Part 1: Travel Diary
is there, we changed Airbnb. The new Airbnb is much cheaper (24€/day thanks to a big discount linked to our stay) and much better located. So much the better because I’m starting to feel the need to be closer to fast transports like streetcar or subway (the bus is too slow). From our different windows (yes there are plenty of them, the apartment is ultra bright), we can see well the hills that surround us and the Galata tower which isn’t very far. I let you watch this video made by JB if you are interested
Everywhere in Istanbul, there are always plenty of wild cats. They are fed by the locals, who give them food and drink. And they are often fed with excellent kibbles or even chicken. We don’t give them Whiskas for example. As there are already quite a few feeders in the morning and in the evening (before and after work), I take advantage of my daily outing to have breakfast to become a feeder too 😀 There is a Hill’s and Purina (good brands of kibble) croquette store near my house. Cats can spot the ones that have food, one look and they know I have something to give them. By the way, there is already a report/film about them. The film KEDI follows the story of several feral cats in Istanbul over several months, it’s really well filmed and well told. To watch ASAP.
our neighborhood (Tophane) there are plenty of restaurants specializing in breakfast/brunch. They serve breakfast (salty or sweet) all day long. We really liked the one at The Clock Cafe (full of clocks on the wall). Today, we discover the 5. Kat Restaurant. We come quite early because we don’t have a reservation (and according to the opinions, they are unpleasant when it comes to taking reservations). The view is incredible! Without reservation, we cannot be close to the window, but we can still see from far the enormous mosque on the Asian bank, as well as a beautiful mosque at the edge of the water, we noted to go there later.
We opt for the big brunch at 130TL for two (19,8€), tea included. You have to pay 10% tip in addition (obligatory) and water if needed. The pan you see in the middle is menemen: scrambled egg with tomatoes and spices, it’s delicious! Even if I already know this recipe, I can’t resign myself to try other things, I’m too much of a fan of this dish, very simple but too, too good (well seasoned, full of flavor).
We have different types of sweet and savoury cakes, grilled eggplant (they love eggplant), string cheese (it looks like chicken), and jams. In short, a real brunch.
We have tested another very well known address, listed in various gastronomic guides: Van Kahvalti Evi, not far from here. But for a successful breakfast, I really prefer this one: 5. Kat Restaurant or The Clock Cafe I told you about earlier.
Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan HamamıNous
let’s go back to the Sultanahmet district for a luxury hammam at Ayasofya Hamami. We take advantage of the presence of the sun to make some pictures in front of the Sainte-Sophie. At the same time, a cameraman is filming a travel documentary. I believe to have bulged their video, so they had to re-filming hehehe if you ever see me on GeoVoyage, program “travel photos, a real plague”, tell me! 😀
The hammam is right next door, and it is so beautiful that many people have entered it, thinking they could visit it. There are two separate entrances: male/female. We reserved 3 days in advance. As the rates are exorbitant: 80€ just for the hammam (45 minutes), we just do that and did not book a massage in addition.
The Haseki Hürrem Sultan Hamamı is a 16th century Turkish bath in Istanbul. It was commissioned by Roxelana, the companion of the Ottoman Emperor Sultan Suleiman I. It was built by Mimar Sinan on the site of the Zeuxippus Baths for the nearby Saint Sophia religious community.
If the experience went very well for me, in addition in a royal setting, very clean and all in marble, JB’s experience was spoiled by an employee who keeps telling him the only word he knows in English: “tips tips”. It’s true that it’s tradition to tip those who take care of us, but it’s all at the end, and at everyone’s discretion. Here, the price is justified by the fact that each employee only takes care of one customer at a time. I am taken to a dome-shaped room to shower with very hot water for 10 minutes, before being taken to another room for scrubbing, followed by a small massage, while I am covered with soap suds, and lying on heated marble. I put here the pictures from the official website because we aren’t allowed to take pictures inside (which is a bit normal because everyone is half naked).
we will play, once again, the game of 1000 differences.
Here’s what we were hoping to see:
Here is what we saw:
That’s it! The mosque is under construction. We are allowed to enter outside the prayer hours. Women must cover their heads with a scarf (they lend it if you don’t have one). The men must have their legs covered (they also lend the necessary if needed). Unfortunately we were not able to access the central part, nor a glimpse of the central dome (under construction). I put here what we saw :
‘s TombAt the limit, the Sultan’s Tomb next door is much more interesting, even if it is small. Access is free and you have to take off your shoes and veil yourself, like in the blue mosque. I am more and more a fan of Arabic calligraphy, I find it just as enchanting as the Nepalese mandalas.
The basilica cistern
The Basilica Cistern, also known by the Turkish name Yerebatan Sarnıcı, is a gigantic underground cistern in Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, of which it is one of the most spectacular monuments still visible today in Istanbul.
Wikipedia calls it spectacular… um, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. It’s pretty nice with the lights, but again, it’s under construction, there’s no water. The place has “basilica” in the name because it was under a basilica at one time. A James Bond film was shot here, when you see that it leads nowhere, seeing James Bond in a boat, running away someplace, is quite funny.
It’s normal that these two massive heads are upside down or on their side, it’s to avoid looking straight in his eyes and being turned into stone.
Part 2: Practical Tips
Brunch at 5.Kat Restaurant: 150 for two (I counted the water & tip)
– Brunch at The Clock Cafe: about 50TL/person
– Basilica Tank Access: 20TL/person
– Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamamı : from 80€/person (card payment accepted)
– Blue Mosque: free access
– Tomb of the Sultans: free access