August 29-31, 2014
8/29/14 - 8/31/14 88 °F
- ****Sorry guys, we are sad to report that our back up hard drive crashed when we came back to Orlando in Sept/October and have lost a lot of photos from the rest of Germany, as well as Dubai and Nepal so we are posting any photos that we could recover from our iPhone and/or GoPro *****
Au Feiderschein Germany! Hello Turkey! The minute we arrived in Istanbul I knew we were in for a treat. The sounds, the smells, the colors and of course the friendly people! We immediately felt the fast moving energy of the city and couldn’t wait to explore. . . the only downside was all the crowds on the trains because of peak tourist season.
We hopped on the train into town and decided to stay in Sirkeci “the tourist quarter” walking distance to most of the famous historical sites and after circling a few blocks we arrived at the Yeni Hotel. The location is great, they have a working A/C and internet but there’s only one shower on each floor!?!? Can you believe that, ten rooms one shower?
We were happy to get some local recommendations and headed out. First stop: Kebabs! Hocoposa street is lined with kebab shops but we must say that by the end of our time in Istanbul the best place was still the first one we tried! Kardesler kebab . . . . pure deliciousness, fresh bread and veggies and the most flavorful meats. While eating we met a lovely family from Turkey now living in Florence Italy. Murat Guezzler, his wife Cris and their adorable daughter Vitorria. Murat’s uncle owns the shop which has been around since—— so he helped us pick out some deliciousness. . their white bean stew is famous and runs out quick and the kebab with yogurt was to die for! We had fun talking with them and hope to meet again on their trip to California and Hollywood!
Ruby is a sucker for massages and tries to get one in every country we visit. . . so we went in search of a hamam (Turkish bathhouse). There are two famous ones in the Sultanhamet area but they are very expensive ($70+ for use of the facilities and a 30 min oil massage) we were looking for something with a little more local flare and of course affordable. The receptionist at Yeni recommended Mihrimah Sultan Hamam and we were off on another mission. This time we took the local bus to the Edinnekapi area and on the way we discovered the remains of an old city wall.
We also found the local hamam she had recommended . . . oh boy, first Ruby and I accidentally walked into the wrong entrance (the mens side) and got all kinds of stares and then when we finally made it to the women’s side Ruby could hear blaringly loud Turkish music and went in to find women smoking cigarettes in their bras and panties while dancing in circles. . . uh not exactly the relaxing experience she had imagined so we gave up on the local bathhouse idea!
Instead Ruby opted for Cemberlitas bathhouse, a bit expensive at $70+ for the bathhouse and massage experience. . . the brochure makes it look amazing! It’s not quite as polished as it looks in their ads but it is still quite impressive. It’s hundreds of years old and it’s easy to imagine why a sultan would come up with the idea of a bathhouse for his harem of women. . . just picture a huge room filled with scantily clad women being washed down with soapy bubbles by other scantily clad women . . yup that’s right straight out of any man’s fantasy. Of course due to past experiences I opted to skip the men’s version. . .and after that description from Ruby I have absolutely no regrets about that decision!
In the evening we enjoyed the stunning views of fireworks over the city from the panoramic deck over the Bosphorous River at the rooftop Golden Horn Sirkeci Hotel. The only thing that would have made it more perfect is if they served alcohol! We settled for a delicious glass of turkish tea and baklava instead.
We spent the next couple of days exploring the beautiful Sultanahmet area. This city is one of the oldest in history and it's hard to believe that some of these buildings are still standing after all these thousands of years. We visited the Hagia Sophia which is incredible. . can’t believe it has been rebuilt at least 3 times already?! The Blue Mosque is a site to behold (sorry we don’t have any recovered photos of it)! Bascially we drank Turkish tea and sat in cafes enjoying the scenery passing us by.
On our last day in Istanbul we headed over to the Taksim area via tram and walked down the cable car street of Istikal Caddesi. At the end of it, we went up to the Galata tower for the panoramic views of old Istanbul from across the water. . WOW! Quite an impressive city, never have I seen so many gorgeous mosques in such a small space.
We wanted to visit Cappadochia next and while sitting in traffic I just keep thinking “how did Ruby talk me into another night bus (Suha bus $37 pp)?” There was a crying baby most of the night (AKA Ruby birth control) that wasn’t too helpful with our desire to sleep, but we did manage to get some good rest anyway.