Day 9: Istanbul, Turkey – This was a day of sightseeing at some of the most famous attractions in Istanbul that I’ve wanted to visit my entire life including the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. And the read highlight of the day for me was the incredible Turkish food, especially the kebabs.
Museum Pass Istanbul – 85 TRY ($28.88) – Before getting started with the things we did in this video, I purchased a Museum Pass for Istanbul, which granted me access to a few of the attractions without having to stand in line. I’m not sure if I really saved much money, but it did save time.
2:00 Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) – Our first stop of the day in this attractions in Istanbul video was the Sultan Ahmet Camii, which is commonly known as the Blue Mosque due to its blue tiles on the inside. We actually arrived a little too early in the morning, so they were not open yet, so we walked around the Hippodrome of Constantinople for a few minutes. When the Blue Mosque opened, we went inside. Both inside and outside are incredible to see.
5:37 Hagia Sophia – One of the most famous pieces of architecture in all of Istanbul and one of the most famous attractions is Hagia Sophia. It started off as a church, later became a mosque, and now it’s an official museum. After entering, you can walk around the main room, but the highlight of visiting Hagia Sophia for me was walking up to the upper galleries for some amazing views from above.
8:24 Topkapi Palace – Finally, one more of the most famous attractions in Istanbul, and located right in the same area as Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque is Topkapi Palace, which was an Ottoman Palace. You can walk around the gardens and palace structures, which are now galleries. I especially enjoyed the Imperial Harem, which was a section of the palace reserved for women, and the best preserved area of the palace.
11:25 Sehzade Erzurum Cag Kebab (Şehzade Cağ Kebap) – There are many different types of Turkish food, and cag kebab is a type of kebab from Erzurum in Eastern Turkey. According some some men I met while eating the amazing kebabs, this is the best restaurant for cag kebab in all of Istanbul. The type of kebab is made from lamb, and instead of being on a vertical skewer like other types of kebabs, it’s grilled on a horizontal skewer. The meat is cooked with wood fire, and slice off onto smaller skewers to be served. If you get a chance to try cag kebab, it’s an absolutely stunning Turkish food. The entire meal was delicious, but the best part was meeting the owner of Sehzade Erzurum Cag Kebab and eating a slice of the meat right off the roll hot and fresh. Out entire meal cost 85 TL ($28.88).
20:34 Basilica Cistern – 20 TRY ($6.80) – Arter the amazing Turkish food lunch, we headed over to see the Basilica cistern, one of many underground cisterns in Istanbul. It was interesting to see. We then headed to the hotel for a rest, and then went out again for dinner.
23:27 Dinner at Balkan Lokantasi – Beşiktaş is a neighborhood in Istanbul and we walked over to a restaurant for dinner in that neighborhood called Balkan Lokantasi. It was an extremely busy restaurant serving all sorts of different Turkish food in a cafeteria like style. You walk through the line, choose whatever dishes you want, and pay for what you get. You can eat a serious feast for a pretty good price. I got a little confused and didn’t really know what I was doing, so ended up ordering what was way too much food. But that’s alright, it was all really delicious.
It was fantastic day of Turkish food and visiting some attractions in Istanbul that I had wanted to visit my entire life.
Disclaimer and Thank You:
This trip was made possible by Star Alliance and their Round The World tickets (http://www.staralliance.com/en/round-the-world) who sponsored my business class flights.
The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul sponsored my stay in Istanbul. Thank you to Star Alliance, Marriott Hotels, and Turkish Airlines for making this trip happen.
I personally paid for all food and attractions in this video, and decided what to do.