We visited Istanbul in 2 parts, going to Cappadocia in between. Rather than 2 separate posts, here’s a look at our trip to Istanbul and how much we loved it.
With current restrictions in Turkey, restaurants are not allowed to have dine-in service, so we got a lot of delivery and take-away to eat. Also, we couldn’t visit the Basilica Cistern underground museum, since “enclosed spaces” are closed. That being said, we really loved Istanbul. It’s a super cool city.
The first day, we headed down to the old city area. Even just the views from the taxi window were awesome. We passed the Egyptian obelisk and avoided all the “I am a tour guide” sales pitches. Since it was gray and rainy, there weren’t many people around.
The Blue Mosque was practically deserted. There’s a ton of construction going on inside, which could add to it. You couldn’t even look up at the dome, so there wasn’t much to see.
The Hagia Sophia was as beautiful as ever. It was also pretty deserted, except for the guy vacuuming and the cats hanging out inside. I find the art in here super impressive every time I visit. Last time I was here, there was a massive line, and I did the audio guide tour through the whole complex. This time, no line and no option for the big tour.
We walked to the Grand Bazaar, which is open since it’s considered spread out. You can buy ANYTHING here. We got turned around and lost a few times, but it was great to just walk aimlessly. We also had some delicious pomegranate juice.
Going out a different way than we came in, we wandered past this mosque and then got really turned around on some small streets.
At dinner time, we checked out Vegan Istanbul. Not allowed to eat there, but they helped us choose a bunch of super-delicious stuff. Really friendly grandma and grandpa running the shop. We left with a ton of food for a small price, and we had very full bellies after eating.
We needed a place to eat our food, so we headed up to Taksim Square, which was very lively. The Istiklal pedestrian street was full, and the shops were open.
We followed it until the end and wound up at the Galata Kulesi tower.
From here, we wandered through the neighborhoods, and we also noticed that Turkey LOVES to have a huge group of tons of ATMs together.
We wound up back at Taksim Square and grabbed a coffee before calling it a night. Also got a bit of a chuckle out of “hotel eterno” not being so eternal.
The next day, we headed down to the stadium of Besiktas, one of the biggest local soccer teams.
Just across the street, we checked out the waterfront along the Bosphorous River, which divides the 2 sides of Istanbul and connects the Black Sea out to the Sea of Marmara and onward to the Aegean/Mediterranean.
We walked back up to Taksim Square, which is pretty empty in the early mornings.
Along Istiklal pedestrian street, we stopped in the church of St. Anthony of Padua. They had some cool Christmas decorations outside. We were minding the “no photos” signs, until we saw that we were the ONLY ones minding the signs. Tons of people taking pictures, so we took a few on the way out.
Istanbul is an awesome city. The vibe, ease of getting around, vegan food options all over the place, beautiful architecture…I really like this city.This entry was posted in Europe, Istanbul, Turkey