Istanbul from early morning to late at night
Jun 2, 2019
|We arrived at the airport about 5:00 AM and went through passport and customs with no issues. Said goodbye to James then we met our transport at the gate. Packed bags and off to the hotel Sultanhill.
We got there and they did have a room for us, so we dropped off all our stuff and had breakfast at the hotel – which was quite simple but good. We could see one of the minarets of the Blue Masque under construction from the room, and the Bosporus.
Then we took a walk through the hippodrome and there were many tents set up to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Park in front of the Blue Mosque was quite crowded with tourists. Then we set off walking down the street to the harbor. I stopped for an ice cream and it was quite the show! Good stuff.
At the harbor we walked part way across the bridge over the Golden Horn on the lower level – lots of restaurants and lots of people fishing from the upper deck. We got halfway across then walked back along the upper level. Then back into town and through a tunnel across the road packed with shops.
Then we found our way (thanks to the map on the phone!) to the spice market – packed with people and lots of interesting shops. We bought a couple boxes of Turkish Delight. We bought some packs of spices and spice grinders for all the kids as well.
After the market we wandered through the town. Stopped at a lunch place and had balaclava for lunch. I got the plain and it was not great – no honey. Then we continued our walk and encountered many things – several sleeping town dogs, lots of cats, Chestnut and corn push carts, and many ancient sites. We stopped in a gift store which, when asked, had no locally produced item – so we bought some stuff anyway.
On the way a shoe shiner dropped his brush and I picked it up and was immediately in a shoe shine situation (but refused). Curious thing is that one of the movies I watched on the plane to Istanbul had a scene where exactly that situation played out! I should learn.
We wandered on and stopped at the million stone – the column from which all roads in the Eastern Empire were measured. Lots of gray crows as well. Then off to the Archeology Museum and park – many ancient things from Sumer, Babylonia, and other parts of the ancient Ottoman empire. Then into a building with many ancient sarcophagus’ and into a garden with much old statuary.
Back to the hotel we booked a river cruise for dinner. They came an picked us up in a crowded van and we were taken to the ship. We got a very nice table right next to the performance area. We got our dinner (buffet) and settled in. The first act was a whirling dervish doing the traditional dance – but without the spiritual context.
That was followed by a folk dance as would be found with the sultan. Drummers and sword play and simple dances (all by the serving crew!). Then a DJ played music. We got up and did the meringue and another couple got up and took up a lot of room! Later some very old actors were on and got lots of people to dance – including us but we had no idea what to do! It was fun though. Then one of the workers took up to dress up as sultan and queen and took a bunch of pictures. That was quite amusing as well.
Finally, the night was over (late – near midnight) and we got on the wrong van, then the right one. We were dropped off about a block from the hotel – “It’s just up there.” And it was. Finally to bed in our cramped but nice room.