Istanbul City Sightseeing overview
DAY 2 – Istanbul is a fascinating city that owns the distinction of being the only city in the world that spans two continents, Europe and Asia. It’s distinguished history as capital to three empires, the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman shows the importance and dominance of Istanbul in the past. This leaves Istanbul today with a legacy of ancient cultures that were very rich and diverse.
Our city sightseeing started off at 8:30 a.m. with a local guide. There is a lot to see in this city and our guided tour covered the usual suspects like the Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar and Topkapi Palace. Hagia Sophia was closed today so we didn’t visit this cathedral. This is as much as we could cover in our short stay and still we had to move at quite a pace.
Mid-morning break we ambled across the road from the Mosque and Tony was most excited to discover that the Lale Pudding Shop is still going strong. The Lale Pudding Shop had the reputation of being the place where young European and American travellers on the “hippie trail” east to Afghanistan or Nepal would meet to gather information, negotiate a ride or meet up with others on a similar journey. More about the Lale Pudding Shop’s history in a later blog, however today it is a restaurant serving traditional Turkish cuisine.
From our short morning outing, we observed that Istanbul had improved no end and the city appears to be enjoying a certain level of prosperity. As we were enjoying our Turkish coffee at the Pudding Shop, their very modern light rail system looked impressive as it ferried passengers back and forth. We also found out that for tourists like us staying in the Taksim Square area, there is a spanking new Swiss underground furnicular that transports you to the waterfront, where it’s easy to connect to the light rail/tram system. Now, why didn’t our tour director bother giving us this essential bit of information!
If you’re travelling on your own, there is a city sightseeing tour in an open-top red bus where you can hop on-hop off. The tour starts from Sultan Ahmet Centre, just across from St. Sophia. For one and a half hours, you’ll get to see the highlights of Istanbul. These city sightseeing tours are usually very good to do on your first day in town as it gives you a very good overall view of the city and the things that you could do or visit.
More about Istantbul sightseeing tomorrow.