I’ve lost track of how times I’ve visited İstanbul, but there’s definitely still more to see. The goal of this quick weekend trip was to visit Ferda’s brother and his wife, Bektaş and Seda, before they moved to İzmir. I think they really convinced us to come by saying we’d go out for Thai food one day, something we can’t find in Antalya. However, that didn’t happen, the reason being they live so far from the center. I certainly understand the reluctance to drive two hours for a meal, but I don’t understand why anyone would want to live in İstanbul and yet be so far from any of the things that make the city an interesting place to be. Perhaps that’s why they’ve moved to İzmir.
I did get to spend a full day in the historic center before taking a 90-minute bus ride west to Bektaş and Seda’s house. I had taken an overnight bus to İstanbul and started the day with a ferry across the Bosporus to get from the Asian side to the European side.
My first stop after breakfast was the Mevlevihanesi Müzesi where I learned about Sufiism and Mevlevi. If it sounds interesting at all, I highly recommend it. The explanations are in excellent English.
İstanbul has a number of places to visit incredible mosaics. Aya Sofya, Kariye Müzesi (Chora), and Fethiye Müzesi are all churches that were turned into mosques that are now museums which preserve mosaics as well as the buildings themselves. Those three are all must-sees in İstanbul. This time I visited the Grand Palace Mosaic Museum, preserving mosaics from a Byzantine palace. It’s easier to get to than Kariye or Fethiye, but well, since I prefer the buildings to the mosaics anyway, the Grand Palace Mosaic Museum wasn’t so interesting.
My final museum visit of the day was a very quick tour through the Islamic Science and Technology History Museum. I’d like to get back there with more time and energy. The highlight of the day, though, was the underground Basilica Cistern, the water supply for the Byzantine palaces. Uh, wow, pretty incredible, imagine over 300 columns supporting the roof for a storage area for over 100,000 tons of water! I’m sure you can’t so here are the photos. Don’t forget, this thing was built 1500 years ago.
We may have missed out on the Thai food, but we did have a great bbq one evening, and, anyway, I’m sure the Turks do a much better patlıcan kebabı than pad thai.