menu, and although the restaurant is pricey, I definitely felt like I got my money’s worth.
Traveling around Europe during fall break was such an experience, one that I am lucky to have been given. Never pass up the opportunity to travel to new places and to learn from different cultures!
Happy exploring fashionistas,