DAY 2 of the bumpy bus ride we had throughout these 3 days.
1. Topkapi Palace. A beautiful structure with a beautiful history.
2. Ever seen James Bond’s From Russia with Love? Here’s the Hagia Sophia or St. Sophia mosque turned museum. This incredible place is home to religious mosaics that’ll just take your breath away!
3. The Basilica Cistern was the water supply for the Topkapi Palace. It was forgotten when the officials and emperors of the Byzantine empire relocated, and was rediscovered by a scholar who was told by locals that they were magically able to obtain water by lowering buckets underneath their basements. How cool is it that a whole community got their water supply from the same place eons ago, yet it still stands today..and with fish!? This was an absolutely mind blowing place to visit, but watch your step (unless you want to go for a swim)! The stairs are steep and wet!
4. Baran Restaurant Ottoman Kitchen. This restaurant is. The. Greatest. First off, it’ll shelter you from the cold. Secondly, your mouth will start watering as soon was you walk in. Lastly, you’ll leave full and ready for your next adventure (or a nap). We had an amazing three-course lunch.
- Appetizers: Lentil soup and Salad
- Main dish: Pick one entree and one side (I don’t really remember what I had, but it was a buttery rice ,and a beef dish with potato and cheese?)
- Dessert: BAKLAVA! This is a must eat in Istanbul. America’s baklava is way too sweet compared to Instanbul’s (unless you have it made in an authentic Turkish household).
5. The beautiful Blue Mosque. I’m not even sure what to say about this beauty, I’ll let its webpage do the talking.
6. We had some time after the museums, so we decided on Tea time on this gorgeous hilltop that overlooks the Sea of Marmara and Asia’s side of Istanbul.
7. One thing about Istanbul that’s pretty awesome is that their stray dogs are cared for by the government..actually, I think that all of their stray animals are cared for by the government. It isn’t strange to see a dog lying around the palace, nor kittens playing around a restaurant. This little (big) guy started following me!
8. Tacsim is their busiest shopping street. It’s like the 5th Avenue or Redeo Drive of Istanbul. Here, my friend decided to pierce her ear. After a sketchy thrill of an adventure of finding a place to pierce her ear, the owner of the shop recommended Marmara Cafe for us three hungry girls. I ordered a Doner wrap with Mushrooms and it was probably the best decision I made that day.
If you ever decide to visit Istanbul, and need a tour guide, Gunes Kayacan is the best! She’s the sweetest, and has the most beautiful soul I’ve ever gotten the chance to know. She’s also very knowledgable about where she takes her guests, and speaks Italian! With a smile that’ll make you smile, she should be the go-to tour guide for all of Istanbul’s guests. Click here to contact her, or if you’d prefer e-mail it is firstname.lastname@example.org.
***UPDATE: I was contacted by someone who did not have the best experience with Gunes as their tour guide. In a 90-minute timeframe, Gunes guided the group very quickly where everyone had to run in order to keep up. My experience with Gunes was from a 2 hour(?) private tour, which was ran very smoothly. This message is simply to provide some insight for tours with Gunes in different settings. Please keep this in mind as you decide to book (or not book) Gunes for your Istanbul Tour!