This is the first time that I travelled solo. Most of the times I am with my family when visiting different countries. I decided to give solo travel a try because I am the type of person who loves to be alone. I remembered when I was a student, I used to be in the travel section of my favorite bookstore and just reading about different countries. Now, I am safe to say that I am living my dream.
First of all, Turkish airlines, hands down, it’s the most delicious airplane food I have ever tasted (I have weird fascination with airplane food). So I arrived in Istanbul around 10:30. I grabbed a taxi and he is not familiar with my hotel. I was so nervous because it was the first time I booked a hotel without a travel agent. In my mind, I was like what if that hotel never even existed and I paid for it already. We got a little bit lost but we found it. Thank God. When I checked-in, I made a booking error. I booked for two persons! My room has 2 beds and double everything.
Anyways, the hotel receptionist was really nice and she gave me tips on where to go. The first on my list was Basilica Cistern.
According to wikipedia:
The Basilica Cistern (Turkish: Yerebatan Sarayı – “Sunken Palace”, or Yerebatan Sarnıcı – “Sunken Cistern”), is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul (that is formerly Constantinople), Turkey. The cistern, located 500 feet (150 m) southwest of the Hagia Sophia on the historical peninsula of Sarayburnu, was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.
I was amazed by the place. It was so mysterious and dark. There were lots of fishes and coins. I was a little frustrated because my GoPro can not take videos properly in low light conditions. I spend my time there looking at one of the columns with Medusa sculpted on it. I read that it is unknown how did it got there.
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After that, I just crossed the street and I reached the palace of the seven kingdoms… Ha! Kidding! Hagia Sophia looked like a scene from Game of Thrones (one of my favorite TV shows). If I’m amazed in Cistern, my jaw dropped the first time I stepped inside Hagia Sophia. It was a mix of different religions in one place. It started as Greek Orthodox cathedral, then become Roman Catholic church, converted into a Muslim mosque and now, it is a beautiful museum.
After the Hagia Sophia, I took a break and tried Turkish Simit. According to timeout.com it is a freshly baked, molasses-dipped and sesame-crusted dough. To be honest, I am not a big fan of it.
I walked around the used to be Hippodrome of Constantipole after visiting the mosque. I saw very interesting things like the walled Obelisk. I would like to visit the Topkapi Palace but it is getting late already. I ended the day by consuming 1.5 hours searching for a nice restaurant that will serve me traditional Turkish cuisine. I ended up trying the Turkish meat Iskender.
According to wiki:
Also, I ordered red wine because I love Olivia Pope (haha!). Istanbul is so beautiful that you can post every corners of it on Instagram. It is now 7:14am and I will go and have some breakfast. I am excited where to go next for my second day here in Turkey.