On trips past I did an exhausting amount of planning to ensure that I’d hit every site it was crossed my mind as essential. This time I didn’t have the luxury to plan my heart out nor did I have the background knowledge. So many have asked why it is we chose Istanbul over all the other mainstream locations that bright eyed travelers flock to…
A few years back I met a number of inspiring solo travelers on my adventures through Italy. I sat in awe of the exotic places they experienced and the sheer number of days they planned to continue on their journey. Once I got over my jealosy I listened closely to their recommendations and reservations. Time and time again I heard whisper of Istanbul. Committed to my memory, I included it in my wide search of affordable options during Spring and with that an experience was made.
Back to my point… this time I had a very rough agenda of must-sees. The typical tourist sites, yes, and included among them Topaki. This palace composes the vastly recognizable cityscape of Sultanahmet.
We visited it twice because the first time was a harrowing experience and I refused to leave Istanbul for God knows how long before I truly experienced this majestic place.The second time…now that left the impression that the tales were true.
On a very rainy Monday we toured the palace along with every tourist in town. The gusts inverted my umbrella as we joined the next line waiting to hope into the next room. While the palace was indeed striking, i couldn’t appreciate it while I shivering in a line of 50+ people. When we heard “boo’s” we turned to see a older gentleman rounding the corner into the inner depths of the palace, paparazzi all around him. He turned out to be the Prime Minister.
Days later, intent on finding the hidden treasure of Topkapi we returned with a bagged lunch of olives, cheeses, fruit, bread and ayran (yogurt drink) to picnic on the grounds. We settled in close to the high end restaurant available and munched, listening to the call to prayer echoing around us. It was 80F and sunny…the tulips were in all their glory, lining the grounds in honor of the annual Tulip Festival,
Later we found what remains one of our most favorite experiences of the trip: the Archeological Museum. For a small fee, you ventured into centuries of artifacts from all over the East. Mosaics dominate one building in particular. I adore mosaics- a fond childhood memory of mine is making a tile mosaic of a cross with my godmother for a “World Civ” project.
The best part of this museum must be the privacy. While there were folks jutting in and out of each building there were no lines of which to speak and you could enjoy everything in silence. After each building we reported back to a sunny bench, closing our eyes and letting the sun relax and revive us to continue our journey through Istanbul.
Transportation to Topkapi
Metro to Topkapi
Walk! From anywhere in Sultanahmet its an easy trek. Follow signs to Topkapi and enter at gate nearest metro tracks.
Once on grounds, follow signs to İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri
Cost: 10 Turkish Lira (~$6)
There aren’t many open air markets in Sultanahmet. I purchased this at the market in Uskudar (Asian Side). If you find yourself in more residential areas (i.e: Beyoglu) hit up some markets for noshes like this. Otherwise, pop into corner stores and you’re bound to find something to your liking (and wine!)