I booked my flight home around Thanksgiving, so subconsciously I attribute that timing to my decision to end the trip in Turkey. In the end I only had a couple days, so there’s no way I’m going to be able to see all of Istanbul, so I’m going to take it easy and just do a couple things that look interesting.
I didn’t realize how absolutely massive these mosques were. I stayed quite close to two of the most famous ones, the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia. I walked around them a bit, but they were frequently closed for services. I peaked inside, but didn’t end up doing much more than that. But I did take some photos during the day and at night of them, so here’s that.
One morning I went to Topkapı Palace, which had a lot of cool Ottoman Empire things. A lot of daggars and swords with jewels on them, as well as adorned jewelry and things in general. I didn’t take pictures because you couldn’t a lot of places, plus I left my phone charging in the hostel. But, it’s cool and I spent a couple hours there.
And then I went to the Basilica Cistern in the afternoon, which was my favorite. It’s an underground aqueduct with hundreds of columns, a lot of gross fish, and that’s about it. But it’s really interesting in an eerie way.
I then watered around the Grand Bazaar shopping center, which was a bit hectic, as expected. Hundreds of people selling things, from cheap clothing and shoes to phones and “Rolexes”. The clothes and shoes were cheap, but I didn’t really need anything and was in no mood to negotiate with people.
Later that day I went to get dinner with a couple people from my room. At that point, I had only eaten the hostel breakfast and a package of cookies, because none of the places around had anything vegetarian. We walked through the gauntlet of “look at our menu, we have a terrace, great deal for you” restaurants but couldn’t find anything. I ended up eating a salad.
That and people selling rugs. Do you really think I’m going to buy a $3000 rug and put it in my backpack? Do they ever sell those?
My last day I predominately spent working, but I took a break in the early afternoon/early evening and did a Bosphorus Cruise up towards the Black Sea.
That was pretty relaxing, and also quite unsafe by normal standards. I walked down the stairs and the walkway was flooded by water splashing it, and the little chain that was supposed to act as a railing had fallen down and no one bothered to put it up. So you were one misstep from going for a swim. But everyone survived.
And since I ingeniously booked a very early morning flight, I opted to take the public transit to the airport several hours early so I could sit here and write this and do some work. I have a 5:55am flight from Istanbul to Kiev, then from Kiev to NYC. It’s going to be a long day.