Travel Notes – Istanbul Day 03

Monday, December 28th, 2015

Today we left the hotel later than yesterday. This cold weather is just making it hard to get up early! Eyup Mosque was number one on today’s list so instead of taking the ferry, I decided to get a taxi. It took about 10-15 minutes for us to get there and only 20 TL, which I think is fairly reasonable.

We arrived at Eyup Mosque just a few minutes after 10 and were so happy it was still fairly quiet. After paying respect at the tomb (which looks absolutely stunning albeit behind an iron gate), we went to the mosque to offer shalat sunnah (voluntary prayer) as it was too early for the Zuhur prayer. I have to say that I totally fell in love with the somber mood of this mosque. There were a few men praying and I didn’t see any sisters so wasn’t sure where to sit and pray. I saw a similar section at the back of the mosque that looked like the female section at the Blue Mosque so I just asked one of the mosque staff and he told me I could pray there. After praying, I walked around the mosque and found two little holes in the wall which turned out to be a staircase leading to the upper level. So I went up and just sat for a few minutes before taking some photos and videos to bring home.

I love how the female section at Eyup Mosque is far more spacious and accommodating compared to the Blue Mosque. I personally think Eyup Mosque is like a mini version of the Blue Mosque but with a bigger female section. Because it was quiet when we came, it felt very much like a place of worship and we hardly saw any non-praying visitors while we were there.

We made our way out just a few minutes before midday and sat in the courtyard to enjoy the morning sun. The kids ordered some potato swirl snack on a stick and I got my first taste of sahlep. I’m usually not a fan of milk but I think the cinnamon in this traditional drink made it taste really nice.

We left not long after and by now the place was beginning to be swarmed by visitors. We jumped into a cab and headed back to Eminonu and made our way to Rustem Pasa Mosque to perform our Zuhur prayer. It was busier this time but we still managed to get a spot inside. I had remembered to keep my state of ablution knowing that I wouldn’t be able to pray there unless this was the case.

After praying, we headed to the back streets of the Spice Bazaar to have a look at the shops. I have a thing for tiny shops and hidden alleyways so this was a real treat for me. I’m amazed at the many shops selling baking utensils and supplies and had to restrain myself from entering them because I know once I go in, it will be very unlikely I’ll come out empty handed. I also marked a few eateries that I would like to try out before leaving so you’ll hear more of this place in the days to come!

We had been to the Spice Bazaar on the evening we arrived but didn’t really explore it that much so after walking through the back area, we entered the main hall to properly check out the shops there. Goodness gracious me, it was like jumping into a colourful postcard! I loved it!

We left the Spice Bazaar around 2 and once more jumped on the tram at Eminonu and headed to the Grand Bazaar. We roamed around and bought some more TL at a money changer outside Gate 7. I felt like I was transported back in time as we wove in and out of the bazaar streets. I bought a few silk scarves here and tried my luck at bargaining. The guy asked for 210 TL for 3 scarves and when he agreed to let them go for 120 TL, I was over the moon thinking I had gotten myself a good deal! Little did I know that later in the evening I would come across a little shop at Istiklal Street selling the same scarves at 20 TL each!!! Oh well, lesson learnt and next time I’ll probably haggle a bit more.

After the Grand Bazaar we walked to Peykhane Caddesi across Camberlitas station to look for the eatery Ozlem Karadeniz. We ordered the pide, chicken wings and chicken shish and thought it was quite good for the price charged.

We then headed back to our hotel in Sirkeci and took a short rest before heading out again around 5. This time we took the tram to Kabatas and transferred over to the funicular to Taksim. Walked down Istiklal Street and the kids bought some Turkish ice cream while I stood there confused at how they can eat it in this cold weather. Before leaving we popped by at a kebab shop at the end of Istiklal Street and got some french fries, a wet burger and a doner kebab. It’s been a long day but we’re satisfied and happy.

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