Wandering around Sultanahmet after seeing the incredible sights of the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and the Hippodrome had created a big appetite for myself.
After walking past the Grand Bazaar I found a narrow street full of restaurants and was welcomed to one restaurant by an over enthusiastic restaurant worker who insisted I eat here.
When in Istanbul it would be rude NOT to eat a kebap, just a stereotypical tourist thing to do.
In the UK when one thinks of a kebap, one pictures a greasy unidentified meat served in fast food joints after a drunken night out.
Well in Istanbul I got presented with a very tasty kebap served with rice, tomatoes and chips. It was fit to be a proper meal.
One peculiarity that I noticed amongst Turkish cuisine is the amount of bread that is eaten at each meal. For a solo traveler I was given a huge basket of fresh bread! Given I was eating rice + potatoes I couldn’t bring myself to have a carbohydrate party.
A tip for anyone visiting Istanbul is to visit restaurants where the locals are likely to eat. Avoiding the tourist hotspots means better prices.
Grand Bazaar (Kapalicarsi)
After that food stop I ventured back up the hill and walked into the Grand Bazaar.As soon as I stepped into the bazaar I was taken aback by the sheer volume of people within this enclosed market.
The Bazaar was heaving with tourists, locals and shops eager to sell baklava’s, glass lamps, ceramics, electronics, shisha equipment etc etc.
One of the shop attendants used flattery to get me inside his establishment, I couldn’t be rude once he complimented by “Gym physique”. Inside the shop was full of Turkish delights, fresh herbs, spices and colourful fruits. Amongst the free samples thrust towards me was a Turkish delight filled with Nutella and coconut that was divine!
When I booked this trip the British Airways app kept displaying pictures of the Turkish glass lamps which are full of colour and prettiness. So I found similar lamps and ripped off that picture for my own Instagram account. The colour and vivid brightness of the lamps were breathtaking, I rarely appreciate such things in life but here I was taken aback by the above. Sultanahmet at nightIn the evening I was meeting an Instagram friend from London who basically copied my trip idea back at Sultanahmet.As this trip fell on my actual birthday we headed off to a restaurant to celebrate.
The Hagia Sophia and The Blue Mosque are illuminated at night which changes the dynamic of the building to make them even more spectacular in the night sky.I would recommend visiting both during the day and then once the sun sets.We headed to a restaurant called Pierre Loti Roof Bar where a table on the 5th floor terrace was waiting.
The terrace gave good views towards Sultanahmet and the Asian side of Istanbul where the bridge was glimmering under the lights shining.Despite the good views the restaurant service could be improved, after waiting 35 minutes to order, it took a further 45 minutes for the food to be served.
When it did arrive it was stone cold. Not impressed. At least there was live entertainment that kept the spirits high.After finally getting warm food and enjoying the musical delights of Sinatra, Tom Jones, Pavarotti from the house band it was time to say goodbye and head back to the hotel.
Back to the hotel
The next day was just a day to relax and unwind before heading back to Istanbul Airport to head home to London.
The Hilton Garden Inn had provided a free breakfast as a birthday freebie so I indulged at the omelette station. As a side note Turkish instant coffee is so much better than the stuff served back in the UK.Istanbul AirportHaving checked in online I dropped my bags at the check in desk via the priority line and headed through security to the lounge.With a quick detour to get duty free goodies for my colleagues and parents I was sat in the lounge where I realised I did not eat any birthday cake.
As there isn’t a British Airways lounge in Istanbul anymore the check in staff provided me with a voucher for the Millennium Lounge.The only good point about the lounge was the Tiramisu served which doubled as my belated birthday cake.And with the slice of cake my 24 hours in Istanbul were over. A weekend that started back at 5am in Heathrow the day previous.It was time to board and head home to London with 160 Tier Points in my account and another year older.Travel With HPlease feel free to leave a comment and get in touch!