Travelogue from Istanbul

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I am back from my trip to Istanbul. I really wanted to stay, and at some point I definitely want to return. 

We flew with Pegasus Airlines. It was cheap, and we arrived in Sabiha Gökçen Airport. After a trip with bus, we were able to chech in at our hotel, The Golden Crown.  It is a nice hotel with a great location. You are able to walk to Hagia Sophia, The Sultan Ahmed Mosque,The Basilica Cistern, The Hippodrome of Constantinople, The Great Palace Mosaic Museum and The Grand Bazar.

We spend the day looking at the surrounding area and The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, as we all were very tired from being awake all night. We went to the Grand Bazaar before dinner. The dinner was very nice, Tyrkish pancakes, gözelme (?).

The next day we went toThe Hippodrome of Constantinople, The Serpent Column (the tripod from the Temple of Apollo in Delphi) and the obelisks. After seeing these old monuments we went to the Basilica Cistern. It was a very impressive place, unlike anything I has ever seen! It is wet and slippery, so do wear flat shoes!  som var meget imponerende.
We then went to the Spice Bazaar, which is smaller than the Grand Bazaar. There are fewer people which makes is a nicer place according to me. After tasting the Tyrkish specialities in the Spice Bazaar we crossed town to The Galata Tower and from there to a lecture at the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul.

Çemberlitaş

We split up and we were a few that ended the evening by the Çemberlitaş, a column erected by  Constantine the Great in 330, when he proclaimed Constantinople to be the new Rome.

Hagia Sophia was the first place we went the next day. It is just as impressive as everybody says. Do go! It is very interesseting to see the decor and the changes made went the building became a mosque. After Hagia Sophia we went sailing on Bosporus. The city is very beautiful from the water, and I suggest you go even though the boats are small. Some of us went to the Archeological Museum afterwards. It is has a nice size for a museum, since you are just about the get tired when you leave the museum.

Galata Bridge

The next day we went to Koç University, a private university. It was quite a different experience from the University of Copenhagen, which we represented! On campus there were a bank, a post office, several cafés, an ice rink and a fitness center! The students newer had to leave.
Back again some of us went to try a Hamam. It was a nice experience once I got use to the idea of somebody else washing, scrubbing and massaging you whilst you are in underwear! After the wash you can enjoy the different water bassins and get other kinds of massage.

Topkapi

Friday was the day for  the impressive Topkapı palace, the residence of the Sultan until 1856. Even tough it was off season, there we quite a few tourists. It was the most expensive place we visited, but it is a must see. We chose to pay extra to see the harem, and I think it was worth the money. It shows to private aspect of palace life and there are fewer tourists.
Afterwards we returned to our hotel, where Pola Rojan, a correspondent for the Danish newspaper Jyllandsposten, told us about the political situation in Tyrkey. It was very interesting!
We all went out to dinner together. We wanted to try Iskender Kebab (Iskender is the Tyrkish word for Alexander).

Saturday we spent in Balat, the old Greek part of the city. It is mostly romani, who live here now. den gamle græske bydel, hvor der nu  nærmest kun bor romaer. The Ecumenical Patriarchate still is in this part of the city, so we went looking at the churches. The most interesting were the Bulgarian St. Stephen Church, made out of iron (!), and the Chora Church, which is very very beautiful and has so many impressive mosaics! Some of us couldn’t get enough of the mosaics and we to the Great Palace Mosaic Museum afterwards. The museum is build around a huge floor mosaic from the emperors palace in Constantinople.

Some of the floor mosaic

We had some time before flying home on the last day, so we had time to our selves. I went with a small group to see a modern side of Istanbul at Istanbul Modern and Pera Museum. I recommend both museums, but especially Pera Museum as I found it interesting to see paintings of the development of Istanbul comparing to what I had seen on this trip.

Istanbul is one of the cleanest cities I have visited. I like the atmosphere of the city. I always felt safe and everybody was very polite and eager to help. I really want to return and to see more of Turkey!

Read my travelogue from Budapest and my tips and tricks to Zagreb, Athens and Iceland 

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