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October 2, 2022

Adventures in Istanbul, a little catch-up

It’s been a whirlwind few days, flying from Seattle to Istanbul with a long layover in Paris. Istanbul is a city that you can never see enough of. Aside from the sheer geographical size of it (you really can’t walk across Istanbul) it’s got so many different aspects that it’s hard to put it all together. We only had two days so we hit just a sample of what the city offers.

Our first day was just getting oriented. We strolled the Grand Bazaar. Then wrestled with the lack of taxis to get to an Oktoberfest party where we met Andrew’s local guide friend, Leyla Capaci. After a drink, we had our fancy dinner which I posted about previously. The next day, a friend of Taylan’s, Yunus, kindly gave us a whole day of his time. My directive: show me something I haven’t seen before.

After a stroll through the Spice Market, we visited the Greek and Jewish parts of town, a neighborhood called Balat. Our first stop was to the “Cathedral” of the Orthodox Christian community, where we got a nice surprise—we got to see the Patriarch of Constantinople who is much like the Pope for our orthodox friends.

Spices and sweets at Istanbul’s Spice Market
The Patriarch of Constantinople surprised us

Balat is a changing, artsy neighborhood, so we strolled and stopped for coffee amongst the trendy shops and restaurants.

Our last treat of the day was a trip across the Bosphorus on a public ferry to the Kadikoy neighborhood. It was hopping with families out for a weekend walk. We stopped alongside the locals for a plate of intestine and fried mussels.

At the end of the day, we were exhausted. Istanbul is a lot to take in and the transport around the city is rough. We had just enough energy left to visit Hagia Sophia, which is open quite late. It has been recently reconverted from a museum to mosque, and entry is now free. What that means for visitors is that there is a massive line all day, so a visit at the end of the night is better.

Hagia Sofia is open late and free to visit, night is the best time to go.

There really is nothing to compare Hagia Sofia to, it is the great legacy of the Byzantine Emperors and an architectural marvel. A perfect way to wrap up a lightning visit to Istanbul.

Our hotel, Hagia Sofia Mansions, is a cluster of historic homes converted into a hotel
AWS Staff

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