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Friday, 15 July 2011

Istanbul, The Capital of Culture.......And Kebabs (Day 2)

Fresh tomato wedges, turkey ham and bread with a glass of Orange and grape juice
Buffet Counter
Egg Omelette with herbs
It's day 2 of my stay in Istanbul. Woke up early at 6am and watch some Turkish TV channels and Hollywood movies dubbed in Turkish. Then had my bath and was ready for my free breakfast at 7.30am. Breakfast at the Atlantis Hotel, which is located on the 4th floor of the building. The stairs are small and in a spiral way. So guests need to be careful when climbing the stairs. Greeted by a middle aged auntie, she then proceeded to make me some Omelettes with herbs and chilli flakes. The omelette was awesome!. Even i didn't think about making my omelettes this way back home. She added parsley, salt, pepper, chilli flakes and cheese. I had about 3 helpings of those yummies! Buffet spread was basic, breads, pastries, hard boiled eggs, marble cake, cheese platters and fresh antipasti. As Turkey is a Muslim country, majority of the food and hotel establishments serve halal meats and products. But there is still some non Halal items available too.

After breakfast, got my sling bag and map in hand and so began my journey discovering Istanbul. The sun was out at all of it's glory, but it's cold outside as now was winter time during November. It was about 9-10 degrees. I was prepared for this. I had gloves and coat on. First stop was the Blue Mosque. It's located about 1.5km from my hotel and it was the most obvious building that i saw after coming out from the alley. I just needed to cross Divan Yolu Road and walk towards the mosque. I took picture of the German Fountain next to the Blue Mosque. Interesting mosaic designs inside the fountain. Entrance into the blue Mosque was free and had my shoes put on a plastic wrap before entering. This is to avoid staining and dirtying the carpets, which are used for prayers inside. It's simply amazing looking inside. The mega structure and the Arabic wordings on the walls were preserved until  this day ever since the mosque was built between 1609-1616. Many tourists from Korea, China and Japan, were there too. They too were amazed  and took as many pictures as possible.
The alley leading to my hotel which is on the right hand side
Karadeniz Turkish Pizza and Kebab

The alley leading to the main road with Kebab restaurants.
Came out from an alley where my hotel is located and saw this in the background
Divon Yolu Road in Sultanahmet
The German Fountain located across the Blue Mosque
Silhouette of the Blue Mosque
Entrance into Blue Mosque

Inside the grounds of the Blue Mosque
After spending an hour and a half in the Blue Mosque, It was time to head for the Haghia Sophia. Took few pictures along the way. Came across a man pushing a small cart selling Simit, a circular bread with sesame seeds. Its a popular food on the go for the Turks. It can be found almost everywhere in parks or bazaars. It's like the Turkish version of Bagels and Pretzels. The 6th century Haghia Sophia built by Justinian, was the largest ever cathedral building in the world for a thousand years. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931, when it was secularized. It was opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. Too bad i couldn't enter cause it was closed for private use i think. So i went to Topkapi Palace instead. The Topkapı Palace or in Ottoman Turkish is a palace in Istanbul, which was the official and primary residence in the city of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years (1465-1856) of their 624-year reign.
Beautiful architecture inside the mosque.
Many tourists from Korea, Japan and China

Simit bread cart
Hagia Sophia
Blue Mosque view from the park

Entrance into Topkapi Palace
View of Kadikoy
The palace itself. Need to go thru security check.
Splendid view of Sea of Marmara
The magnificent view of the Bosphurus bridge, linking Europe side of Turkey and Asian Side of Turkey

Walking in Gulhane Park
Dead leaves
Couple sitting by the fountain having a snack
The TopKapi palace is a complex made up of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. At the height of its existence as a royal residence, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people. TopKapı Palace gradually lost its importance at the end of the 17th century, as the Sultans preferred to spend more time in their new palaces along the Bosporus. The complex is guarded by officials of the ministry as well as armed guards of the Turkish military. After spending an hour in the palace, i decided to take a walk around Gulhane Park which is located next to the Palace. It is also connected to the back entrance from Kennedy Road which i must say offer one of the best views of the Sea of Marmara and The Bosphurus Bridge.

Chicken Kebab rotating and slow cooked
Delicious Chicken Kebab with carrots and lettuce relish. Just a light meal fill my tummy

At that moment, i was feeling hungry again. Maybe the breakfast was not suffice for me i think. I only had eggs, tomatoes and bread. That was enough to last me about 5 hours or so. Then i headed back towards Sultanahmet to look for a Kebab stall. Found a kebab stall and this owner introduced himself to me and asked me whether i'm from Malaysia. I said that he was close enough and told him that i'm from Singapore. He showed me the menu and i had the normal Chicken Kebab with tomato and lettuce relish. While waiting for my kebab to be ready, we chatted for a while and he told me that a few Malaysians, mostly cabin crews have been to his stall and that explains why he thought i was a Malaysian cause i look to Asiany...hehe. Chicken kebab costs me only 10 Turkish Liras and thanked the owner and his staff and off i go to the next.
University of Turkey in Istanbul

Egyptian Obelisk
Snake Column
Sultanahmet town area
Tram ride costs only 1.50 Liras per trip to any stations.
Eating while walking past few shops selling branded goods, i proceeded to the direction leading towards the University of Turkey. Nothing much going on there just people feeding birds and there was a lot of Kebab stalls nearer to the Tram station and i felt like i was beginning to suffer from Kebab syndrome, if i were to stay for a month in Istanbul. Everywhere you turn, Kebab is there right smack in your face. Well, guess i had to live with it and carry on. Kebab or no kebab, it's still food and it's Halal, so no complains. Time to head back around Sultanahmet for dinner before bed time.

Turkish tea
Sponge Baklava with sugar syrup
Waiting for food to arrive.
Served with salad, tomato relish and circle Breads.
Lamb Doner Kebab
Costs me only 45 Turkish liras
The Lamb was superb, seasoned brilliantly, soft and mist on the inside. Rice was good too. I think it was tomato rice. After having my dinner in the restaurant just a few steps away from hotel, i decided that today was enough. Gonna get some rest to wake up early the next day. Went back to hotel, charged up my phone and my digital camera and watch some TV and falling asleep in between.

       Continuation to Part 3 &4 in next post           

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