Turkey: A Weekend in Istanbul
Istanbul is a booming metropolis, extended across the Bosphorus Strait, dividing Europe and Asia. My visit there may have been short but it was one of the best trips I’ve ever had. As I was traveling on a budget, I chose to stay at Büyük Londra Hotel, formerly known as the Grand Hotel des Londres when at the peak of its popularity in the late-Ottoman. It was an ideal stay, as it gave an air of fin de siècle.
My first meal was at Khorasani, its specialty being Turkish food. The varieties of dishes they offer are grilled to perfection over charcoal and served with great ovals of thin, unleavened bread. The Grand Bazar is on the same street as Khorasani – Divan Yolu, so I headed there after lunch. Known as the world’s oldest bazaar, it has about four thousand shops. It was a joy to explore with its friendly people and labyrinth of hallways. The shops were heaped with Turkish rugs, colorful lanterns, ceramic dishes,
The Grand Bazar is on the same street as Khorasani – Divan Yolu, so I headed there after lunch. Known as the world’s oldest bazaar, it has about four thousand shops. It was a joy to explore with its friendly people and labyrinth of hallways. The shops were heaped with Turkish rugs, colorful lanterns, ceramic dishes, clothes, and antiques.
My next stop was the Topkapi Palace, a large museum which served as the Ottoman sultans’ main residence and administrative headquarters in the 15th century. The architecture of the palace was a unique blend of Islamic features and Neo-classical styling. The scale-models displayed there to reveal the size and intricacy of the whole palace. The Harem was the most legendary of all places. This maze-like interior contains 400 rooms, only some open to visitors. The beautifully-designed rooms contradict the struggles that took place there.
After the day’s sightseeing, I took a ten-minute walk to Giritli, a whitewash walled garden serving Mediterranean and Aegean cuisine.
The next day, I hopped aboard a ferry for a cruise up the Bosphorus to a fishing village called Sariyer. There wasn’t anything outstanding to see there, but it had a typical Turkish atmosphere and activity, its specialty being sea food. After lunch, I headed over to Sadberk Han?m Museum, on the shore road of Bosphorus, south of Sariyer. Funded by the Koç family, the museum contains the family’s heirloom collection of Ottoman art and furnishing. It is a gem of an institution, established in an old waterfront villa and new museum buildings.
I made my trip back to the hotel, hating the fact that I had to leave the next day. I fell in love with Istanbul. This is a city that stays in your heart long after you leave.
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