Barry's Blog #81 - Istanbul Part 2 - Doing the tourist thing

The new plan, to get as much sightseeing as possible done during our 3 night interval in Istanbul, involved getting to the nearest attractions ticket booth as early as possible and hopefully well before the crowds.

Executing the plan

Darkhill Hotel

The Darkhill Hotel, where we'd finally found lodgings, was a very handy 100 metres (328 feet) from one of Istanbul's many tram lines and the one we were close to had stops at the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace. Perfect.

We exited the hotel at 8.15am, went straight to the tram stop and waited for the next tram which slid smoothly to a halt a couple of minutes later. When the doors opened it was so full that people already inside were helping others to get onboard by dragging them into the crush of bodies so that the doors were able to close.

Aannsha and I looked at each other and silently agreed that we didn't fancy experiencing what a tinned sardine feels like. The flaw in our plan was that it was Monday morning in a city of 15 million people and they were all heading off to work. Bugger.

Breakfast on the run

There was no other choice, we'd have to walk to the Topkapi Palace. We set off at a brisk pace and the walk only took us 20 minutes. The bonus of walking there meant that we were able to briefly stop to buy a couple of breakfast savoury pastries from one of the many street vendors. They were all doing a roaring trade at that hour of the day.

The Topkapi Palace doesn't open until 9.00am but even at 8.40am a queue of eager visitors were waiting for the ticket booths to open. In comparison to the queue we'd seen there yesterday it was relatively small.

Musekart

There are various priced ticket deals available for visitors to chose from. There are single entry options or a 5 day pass that get you into everywhere as many times as you want. The one we were after is only available to Turkish citizens or foreigners with a Turkish resident card and for the very reasonable price of just 70 Turkish Lira each we bought two Musekart passes that are valid for 12 months and give you access to all government administrated historical sites, museums and ancient ruins.

Topkapi Palace

Aannsha's blog this week goes into a lot of detail about the attractions we visited so I'm not going to rehash that info. You can read her blog by clicking here.

Construction of the Topkapi Palace began in 1459 and at the time it served as the main residence and administrative headquarters of the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire. Following the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, Topkapı was transformed into a museum by a government decree dated April 3, 1924.