Published: December 30th 2011November 29th 2011
Bad weather, bad day obvs.
So let me explain as to why I'm combining my 3rd and last day in this entry. Well, I cancelled my Edirne trip for a few reasons:
1. The bus price from Istanbul to Edirne was too much for my budget; and
2. The weather wasn't really the best to go out of the city. The weather was very gloomy; dark clouds everywhere, the ground was wet, and it looks like it might rain soon.
I know I'm going to regret this decision sooner or later, but it's not like I'm not going back to Istanbul anyway. I expected alot of positiveness even before I came to Istanbul, and now that my trip is over, I know I should expect more the next time I come back to Turkey.
Speaking of bad day, my 3rd day was the day I got uberly lost because of a simple transit mistake. To take the bus to Edirne, you must take the light metro from Aksaray to Otogar station. I took the tram to Aksaray, and searching for the metro turned to be a time consumer.
The train stop
in Aksaray wasn't clear at all, and there were no directions to the metro. I passed through an overpass, through a rough neighborhood, and an unknown park. I was so lost, I desperately called for a taxi, which just led me to a wrong station. Apparently, this guy took me to a station by the Marmara Sea, and if I recall, this is the green line where the old trains operate. At that point, I decided whether I should just back out, and it's already an hour since I got off the tram! I walked towards the tram station again, and the police told me the direction to the metro. Apparently, it was on the other side, and it was about a 6 minute walk from the tram station. Boy did I lose tons of time!
And then, when I found out the bus fare from Istanbul to Edirne, I just lost it. Aparently, the one way ticket costed 25 TL instead of 15 TL (as I saw in the website), and I didn't know what company to choose from as there were alot of bus offices in the area! This is when I decided to just
call it quits since it also started to drizzle. Waste of money going there? HELL YES. I already had a bad day, so I just opted for a tour in Dolmabahce Palace, which was pretty much dull since we weren't allowed to take pictures inside the Selamik & Harem. Seeing the Selamik's grand hall was really impressive, but the Harem? Not so much. It was fascinating seeing Ataturk's bedroom though, but still...
I went to Blue Mosque afterwards to have a little spiritual moment, as it was Sunday & there were alot of Muslims praying that time. My experience inside the mosque was something really different. Being a Christian, all I believe in is that God loves every spiritual being in this Earth, and we should live our lives freely. I realized that these Muslims truly connect to God by following rituals that we Christians never do. I might be Christian, but I'll honestly say I can't devote my life to religion alone. Still, I truly respect what these Muslims do.
... And then it's DAY 4, AKA LAST DAY!! My flight back to Hong Kong leaves at 11 in
the evening, so I still have lots of time to spend in Istanbul. I already checked out of my hotel, but the staff were really nice enough to keep my bags for me before I leave. Today's itinerary was the Grand Bazaar and Suleymaniye Mosque, and I headed to Grand Bazaar first.
I knew I was going to get lost in Grand Bazaar, and so I did, in a good way. The bazaar was an endless maze, filled with souvenir shops selling jewelry, handmade crafts, and other stuffs that tourists usually buy. The ones that truly caught my attention were the colorful lanterns displayed in front of some of the shops. The prices usually ranged from 69 TL (small lanterns with same colors) to 99 TL (colorful ones). I honestly wanted to buy one set, but the problem wasn't the budget - it's where I should put them when I get back home. God only knows I would buy them if I have the audacity to redecorate my flat.
As I continued strolling around, I got the usual Asian stereotype. People often greeted me with "Konnichiwa!" or "Anyong haseyo!" Then when I say "Hong
Kong" when they ask me where I came from, I get "Ni hao!" I can't win, obviously - I should have used a more exotic place like Burma, Mongolia, or South Africa! (just to see their priceless reactions)
After my shopping extravaganza, endless turns and Asian greetings, I made my way to Suleymaniye Mosque. Now this is going to be a little bit irrelevant, but for those watching "The Amazing Race Australia", I happen to see two Australian guys running in sync, with a sound guy and a camera man behind them. How did I find out it's for Amazing Race? I happened to see race flags by the Blue Mosque's gate yesterday, and inside the courtyard were huge lights & screens - it looked like a production set! No doubt it's for Amazing Race Australia. If I'm wrong, well... I'm wrong!
Anyway, Suleymaniye Mosque looked no less like the Blue Mosque, except the grounds were more spacious, the interior had a more 'light' theme, and it was really tranquil. The mosque's position also overlooks the Galata district.
Last place I visited for the day was Yeni Mosque in Eminonu district,
since I still had time, and getting there by foot from Suleymaniye Mosque was really easy. Yeni was a bit smaller compared to the 2 mosques I just mentioned, but the courtyard had plants to make the courtyard more livelier, and the designs in the interior was also different.
It was already 5 PM after going around Yeni Mosque, and as the sun sets in Istanbul, I just took a short moment to reflect on my journey by the steps of the mosque.
Istanbul is really unique. Istanbul is crowded and chaotic, but for all the mess going on, this city is magical. I had my last dinner & Turkish tea at Baran II Restaurant near the Sultanahmet tram (a real value restaurant - you should try it), had my first & last baklava in a shop nearby, and said goodbye to the staffs of my hotel. I was starting to miss the genuine hospitality of the Turkish people already, and even the ridiculous Asian greetings! But one thing's for sure: I'LL BE BACK.
There are more photos below