In total we spent four days in Istanbul. One day for arrival, one for departure. This gave us two full days to have a look around the city.
From our hotel in the southern part of the old city, we could reach all major tourist attractions by foot. However, as we were pretty exhausted from the previous long days. Moreover, Chris wasn’t too keen on the typical touristy things, we only did two short trips to the city.
During these we visited the blue mosque (crowded with asian tourists and under construction) and the spice bazaar. The spice bazaar lies besides the “regular” bazaar and is specialized on all kinds of sweets. One of the shops “lured” us in by offering dried fruit covered with chocolate. We also tried almonds covered in various things and “turkish delight”. We left with 200g of almond based sweets in our pockets which didn’t survive for too long. The other thing we bought on the bazaar was a pack of 100 ziplock bags to organize all the receipts and currencies from the different countries we had visited and which we are going to visit.
One feature of Istanbul we did enjoy was the streetfood. There are just so many small shops to buy all kinds of Kebap and Pide that are SOO tasty. As our hotel had a small terrace on the roof with an amazing view, our dinners consisted of takeout food and water. As the food was quite cheap by European standards, we managed to stay within our budget nevertheless.
Two specific and fascinating things lay in the normal streets of the old town where our hotel was located. There was an enormous amount of small workshops which you could see directly from the street. Also, there was an enormous amount of people whose job it was to transport goods from A to B. Transportation was done either by carrying, using gigantic sack barrows or small three wheeled vehicles similar to rickshaws, many of which were powered by electricity.
During our travel through eastern europe, we had noticed an increasing amount of street dogs. This persisted in Turkey and peaked in Istanbul. Here, the immense amount of street dogs is combined with an identical amount of cats which are also living wild. As could be expected, the tourists (including us) love them. Interestingly, there is cat food laid out at a multitude of places around the city. So, someone is taking care of the cats for sure. Likewise, most of the dogs we saw had a tag in their ear, indicating that they are registered somewhere.