Askeri Muze (Military Museum), Istanbul, Turkiye

Official website = http://goo.gl/BYryS1
Location = http://goo.gl/maps/aQVu2
Opening hours = 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays

Dolmabahce Palace was grandeur residence of the sultans, a must visit place in Istanbul. Topkapi Palace was the office building of the sultans, also a must visit place to experience the glory of Ottoman Empire. To complete the experience in Turkiye, it’s highly recommended to also visit this Military Museum to really know the history of the country since it was under Seljuk Empire until the end of World War I.

Although located a bit far from major tourism spots, the museum could be reached easily by public transport from Eminonu or Taksim (Bus 54HT or 69A or 54E or 69CY or 70FE, get off at “Harbiye”).

The entrance tickets were cheapest in Istanbul. There were English-speaking military guards (yaolo ganteng-ganteng amat…kelemahan gw emang “pria berseragam”) who also could become visitor guide with their extensive knowledge about the history of Turkiye also explain anything displayed in the museum. They would answer any question without any additional charge (had to pay extra to get tour guide at other museums in Istanbul other than Dolmabahce Palace).

Entrance fees.

MEHTER BAND PERFORMANCE

I planned our visit to be in the museum before 3:00 PM not to miss daily Mehter Band show. It started with 15 minutes of introduction then 30 minutes of patriotic musical performance. Visitors were allowed to make pose with the soldiers after the show.

Begun with slide shows.

Mehter Band during performance.

Let’s make a pose! Ummm…I think that was fake mustache under your nose, Sir.

The Ottoman military bands are thought to be the oldest variety of military marching band in the world. Though they are often known by the Persian-derived word “mahtar” (“mehter” in Ottoman Turkish) in the West, that word, properly speaking, refers only to a single musician in the band. In Ottoman, the band was generally known as mehterân (from the Persian plural mahtarān), though those bands used in the retinue of a vizier or prince were generally known as mehterhane (meaning roughly, “a gathering of mehters”, from Persian “house of the mahtar”). In modern Turkish, the band as a whole is often termed mehter bölüğü (“mehter company [troop]”), mehter takımı (“mehter platoon”). In the West, the band’s music is also often called Janissary music because the janissaries formed the core of the bands.

THE GLORY OF OTTOMAN EMPIRE

Alif and I were there until closing time, walked around the huge museum. The displays were amazing, I really admired the war equipments and tactics during the era of Seljuk and Ottoman sultans.

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Awesome cavalry and infantry!

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Display of bows and arrows.

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Display of handguns.

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Those swords on the left was crescent-shaped (used by Muslim troops) and the right one was cross-shaped (used by The Crusades troops).

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Display of military class room. Hey, that’s my boy among cadets. :)

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In one of the chambers that display figures of all of Ottoman sultans.

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Yes, they were Mongol descendants (see that human-size statue on the left) but embraced Islam since centuries before established Ottoman Empire.

DSC_0215Mighty sultans were always at front and fought along his troops, never stayed behind.

P1080257That was full-wall-size painting.

DSC_0224The painting was 2D but those cooking tools etc at foreground were real things.

THE CONQUEST OF CONSTANTINOPLE

The conquest of Istanbul, previously known as Constantinople, was extensively displayed. Before conquered by Ottoman Empire on May 29, 1453 then Muslim caliphate had tried to capture it twice:
– In 7th century (674 – 678 AD) under leadership of Khalid ibn Zayd ibn Kulayb (also known as Abu Ayyub al-Ansari), one of the early companions and standard-bearer of Rasulullah Muhammad SAW. The siege failed, Abu Ayub fell before the city walls during the siege and was buried at Eyüp Sultan Mosque complex. Later  it became a tradition that Ottoman sultans were girt with the Sword of Osman at the Eyüp mosque upon their accession. Today it remains one of the holiest Muslim shrines in Istanbul.
– In 8th century (717 – 718 AD) there was another siege which also a failure which weakened Umayyad Caliphate. As historian Bernard Lewis commented, “Its failure brought a grave moment for Umayyad power. The financial strain of equipping and maintaining the expedition caused an aggravation of the fiscal and financial oppression which had already aroused such dangerous opposition. The destruction of the fleet and army of Syria at the sea walls of Constantinople deprived the regime of the chief material basis of its power”.

The conquest was very important for Muslim because The Prophet, Rasulullah Muhammad SAW, mentioned in one of hadith: “Lataftahanna al-Qustantiniyya wa lani`ma al-amiru amiruha wa lani`ma al-jayshu dhalika al-jaysh.” which means “Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will her leader be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!

The city eventually conquered by Muslim when Ottoman Empire, under the command of 21-years-old Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II (http://goo.gl/PEdEs0), attacked the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos from April 6 until May 29, 1453. Constantine XI died in the battle at the fall of Constantinople, then became a legendary figure in Greek folklore as the “Marble Emperor” (it’s said that he would awaken and recover the Empire and Constantinople from the Ottomans).

Initially,  the Ottoman fleet could not enter the Golden Horn due to the defensive chain the Byzantines had laid across the entrance. Therefore, Sultan Mehmed II tried to circumvent the chain. He ordered the construction of a road of greased logs across Galata on the north side of the Golden Horn. Over one night, 72 ships were carried over land and put into the Golden Horn, threatening the city from the north (http://goo.gl/ltVkS2).

The sultan with his soldier, spiritual adviser, personal assistant.

Display of route taken by Sultan Mehmed II’s troops when taking 72 ships overland within one night.

The route was circling (on the left side of display or east side or Bosphorus Strait), popular walking tour route for Muslim tourist who would like to go on tracking on foot (as shown paved with wood for a little over one-mile in above 3D display).

THE ISLAMIC CALIPHATE

When finally conqured Al Quds (Palestine in modern time), then Sultan Selim became caliph, bearing the title “Khalifeh ül-Rasul Rab al-A’alamin” (Successor of the Prophet of the Lord of the Universe), in year 1517 after Al-Mutawakkil III (the last of the Abbasiyah Caliphs in Cairo), formally surrendered the caliphate titles and regalia (the sword, mantle and other relics of Rasulullah Muhammad SAW) to him at Istanbul. Sultan Selim also received the title “Servant of the Two Holy Shrines” (Arabic = Khadim al-Haramayn ash-Sharifayn, Turkish = Khâdim ül-Harameyn ash-Sharifeyn) from Sharif of Mecca when he conquered al-Hejaz and with it the Muslim Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina in the same year.

Sultan Selim’s full title was: “Sovereign of the House of Osman, King of the Two Lands (Europe and Asia Continents), Khagan of the Two Seas (Mediterranean and Indian Seas), Conqueror of the Two Armies (European and Safavid armies), Servant of the Two Holy Shrines (Mecca and Medina), Emperor of the Three Cities of Istanbul, Edirne and Bursa.”

The next sultans after him inherited the above title until the caliphate was abolished by Ataturk on March 3, 1924 (the last caliph was Sultan Abdulmecid).

At the peak of its glory in 17th century, Ottoman Caliphate covered around 5,200,000 km² (2,007,731 square miles) which now become modern countries (or part) of  Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Macedonia,  Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Italy, Austria, Czech, Slovakia, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Morocco, Somalia, Ethiopia, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Malta, Egypt, Eritrea, Djibouti, Chad (until secret agreement of “Sykes-Picot” in year 1916 between British and France divided it into smaller countries)

Ottoman Caliphate at peak of glory.

THE ORIGIN OF TURKS

Some display suggested that the origin of Turks who later established Ottoman Empire might be people from Central Asia (http://goo.gl/XKehPc), descendants of Attila The Hunt who ruled the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century considering the similarity of the alphabets between old Turkish and Uyghur (a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia which nowadays live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China).

Comparison between Turkish alphabets (before used modified Arabic alphabets) and Uygur alphabets which used by people who lived in Muslim-majority region of current People Republic of China.

We left the museum at 5:00 PM (it was dark already on that winter evening) with lots of newly gained knowledge about the glory of the last caliphate that ever had Makkah-Madinah-Al Quds (three holiest city for Muslim) also Contantinople (the capital of  Christian Eastern Orthodoxy known as the Byzantine Empire) under their control.

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Our last pose before left.

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The Snowy Mount Uludağ, Bursa, Turkiye

Mount Uludağ is the fabled Mount Olympus, known in Greek mythology as the place where the gods watched the Trojan war.  The peak which rises 2543 m (highest in the Western Anatolia Region of Republic of Turkiye) is located 36 km from the historic city center of Bursa, Turkiye.

In medieval times, Uludağ served as a hermitage to Christian monks, which explains why it was named Keşiş Dağı (“Mountain of the Monks”) in Ottoman Turkish. It was also this time when, in the absence of refrigators, the ice harvested from the mountain made its way to the imperial kitchen in Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace. The mountain was later renamed Uludağ, which translates “Great Mountain” (“great” being more in the sense of “grand”), in 1935, about a decade after the Turkish Republic was founded.

Because its high altitude provides cool climate, Uludağ National Park is always popular destinations during summer for picnic. When winter comes (snow starts falling from December 20), it becomes leading center for winter sports and skiing.  The visitors of Uludağ National Park are close to 1,000,000 people every year (http://goo.gl/YNVUTC).

The easiest way to reach the peak from Istanbul is taking ferry to Mudanya then Bus 3/F to Teleferik where people could get 25 minutes trip by cable car up to the peak (http://goo.gl/LzbrPY). However, the line was closed for a year since November 1, 2012 and too bad that it was still under rework and not opened yet until Alif and I visited Bursa on December 23, 2013 then we couldn’t experienced it.

After visited Yesil Cami, Yesil Turbe, Ulucami, Covered Bazaar, we walked up to Tophane to ride minibus or “dolmus” in Turkish (Google maps: http://goo.gl/maps/y5iJ6…yes, that white car at the tip of green arrow on the map is the minibus). The driver would not start driving to Uludağ until his minibus had full seats of 15 passengers at 2:45 PM. Fare = 12 TL one way, per passenger (Alif didn’t get any discount because he took one seat like me).

The trip was 50 minutes (http://goo.gl/maps/EfnPG), Alif was so excited to see snow on the roadside starting from 10 minutes after we departed from Osman Gazi Caddesi. End of December until mid of January should be the best time to go to the peak of Uludağ, because it has snow already but not too much to cause road blocks.

The dolmus dropped us in front of some shops which provided food/beverage also equipment rental (25 TL per day for one set of skis, ski boots and ski poles). They also provided skiing trainer for 100 TL per hour.

We arrived there at 3:35 PM, and the driver promised to pick us back to the city at 5:30 PM, then we had not much time.

I was so happy to see Alif enjoyed it very much (his first experience of being in snowing place not artificial one like in i-City) until sunset at 5:00 PM. His gloves and pants were wet after tried skiing and making a snow man, glad that I brought extra clothes for him to change before we traveled back to the city and continue our trip to Selcuk.

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Taksim Square and Nostalgic Tram, Istanbul, Turkiye

Taksim Square (Turkish: Taksim Meydanı) was situated in the European part of Istanbul, Turkey. Location on Google maps: http://goo.gl/maps/UUg4s.

The open space was a major tourist and leisure district famed for its restaurants, shops, and hotels. It was considered as the heart of modern Istanbul with the central station of the Istanbul Metro network.

Taksim Square was also the location of the Monument of the Republic (Turkish: Cumhuriyet Anıtı) which was crafted by Pietro Canonica and inaugurated in 1928. The monument commemorates the 5th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, following the Turkish War of Independence.

After visited Dolmabahce Palace, Alif and I spent time around the square with Nanang on that Sunday – December 22, 2013. Initially we sat outside a restaurant on Istiklal Street, enjoyed some cups of Turkish tea. When the weather was getting colder in that winter afternoon, then I put my jacket on, later we moved inside to enjoy “borek” (Turkish pastry) which was served with feta cheese. Very yummy!

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On our way from Istiklal Caddesi to subway station, Alif and I walked through the square again. There were lots of pigeons, crumbs to feed them were available for sale (1 TL per small cup).

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Other than Funikular (Taksim-Kabatas) and Metro (Sishane-Haciosmani), Taksim Square was also accessible by Nostalgic Tram (Taksim-Tunel). Although it’s as much a curiosity as a means of transport, the trams carried an average of 6000 passengers daily. Some naughty kids sometimes took illegal ride, hanging outside the tram instead of get inside and pay relatively small fare (also payable by IstanbulKart).

Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul, Turkiye

Official website = http://goo.gl/CKi3hB
Location = http://goo.gl/maps/CDmvj
Opening hours = 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, closed on Mondays and Thursdays

The daily visitor quota in Dolmabahçe Palace was limited to 3.000 people. The ticket office closed at 4:00 PM but might be earlier when already exceeded the daily ticket quota.

Entrance fee for adult: Palace only = 30 TL, Harem only = 20TL, Palace and Harem (combined) = 40 TL. Free of charge for young kids until 6 years old, student (older kids like Alif) paid 5 TL.

Refer to the official website, Dolmabahçe Palace was built by Sultan Abdulmecid (1839-1861), the 31st Ottoman Sultan. The palace, whose construction commenced on June 13th, 1843, was brought into use on June 7th, 1856, upon completion of surrounding walls. It served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1922, apart from a 22-years interval (1887-1909) in which Yıldız Palace was used.

The palace mainly consists of three parts, named as the Imperial Mabeyn (State Apartments), Muayede Salon (Ceremonial Hall) and the Imperial Harem. It has a usable floor area of 45,000 square meters, 285 rooms, 44 reception rooms and 6 hamams.

The Imperial Mabeyn was allocated for administrative affairs of the state, Imperial Harem was allocated for private lives of the sultan and his family and the Muayede Salon, placed between these two sections, was allocated for exchanging of bayram greetings of sultan with dignitary statesmen and for some important state ceremonies.

Dolmabahçe Palace hosted 6 sultans:
– Sultan Abdülmecid I (1839–1861)
– Sultan Abdülaziz (1961-1876)
– Sultan Murad V (93 days in 1876)
– Sultan Abdülhamid II (1876-1909)
– Sultan Mehmed V Reshad (1909-1918)
– Sultan Mehmed VI (1918-1922)

The Turkish Grand National Assembly abolished the sultanate on November 1, 1922. Sultan Mehmed VI was expelled from Istanbul, aboard the British warship Malaya and went into exile in Malta. He later lived on the Italian Riviera, died in Sanremo, Italy, on May 16, 1926. He was buried at the Tekkiye Mosque of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in Damascus.

Sultan Abdülmecid II was the last Sunni Caliph of Islam from the Ottoman Sultanate, nominally the 37th Head of the Ottoman Imperial House from 1922 to 1924. He was elected as Caliph by the Turkish National Assembly at Ankara following the deposition of his cousin, Sultan Mehmed VI, when the sultanate was abolished. He established himself in Istanbul since November 24, 1922. Sultan Abdülmecid II didn’t reign long, he was deposed and expelled from Turkey together with his family on March 3, 1924. Sultan Abdul Mejid II died at his house in the Boulevard Suchet, Paris XVIe, France, on August 23, 1944 (coincided with the Liberation of Paris from Nazi occupation). He was buried in Medina, Saudi Arabia.

After abolition of the caliphate in 1924, the palace was used as Presidency office between 1927-1949.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkish Republic, used Dolmabahçe Palace for his studies at İstanbul between 1927-1938. He spent the last days of his medical treatment in the palace as his health deteriorated. Atatürk passed away at 9:05 AM on November 10, 1938, in a bedroom that was now part of the museum. All the clocks in the palace were stopped and set to 9:05 after his death. Although this had changed and clocks were set to different times around the palace, the clock in the room where he died was still pointing to 9:05 AM.

The Palace was partially open to protocol and visits between 1926-1984, then opened to visit as a “museum-palace” from 1984.

On that sunny Sunday morning (December 22, 2013) Alif and I reached the palace at 11:00 AM by Tram T1 from Sultanahmet to Kabatas then walked 5 minutes from the tramway final stop.


Rules for visitors: All tours inside the palace and harem were guided (scheduled to start every 20-30 minutes). It lasted around 45 minutes for the palace, 30 minutes for the harem. Photography or video recording was strictly not allowed. Visitors were only allowed to walk individually outside the building to enjoy and take pictures of the gardens and fountains.

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Then I met Nanang, http://pbase.com/nshidayat, an Indonesian globetrotter who’s been in 33 countries within last 3 years. He and I were in Australia (2011), later at Bali and Jakarta (2012), within same period but didn’t crossed our ways until we met there at Istanbul.

Before left, I took below pics of Dolmabahce Clock Tower (http://english.istanbul.gov.tr/Default.aspx?pid=13308) and Dolmabahce Mosque (http://english.istanbul.com/explore-istanbul/must-see/churches-synagogues/dolmabahce-mosque).

Baklava – must buy Turkish delicacy

Baklava is a must try in Turkiye. Prices vary from 35 TL to 50 TL per kg, depend on filling. There were many places selling it all over Istanbul, from fancy restaurants in Sultanahmet area until small bakeries in Spice Market.

To bring it as gift for loved ones at home country, you can get some boxes on last minutes before depart from Turkiye via Ataturk International Airport. I recommend buying from Köşkeroğlu outlet (http://www.koskeroglu.com/) inside Airport Market, a discount store. You can find it easily after pass Metro exit gate, before enter airport’s departure area (few meters at the right side of entrance gate).

Pics taken from http://www.neredekal.com/koskeroglu-havalimani/foto-galeri/1.

Here is mine, I bought half kilogram of nut baklava = 20 TL (16 pieces):

I found a recipe online and wanted to try cooking it: http://chefinyou.com/2009/11/baklava-recipe/. Damn, I miss Turkiye already!

Recommended Itinerary to Istanbul, Turkiye

There are lots of must visit places in Istanbul. I think you should not spend less than 4 days there. But if you have only 2 full days, then here is my suggestion based on their vicinity.

DAY ONE
– The Hippodrome of Constantinople (Sultanahmet Meydanı) which was a circus that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. It public space, opens 24/7, perfect to start your day. No entrance ticket.
– Topkapi Palace = great place to learn history of Ottoman Empire, the last khilafah which governed three most holy cities for Muslim i.e. (1) Makkah,  (2) Madinah, (3) Al Quds (Yerussalem). Unlikely will ever happen again since Israel got their hands on the 3rd city. Time required = 3-4 hours in the morning, recommended to start your visit since the opening hours (9:00 AM). Entrance ticket = 25 TL, additional 15 TL to see the harem too.
– Archaeological Museum (http://www.istanbularkeoloji.gov.tr/main_page). I didn’t visit it because my son wasn’t interested, but seems like you’ll have to be there at least 2 hours. Entrance ticket = 10 TL.
– Hagia Sophia = amazing building which was a church before become a mosque then become museum. Wow effect when I saw the ceilings because Islamic calligraphy didn’t cover places where holy figures in Christianity were painted. Time required = 1 hour. Entrance ticket = 25 TL.
– Blue Mosque or Sultanahmet Cami = really recommended to do your pray here. Time required = 1 hour until Adzan Maghrib to enjoy the sight of the beautiful colorful fountain between the mosque and Hagia Sophia (they didn’t lit the light during the day). No entrance ticket.

Tips: Get “Museum Pass” = 85 TL to visit Chora Museum, Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapı Palace Museum, İstanbul Archaeological Museums, İstanbul Mosaic Museum, Museum of Turkish and İslamic Arts, Galata Mevlevi House Museum, Yıldız Palace Museum, Museum for the History of Science and Technology in Islam, within 72 hours(http://www.muze.gov.tr/museum_pass).

DAY TWO
– Start your day by going to Eyup Sultan Mosque (Bus 99A from Eminonu) early in the morning. Some people believe that when you pray there to ask for something then God will grant it. Time required = 2-3 hours including transport. No entrance ticket.
– Back to Eminonu, cross the street to visit Yeni Cami, then enter and stroll along Spice Market (perfect place to buy Turkish delicacy on cheaper place than anywhere else), end it at Rustempasa Cami (small mosque with beautiful interior). Time required = 2-3 hours. No entrance ticket.
– From Eminonu, ride tram to Kabatas. Get off and walk few minutes to Dolmabahce Palace to visit the residence of last sultan also the room where The Father of Turkiye (Mustafa Kemal Ataturk) passed away. Entrance fee for adult:
Palace only = 30 TL, harem only = 20 TL, palace and harem (combined) = 40 TL. These fares already includes guided tour because visitors were not allowed to walk inside the building by themselves. Time required = 3-4 hours. Don’t forget to make a pose at side of the palace with  Bosphorus Strait as your background.
– Back to Kabatas, ride funicular to the famous historical Taksim Square. The nostaljic tram would be interesting experience. It’s a very hype location where you can shop for international branded fashion items and hang out at night clubs.

Other recommended places and things to do if you have extra days:
– Cevahir Mall…Europe’s biggest shopping mall before they opened a bigger one in London (http://traveltips.usatoday.com/top-three-biggest-shopping-malls-europe-104052.html). Accessible by Metro to Sisli. Lots of “indimir” (discount/sale) outlets. Many choice of food/beverage on budget at the foodcourt (5th floor). Perfect for us girls. :p
– Military Museum at Harbiye, Sisli (can be reached from Eminonu by Bus 54E or others, http://placesinistanbul.com/placeTransit.php?placeID=2321&lan=EN) = best place to learn history of Selcuk Empire, Ottoman Empire, modern Turkish Republik. Go there after lunch to see Mehter Band performance which starts at 3:00 PM. Entrance ticket = 5 TL.
– Grand Bazaar near Blue Mosque. No entrance ticket.
– Basilica Cistern, also near Blue Mosque. Entrance ticket = 10 TL. Visitors could make a pose like Sultan/Sultana with provided prop and backdrop (14 TL for one print, 55 TL for one print and a CD contains all of your pics) inside the cistern.
– Bosphorus Tour from Eminonu = 10 TL for 2.5 hours, 25 TL for 6 hours (http://sehirhatlari.com.tr/en/announcement/about-short-bosphorus-tour-929.html).
– Walk cross the Galata Bridge from Eminonu to Galata Tower. I didn’t go there because my 9 years old boy didn’t want to do it, but would be very interesting experience (http://aglobalaffair.com/2012/04/13/a-walk-across-galata-bridge-an-istanbul-must-do/).
– Suleymaniye Cami and the tomb of of Sinan Mimar, also Valens Aqueduct nearby, in Fatih area. I didn’t go there because there was not enough time.
– Take cable car from Eyup Sultan Mosque to Pierre Loti Cafe (http://www.istanbul-ulasim.com.tr/our-network/eyup-piyerloti-aerial-cable-car.aspx). I didn’t go there also because there was not enough time.
– Perhaps visit Istanbul Aquarium, the spectacular tourist attraction (http://www.wittistanbul.com/magazine/istanbul-aquarium-a-spectacular-tourist-attraction/)? I didn’t because failed to get the bus from Eminonu.
– Turkish traditional bath at any hamam (ask your Turkish friend for recommendation)…I didn’t because I had no budget, around 50 TL per person.
– Watch sema ceremony or whirling dervishes (ask your Turkish friend for recommendation)…I didn’t also because I had no budget for the luxury, around 50 TL per person.

I GOTTA BACK TO ISTANBUL, SOMEDAY!

TURKIYE TRIP 2013 – DAY TEN

It was going to be a long trip again, I was glad that Alif had more than 10 hours of sleep until 6:00 AM. We woke up fresh, cooked some instant noodles, and got ready for our last day of this year’s vacation in Turkiye.

BLUE MOSQUE

At 10:00 AM, I finally got a chance to take pictures of inside of Blue Mosque. Felt a bit strange that I did it on last hours of that holiday, considering it was actually the tourism spot of Instanbul which was nearest to my accommodation (everyday then I walked pass in front of it).

The Sultanahmet Mosque didn’t collect any entrance fee. However, I was still surprised to see so much tourist visited it on that Sunday morning. Hundreds, probably around one thousand people.

There were brochures about Islam, also special tour guides who could explain the mosque with introduction to the principles of the religion.

We stayed there for 45 minutes, then left to buy souvenir shops near Gate B of the mosque.

GOING HOME TO JAKARTA

Arrived back at the homestay at 11:45 AM, I repackaged our bags and finally started going to airport at 12:25 PM.

Dragging our heavy luggages to Sultanahmet Tram Station was not easy, it took 20 minutes. We got the tram of 12:48 PM departure, arrived at Zeytinburnu within 30 minutes, changed Metro to Ataturk Havalimani and arrived at 1:43 PM (55 minutes trip including waiting for Metro).

We did a quick stop Airport Market near the airport entrance gate, a highly recommended place for last minute shopping before leave Istanbul. Alif got a giant Toblerone (400 gr = 9.99 TL), I bought a silk scarf and two boxes of baklava @500 gr (40 TL per kg).

It was 2:15 PM already when we arrived at Saudia check in counter. Smooth and efficient process.

The Saudia flight departed as scheduled, with comfortable transit at nice Riyadh Airport (we received dinner box of chicken briyani with salad and bread).

I wish to visit Turkiye again…