Istanbul was on my way when I was travelling to the Kirgizstan. Me and my friend instead of wasting time decided to sightseeing the city.
We have been prepared before the trip as the visa and hostel have been ordered on the Internet. It is possible to buy/order the visa while being at the airport but in both cases the cost will be 20 dollars.
We have landed at 2 o clock a.m. The cheap mains of transport, (metro and buses were not shuttling at that time) so we had booked the transport from the airport to our hostel. The cost of this was 25$ – a bit expensive but we had this option or the taxi instead. The ‘Mavi Guesthouse’ hostel was the cheapest one.
It was totally enough especially if you will be just sleeping there for a few hours. And the breakfast was included.
The attractions in Istanbul
We were located in the European site of the city nearby the Topkapi Palac where we went straight away after finishing the breakfast. Our time and money were limited so we did not decide to see the interiors of the building. The short walk and the second point was the place that I really wanted to see ‘Hagia Sophia’. The entry ticket was 40 lyres. My friend Piotrek dos not have 2 fingers on his hand so the lady from the ticket office ascertained that he is disabled and the entrance for him should be for free. What is more I was nominated to be his guardian and both of us entered for free :). This situations made our days totally.
Hagia Sofia is a place where two religions meet: the Christianity (the previous church) and the Islam (currently mosque). It was rebuild and renovated after the damages caused be the earthquakes. During our visit the renovating works were taking place. The central nave was covered by the scaffolding but even though it was still impressive. There were many tourists (some even from Poland) but it was not crowded.
In a good mood we went to the Sultanahmed Park and after eating the portion of chestnuts we started walking to the Blue Mosque. The entry is for free, the only disadvantage is when you have to remove your shoes, all women should put the headscarf (they can be also taken from the box located outside of the building). The building like Hagia Sofia impresses. I am not the person who is a specialist in the domain of architecture or art. But I think that somebody has done his job very well while building this. I spent my time there with pleasure admiring all embellishments presented on the building.
Our next ‘must see‘ was Grand Bazar. Unfortunately for us it was closed on Sundays. We have updated our plan very quickly and we went to the Suleymaniye Mosque instead. Similar as it was to enter the Blue Mosque the same rules should be followed. We entered the building during the pray carried out by Imam. We have not been even trying to understand anything – my knowledge of Arabic equals zero. We sat down on the carpet and we were looking at the praying people. We were also resting a little bit.
Our speed was not fast but due to the fact that Grand Bazar was closed we had plenty of spare time. We decided to see Spice Bazar. It is located very closed to the Suleymaniye Mosque. To get there we had to go through the poor district and I do not think that many tourists decide to go this way. The buildings were broken and emptied, trash all over, the hens , goats and people who were selling everything what possible on the provisional booths nearby the beautiful nothing like this place city centre.
Many of the people were not paying any attention on us at least they were pretending that. In the other hand you may feel this inimical sight of living there people. In my opinion that was the real Istanbul. The food is cheap and tasty. The kebab costs 2 lires (in the centre 6/10) something like 2 litters of our bean soup, the bread and spicy green peppers in the place where we ate were for free. You had to order some dish at the beginning of course.
Straight after the dinner our direction was Bosfor sound. I mellowed out when we got to the Spice Bazar. The place is colourful – as the most of the oriental bazars. The big assortment from China, a lot of handicraft and many, many vegetables.
Piotrek was persuading me to buy some pistachios. They are commonly available so I decided to buy something different. I was enchained by the peanuts. They looked to be sweet as they were pink. In fact they were very salty. When I ate w few I had to drink the whole small bottle of water. I was not able to finish all what I bought. Peter did not like them as well. It was a pity to throw them away so I take them with us.
It was the last point of our short trip in Istanbul. Using the mains path we came back to the hostel to pick our languages up. We got to the airport on the metro. All of us had two tokens required for the journey. You can buy them in the special machines, cost – 4 lyres per one. There were also some travelling cards but we did not have time for checking it more carefully. The time we spent to get to the airport from the old city to the airport Ataturk was 40 minutes.
Istanbul is very nice city, with many monuments and delicious chestnuts. However you can see the inimical of the local people to the tourists. Maybe sometimes I am in wrong places in a wrong time. The prices here are not also the lowest ones I must say. Regardless it is worth to go there to try these delicious pink peanuts.