Istanbul is the site for the final official day of the 12 day Topdeck Turkey Explored Tour, technically the tour came to an end last night but today some of my fellow Topdeck travellers and I explore some of the sites of Istanbul before some head off to the Airport to explore more of Europe, while others are sticking around for a few more days in Turkey’s biggest city.
18 September, 2013 – Istanbul
The final official day of the tour has arrived, this morning I need to check out of The Istanbul Hotel and then check back into the And Hotel where I was staying at the beginning and before the Turkey Explored Tour started. Before this, my room mate and I went up to the rooftop where breakfast was being served, one of the more impressive locations to have breakfast with 360 degree views looking over the entire city of Istanbul.
As it was too early in the morning to check into a new hotel we left our bags with The Istanbul Hotel so we could go out and explore the city. We headed down to the And Hotel to see off a few of our fellow travellers and met up with some others so we could all head off to the Grand Bazaar together.
Today was a good time to check out the indoor parts of the Grand Bazaar as the weather was quite overcast and it was starting to spit with a bit of rain, the first we had seen whilst being in Turkey but it wasn’t too bad. This time it was good to explore the Grand Bazaar with others from the tour as previously I wondered the streets of the bazaar on my own and tended to rush while not really taking everything in.
This time the main focus for us was to look at the antique section of the bazaar; the whole Grand Bazaar is split up into sections which is quite “bazaar” in itself, I struggle to understand how everyone selling the same thing next to one another actually turn a profit but it must be working given the astronomical rent prices they would be paying to be in the Grand Bazaar.
Linking up to the Grand Bazaar is also the Spice Bazaar or Mısır Çarşısı which is translated from Turkish to mean Egyptian Bazaar, you will also hear it being referred to as this.
Once we finished looking around the various market stalls we started to head back along the tram line towards the hotel as some of the people in the group were heading off to the airport this afternoon. Along the way one of the guys decided to get his shoes shined on the side of the road, they looked brand new afterwards.
While some people were farewelled out the front of the And Hotel, some of us decided to head up to the restaurant on top of the hotel for some lunch at the Cihannuma Restaurant. It was the same restaurant I ate dinner at on my second night of the trip to Turkey which also has 360 degree views of the city.
After lunch we then said out goodbyes to some more people who were being picked up at the hotel via shuttle bus to be taken to the airport, meanwhile my roommate from the tour and I decided to go for a long walk, I decided I wanted to check out the Valens Aqueduct with the hope that you would be able to walk over it.
We navigated the sometimes narrow streets around parts of Istanbul I had not seen yet and you could tell not many tourists venture down in this direction, which was pretty good as we got to see more of the Istanbul that the locals experience. We walked around the outside of the large Istanbul University complex, a lot of students were out and about in the streets surrounding the area. One thing you notice is that you don’t see many young people around Turkey which we later found out is because they are either at university or they are completing compulsory national service. The only way to postpone national service is to go to university, so a lot of young people opt for this option so they can put it off.
We eventually found the Valens Aqueduct after a long and exhausting walk. It is quite an impressive site with the busy traffic from the Ataturk Avenue passing underneath the ancient arches of the aqueduct. The aqueduct is pretty much what you see is what you get, I was a bit disappointed that you couldn’t walk up on it, the closest you can get is by walking under the archways but it is still an impressive site to look at. The aqueduct used to feed the Basilica Cistern which I visited on my second day in Istanbul at the beginning of this trip.
One of the funny things we saw while checking out the Valens Aqueduct was a man on the road in the middle of very busy peak hour traffic trying to sell some sort of clothing items. We were trying to figure out if this was a normal thing to do around here, but all the traffic passing were honking their horns and no one was buying anything which led me to believe this wasn’t the normal thing to happen around here.
From here it was time for the long walk back to the hotel and time to check in for the night. My tour roommate and I later met up in the evening to go and have dinner and went of a bit of a walk around the Golden Horn area of the Bosphorus. During this time we planned what we would do tomorrow which would be the last full day in Turkey for both of us as I will be heading back home.
Tomorrow we will catch a ferry and head out to one of Istanbul’s Princes’ Islands, a full day of adventure outside the city with the islands located about 20 km south east of Istanbul.