Sultanahmet and Beyond: A Walkathon

Second day in Istanbul started with a terrible headache, muscle pain and a very excited soul. Though still lacking sleep, we were able to get ourselves out of bed and prepare for the day’s journey. By the way, we stayed at Antique Hostel, a pink three-storey hostel with a rooftop that offers a nice view of the Bosphorus River. Situated on the heart of Sultanahmet, it’s just a few steps away from the touristy sites–Ayasofya, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar to name a few. Oh, the hostel’s got 2 desktop computers in the top floor too, with free internet connection—very much of a delight for me who cannot live without the web.

Anyway, second day’s route began with a walk through Divan Yolu Caddesi to check out the hidden treasures along this fab stretch. The first thing to catch our attention was this creepy cemetery for noble men. And it wasn’t too long when we realized that there’s a cafe sitting at the end. Odd isn’t it? But it was closed then so we didn’t bother seeing what’s inside the shop. The scenes from the said street were quite interesting too–train getting filled with locals and tourists, old and young boys making a living out of shining someone else’s shoes, selling spirograph sets (locally known as magic circles), sticky ice cream, simit, etc.

Along the way, we passed through Cemberlitas Hamami, a small stall offering the traditional hamam or Turkish bath. I’d love to try it but our time in our tour didn’t allow it. Anyway, it’s located along the alley going to Grand Bazaar and just infront of the tall marker, Cemberlitas Historical Stone.

Standing a few strides away is Sultan Beyazit Mosque. It’s quite huge. One big door gives you a peek of Istanbul University, which is just across the street. On the other side is a relatively large public space filled with people feeding pigeons.

Behind the university stands the beautiful Suleymaniye Camii, which, to our dismay, was under renovation during that time. However, we were able to access the tombs located on the garden beside the mosque. Please note that you have to take your shoes off and cover up yourself before entering.

Our next stop was Chora Church (Kariye Musezi). We kind of find it hard to locate so we took a cab to get there. The church/museum boasts magnificent mosaic works showing the life of Jesus. I just have to warn you though that you might get a stiff neck after visiting this place because the mosaics are just darn good, that a minute of staring at it is not enough!

One of the must-sees here is Christ’s genealogy located in the southern dome of the inner narthex of the church. Yes, it’s that shiny when I saw it. Amazing!

We were on a lookout for some fortress but ended up in this abandoned ruin without any tag or name telling what it is. But this discovery showed us a nice view of the burbs, and a breathtaking landscape.

Realizing it’s a bit early to call it a day, we went to the Grand Bazaar to get a glimpse of what’s over there. Unfortunately, we were not able to roam around for our lives—time constraints and the lack of liras, plus the crazy alleys that spelt g-e-t l-o-s-t!

On our way back to our hostel, we saw this small and cozy Arasta Bazaar, and fortunately watched a whirling dervish performance. After the dance, we ended the long day with a good dinner and sound sleep.

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