Plan today was to first visit Istanbul’s largest mall, following that, finish of 2 local sights close to the hotel.
Breakfast first, now getting used to the Turkish style morning foods and was loving their cake varieties. There was also a small surprise from our friend Ahmet this morning… he phoned in the hotel and the lady at the reception handed me the phone (good timing, we were all down for breakfast…how did he know), he was inquiring if we enjoyed the restaurant last night, having not really discussed much with him at all, decided to give the phone to Priya, after all the girls did make him friends, so they can do all the explaining! Priya then made a story of how nice it was and quickly ended the call. We were all a bit surprised at the call and how he had tracked us down, apparently the girls had told him about our hotel, so that explains.
(But this was not the last of Ahmet!!)…
On the way to finding a Taxi to Istinye mall, we came across a restaurant that offered some amazing views of Istanbul from the rooftop terrace. Decided to book that place for the evening…
Found a Taxi to Istinye, ride was just over 30 minutes. The place did look big, but not to the sizes we were expecting – when compared to Oz malls and what we had seen in Hong Kong.
Nothing too exciting here, just another mall mainly catering to the high end markets. Were out of there early afternoon and headed back to Sultanahmet.
Quick pit stop at the hotel, then visit the Bascilica Cistern – an underground water cistern built in the 6th century. There are numerous cisterns around Istanbul, this seems to be one of the more famous ones and it is close to our hotel!
Spent over an hour inside the cistern, a great piece of engineering from the 6th century!
Out on the streets, headed to the Blue Mosque area, lots of people in the parkland square between the Blue mosque and Hagia Sophia, found a nice spot to watch Blue Mosque at dusk. Felt good to just relax and watch the afternoon slide away into the evening. Got to try some more street foods, unfortunately the guy from the previous nite making stuffed bread was not there…… that will just have to wait for another time. We sat there for over an hour, just watching the sights, the people and the place!!! The call of prayers echoed from the mosques, a very surreal experience.
It was so calm, peaceful, this is something I would recommend to anyone visiting this place. Seeing the highlights is one thing, experiencing it is totally different.
Headed to the rooftop terrace restaurant just around the corner that we had booked earlier today. Seemed liked not everyone was in favour of the menu and decided to ditch that. The major complaint for both the sisters was the lack of good spicy food. Asked around and were able to find the an Indian restaurant “Dubb” very close to where we were, seeing the name, the first thought that came to mind – our brisbane “dubba” mates!!!
The food turned out to be fantastic, after a few days of trying out the Turkish food varieties, this was a very welcome change.
Next stop was the Gelata bridge, quick stop first at the hotel to grab a jacket – nite was getting chilly. Took the Tram to the bridge, were there in under 5 minutes, however the ride was far from smooth, the driver was stopping and speeding randomly and it was a task for most on-board to hold on to the rails!!
Finally at the bridge, lots of people mingling around, tea houses lined the river banks, whilst the restaurants under the bridge were still busy – this was getting in around 10 pm. The bridge itself was lined on both sides with lots of fishermen – and yes the fishy smell was very pronounced!
Walking back to the tram, we caught some amazing views of the Bosphorous Suspension bridge, with the low moon adding a nice touch on a very clear night sky.