It is day 3 for me in Turkey. Each I’m loving the destination more. I am in Istanbul staying at the Marmara Taksim Hotel. Marmara Hotels are Turkish owned hotels with 5 locations in Turkey and one in Manhattan, NYC. While the hotels cater to executives, it is very comfortable for the leisure traveler. Taksim, which means center of city is exactly that. We are centrally located. Wednesday was our day of arrival and we did a hotel site inspection and then dinner. I missed the hotel tour because of my late arrival. I did join them for dinner at the hotels restaurant Panorama. As its name suggests it offers excellent panoramic views of the city, Bosphorus and Asia. At night, actually around 1am the city police are assisted by dogs to patrol the streets. It’s an interesting sight to see. Did I mention that this hotel has Starbucks? You know I’m a Starbucks fan and so I was extremely happy about that.
Thursday, September 30th we had a full day of touring visiting sights significant to the history of Istanbul and Turkey. We started with monuments dating back to the Roman City of Constinapolis. Constantine rules from 330 AD to 1453 until Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror who was 29 years old began to rule. The Roman Empire was a pagan society but Constantine’s mother Helena was a believer of Christianity. Sultan Mehmet brought Islam to Turkey. In 1923 came the Foundation of Turkish Republic. During that time Ataturk bought a more secular way of thinking and changed the alphabet to the Latin alphabet. His full name was Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. We visited the Hippodrome, the heart of Byzantine Istanbul whee chariot races and other social events were held. We also visited Haghia Sophia, the Great Cathedral of Constantinople, which later became the Imperial Mosque of Ottoman and is now a museum. another historical site the Blue Mosque. The Blue Mosque is rich in color with blue, red and Green Iznik tiles that wee specially produced for the Ottoman Palaces and Mosques.
We had lunch at a sea side restaurant located in the Best Western. A quaint place with good food. We finished our touring of the Topkapi Palace, the first residential and administrative Palace of Ottoman Empire. We finished our day with dinner at Mikla Restaurant at the Marmara Pera hotel. I have to say that I was impressed. The menu was excellent and the Turkish wine was too. The wine was a Cabernet and Merlot. I had the prosciutto with fig and blue cheese. These were fresh figs. For my entree I had the “24 hour Trakya Kivircik” Lamb shoulder with a pomegranate molasses. The most tender and tasty lamb I’ve ever had.
On Friday, October 1st we visited Esma Sultan, a historical site used for special events.
Later in the afternoon, we went shopping at the Grand Bazaar. 3000 stalls with everything from trinkets to fine jewelry. I have to say it was a bit overwhelming. You should know what you want to buy and have an idea of price you want to pay. There are so many options and often little to decide. I found some wonderful silver jewelry. I suggest you pick a landmark so that you know where to go when you are ready. It’s easy to get lost.
This evening after the show, we headed to the Bosphorus to board a private yacht. We cruised through the Bosphorus and had drinks and dinner. The views are gorgeous.
Well, it’s 2:15am and I have to get up @ 5am for our 6pm departure to Izmir.