December 24, 2011

Turkey : Istanbul (part 5)

Continuation from here ...

I'm gonna fly back to KL today. T___T
Home is where the heart is but I haven't finished exploring Istanbul, let alone Turkey, so I didn't wanna go back!!
After traipsing Turkey for 10 days, it was finally time to leave. I wish I could stay longer to explore more of the country but my workload didn't permit me to leave the office for so long.
So I started the day early. I thought of going to Taksim, walking around the area that I saw from the Bosphorus cruise. But I guessed it would take a lot of time to really cover everything so I diverted to my next option, walking around Sultanahmet area.
The first stop was the Sultanahmet Camii or popularly known as the Blue Mosque. The mosque is actually located very close to Hagia Sophia but I skipped it earlier as my sister already visited the mosque prior to my arrival. Plus, the mosque is closed during the prayer times so I guessed the best time to visit it was early in the morning.
gateway to the courtyard
It is said that the west entrance to the mosque is more beautiful but visitors are required to enter through the north entrance.

ablution area
Okay so the mosque is not blue on the outside, it is grey. If you wonder why the mosque is nicknamed the Blue Mosque, it is because of these beautiful blue Iznik tiles decorating the interior.
prayer hall
the humongous pillar inside the prayer hall
As you're visiting a holy place, it is advisable to dress modestly and women should cover their heads. Also, you need to take off your shoes before entering the mosque but they provide plastic bag for you to carry along your shoes inside as you'll exit from a different door.
What's unique about this mosque is its 6 minarets but sadly, I couldn't capture all those 6 minarets in a photo. According to some sources, the 6 minarets caused quite a stir as Masjidil Haram in Mecca also had 6 minarets. The problem then was solved when Sultan Ahmet 1, the sultan who commissioned the mosque, sent his architect to Mecca to add a seventh minaret.


The mosque is open everyday.
Visiting hours are from 9:00 to 18:00 except during prayer times and Friday prayer.
Entrance fee is free of charge. 
Direction: Take Zeytinburnu-Kabataş Tram Line (T1) and stop at Sultanahmet.
Out from the mosque, I continued my walk along the pavewalk passing through shops and restaurants.

While walking and looking around, an old local man I passed by greeted me. He asked me where was I from, blablabla..  Being a polite young lady *cough cough*, I answered him nicely. One question led to another and soon, he offered to show me around. I was actually hesitating cos I don't really trust men, somemore a stranger, whenever I walk alone.

Just before I met him, a young guy who helped me take my pictures also offered to show me around but I turned him down. But I thought a local knows more about the town and he's a grandpa so he's not a threat. If he tried to do something bad to me I would just punch and kick him and then run. Easy eh?
So we walked together. He asked me to call him Dede, which is what Turkish people call their grandfather. He's actually a retiree lecturer from a nearby college so he always come to the area to meet his old friends and just go sightseeing to kill the time. 
We walked passed Sirkeci Train Station so he brought me in. This is where the train from Bulgaria, Romania and some other long distance destinations arrived.

There's a small museum inside the station exhibiting the history of the train station, some old train stuffs and other cultural objects.

The museum is open everyday except Sunday, Monday and national days.
Entrance fee is free of charge. 
Direction: Take Zeytinburnu-Kabataş Tram Line (T1) and stop at Sirkeci.
We then continued walking to Eminonu and there, in front of me, was the gorgeous view of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus.

Galata Tower on a clear day

Galata Bridge  
Gahhhhhhhhh!!!! I should've taken the cruise today. T_T
But there's no time to sulk so I just enjoyed the view.
Overlooking the Golden Horn at the end of Galata Bridge, is this beautiful Yeni Camii or New Mosque.

From afar, I think it looked almost similar to the Blue Mosque. There's a square in front of the mosque, and from this square you can see the entrance of the Spice Bazaar.

Though the name is Spice Bazaar, they don't only sell spices here.
In this bazaar you can find Turkish delights, different kind of teas, dried fruits, nuts, gifts etc.
dried tea leaves

different kind of teas


The bazaar is open everyday except Sunday and public holidays.
Opening hours are from 9:00 to 19:00.
Direction: Take Zeytinburnu-Kabataş Tram Line (T1) and stop at Eminonu.
Dede asked me whether or not I wanted to buy any souvenirs for my family and friends back home. I told him I wanted to buy some Turkish Delights so he brought me to his friend's shop. Of course I got discount from the shop owner thanks to him. :D
Dede and I
Done with some souvenir shopping, it was time to part ways with Dede. He was happy chitchatting with his friends there so I told him to stay and I would be fine on my own. He then gave me his evil eye charm and asked me to take care of myself. 

 evil eye

In Turkey you can find evil eye everywhere cos it is one of the most common and famous superstition there. The Turkish people hang it on the wall in their houses and shops, women wear it as bracelet, necklace, earrings etc. They believe that this blue eye keeps evils and bad luck away.
So when Dede gave me his charm I was so touched I almost cried. It meant that he really cared about me. I had a great time with him as he treated me like his granddaughter. Before we parted, he asked me to write him a letter and posted the pictures that we took together which up till now, I never did. Cos he never gave me his address. :|
My wandering then brought me to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest covered markets in the world. 
It is very large that you can get lost in it. Seriously. Because I did. How can you not when there is more than 58 streets inside there? It can become a confusing maze, especially when the shops look all the same. It was kinda hard to remember where did you turn and how to go back to that one particular shop. I guess you can forget it if you go with your friends, get separated while shopping and say, "See you at this shop.", "Meet you at blablabla...". Chances are, you will not find them.

Anyway, the range of products here will overwhelm you. Luckily the bazaar is divided into regions based on the main goods they sell; jewelry in one area, carpets in one area, leather goods in one area etc. It was interesting to walk around and see the items on display but I didn't buy anything here. Enough with shopping already!

drinking fountain

The Grand Bazaar has four main gates and a number of small gates so yeah, finding your way out is a problem too. I needed to ask the police how to go to the gate I came in. #truestory
police screening people entering the bazaar

The bazaar is open everyday except Sunday and public holidays.
Opening hours are from 9:00 to 19:00.
Direction: Take Zeytinburnu-Kabataş Tram Line (T1) and stop at Beyazit, Universite or Sirkeci.

I went back to the hotel after having late lunch at a nearby restaurant. It was time to head to the airport. 

I will definitely be back. Though not so soon la.


Ernie Khairina said...

So touching dede. please send him the pic!! Haha

rara said...

ernie: dia tak bagi i address. dia lupa. :(