Wanderlust Home and Pet Care
5/20/15 Happy 65th Anniversary Mom & Dad. We are off the ship by 8:30 am. The taxis want too much money to take us to the European side so we asked around and found the tram that took us to the Sultanahmet stop near the hotel. We are given additional instructions and arrived at the hotel by 9:30 am. I am very happy with my hotel choice (http://senatushotel.com) - it has been modernized and is on a very cute street full of restaurants. Most importantly, it is walking distance to the historical area.
We rode the tram back to Karakoy station and then walked up the hill to the Sishame station and rode to Taksim Square. Never did find the tram (going up the hill) but enjoyed the activity on the streets in the neighborhood. We never did see the ancient tram we remembered from 21 years ago as we walked along Istikal Avenue. Also missing was the man with the tea cart. We ate lunch at a cafeteria style restaurant (you see them all over). By the time we got back to the hotel, my dogs were barking. Dinner was right outside the hotel - nothing special.
5/21/15 Our private guide first took us to Topkapi Palace - palace of the Sultans. The kitchen complex had changed drastically from 21 years ago. It is now an exhibition area for ceramics, dishware and serving vessels instead of the huge pots used for cooking for 500 people. Second stop was Hagia Sophia museum. This Christian church was started in 532 A.D. It is the largest building of it’s type, a dome supported by 4 half domes. In the 15th century, the Ottoman Empire converted the church to a Mosque and plastered over the ancient Christian mosaics. In 1935, President Ataturk changed the mosque into a museum and revealed most of the mosaics. This was wonderful to see again!! We had a quick lunch again at a cafeteria before we walked to the Grand Bazaar, Gate #1. The Bazaar sells mostly touristy items. But by using your imagination it must have been an amazing market 100 years ago. It is so large you can easily become lost.
On the way back to the hotel I was accosted by two young ladies. They had a homework assignment to speak English. The young lady on the right made a movie of the conversation with the young lady on my left, using a phone. It was very fun and I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.
Dinner was at the Babylon restaurant across the street and was delicious.
5/22/15 A haircut was top priority and long over due! The Hippodrome was the next stop. In AD 324, the Emperor Constantine decided to move the seat of the government from Rome to Byzantium. Constantine greatly enlarged the city, and one of his major undertakings was the renovation of the Hippodrome. It is estimated that the Hippodrome of Constantine was about 1,476 ft long and 427 ft wide. Its stands were capable of holding 30,000 spectators and the race-track was U-shaped. All that remains today is the Egyptian obelisk, and two other columns around which the horses raced. Lunch was in a “locals area” and my minced meat kebab cooked on a sword was delicious and cheap. The hawkers and the sermon from the mosque made it a noisy and lively area. It was a short walk to the Spice Bazaar where we purchased salami, cheese, black olives and chocolate - dinner! Three cruise ships were in town so the Bazaar was very crowded.
5/23/15 I spent the morning catching up on the blog while Gary walked the neighborhood and took some fun pictures. Our tour of the Bosphorus wasn’t until 1:30 pm. This cruise was very different from our last cruise in 1994 when the weather was cold and gray. The sun was shining and summertime was underway. After the cruise, we were bused to Pierre Loti view point. We had a lovely view of the city and then a cable car ride back to the valley bottom. Evening traffic made for a late arrival back to the hotel.
5/24/15 The morning was spent at the Archeological Museum. It’s too bad I can’t retain all the information I read about that day. I am writing this while on the cruise ship and I have trouble remembering which direction to walk to get where I am going. Remembering Turkey’s history - impossible.
Lunch is at a recommended seafood restaurant. We are picked up by a van that has 4 other passengers. The restaurant is feeding just the 6 of us. The food is delicious but the wait time is a little long but we had a fun conversation with our new friends from Singapore.
My laundry which was turned in yesterday still wasn’t back when we got back from the restaurant. I was told there wasn’t any water??? I finally received the clean clothes at 9 pm and quickly packed before bed as we were up early for our flight to Heathrow. We definitely want to spend more time in Turkey. There are so many areas to wander in Istanbul, I would love to sail the Blue Route along the the Turkey coast and of course there is Alanya. Here are the old pictures of Turkey from 1994.