Travel Notes – Istanbul Day 01

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

We landed in Istanbul around 2pm on and our hotel pick-up was already waiting as we exited the arrival hall. We went straight to our amazing hotel in Sirkeci, checked in and to our delight found out that we had been upgraded to a family suite, alhamdulillah!

After freshening ourselves up, we went down to the lobby and the staff had kindly prepared our Museum Passes and Istanbulkart for us to use. It was 4pm by the time we headed out to get our bearings.

We walked towards Eminonu and reached the New Mosque at the time for Maghrib prayer. We were mesmerised by the beautiful adzan so we just sat down and soaked everything in as the sky turned from blue to orange. The mosque was quite crowded so we decided to do our prayers here another day, insha Allah.

We then walked over to the Spice Bazaar and wow, what an explosion of colour and smell! The place was so crowded but we managed to follow the rush of people and marvelled at all the lovely shops. We found a small kebab place on one of the corners in the bazaar, I forgot the name but will post it as soon as I remember. Alif had the wrap with beef chunks, Namira had the chicken shish and I had the beef one. The taste was phenomenal! Each costs 14 TL and we would definitely come back to this place if we can find it. We had our first taste of aryan here too, the frothy salted yoghurt which is the Turkish national drink. It was surprisingly good with all that meat!

Once our tummies were full, we filled up our Istanbulkart and jumped on the tram from Eminonu and headed to Sultanahmet. We gazed at Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque under the full moon from the fountain on Divan Yolu and sat there for a few minutes and took some pictures before continuing our walk. We ended up following the tram line back to our hotel. There were still lots of people on the streets and we exchanged salaam and smiles with many of them. It was a little after 9pm by the time we arrived back at our hotel in Sirkeci.

I have to say, this city amazes me. I have travelled to many places around the world and I have never felt this much warmth and kindness. And I have never felt safer in a foreign city as much as I feel here. So for those of you who are thinking that Istanbul is unsafe, stop reading that nonsense the media spits out and just come over and see for yourself how lovely this city is!

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