Let’s start by laying down today’s soundtrack:
The few hours that we had here were only enough for a taste of this sparkling city.
We stashed the suitcase in an airport locker and boarded the metro. At Yusufpasha we transferred to a tram that took us directly to Sultanahmet plaza, where some of the city’s most famous attractions are located.
First on my list was the Hagia Sophia. Built in 537 (yes, that number is correct), it was the basilica for the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople until it was converted into an imperial mosque in 1453. It was secularized in 1931 and is now a museum. We couldn’t fully appreciate the vast interior space on this visit as there is currently a gigantic scaffolding structure in place for restoring the ceiling decoration, but that was pretty impressive in itself.
Next we walked out to a neighborhood near the Bosphorus
where we had a scrumptious döner kebab lunch.
Walking back toward Sultanahmet we passed many sweet shops,
which inspired us to stop for an ice cream.
Then we strolled through the fanciful Gülhane Park,
making it to the Blue Mosque (1616) just before closing time.
There was so much that we didn’t have time for on this trip – Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, and the Basilica Cistern, just for starters – but fortunately for us Istanbul is less than two hours away by air, so we will be able to return for another go.