Travel Notes – Istanbul Day 04

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

It is freezing cold in Istanbul right now (especially for us Asians) and we’ve been informed that there might be snow from tomorrow onwards. It’s past midnight and I have just arrived back at the hotel after spending the evening with a friend but as promised, here’s the report for today.

Having been here several days, I’ve decided to take things easy from now on and didn’t want to rush for the sake of ticking off my list and itinerary. I wanted us to enjoy Istanbul as a city by walking down its streets to soak everything in at a nice relaxed place.

This morning we set out to see the Basilica Cistern. There was no queue at 10.30 in the morning and since the Museum Pass is not valid here, we purchased our tickets (each at 20 TL) and went in. Wow, what an eerie yet soothing place! The music they played on loop just added more intensity to the already mysterious surrounding. We walked around, found the 2 medusa heads and took some pictures and videos. The place was really empty and I think there were less than 30 people at the time we were there, so we practically had the cistern to ourselves.

We spent about half an hour here and were out by 11. We then took the tram to Eminonu as we had to catch the 12.30 ferry later but since we had a bit of time, I made a quick dash into the Spice Bazaar to look for some hijab magnets for souvenirs. This item is unique to Turkey and I have not been able to find them anywhere else. The ones I have were purchased online and were sent from Istanbul.

Unfortunately, none of the scarf shops seem to carry these items! Until I came across one particular shop near Gate 7 of the bazaar. I showed the shopkeeper the magnet I was using to secure my hijab underneath my chin and he gave me directions to a shop located in one of the back alleyways outside the bazaar. When I found the shop, I went totally ballistic! Magnets of every colour and shape was sold at this little shop selling pins, needles and beads. After buying about 20 pairs of these magnets, I headed out to meet the kids who were sitting at the square outside the bazaar.

We then went to the Eminonu ferry terminal to catch a ride to Kadikoy on the Asian side to meet up with with one of my friends who live there. We had promised to meet at the Kadikoy pier at 1pm.

And what a lovely afternoon we had! He took us to the Ciya Sofrasi restaurant to have lunch but as we walked up from the pier to Ciya, we were shown us so many interesting shops along the way. Fromageries, fish mongers, vegetable stalls, you name them. I had to stop several times to take pictures before we finally reached the restaurant.

We ate lunch and exchanged so many stories. The meal was so tasty and we were served 3 kinds of drinks, the first one being a deep purple berry juice, the second one a concentrated fruit juice served in a shot glass and the last one was hot thyme tea to help soothe our digestion system after the big meal.

We only left the restaurant close to 4pm and this time headed down to the pier via a different street. My friend took us to Cafer Erol to show us some Turkish candies and very kindly bought us some goodies here to bring back. What a lovely treat it was!

One thing I have to say is that how authentic and beautiful Kadikoy is. It is such a vibrant place and when we were there, we saw some street musicians performing live Turkish music and the crowd just broke into a folk dance. It was such a beautiful thing to watch. After spending a lovely afternoon in Kadikoy, we headed back to Europe via the Marmaray just so we could experience all the different modes of public transport this city has to offer.

It was already 5 by the time we arrived back at the hotel. After freshening up, we went out again to meet another friend but we had to drop the kids back at the hotel around 7ish as they were getting really cold and tired. Me and my friend then headed to Hocapasa for a quick bite and then moved to Hafiz Mustafa for some pudding before calling it a day at 11pm just now.

So there you have it. That’s our Day 4, filled with not so many tourist sites/places but shared with some very very lovely people over warm friendly conversation about life, our love for travel and of course, Istanbul.

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