20 June 2016

Turkey - Miniaturk

I really wished we had visited Miniaturk on our first day in Turkey and not on our last day. This miniature park provides a short history on all the more popular historic buildings in Turkey. I guess by visiting this place first you gain more insight on all the places you may want to visit. 
Although it is not far from Taxim, it took well over half an hour to get there. From what I saw, Istanbul seems to have a 24 hour traffic jam situation going on. 

Considering a week ago I was in Mostar, Bosnia and walking over the Old Bridge on a daily basis, I felt like a super sized human next to the one at the park.

What is a Bosnian monument doing at Miniaturk? It was commission by Suleiman the Great and as a result, the bridge was built by a Turkish man, hence the feature. 

This was a moment where you're trying to have your photo taken and people just walk on thorough between you and the camera.

It would have been nice if we had the chance to visit the south side of Turkey. Oludeniz, Antalya, Side and Alanya you'll just have to wait til next time

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5 June 2016

Turkey - Istanbul

We spent a lot of time wandering the streets of Istanbul. 
The city itself is covered in historical buildings and has a population of over 14 million people, so you can see why we were easily distracted with just wandering around. 
The streets are so busy with people going about their every day life, tourists sight seeing and trying to capture the perfect picture. 
Our hotel was located in the Old Town area which was very convenient...and that was the only good thing about it. The hotel was 'new' and we were the first Australian guests to ever stay there (I wish we weren't). Our bathroom stank on mould every time the shower was used, showering caused the bathroom to flood and the room was that small that the end of the bed almost reached the TV stand. 
We requested a room change after the first night as the smell was unbearable, however a different room didn't make much difference. 
We left and booked in a little boutique hotel called Corinne Art & Boutique Hotel (well worth the extra spend! See here). The location was well position and very close to the main shopping strip in Taxim.
Rooftops in Istanbul are a big deal, a good rooftop view is a must and this hotel gave such a panoramic view of the beautiful city. 

Our first venture was to the Suleymanie Mosque and as it was a Friday, the Mosque was filled with worshipers for the weekly Friday prayer. I took this opportunity to wander around and really take in my surroundings, its beauty, gardens and the history behind it. 

I also enjoyed patting the furry locals.

We kept venturing for the rest of the day and stopped by a random dingy corner place to eat. Let me tell you it was one of the best meals I have eaten in a while. Maybe it was the hunger that made everything taste better, but kefir and spiced meat has got to be the perfect combo for grumbling stomachs.

This Yeni Mosque was the perfect view whilst we sat and ate kadaifts and then strolled through the Egyptian Spice Bazaar. Everything of interest was nearby so it was just a matter of small strolls to get to the next point.

The next day we walked to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia Museum, right next to it was the Hamman we were visiting that evening (read here). 
Although it looked cloudy in the photos, don't let that fool you, it was a very hot and humid day. With stopping by to eat at every stall we saw and engaging in every touristy attraction we passed, a few hours later and a walk up a hill we made it, to the Blue Mosque & the Hagia Sophia Museum.

I think for the next hour or so we just sat in the gardens and simply looked at these two amazing buildings. We kind of stopped taking photos at this time and really focused on being present then and there. 

Now I don't know whether the military marching band is a regular street gig and regular or not, we were in the right place at the right able to see how the military band does their thing.

We also had time to stop and visit The Basilica Cistern and let me tell you after a 6 hour walk in the heat and humidity the coolness of the underground water tank was a huge relief.
Long long ago this place was a water tank which was used to provide water to a palace (most likely a prestigious one). 
Nowadays its open for public viewing and is equiped with a Turkish themed photobooth service. Yes, we got a photo and also had it a glassless frame (add that to the useless touristy purchases you'll question yourself why you got in a years' time).

One evening we dined at Pierre Lotti. The breathtaking almost 360deg views were a given treat and aside from that there wasn't much specialty to the restaurant. The food was good, but I'd have to say the street food was way better, and cheaper might I add. 

To me, the view of the Blue Mosque reminded me of Aladdin and how they'd show Princess Jasmine's Palace, so grand and majestic. I can only imagine how the Taj Mahal looks in real (one day).

Even at 1am the streets were busy. I noticed that a vast majority of the crowd was males, sitting around, smoking shishas. There were certain lanes where the whole street strip was just shisha bars and all you had to do was walk past it to passively smoke the flavours. 
At the end of each night, our thing was to stop at a cake shop, grab a few desserts and turkish delights and eat it on the way back to our hotel. 
Whenever we'd order 'doner chicken kebabs' and I would ask for just chicken and garlic sauce in mine, the staff would laugh and double check with confusion 'just chicken and sauce'...and I'd answer with 'I really like the chicken'
It was also weird to waiters that I'd order the turkish coffee with milk, one even reiterated a few times 'you want milk in your coffee Miss' and I'd be like 'yes, please'.

I really wished we had more time in Turkey as there is so much to see, we spent 5 days in Istanbul and that wasn't near enough, not to mention visiting different parts of Turkey. There is always next time, isn't there.?

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