To begin with my feet are not as sore as I thought but I guess my calves will tell me how many stairs and steep hills we walked today. Some how I hadn’t imagined Istanbul to be that hilly. After our first night stroll yesterday, this morning we walked up the hill from our hotel to the Blue Mosque this morning and made our way into the inner courtyard only to face an enormous queue to get in. So we decided we might as well go and see the inside another day and went over to Aya Sofia instead. The little park between those two was really crowded and I was sceptical as to the queue length there. We had planned on getting the Istanbul museum card anyway and the queue to get that one was super short as they sell them from vans next to the Aya Sofia and not only from the ticket booths.
I didn’t check the current prices of all places it gives access too but if you plan to visit the Aya Sofia, Topkapı Palace and the Archeological Museum then it should already pay of and if only to get in far quicker. Basically just flash that card and walk past the crowds.The Aya Sofia is impressive. Build in the 6th century as a church, turned into a mosque by changing the interior design a little and adding four minarets on the 15th century and into a museum in the early 20th century it is simply an awestrocking place. Just check the pictures for some impressions.After 1.5 hours there (you will need less time there if you are not with a photo fanatic) we were ready for a break. Actually looking for a coffee place we ended up having a nice quick kebab snack on the outside of the Spice Bazaar. And after a quick look into the New Mosque (yes that’s the one we didn’t enter yesterday night because they called for prayer just then) we crossed the bridge over the Golden Horn to the Beyoğlu side.As we were still fit and full of new energy after our döner kebab (and to be honest because we once again couldn’t find the entrance to the funicular) we walked up to the Galata tower. This was enough to make us look for another break and we stopped at a coffee place on the lower corner of the tower.Then we visited a Derwish House, a special kind of Muslim Monastry.Next we went up the main shopping street, Istiklal Caddesi, of Istanbul with its very pitoresque old tram on the middle of a pedestrian street and then back down from Taksim square in a suggested walk from the guidebook.This side of Istanbul prooved totally different to the old town we had seen so far. Where the old town side is touristy yet kind of old fashioned Beyoğlu looks more 19th century and seems rather trendy. We had a wonderful view over the harbour from little hidden Cihangir Mosque in Fındıklı and stopped for the next coffee in a cafe bar on Akarsu Yokuşu called Smyrna.
It was really nice there but on this street and the surrounding ones there were a lot of nice trendy neighbourhood places that all looked nice and were well visited.
By now it was dark already and we wanted to get closer to where we came from so we tried to get up to the Shopping street again which prooved to be difficult as Beyoğlu is not one big hill going down to two sides to the water but many hills.
We wanted to eat somewhere near Tünnel (Şişhane station) and after touring the back streets a little we found a restaurant called Canım Ciğerim on Minare Sk., with a tiny downstairs area and (as seems to be usual here) an upstairs salon. It looked interesting and full of locals and sported several newspaper articles that I guess where stating it was one of the 10 best what ever kind of restaurants in Istanbul. The salon was already full but we got a little table downstairs and then the menu prooved to be very easy: you could order a full or half portion of grilled meat on skewers: chicken, beef or liver and this were accompanied by a tomato sauce, several herbs, some pickles, some grilled vegetables and very thin bread to roll it all up. Oh how I like food that you still have to do something with before you can eat it! I still remember fondly the Mongolian Barbeque in Siem Reap! Well it was super nice and we had a filling, tasty and not very expensive meal.The day was nearly done now. Michael wanted to watch some soccer and we might have a beer at a sports bar. That was harder then expected. Not that there are not enough sports bars here but he wanted to watch an English match and Fenerbahçe Istanbul was playing at the same time. Guess what they all showed. So we made our way to the old city side and found an English pub there just meters from the Gülhane tram stop, The Port Shield. I think this your place here if you want to watch international soccer and rugby and it was quite nice but super expensive. Half a liter of local Efes beer (which is tasty to be true) is 15 TL, which is nearly 6€! Tomorrow we want to go to the Archeological Museum. Hope our legs are not too sore.