Istanbul, Turkey – 6th August, 2010.
I am sort of over the waking up in sweats over here. Its ridiculously hot and definitely unavoidable but seeing as I’m staying in a hostel, you would think it would have some sort of airconditioning. Nup – so its another morning of waking up in a dazed, confused and sweaty state. I guess the only decent thing is that the showers are cold!
After breakfast we head off to what I would describe as one of the architectural wonders of the world. Hands down. I’ve seen my fair share of churches in the fair continent of Europe but this one has to top it.
The Aya Sofya is an incredible sight, a behemoth of a place. Its huge. It dwarves the nearby Blue Mosque. Its massive. My words won’t do this building justice. It was once a place for christian worshop, then a mosque for muslim worship and is now a museum.
We walk through and pay our 20TL or roughly 10 euros and head through the side and through doors the size of a giants hand we walk in with our mouths agape at the wonder of the dome. It might still have reconstruction work going on inside. But that dome is something to behold. It is even better with just a few people in (hint to others: Go early and beat the crowds).
We wander around and marvel at the dome, the mosaics, and everything that you can possible take in. We even saw one cat that knew where to stalk people for attention. On walking out don’t forget to jut your head back around and admire the mosaic above the exit. All I can say is phenomenal. Really something else.
We then wander across to the Sultanahmet Camii also known as the Blue Mosque for its shimmering blue facade. I cannot help but feel a little under awed due to what was just seen. But its still an impressive building inside and out. To have 2 buildings nearby is an astounding work. Its only here in this spot because the Sultan wanted to out do the Aya Sofya. Incredible mosaics abound inside and at least the entry is free.
The afternoon is spent wandering the back streets of Sultanahmet where we stumble upon a classy market of sorts that isn’t as populated with tourists but seems to be more about shops than haggling. We also stumble on a Kofte and Efes beer for lunch. And then go back to chill out before hitting up Beyoglu for a night of bar hopping.
We head off at about 6ish and grab a feast on the way. Gotta love the cheap Durem Kebabs. And bloody delicious as well. We find a bar on the Galata bridge where we chill with an Efes and watch the sun go down over the Golden Horn.
Up past the Galata tower and a way down Istiklal Caddesi and down a side street we enjoy a beverage or 2 with some local Turkish guys who are somewhat drinking vodka and red bull near a corner that is filled with cats.
We venture deeper into Beyoglu and find a rooftop bar that has reasonably priced drinks and head on up for a lot of beer. Its not a bad evening despite the walk back to the hostel where we couldn’t find one Kebab store open at 3am in the morning.