After a 10-hour back aching yet sound sleep, we finally reached Istanbul! We have a full day to check out few places we missed from our last visit. Reaching the otogar (bus terminal), we felt we were lost as we’re not familiar with the area. So we took a risk of hiring some random driver to take us to Cemberlitas where we will “stay”. After a few wrong turns, miscommunication and a long debate (I didn’t know how we managed to bargain with a man who doesn’t know English!) on adding 10 more liras to the fare, we finally got to our hostel!
Since it’s 15 minutes to 9:00 and checking-in starts at noon, we couldn’t get in our room for shower and rest. So we left our luggage to the hostel’s storage instead and went for a walk. For breakfast, we tried this unusual coffee shop sitting inside a cemetery. Turkish apple tea and pancakes for breakfast! Yum!
After breakfast, we walked to the nearby Grand Bazaar to explore it one more time and do a little shopping. I managed to get a few good bargains!
At noon, we went back to check-in and refresh. Then off we went to ride a ferry along the Bosphorus Strait. It’s just 12 liras for a two-hour ride, no stops. The strait divides Turkey into two continents – Asia and Europe. During the cruise, we feasted our eyes with pretty buildings, beautiful mosques and imposing fortresses.
From the Eminonu port, we walked towards the Spice Bazaar, also known as Egyptian bazaar, and explored the area. There were a lot of cheap finds in this bazaar. The line of shops that caught my attention the most was the jewellery shops that sell accessories with gemstones for a very good price. The marketplace was brimming with people, making the “window shopping” less peaceful. At the end of the long stretch of shops, we continued our way back to Sultanahmet.
On the way out were more shops from which we took some goodies. We also tried the famous sticky Turkish ice cream. There was nothing special with the taste as its like any other ice cream I’ve had. But it’s the way he gave me my ice cream. His hands moved so fast. He did a lot of shuffling of the cones and pulling the ice cream from my cone. You can have a glimpse of what I’m talking about over here.
Before finally bidding goodbye to Turkey, we had supper (as per tradition, we go for a nice restaurant on our last night/meal) on a restaurant overlooking Sultanahmet. We had a very nice view of the Blue Mosque, surrounded by greens amidst the blue Bosphorus Strait. Forgive my memory but I really forgot the name of the restaurant. But there’s one thing I’ll never forget–its weird elevator! It’s like we went inside a fridge (not because it’s cold, but because the door opens the same way as the fridge’s, as well as the material–it’s similar to the fridge’s–and it’s so small, can fit 3-5 persons!) and get pulled up. It’s funny but scary! Hehe.
Anyway, after that dinner, we went back to our hostel and packed. We asked the hotel staff to get us a cab to Taksim, from which we took the Havas bus to Istanbul Sabiha Airport. This works cheaper than taking a cab to the airport or signing up for a shuttle service.
Gule gule, Turkiye!