Sunday 2 March 2014

Istanbul, Turkey: 7 things to do

1) Visit a mosque.. or three
I don't think I need to elaborate. There's plenty to choose from - Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, New Mosque, etc etc. The Blue Mosque is going to be really crowded. I wandered around and entered a random mosque along the way (last picture) and there was nobody inside. I think almost all mosques are open to visitors as long as you're properly dressed (long pants, long sleeves and a scarf to cover your head) and as long as it isn't prayer time.

2) Cruise down The Bosphorus
You can easily hop on a cruise at the ferry terminal for 10 Lira and enjoy the ride down The Bosphorus for about two hours? The water is SO BLUE, I've never seen such blue water before. And the view was great! You can see lots of famous landmarks along the way - Galata Tower, Ortakoy Mosque, Dolmabahçe Palace, Fatih Sultan bridge, Rumeli Fortress, houses along the river, Küçüksu Palace and a lot more. There's a longer cruise which takes you all the way till the Black Sea but I missed the morning departure. If you have the time, go for the long cruise!

3) Be Rapunzel for a day at Galata Tower
Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair! No one let down their hair :(

4) Visit Dolmabahçe Palace
I got there too late and it was closed. So I sat down on the grass patch and admired the clock tower.

5) Walk around Taksim Square.. if you must
I didn't think Taksim Square was really worth going, unless you want to shop. I liked looking into Turkish food shops though and the glass lanterns entranced me.

6)Watch the sunset at Üsküda
Welcome to Asia!! Quite a few people I met while travelling told me the only "Asia" they've been to was the Asian part of Turkey. I met up with the Korean friend I made in London who was on exchange in Istanbul and we took a ferry across to the Asian side of Istanbul. We went to this 'cafe' (?) along the water where you sit down on the cushions and the waiter will bring you Turkish tea/coffee while you enjoy the stupendous view of the European side of Turkey with the sun slowly setting before you. You get to see the Maiden's Tower up close from here too.

The Maiden's Tower has a story behind it. According to a popular Turkish legend, an emperor had a much beloved daughter and one day, an oracle prophesied that she would be killed by a venomous snake on her 18th birthday. The emperor, in an effort to save his daughter, had a tower built in the middle of the Bosphorus to protect her from any snakes until her 18th birthday. On the 18th birthday of the princess, the emperor brought her a basket of exotic sumptuous fruits as a birthday gift, delighted that he was able to prevent the prophecy. Upon reaching into the basket, however, a snake that had been hiding among the fruit bit the young princess and she died in her father's arms, just as the oracle had predicted. (Via Wiki)

7) Visit a carpet shop
You'll be bombarded with invites from carpet owners offering you tea and while I really didn't like it when they go 'Konnichiwa'/'Ni hao! Ni hao!'/'Annyeonghaseyo' at me, I was drawn in by the gorgeous carpets. I ended up carrying one home haha.

Ending the post with a picture of a fireworks I saw on my last night in Istanbul. You can see Rapunzel's Galata Tower in the background, all lit up and stunning.

1 comment:

  1. i wanna go Turkey to do those seven things you mentioned.. sounds funs !! :)