Day 2, today we’d catch the ferry to Asia, Not everyday you can say that! The journey across the Bosphorous is a very pleasant 20 minutes passing more historic monuments including Maidens Tower lying in the middle of the waterway, Galata Tower peeking over the buildings in the distance and of course the Bosphorous Bridge. Docking in Kadikoy, we went on the hunt for a traditional turkish breakfast. After passing various closed places (Istanbul is very much an evening city!) we finally came across a little independent cafe producing the full works consisting of Menemen (Turkeys special egg & tomato dish), flat bread filled with spinach and cheese, and an array of fresh olives, honey, preserves, tomatoes and cheeses, all downed with traditional Turkish tea.
While in Kadikoy we wandered the winding colourful streets with unique gift and coffee shops. One of them called Cadikoy we just had to try as it had decorated its old historic building in a haloween/wizard theme, was covered in famous witch and wizard references and even the coffee came in mini cauldrons! We chose a very indulging and delicious chocolate cake with flavoured Turkish coffee. It was the perfect place to people watch and plan our days activities.
Camlica mosque was our first stop of today, Turkey’s newest and now largest, overlooking the Bosphorous. We wandered the galleries, library and interior all which combined traditional Turkish design with a modern twist. You can’t help but be in awe of the huge chandeliers and beautiful domed ceiling. After lunch we went back to Europe! and this time docked in Besiktas where the wonderful Dolmabahce Palace lives. The palace was once home to royals and once a presidential palace, however, now it is fully open to public to explore. Ataturk’s, the founder of the Turkish republic, living areas are an extra charge, however, there is plenty to see for the general admission price. Built in 1842, it is still an impressive building on the cities skyline and situated right on the bosphorous coast. We spent a good couple of hours exploring and taking photos of the beautiful gardens, exquisite rooms and grand architecture.
Next we had time for a bit of shopping on the famous Istiklal Street, one of the busiest streets in the world, comparable to the Oxford Street of London or the Fifth Avenue of NYC. The historic trams still make their way up and down past the never ending line of shops, restaurants and attractions. We headed in one of the more ‘fun’ tourist attractions – Madame Tussauds Istanbul, the original and best waxwork museums! Visiting London’s a few years ago I knew what to expect, each room has a different theme such as music, history, red carpet, sport and filled with local and international stars. There was the right mix so even not knowing Turkish celebs, there is plenty of people to entertain you. Lots of fun interactive elements too so you can try on outfits, play the drums and race around on the driving simulator! After a quick pit stop (no pun intended!) for Iskender kebap – a dish of meat, bread, tomatoes and yogurt – which is the basis to most Turkish dishes actually, we came across St. Antoine Catholic Church where Pope John XXIII preached for a number of years. There were no masses at the time we were there but there are regular masses in English, Turkish, Italian and Polish.
The evening approached and we made our way further down the coast to see the iconic Bosphorous bridge close up and watch it light up for the night. Here is also where tons of stalls try and tempt you to buy Kumpir, which is basically a giant jacket potato topped and mixed with a range of toppings at your choosing costing around 30tl. We gave in and tucked in!
More from my Turkish Travels:
Pammukale – Cotton Candy Castle
Cappadocia – Turkey’s Grand Canyon
Antalya – History, Fantasy & Paradise