Wednesday, 19 March 2014

In Istanbul; part one.

Istanbul, Turkey,
11 - 14 March 2014.

Omaigah! I was sooooo wanna scream out of my lungs when suddenly one whole folder of my Istanbul trip's photos from my camera, vanished, just like that! A lot of scenic views I've captured just to show you guys how magnificent the city is..

But Alhamdulillah I woke up this morning and tried my very best to godek everything in my lappie, and found it! Anyways, sorry for my late updates, now you know why.

Istanbul, Aku Datang! Hehee. 

Honestly, Istanbul was not in my bucket list, just to fulfil Farah's wishes to visit Istanbul, yea, gara-gara Istanbul Aku Datang. So I never bother about what to do and what to buy in Istanbul, where to visit, about their people, their cultures. The only knowledge about Turkey I know is that they are divided into two; Europe and Asia sides, and Kebab LOL.

Such an ignorant person I am, I know. So I have to give full credits to my saviour Dieya for her Istanbul trip guides posted on her blog. I followed almost everything from yours, very helpful and informative, really. Thank you Dieya! ;)

Day one.

So, it was a 4 days trip with Farah. From Stuttgart, it took about 2 hours and a half, by Turkish Airlines, we arrived at Ataturk International Airport at almost 3 o'clock. We then took train (Metro) to the hotel near city centre (Sultan Ahmed area), about 40 minutes from the airport. There are a lot of hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops nearby, very closed to Sirkeci tramway station, you can easily commute by tram which cost you 3 TL (1 Euro approximately 3 TL) per journey, or you can just walk to Ayasofya and Sultan Ahmed Mosque! Very convenient, isn't it? I highly recommend this area to stay.

So as soon as we've checked in, after sholat, it was almost 5 o'clock, we walked following the tramway as we saw a few lovely monuments and mosques when we were in the tram headed to the hotel previously (which only we've learnt later that one of those was Ayasofya! bhahaa). I should have studied a little bit before came. So embarrassing! But really, there are too many beautiful mosques, for first timer, yes you can easily get confused.

Ayasofya and Sultan Ahmed Mosque are actually opposite to each other, but most of the attraction places are closed on Monday, so we entered Sultan Ahmed Mosque (also known as Blue Mosque) to see the magnificent interiors of the mosque. No fees to enter, but you can still give some money as sadakah for the mosque. 

Subhanallah.. I gradually in love with this place.

Aya! this! is Ayasofya! *facepalm*
Sultan Ahmed Mosque.
Inside of Sultan Ahmed Mosque.

After visiting, we started our hidden mission, to eat fast foods! Since no helal KFCs or McDs can be found in Germany. Afterall we ate too much Kebabs in Germany, like almost every week, and we have had Turkish dishes on plane, so we need something else, something fresh.. fast foods hahaa. But if you're travelling from any other countries to Istanbul, please do try their local foods! So that night we start with Burger Kings. That feeling when we can eat meats without hesitation! Priceless.

Day two.

After some studies did last night, we decided to go to Galata Tower (Turkish: Galata Kulesi) in the morning (open at 9 a.m., 19 TL per entrance), the city's most striking landmarks, offers a panoramic vista of Istanbul's historic peninsula and its environs. We stopped at Karaköy station and climbed hills and stairs to the tower. So, wear proper shoes might be necessary.

Galata Tower.

At noon, stopped at Kabatas station, we visited Dolmabahçe Palace, a blend of various European architectural styles including Baroque (love love love!)served as the main administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1922.

The palace is composed of three parts; the Mabeyn-i Hümâyûn (or Selamlık, the quarters reserved for the men), Muayede Salonu (the ceremonial hall) and the Harem-i Hümâyûn (the Harem, the residential apartments of the family of the Sultan). 

It's just as a sultan's palace should be: huge and sumptuous, hundreds of rooms, chandeliers, rich interiors, beautiful façade nearly 500 meters long. It's the grandest of Ottoman imperial palaces. I was in awe. Unfortunately taking photos in the palaces is not allowed. 

Tours in English is included, lasting about 45 minutes for each section of the palace. The normal visitor price is 40 TL for all sections, but only 10 TL for students like us yippieee! So make sure to bring your student card along!

In front of Dolmabahçe Palace.

We covered the whole palace after almost 3 hours, we felt so hungry we ended up took a cab to Istiklal Avenue (Turkish: İstiklâl Caddesi). And this was when Farah lost her mobile phone. I've tried to call so many times, until at one time the phone did not ring any longer, and we knew there's no hope to get it back. Poor poor girl. 

Istiklal Avenue.

Apart from boutiques, art galleries, cinemas, theatres, libraries, cafés etc, here it is possible to see the historic red tram passed by. But ended up nothing much we wanted to do there other than to have KFC (yezzaa!) for lunch.. and consoled Farah. 

After lunch, when we were about to enter a shop, a kid came near me, said something and gave verbal signal like 'eating', and when my head was trying to think to give my drink to him, he snatched it beforehand! Chettt! At least let me wipe the stain of my lipstick on that strawwwwwwwww! So here you really have to be ready because there are a lot of them. Just make sure to be careful with your belongings. 

After that incident we decided to go back to city centre and continue with our plan,  Topkapi Palace. We walked in front of Ayasofya once again to take photos. 

Aya in front of Ayasofya! heheheehe

The Topkapı Palace (Turkish: Topkapı Sarayıwas the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years from 1465 to 1856

The palace complex consists of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. After the 17th century the Topkapı Palace gradually lost its importance as the sultans preferred to spend more time at Dolmabahçe Palace.

By the time we arrived, we only have one hour left until visiting hours ended, not worth of 40 TL to spend for that short period, ended up we walked only outside of the Palace. Fefeeling princess sket.

Topkapi Palace.

Half an hour later, we decided to checked out Basilica Cistern (10 TL per entrance) and Alhamdulillah, it was still open. When we were on the way to Basilica Cistern, a man asked us where we are from and where are we heading to. He showed us the way to Basilica Cistern while promoting his shop and asked us to visit after. 

And guess what? He waited at the exit door and brought us to his shop. Mannnn. I would buy if you sell scarves, but not carpet! No choice, we politely refused to buy and walked ourselves out from that place. Cabuttttt.

Oh when you walk inside the cistern, make sure you walk all the way to the far left-hand corner of the cistern, to see the two Medusa heads. Both heads are casually used as column bases; one positioned upside down, the other tilted to the side. Both their positioning as their origin remain a mystery up till now, although rumor has it that they were recycled form an antique building of the late Roman period.

Inside of Basilica Cistern.

We then headed to Grand Bazaar, roughly 15 minutes walking from Ayasofya and Sultan Ahmed Mosque, and bought a lot of scarves for my mum, sisters and SILs.. and for myself too of course hehee. Here you can buy Turkish goods, but just make sure to survey at all shops before you buy, because you might get the same thing you want at cheaper price. Makan hati je nanti.

Grand Bazaar.

And that night before we went back to the hotel, we had Turkish dishes for dinner since we've made promise with this one kind guy to try out their foods. We passed by in front of his restaurant so many times that he recognized us, so we couldn't say No.

So I stop here for now, I'll continue 'In Istanbul, Turkey; part two' some other time, with a lot of tips, believe me you gonna need it. And another thing, I really want to do this.. 


P.s. hahaaha fefeeling Istanbul Aku Datang sangatttt!

with love,

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