For the Summer 2013 we decided to make a short trip to Turkey. The trip was in 2 parts, the first days we stayed in Istanbul and then we travel to the region of Cappadocia.
It started well when we were relocated in the plane to first class! We traveled with Turkish airlines and we got the first taste of the Turkish cuisine that was one of the things we most like from this visit. In Istanbul we stayed in the historical center close to the traditional tourist attractions. There are many, several Mosques to visit and at the end is all about the same, but one should really visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and we like the Süleymaniye Mosque. A good thing about our trip was that it was Ramadan time, then we could enjoy a more traditional environment. Apart from the religious ceremonies, there were many activities in the main squares and parks around the Mosques. After the sunset, the families gathered together to have dinner, most of times outside. After a couple of days we decided to have dinner at the same time so we shared these moments with them, and we really did it. By chance, we passed by a small local restaurant that was full of people. It was run by a family where the father was in the kitchen and the 3 daughter were serving the food. They saw our interest, or our hunger, and they moved some people to free a table for us so we felt like we should have dinner there. The Menu was full Turkish and the communication was not the best, but we managed to understand what we were ordering. The food was just great and it felt like if we were eating at their home.
We also visited the Topkapı palace, a place with all the heritage of the Ottoman Empire. what was before the residence for sultans is nowadays a museum with some relics, treasures and jewelry and some really impressive, even difficult to believe, items like a tooth and a piece of hair from the bear of Muhammad or the staff of Mosses really impressive. Anyway, if you had the privilege to play Prince of Persia 2 by Jordan Mechner in the old good PC-Games times this place will bring you good memories. Later we went to the shore of the Bosphorus strait, and we get into a boat at sunset time. On the boat, we could see from the distance both sides of Istanbul known as the European and the Asian side.
Next morning we visited the Galata district. We went there easily by local transportation. In this side of the city one can visit the Galata Tower, the Dolmabahçe Palace that was closed, the Taksim square and the Istiklal Street. Back in the old town, we went to the Grand Bazaar. It is a very huge market, you can find every kind of things in it and a good price. We got some traditional Turkish bad towels and tried different kinds of sweets. We give a look to local crafts, carpets, lamps, spices and waterpipes or shishas. We tried the shisha near the Old Bazaar, not so far from the Blue Mosque, a new and different experience. The Basilica cistern is also located close the Old Bazaar. It is a short visit, but if you are passing by, it worth stopping to give a look to it.
One of the best activities we did in Istanbul was the Hamami or Turkish bath. It was in a very old Hamami from the XVII century and it included steam bath, massage and tea. It was also good because we were really tired from walking around and we needed a rest, the best of it was that it was located near the familiar restaurant where we were 2 days before. So at the end of the bath, after the sunset we join the family in the dinner/celebration, this time we had more contact with them and we share the food with them. That was actually the last night in Istanbul, having more time it would have been nice to visit more from the Asian side of Istanbul. Next morning we would be flying to Kayseri Cappadocia