My first morning in Istanbul, I made my way to the hotel’s rooftop terrace for breakfast. I came out the door and was greeted by the sight of the Blue Mosque to my right. I couldn’t help it, I laughed. The Blue Mosque is such an imposing structure and there it was, the rising sunlight illuminating it minute by minute. Alhamdulilah for being here.
Our hotel is in the Sultanahmet area, part of the “Old City”, which is walking distance to a lot of the usual suspects when it comes to tourist attractions – the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofia, Topkapi Palace to name a few.
In the afternoon of our first day after hitting up the Aya Sofia, the Basilica Cistern, and the Blue Mosque, my friend and I went to Taksim Square and made our way down Istiklal Street. These places are in the Beyoglu district, which is meant to be more cosmopolitan. Istiklal Street was flooded with people who were going to the shops and restaurants on the street, or just walking around like us. It had a much different feel to Sultanahmet.
Later that night, we were walking by some cafes and restaurants by our hotel, each of which had someone stationed outside of their establishments to convince you to eat at their place. At one such cafe, we struck up a friendly conversation with the owner, talking about what we had done that day. He was quite proud of his city but when we mentioned we went to Istiklal Street, a look of disdain came across his face: “I don’t even consider that Istanbul,” he said. His point was that with places like the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofia, nothing can really compare. His point of view is really conservative- he also has a framed picture of himself with the Prime Minister in his cafe and he said how much he liked him so that could also reflect his perspective on Istiklal – but when it comes to sights, he has a point. Despite the fact that all of Istanbul has been pretty cool and that Sultanahmet is quite touristy, there is a certain charm of this area that makes me incredibly appreciative of being able to stay here.
Once again, Alhamdulilah:)
Note: Short post for now and I’m most definitely not against the newer part of the city. More on that later…