We landed in Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport on the European side of the Bosporus and 30 minutes later we were walking down the cobblestoned streets of Sultanahmet. A walled city on a Peninsula, originally called Byzantium when the Greek started the place back in 667 BC (do the math this pace is old). I read some place that this location is one the oldest still-inhabited spots of the world (bucket list check). Down a quiet street we found our hotel. We checked into a corner room with 3 very small single beds (reminded me of something you would see in a dollhouse). The beds were all lined up in a room smaller than Maggie’s room with a shower designed for a very skinny teenager, not so much for his father, but the location and room is exactly what I wanted.
We were in Sultanahmet, walking distance to all historical sights of Istanbul a peninsula, the Golden Horn, with the Bosphorus on one side of us and the sea of Marmara on the other, we were in Constantinople – how cool is that.
The hotel Agan, I cannot begin to tell you the time I spent agenizing over the selection of this place. The Hotel where we would be speeding the most time, originally. We ended up in a great spot – Everything is within walking distance, close to the Galata Bridge and the entrance into Asia and our dinner location later that night, the water taxis, the tram stop (which we have yet to use, as proof of this Jake’s pedometer had us logging 8.5 miles yesterday and all the history we can handle.
Moments later we found ourselves wandering the streets without a real plan other than an understanding of when the sites closed. The first thing we found was the Basilica Cistern
(Sunken Cistern) very high on my list of must do items. The line was way to long for two ADHD travelers who have been stuck in hotels room or planes for 48 hours. Located just opposite of the Cistern entrance was the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque). We kicked off our shoes and entered – Simply amazing with its impressive 6 minarets, maybe 7 (forgot to count). The Blue Mosque, named for blue tiles on its pillars is a must see for anyone visiting Istanbul.
Next up, Aya Sofya an architectural marvel with 30 million gold tiles (I did not count them, but overheard someone say that). This must have been an engineering feat when it was constructed in the 6th century. The line was just as long as the Cistern, and again not wanting to wait we simply cut the line.
From the Aya Sofya we walked to the grand bazaar with thousands of shops (I just googled it 4400 shops), the world’s oldest shopping mall. This place covers several blocks and features a labyrinth of side streets. Jake and
I spent about 10 minute shopping and did not buy anything other than some tea (needed the caffeine). Actually we walk all around the place, but really enjoyed the streets around the bazaar and the locals selling
things our side the walls of the Istanbul University. The bazaar had everything from underwear to gold rings and yes rugs. Some parts were rather touristy, but it was well worth the time.
We traverse the back streets on our way to our hotel passing an obelisk the Romans sold from the Egyptians. Then we were off to
dinner on the Galata Bridge, spanning the Golden Horn, connecting the old city with Beyoglu, the northern district of Istanbul and a destination for tomorrow.
Taking the scenic route we found ourselves standing in Europe looking across the Bosporus into Asia with all the lights of the city staring back at us. The upper
deck offered great views and the railings were lined with local fisherman. This was our choice to enter into Asia! The lower
level was teeming with little eateries and, yeah, the typical “recruiters” rounding up customers (us included). We had a view of the Mosques light up on the hills, the fishermen catching our dinner and relaxed as we enjoyed a beer and the crisp cool night air of Turkey!