Istanbul |

Istanbul, Türkiye (Turkey)

A short stopover, prior to heading to Lisbon for the start of a National Geographic Expedition in Spain and Portugal, provided an opportunity to see some of the sights in Istanbul.
I was staying next to Gezi Park, Taksin Square and arrived very early in the morning. No chance to check in so I went off for a walk through the district while the streets were being cleaned and the garbage collected. Fog was shrouding the upper part of the Galata Kulesi (Tower) and the fisherman were out in force on Galata Köprüsü (Bridge) and around the Golden Horn. Clearly where I was staying wasn't very close to the historical area of the city but the public transport was pretty easy to negotiate once I had an IstanbulKart (adding to my collection of RFID based public transport cards).
I decided to go to the Hagia Sophia early in the day but was still confronted with a huge queue. With exquisite timing I arrived at Sultan Ahmed Mosque just as it closed for prayers so a quick check of the guide book sent me to the Basilica Cistern. I wasn't expecting much but wow, lots of fun with reflections. After Sultan Ahmed Mosque I headed through the backstreets to visit Küçük Ayasofya Camii (aka the Little Hagia Sophia).
I did consider taking a tour up the Bosphorus but decided to just exercise the IstanbulKart on a ferry across to Üsküdar and walk around along the Anatolian shore. Maiden's Tower looked interesting but not interesting enough to pay for the ferry across to it so I took a break and had a çay (tea) instead. A bit further along the coast is the Selimiye Barracks, where there is a museum for Florence Nightingale. I was taking a picture of the statue out front when I was told I wasn't allowed to take photos. Another ferry ride took me back to Eminönü and I walked up to the Süleymaniye Mosque and then visited the Grand Bazaar.