Many of Ukrainian people were visited Turkey but just few of them did it in winter. I was so excited about that fact to see this country from another perspective, so my travel started on the 3rd of December in 2013. We are so lucky to have budget airlines which connect Lviv and Istanbul, so I used this one and in 2 hours we have landed in Istanbul.
Istanbul is divided into Asian and European part by Bosporus, which means that part of the city is situated in Asia and another part, the most interesting one for tourists – in Europe. The first thing we got to know about Turkey was hospitality and national cuisine. Before coming to our apartment our friend invited us to have traditional kebab for the dinner in the restaurant.
We were impressed by the way they serve kebab here. Waiter put many small plates with some sauces, salads, nuts on our dinning table as well as some compliments while the main dish was cooking. Our kebab was a composition of chicken meat, lamb, liver, and grilled vegetables. After a hearty meal, we`ve got a traditional Turkish drink – Airan, which could be described as something between yogurt and milk, but salty one.
After the meal we went to have a short walk through the night Istanbul to observe its main attractions on the European side of the city. It was almost midnight, and the streets were almost empty – the city was asleep, and our Ukrainian group had a romantic date with the amazing metropolis.
We saw a mosque with beautiful lights, that was the “Blue Mosque” which is one of the main architectural monuments of Istanbul.
We found out that there are many of animals like cats and dogs on the streets, but no one is scared about this. For instance, in Ukraine if someone will see a big dog without the owner on the street, that could cause a big problem. Many of street dogs are biting people. But in Istanbul the situation is different. People like street animals here and try to support them and feed.
When finally we cam to our apartment we have learned something interesting about Turkey. You have to take off you shoes before entering the apartment. Many of people even leave their shoes outside the house which is different from Ukraine.
On the next day the hospitality of Turkish people was proved again. Our hosts made a traditional Turkish breakfast for us with many of plates with some delicious things like different kinds of cheese, jams, vegetables, fresh simits and bread. Simit – is a traditional kind of bread which has the shape of donut with sesame.
Now we had to explore the city in the day light.
Here, in Istanbul, the Black Sea is connected to the Marmara Sea through the Bosphorus.
We went down to the Marmara sea and saw a lot of cats on the shore, which were feed by people. As I have mentioned before, here in Turkey, people like animals and because of this homeless cats and dogs look well-groomed and well-fed) …
Now we went to explore the Blue mosque from inside. This was my first time entering the mosque and I was surprised that to enter people have to take off the shoes. In our church we don`t do this, but the floor is not covered with the carpets like in mosques.
The Blue Mosque is called like this because of the blue color which you can find everywhere. Sultan Ahmet the founder of this mosque decided to decorate the building with tiles of blue color.
On the same square opposite to Sultan Ahmet mosque there in Aya Sofia, which is the museum of Islamic and Christian cultures.
You can find here Christian icons as well as versus from Quran.
Here we met with popular cat named Glee, which is considered to be a local landmark. Glee lives in Ayia Sofia and even the US President Barack Obama was photographed with this cat. Museum staff protect the cat, and when our girl took the cat in her arms and headed toward the exit, she was asked to return Glee back to his place. Now I also have photo with Glee, and I can say that he is a very friendly cat, when I carried him in my arms, he was purring …
I don`t know exactly what is on the picture below, but it looks like Ukrainian national symbol – Tryzub.
Near the museum the palace Topkapi is situated. Topkapi Palace was the residence of many Ottoman Sultans.
We did not go inside, because that would get hours or even days to explore the palace, and for this time we were out of time.
Not far from the museum is another historical monument – basilica, which was build to store water for the sultan. There are large and small fish in the water and many of them similar to goldfish.
You can find in Basilica a statue of Medusa the Gorgon. It is turned upside down so no one would be able to enchant by her eyes.
There are many of warm and cozy cafes in which you can try delicious authentic Turkish delights.
The variety of the baklava, Turkish delight and other sweets wins hearts of sweet lovers.
There is a big building of the Railway station in the city center of Istanbul which allows to travel to another directions.
There are many types of public transport in Istanbul, but ferry might be the most popular. It helps thousands of people to get from Asian side of the city to European and vise versa just in 20 minutes for a fare price.
We left sunny and warm Istanbul just for a week and when we came back we appear in the winter…
It was cold and nasty and we were freezing, but thanks God they serve hot tea with sweets on the ferry which is crossing the Bosphorus, which helped us to warm up a little bit.
In Istanbul, you should have a single transport card, which could be used as a reusable token that can be replenished in kiosks. It will save your money and time.
Cats here are welcoming you everywhere: on the fashion boutique entrance and in your hostel room=D
Thanks to ISFIT (International Students Festival in Trondheim) I discovered that have my Moroccan friend here in Istanbul and he gave us a great tour guide through the cold winter city.
We went to one of the most popular touristic destinations, which is called a Taxim. This is a shopping street, with various European brands, a small street trams and … snow. The only thing we might wanted in this weather is a hot tea with Semite.
Btw one day we spent in the hostel Nobel in Istanbul. It is situated 5 minutes away from Sultan Ahmet square which is the very city center. We payed just 29 Euros per 3 person, where breakfast was also included. So I think its was a good deal.
Of course we went to explore the Grand Bazaar, in search of bargain lovers (something in common with Morocco) and good souvenirs. Passing through the shops, all sellers have tried to talk to us in Russian … but we pretended that we do not understand 🙂
As for my biggest souvenir from Turkey I count the lamp that will warm me from boredom during the long winter evenings, and inspire with its playful colors.
Closer to the Bosphorus there is another mosque, beautiful one, but inside the yard and inside the building it is almost the same as the Blue Mosque. So e discovered that inside Turkish mosques are the same.
While sailing across the Bosphorus our ferry was followed by seagulls, whom we fed with the bread.
We went to the bank of the Black Sea, where on the opposite side Ukraine is situated=D
Then arrived the dolphins! Lots of dolphins! It’s so kind from them to come and say hello to the Ukrainian girls 🙂
The next subject to explore was the religious complex Suleimanie which was built by Sultan Suleiman. Here you can find the mosque and the tombs of Sultan Suleiman and his wife Hurrem Sultan. Btw historic facts says that she was Ukrainian.
There is a special Turkish drink for the winter time called Boza. They serve it with hazelnuts and it has a good taste.
As a conclusion, during our Istanbul visit in December we experienced Turkish autumn and winter at once. You can have a lot of show but in a few hours the weather could change directly. There are so many things to do here in winter and the city of energy – Istanbul is welcoming visitors in any season.
On our way to the airport we through into the water few of kurushes (Turkish coins), cos we have this opinion – if to leave something in one place – you will get back there for sure.
And I have this feeling that soon I`m gonna come to Istanbul again…