Our last city of the trip was Istanbul. We took the overnight train from Bucharest (frankly an awful experience I will never repeat!) and got into the city in the early morning. Our first hotel was great and actually had our room ready, so we showered and rested before heading out to sightsee!
Our first stop on Day 10 was the Sultanahmet area, where the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are the most prominent buildings on the skyline. These two buildings are HUGE and beautiful! We visited the Blue Mosque first, then the Hagia Sofia before a lunch of meatballs, then went on to the Archaeological Museum in the Topkapi Castle grounds. At that point we were pretty tired, so we went back to the hotel for a nap, which turned out to be longer than we had planned! So we just had dinner and drinks at the hotel before relaxing and going back to bed.
Day 11 started off at the amazing Basilica Cistern, then to Topkapi Palace, where we saw the harem and walked around the beautiful and extensive grounds. I wish we’d have spent more time there exploring, but I wanted to see the Mosaic Museum since we’d missed it the day before. Unfortunately, it was closed, so we just saw a little of the Arasta Bazaar, then walked back through Sultanahmet before getting to our hotel in time to check out. We took a taxi to our last hotel, the Park Hyatt, checked in, then walked to the Taksim street in the afternoon and evening. We saw the Galata tower and some great sunset views of the city, before walking back after some shopping. It was a long day!
Our final full day was spent exploring the Galata Bridge, spice bazaar, and grand bazaar, where we bought a few (probably overpriced but oh well) souvenirs, and enjoyed the atmosphere! We tried one more time to get to the Mosaic Museum, but it closed early, so again we couldn’t… but we did spend more time at the Arasta Bazaar at a great store that sold bath goods. We were pretty tired from walking around all day, so we went back to the hotel and just ate in the area, and did some shopping at the City’s Mall nearby.
And our last day we spent just walking around and relaxing in the morning, before checking out at 2 and heading to the airport. We flew back to Japan again in business class, this time Turkish Airlines, which was pretty fantastic! And then went home exhausted to sleep for a long, long time!
Our first hotel, the Doubletree near Sultanahmet
Istanbul was so much fun… we missed a lot, but just like other places on this trip, it gives us a good reason to go back for more!