Journey to The Grand Bazaar and other Turkish Attractions
The Grand Bazaar offers you a wonderful opportunity to exercise your bargaining skills and at times you can strike good deals if you bargain aggressively.It is easy to get lost in the bazaar and therefore you need to keep tab of where exactly you entered from, in order to find your way out from the correct route.
After a long day we once again moved to Taksim to enjoy some Turkish cuisine. Istanbul as a city has a great choice of international cuisine and you will find a couple of Indian restaurants as well. However it is worth trying the kebab houses and the fish restaurants especially on the shores of the Bosphorus. There are several kinds of kebabs you could try out including the doner kebab which is the roast sliced meat, Adana which is the minced meat on a skewer, sis which is cubes of meat and Bursa which is the doner meat with tomato sauce and yoghurt on bread.Vegetarians can find stuffed vegetables.
Turkish tea, especially the apple flavored tea is a great delight too and if you want to be extra adventurous you can try Turkey’s national drink – raki which tastes like anise, is transparent and turns cloudy on adding water.
The best way to enjoy raki (also known as “Lion’s Milk”), is to drink it cold in thin, cylindrical glasses. One can drink it straight or with water, soda, or mineral water.To accompany raki, the overwhelming favourite amongst the Turks is the combination of melon and feta-cheese.
The local beer Efes is very popular indeed and probably derives its name from Ephesus- the most famous Roman site in Turkey.You can also try out a Turkish Coffee which is drunk slowly and is usually served with a glass of cold water (to freshen the mouth before tasting the coffee), though sometimes, especially after dinner, with a small glass of mint or liqueur
For breakfast the Turkish love to have feta-like cheese, olives, tomatoes, honey, bread and tea. At times they have watermelon and eggs too. One of the finest restaurants to try excellent Turkish cuisine is located in the Spice Bazaar called Pandeli. You could combine a visit to Spice Bazaar along with lunch at Pandeli.
The following day started with a visit to the Spice Bazaar and the Hagia Sophia Museum and later we were to do the historic Bosphorus cruise before flying from Istanbul to Kayseri to explore the region of Central Anatolia and specifically Cappadocia.
Hagia Sophia which stands for Church of Holy Wisdom was built in 537 AD and is one of the world’s greatest architectural achievements. It was built by Constantine the Great and later reconstructed by Emperor Justinian. After 916 years as a church, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque in 1453, shortly after the conquest by the Ottomans. Apart from whitewashing the paintings and mosaics and removing the Christian icons and statues, the Turks left Hagia Sophia untouched. They committed no acts of destruction as the eighth and ninth century Christian iconoclasts had done. In 1935 the church was transformed into a museum.
In the upper galleries known as the gynaceum, there are several mosaic panels representing several royalties including Emperor Alexander, the Empress Zoë and her third husband Constantine IX. Another indication of reverence in which the Turks held Haghia Sophia is the collection of royal tombs in the precinct. The tombs of Mustafa I, Sultan Ibrahim, Selim II, Murat III and Mehmet III are all worth visiting.
After a brief halt at the Hagia Sophia, our next stop was at the Spice Bazaar. Also known as the Egyptian Bazaar, it is the second largest covered shopping complex in Istanbul after the Grand Bazaar. The Spice Bazaar or Market was built in 1660 as part of the New Mosque Complex and has been associated with the sale of spices although you may find many souvenir items including the famous and popular “Evil Eye” or the NazarBoncuk (pronounced as “bon-dschuk”).
You find a wide range of selection of dry fruits as well as Turkish deserts including the world famous Baklava. In short the Spice Bazaar is a must stop place for shopaholics as well as those who want to carry home memories of this wonderful country.
We quickly moved on thereafter to be part of the Bosphorus Cruise taking you from one continent to another which makes the city of Istanbul unique. Bosphorus is a strait which forms the boundary between the Europeanpart of Turkey to the Asian part also known as Anatolia. The Bosphorus is the narrowest strait used for international navigation and connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. We took a 90 minute cruise which offered us excellent vantage points to view some of the citiesfinest landmarks including the Fortress of Europe which was built by Mehmet II in 1452, the 19th Century Baroque style Dolmabahce Palace and many other palaces as well as houses of some of the rich and famous across the shore of the Bosphorus Strait. We got an excellent view of the Bosphorus Bridge which connects the two continents and runs across the strait.
The Bosphorus Bridge, built in 1973, is world’s ninth longest suspension bridge and is one of the most photographed places when on the Bosphorus cruise. There is a second bridge which is north of the first bridge which runs across the Bosphorus and was built in 1988. It is known as the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.