Friday, November 11, 2011

Istanbul - What we see

Lets start this!

We went to Istanbul basically for 3 nights.

I don't think so I can manage to do a day to day activity (some of you might also drop dead from boredom), so I'll just condense here what we basically visits in Istanbul.

Before I started, we stay in Sultanahmet area, which is basically old Istanbul and where the famous Aya Sofya or Hagia Sofia or whatever it is people call it is located. So many of the places that we see were confined to this area.

On Day 1 we arrived early. Our flight was on midnight 26th Oct, so we arrived early around 7 a.m and by 7.30 a.m. we're already at the hotel. Because we're early, we can't check in yet, so we decided to jalan-jalan the Sultanahmet area after breakfast.

Blue Mosque early morning. And instead of nasi lemak or kueh mueh, there're a lot of carts selling pretzel /bagel like bread around Istanbul. They're incredibly nice to munch upon. 

Entrance is free. Though you are not allowed in during prayer time, unless for prayers la kan

On that first day, it was drizzling a bit. I noticed a stray dog sleeping at the side courtyard of the mosque and nobody gives a second glance. The poor thing must have been cold. We didn't go in because we malas nak bukak kasut and thinking that we have more time to look again some other day. We never did. Which came to my first advice of this post is, even if the place is crazy near to your hotel, if you are in the vicinity, just go in at least once. Heh. The blue mosque is very grand and feels kind of supreme. We are just contented to just sit at the courtyard though.

Then we singgah at the Sultan Ahmad the first ( It may spelt wrongly) tomb.

The tomb itself is a tomb. But it have some exquisites mosaics and tiles. 
We walked around actually in search of a leather jacket and other shopping stuffs. So whenever there is a place that is interesting, we will stop and look. Like the Istanbul University, where it is great fun to see students in hurry to go to classes clutching their lecture notes.

Istanbul Uni. Entrance are only for staffs and students. Not for people trolling for hot college chicks. 

The Hippodrome. Where Old Romans used to have their games/chariots drives which now is called Sultan Ahmet Square. But it is regularly named as Hippodrome in the guide book.

In here there is a few Roman and Ottoman relics left. Like the below, German fountain sent as a gift to the Ottoman Sultan which looks bland from afar, but amazing if you happened to glance at the roof. And many people stop and marvelled at the Egyptian obelisk, where it had stood for thousands of year in Egypt and many others in Istanbul and looks like it had just been engraved last month.

There is even a shopping centers (of sorts) that is in front of what used to be a Roman temple.

I did found my leather jacket but it is for another post. However for day 1 we did manage to get the museum pass.

So on Day 2, we on the museums listed in the pass. The pass cost 72TL per person. We manage only 4 out 6. 1 museum is in renovation and so are closed ( Istanbul Mosaic Museum) . Chora Museum is a bit far and we didn't manage it.

Before we started on the museum pass list, before it even opened, sudah tercongok di depan Basilica Cistern. It is part of the tinggalan of the Byzantine era.

The cistern is something like a water system used by the Roman. The Romans are famous for their baths and aqueducts, and this is just one of the example of their genius today. It is a very eerie place to be in, especially since we're the early bird for that day. But it is nice that we can basically hog the Medusa without other people camera flashes. The cistern is famous for its 2 Medusa head. The head is used as sort of support column (who really knows). One Medusa is as below, the other one (not pictured) is upside down.
I basically dared Medusa to turn me into stone. 
Then we head to the Hagia Sophia.

It is really quite lovely. Tho we did not visit the interior at night, I just like this pic a lot.
If we were to go back to the hotel, we will pass by Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque (they're opposite to each other) so, it is a really pleasant walk back.

The pictures below really, really does not do it justice. It is really lovely. Hagia Sophia, used to be a church, after Constantinople falls, it turns into a mosque. The Ottoman Sultans however left many of the mosaics depicting Jesus, Virgin Mary, Saints alone. However the Hagia Sophia is no longer used as a mosque and coverted to a museum. However azan still berkumandang there, as there is a small prayer building ( surau kut ) at the courtyard.

The cat at top right corner decided quite suddenly she wants to sit on a platform befitting for her. And in minutes, the cat had become a sensation at Hagia Sophia. Camera flash was directed at her multiple times and she was unfaze. She sat there for a few mins and then perhaps bored, wander elsewhere. 

It does not take a lot of time to wander around in Hagia Sophia. Around an hour for us. We pretty much gawked at the wonderful mosaics and tiles in the building. The mosaics from the church-era time are at the first floor and at the ground floor is where you really realized how huge the Hagia Sophia is.

Next on the list was Topkapi Palace. It was a massive sprawling place. And my camera at the time was running low on battery. It is really a place not to be hurried into. And I can't take a picture to show how massive it is. It is at the back of the Hagia Sophia and it just a gate. And no the below is the not outer gate. This is the inner gate. I can't believe I didn't take picture of the outer gate. It positively glinted in the sunlight.

Yes, the sky was glorious that day. 
After a quite considerable walk from the outer gate to the inner gate, we then find ourselves in the Topkapi Palace, but of course we are still at the courtyard. There was another gate (also not pictured, but it is just a door, with lots of people wanting to get into ).

There was various rooms. Among pictures below, there was the library, the throne room, the council room, the kitchen which is now being turned into a Treasury showcase. There is even a healing room, where young sultans rested while they recovered from their circumcision. The picture below is just a drop on how really huge the place is. Their palace are made by marbles and fitted by incredibly amazing looking tiles and mosaics. It must be a delight to walk around there barefoot.

The royals also used to have an amazing view of Istanbul. 
The 2 places that is a massive pain to get into is the Treasury because semua orang nak tengok huge priceless bitching looking gems. The other one is the section where it stored kunci Kaabah, objects from Nabi Muhammad S.A.W and there is even a staff from Nabi Musa A.S (allegedly). I wonder if this is the staff that breaks the Red Sea to two.

There is another section of the palace that we decided not to go into, the Harem. It used to be the wives and kids place basically. If you want to visit it, another 15 TL is required. Considering that and our legs ( we are incredibly tired by this time), we decided not to and head to Istanbul Archaelogical Museum.

The museum is next to the exit of the palace. There were 3 buildings. One housed the ancient orient relics (Mesopotamian , Egyptian era), the other one looks like a tile museum ( we didn't go in, dead tired already). And the biggest one is where all the Greeks, Lebanon, Roman relics used to be (which we went in).

I was delighted at the Ancient Orient building, when I found myself looking at the pieces from the Ishtar gate I almost squealed. The color is so vibrant and the history behind it is so magnificent.

We only managed some of findings from Anatolia, (Greek stuffs) and I practically begged my husband to not go up the second floor, because I don't think so I can take the climbing much longer. It was a really interesting museum. Chockful of stuffs. The sarcophagus of the Mourning Women and the Alexander.  After all it boasted of more than a million objects. I was looking for the jaw of the serpent column that is at the Hippodrome, but it must have either been closed or at the top floor. A pity if I think about it now, but I still remembers my exhaustion and I guess even I have my limit on how long I can walk and climb around.

However amazing to think that I can see objects from even The Temple of Zeus. A lot objects from these long ago civilization, Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Babylon somehow ended up here. Those who are a history buff, this is a must place to visit. If I ever go back to Istanbul ( and I do ), this is one of the place I have to revisit.

After the Topkapi Palace. We head back to the hotel for a much needed recharge, both our energy and the camera battery. Then we head to the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. Here housed various Koran ranging from 13th century to the 19th. They're even one where it is uses gold ink.

Be it 16th or 21st century, that carpet would look good in any living room.

In here I think the oldest carpet is from the 16th century. I can't even made my t-shirt last than 10 years. Wait. I do have t-shirt that is more than 10 years.

The museum is cool enough. Husband enjoyed it very much, because he likes carpets. As for me, I like the thought that some of these carpet are used by the royals and some of them were used as prayer mats in mosque ever hundred of years ago.

For Day 3, husband decided upon Bosphorus Cruise along the Bosphorus straits. The cruise costs around 25eur per person, and it is for 2 hours. It was quite nice even if at first I do feel like puking. I was basically frozen there for the whole 2 hours. Alot of people on the cruise decided to go indoor rather freezing at the top. . It was incredibly nice, and while the tour itself was lovely, where we can see the old fort, many, many European looking palaces and homes of the rich and famous, I was only looking forward to the toilet. 

Only nearing the end of the cruise did we stopped at the Maiden Tower. Where I joyfully bounded for the WC (water closet = toilet), and afterwards enjoy the most loveliest view atop the tower. The wind was incredibly strong and it was dreadfully cold, but the climb is worth it.

We then head for the mosque nearby for prayer and marvelling.

I have to imagine that perhaps every mosque in old Istanbul ( there're a lot of other mosques we didn't go to) are as lovely as the one that we've seen. This mosque, Yeni Mosque was built around the 14th century. Other than that, I am not really sure. Heh.

Afterwards it is basically a shopping day for us, where I will tell later in a different post and walking around re-enjoying the view that the Sultanahmet area can provide which is incredibly awesome and ethereal like. 

This is a fountain in front of the Topkapi Palace. It looks more like it used to be 4 places of tap water, but the building is lavish enough.

Istanbul is an amazing place. Almost all other tourists we talked with would love to come back or is in their 3rd or 4th visit. Most of the locals are really friendly and nice. I love it there and would definitely love to come back.

Both of us at the top of Maiden Tower. Susah nak dapat gambar berdua ni.


Kasapsky said...

arghhh nak ikut jugak... jeles2.... nak curi gambo bole? hehe

Dils said...

Haha. Kumpul duit pegi. Its worth it!

Nak curi gamba yang mana satu ituu.. Haha.. nak amik ok je, asalkan ade credit. Hehe.

FrH said...

tu laa mcm best jek. mcm peaceful vacations pn ye jugak.

ok nk baca the food part plak :)

Dils said...

Hehe. Quite peaceful betul. Tadek perasaan nak hurry2 sangat la. Best2.

ilyani said...

babe, nak tanya. coz we're going there around the season you went. raining tak? how bad was the coldness? (i know it may differ this year but just to get some idea :)).. wont worry much about us but as we're packing for a 6-month-old as well... any tips to consider? those mero/tram semua tu stroller friendly or not? thinking not to bring stroller pun (only ssc carrier) takut not convenient to move around tapik takut lenguh sgt..
btw, love that night view Hagia sopha pic tu.. camera apa ye? (no, bukan nak beli yg sama pun.. just curious ;p)

dils said...

It is really cold at the end of October. May need to wear something warm and a jacket for baby. And as usual, hat and extra scarf just in case sebab bile malam lagi biting cold.

I didn't get the chance to ride the tram, but it looked stroller friendly.. saw a few people with stroller going into. Though you may not wanna go in during rush hour with stroller. And I am not sure how stroller friendly some place is. Hagia Sophia is stroller friendly, Topkapi palace quite ok. So does the museum. Cuba nak jalan at cobblestone area di old town tu leceh sikit. But maybe need to stay on the pavement je kut.

I used Olympus Pen 2 for all. :)

Bestnyeee pergi Istanbul. Have fun! We didn't manage to go to a lot of places sebab only 3 days, would love to stay more.

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