Tuesday, March 6
The free time for the MBA class was in the morning today so we got up pretty early and met a group of people to travel to the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul. First stop was the Basilica Cistern. Kat was informing us that one of the Bond movies has a scene filmed here. It was dark with a haunting music playing?! As we moved along through the cistern we realized the music was coming from the “art piece” installed at the cistern floor (a lagoon monster)! It actually made sense to have this type of music in there I must say.
Once we left the cistern, the group had plans to go to the Spice Bazaar. Kat however wanted to go see the Blue Mosque so we decided to part ways with the rest of the group and walk the short distance to the Blue Mosque, the nickname for the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. We were hassled a few times on the way in but Kat had read to ignore the people outside the mosque who are “trying to help give you a tour”. The mosque is free to visit for tourists but there is a donation stand at the visitor exit. The mosque on the outside is something to behold with all it’s minarets towering above the landscape. Once we found the visitor entrance, we found out quickly you have to remove your shoes and put them in a plastic bag. There were some women who were covering up there hair also as a requirement to go inside. However, it appeared some women were not abiding by this requirement and it didn’t appear to cause any issues while inside. Inside the mosque is very open and bare. The tile work on the walls and ceiling are amazing and distinct. The other thing that jumps out is the ceiling chandeliers that drop from the highest part of the ceiling (which is very high) to probably 15 ft above the floor. They seem really low but I’m sure they are really higher than you think. Since it was pretty cold while we were there, not having your shoes on can get cold quite quickly, so after about 10 minutes inside we left the mosque.
After leaving the mosque we walked to the sidewalk area outside the front of the mosque to visit the Hippodrome. This was where chariot races used to take place in the ancient world. We checked out the only remnants left which are two obelisks and a serpent column. After a few quick photos we were on our way. Kat and I decided to take the Metro to try and get back to the hotel. After two stops, we thought we were about to go across the Golden Horn and reach the Galata area but we learned that not all of the trains go across the Golden Horn to the next stop. The train we were on had slid into the left track and stopped, then started going back toward the Sultanahamet area. We had a good laugh about that for a minute or two. Luckily, the train was moving pretty fast so we got off and got back on another train and probably only delayed us about 2 minutes. Once we got back near Istiklal Avenue, we hiked it all the way back up the avenue, through Taksim Square and back to our hotel. Our morning adventures over, Kat ran off to her lecture.
Kat was gone from about 1:00pm – 6:00pm so I read about our travel books we had bought to get an idea on what else I wanted to see, etc… and took a nap. Since the plane ride, the late nights and walking around in the cold, I was catching a cold (lucky me!). Most of the time we were in Istanbul it was pretty cold and windy (Highs in the 40’s/Low’s in the 30’s).
Some of the crew wanted kebabs for dinner tonight so we got a recommendation from Alp (the lone Turkish student in the MBA program) to go to this place on Istiklal. A group of about 10 of us went to Bursa Kebapcisi. Since my throat was scratchy and I wasn’t that hungry I decided to stick with a plate of rice. I believe Kat ordered one of the kebab dinners. The overall consensus was the food was decent but not great. It was another cheap option though and seemed good for the value. We vowed the next night we were going to try to find a fancier place. After dinner, we wandered to a bar and hung out for a few hours chatting with the group until it was time to walk back to the hotel. On the way back to the hotel, Kat was hungry for some McDonald’s so we stopped in and got a late night burger. Anywhere in the world, you can always find a McDonald’s! Istanbul is no different…
Some photos from Day 3:
Kat and I in the Basilica Cistern
ceiling of the Blue Mosque
Kat inside the Blue Mosque
Walled Obelisk (Hippodrome)
Bakery Shop off Istiklal Avenue
McDonald’s uniform in Taksim (blue jeans with the M logo!)