Friday, December 19, 2014

Historical Istanbul ♥

I had a change to go and see Istanbul this fall and I think I fell in love. I mean Istanbul has so much to offer for a traveller and those who love history (read: peoples like me).

Our journey took place in early November as we flew with Turkish Airlines from Helsinki to Istanbul. The travel time was really nice compared to the long flights to Asia! Only 3-4 hours and we were there. I think Turkish Airlines was chosen as a best European airline in some competition, but I have to wonder why. Well it wasn't bad, but the crew was all over the place and there was not enough food for everyone (or was, but not what they wanted to eat).

Anyway, we arrived to Istanbul and took a taxi to the hotel. Our hotel was situated in the old town and it was bit hard to find. The view was quite nice along the way although it was already completely dark as we arrived in the evening. It took as quite some time to reach the hotel because of the traffic jams and everything and when we finally arrived we found out that there had been some kind of mistake and the room was double booked. Well, we were sent to another hotel which was under the same name and in the same area, just a bit closer to the shops and everything so infact it was a good thing for us.

The hotel was nice and the staff was nice but the room was not what we expected. We had booked a suite because it was super cheap (like normal room price) and we only got... well, a normal room. It wasn't bad at all, but it wasn't a suite! :(

We decided to go and look around the surroundings on that same evening and we found out that Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia were basically on our backyard! It was a really amazing sight with the dark sky, gorgeous mosque with lights and all the people around.

Blue Mosque
Sultan Ahmet Mosque, better known as Blue Mosque because of its blue interior walls, was built from 1609 to 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. It's a national mosque of Turkey and is still used as a mosque. We can prove that to be truth since we woke up next morning at 5:30 when a loud call for prayer came up from the mosque. It was unbelievable! I went to Bodrum, Turkey couple years ago and heard the calls there too but it was nothing compared to this time!

On the other side of the plaza was Hagia Sophia, an epitome of the Byzantine architecture. It was first build to be an Eastern Orthodox cathedral in 537 and it remained so until the year 1204 when it was turned to Roman Catholic for 57 years. In 1453 it was turned to a mosque and in 1935 it opened up as a museum. It has a long and colorful history and I wanted to see it from inside too but the lines were just too long. Maybe next time!

Hagia Sophia
Next day we wanted to go and see around a bit more so we took a trolley and went to Taksim. Before that we stopped at Kabatas station because I wanted to take some pictures. After that we continued with funicular to Taksim. I had never even heard about funicular when I went to Istanbul so it was a nice new experience! In Taksim we did a lot of shopping (what else) and went to eat. Not kebab though because I prefer my kebab in Finnish style! Well next day we went to kebab place but I ate pizza. It was really good and the waiter was hitting on me all the time. You could think it was annoying, but actually the guy was really funny. He made me a paper rose too. ♥ But I have my prince already so I had to turn him dowm. ;)

The famous bridge is there! Yay!

Taksim shopping street

Actually before the food we went to see Grand Bazaar but honestly it was kinda boring place. All the shops were selling the same staff, but I think it was still nice to see the actual place. It's completely covered with roof and if I'm not completely wrong it is one of the biggest bazaars with roof in the world. My first experience of bazaar was in Kairo, Egypt and I have to say that Grand Bazaar was nothing compared to the one in there.

Grand Bazaar
On the last day we met Elinas Internet friend Ali and his friend Emir in Beşiktaş. First they took as to the Asian side to Uskudar where we went to see the Maidens Tower. We sat along the strait and drank some Turkish tee. We had so much fun just talking about Finnish and Turkish people and everything else that came to our minds. I'm so happy that we had a chance to meet them and I hope to see them again soon. After the tea we went to Taksim and looked around until we settled to one bar where we continued our conversation while eating and drinking. I learned that football was really important to them and it was fun to see how enthuastic they were about it.

I've also wondered how Turkish people were supposed to be muslims, but they sure don't look like that. It seems that they are quite same as we here in Finland; we belong to some religion but we don't live our lives according to all of the teachings. So in Turkey, many people drink alcohol and have fun, and all the women don't wear scarfs. Although I need to say that don't be surprised when you see a lot more guys around the city than girls. We don't really know where all the women are. :D 

Wedding ♥

View from our hotels rooftop.
Anyways, our time in Istanbul was short and it was soon time to go home. This trip was absolutely one of my favorites so far because there was so much to see: the architecture, mosques, ruins, people, shops... I could just continue my list! Unfortunately my camera is not the best one and all the good photos are Elinas, but after the Christmas break I intend to ask them and make a post full of photos from Istanbul. ♥

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