Thursday, September 10, 2015

Kelly's Visit: Istanbul Day Two

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After a very restful night of sleep, we woke up early prepared for a big day of sightseeing.  Since Mike and I had done Istanbul before and Kelly had a list of things she wanted to see, we were pretty organized when it came to planning out our day.  This definitely helped us and we were shocked at how much we were able to get done.

We were up and out of our Air BnB by 8:30am.  We stopped to get coffee and breakfast at Starbucks (we're so international) before heading out to Topkapi.  Mike and I were there with Jason a few weeks before and were SHOCKED by the lines.  These lines took waiting to a whole new level, so we didn't get to see everything in Topkapi.  This time, we were determined to get there right when it opened.

After buying our museum passes that would get us into the majority of the sights in Istanbul (well worth the 80 TL!), we entered Topkapi and were pleasantly surprised at how small the crowds were. There wasn't a line in sight.  We jumped on the opportunity to see the Treasury first, since that had the longest line.  We also went to to the Harem, where we

A little dark, but the Hogan siblings have been reunited

Too dark, but we were so glad to have a photographer!

Mike didn't quite grasp the concept of taking a mirror selfie. Kelly and I were in full force.

After Topkapi, we made our way to the Hagia Sofya.  Last time, we completely missed the entrance to the upstairs.  This time, the crowds were significantly smaller and we headed upstairs first.  Mike was pretty underwhelmed last time with the entire museum, but this time, he was loving it.  It's undergoing a lot of restoration and needs a lot of work, but the upstairs is in much better shape and you get a better view of things from the top.

A lot of the walls and mosaics look like this.  They need a lot of restoration, but if you can look past that, it's pretty incredible.
 Next, we stopped at the Basilica Cistern, which used to provide water for Topkapi.  When you walk in, you walk on basically a boardwalk that allows you to walk over the water as you make your way to a big Medusa statue.

There were fish swimming around in the water...weird.

Pillars in the water

The Medusa pillar
 After the Basilica Cistern, we made our way to the Blue Mosque.  Because it was Friday, we couldn't go in until 2:30 (Friday is the Holy Day is Islam).  We were able to see the courtyard last time, but the line was so long that we didn't get to go in the mosque.  This time we were prepared and were there right when it opened.  I also brought scarves for Kelly and I to cover our heads so that we didn't have to wear the ones that the mosque will loan you (I'm personally not a fan of head lice, but maybe that's just me).  Kelly ended up having to wear a skirt that they gave her because she was wearing leggings, but we did wear my scarves.  The mosque is beautiful and definitely worth going into.  It's truly an architectural piece of art.

Once we were done, we made our way to the Grand Bazaar.  I love the Grand Bazaar and think it's a great place to get souvenirs.  You can usually get pretty decent stuff there and the vendors are always willing to haggle.  We showed Kelly around and she ended up getting a tea set after Mike haggled down the price for her.  We were pretty tired at this point, so we went back to the apartment to drop off Kelly's tea set and took a nap.

Our last tourist stop was the Museum of Modern Art.  I really like modern art, even if it gets a little weird at times (just imagine the Parisian MOMA...things got weird).  It's always unique and makes you think about what should be considered art.

Back on that mirror selfie game. Mike kind of got the idea this time.

Up close

Far away

I want this in our apartment.

After the museum, it was dinner time.  Mike is suffering from good beer deprivation (a self-diagnosed case) and had found a microbrewery in Istanbul that was owned by a Brit (Kelly's people!).  There was hope for good beer! We headed there and were pleasantly surprised with how good the beer and burgers were, both of which are hard to find in Turkey.

We ended the night by meeting up with Dale, an Olmsted Scholar who is in Istanbul.  He's in the class ahead of Mike, so he's been here for a full two years (he did his language school in Turkey as well).  He's really nice and definitely understood all of our trials and tribulations that have come with this whole experience.  

Overall, it was a much better trip to Istanbul this time and I feel like we really got to see everything we wanted in one day.  Kelly got to see most of what was on her list and we were able to see a few new things that we didn't get to last time.  Istanbul is so big that I'm sure we can find stuff to do, regardless of how many times we've been there.  I think our next visit we'll try and do the Asian side....