Istanbul: Taksim, Galata Tower, Bosporus Cruise, Wall of Constantinople & Spice Bazaar

With the promise of a sun-filled day, we were already up and going by 6:30am the second day to go sight-seeing in the neighborhood around our hotel. And I must say; the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque sure look a lot better when the sun is shining.

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We also had a quick stop at the Four Seasons Hotel, as this hotel was used as a prison back in the early 1900’s. In 1992, they converted the building into a hotel. You can just walk in (we asked the three doormen if we could and it was no problem at all.) and take a look around.

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After breakfast, we took the tram to Kabatasfollowed by the funicular to Taksim Square. 

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From Taksim Square we took Istiklal Caddesi, which is the main shopping street, down to the Galata Tower. You can go up that tower by elevator to have a breathtaking view over Istabul. Unfortunately, it’s quite pricy; 25TL, but in my opinion, it’s still worth it.

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When we finally managed to tear ourselves away from this lovely view, we walked across the Galata Bridge back to Eminönü. You definitely have to walk across that bridge at least once to see all the fishermen. You can even buy a fresh fish sandwish for only 6TL.

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Once back on the shore, we took the Turyol Bosporus Cruise. This cruise took about 2 hours and costs only 12TL. It takes you all the way to the second bridge over the Bosporus. If possible, go sit on the left side of the boat, as it first goes along the European side of the Bosporus and on the way back, it goes close to the Asian side. This way you have the best view of the shore. Also, make sure you’re early on the boat to have a good spot. We went onto the boat 45 minutes before departure and luckily still managed to get a spot on the left side.

Near the end of the cruise, you sail right past the Maiden’s Tower, which is mostly known for it’s appearance in the Bond movie ‘The World Is Not Enough’.

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With both feet back on land, we headed for the busses that were lined up only a bit further from the harbor, and took a bus up to the Wall of Constantinople, Istanbul’s city walls (also known as Theodosius’ Wall). We had quite some difficulties to find the right bus as everyone who wanted to help us didn’t speak one word of English and we didn’t speak one word of Turkish. So don’t ever let anyone tell you Turkish people aren’t nice, because they are literally the nicest. They tried to help us despite the language barrier and our touristy appearance. Anyway, if you want to go up to the city walls, you need busline 38 (Bus to Chora Museum).

From on top of the wall, you have an amazing view once again, but beware, it’s not for the weak-hearted. If you want to get to the highest point, you’ll have to climb a bit. The stairs are quite tricky and without any rails. And there is an almost vertical stairs that you have to take to get to the best viewing point. We almost didn’t go up as it looked like something too dangerous, but many tourists of all ages climbed up, so we didn’t want to look like pussies. And to be honest, it’s a lot easier than it looks. Yet, it’s not for those with fear of hights.

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Back in Eminönü (once again by bus), we had a gap of time as everything had gone more smoothly than originally planned. We filled it up with the Spice Bazaar close to the harbor, which we first were going to do the next day, as they once again predicted a day of rain then. But as we didn’t really find anything else to fill our time with, we did it on Sunday anyway.

The Spice Bazaar, also known as the Egyptian Bazaar, is one of the largest bazaars in Istanbul. It has 85 shops selling mostly spices and Turkish delights, but you can also finds souvenirs, jewellery, handbags and many other things. It’s definitely worth wandering around for an hour or so, if only for the lovely colors of the goods.

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Seeing all those kinds of food and sweets made us somewhat hungry, so we headed for a lovely restaurant in the Arasta Bazaar close to our hotel we’d spotted the day before and wanted to go have dinner. Mesale is a traditional Turkish restaurant in a sort of tent. It has live music and of course is heated.

I once again had the Turkish Spinach pancakes because I fell in love with them, and after dinner, we also smoked a waterpipe with apple flavor because we couldn’t help ourselves. It really was a lovely evening.

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And look what a lovely sight, that Blue Mosque by a clear night sky!

Until next time,

With love, Ellen

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