|View of the Hagia Sophia from the Galata Tower, Istanbul.|
Welcome to my biased, American tourist trip report for my trip to Istanbul, Cappadocia, and Ephesus, Turkey.
My itinerary was broken up as follows: day and a half in Istanbul; 2 days in Cappadocia; then return to Istanbul for 5 more days, one of which was fully committed to the "Other Tour" which I will write about later. But I wanted to hit up as many of the things from the top of my to-do list as I could early on, particularly those close enough to the hotel to walk back and forth to. The city is a little bigger than I expected (not the actual sprawl but it looked like shorter walking distances on Google Maps).
|Fisheye view of Hagia Sophia dome.|
Checked in around noon, room was ready (another nice thing after a long trip). Took a shower and a nap for a while, then headed off to the Hagia Sophia, easy walking distance from the hotel.
|View of the Hagia Sophia interior from balcony.|
So back to the Hagia Sophia. Long line to get in but moved fast. Prebooking the ticket on the Turkish Muze website helped a lot, because otherwise you'd have to wait in TWO long lines. I will let the tour of the Hagia Sophia speak through photos. I missed the Sultans' Tombs outside the main building (which Rick Steves talks about in his walking tour; hint: always read the walking tour notes for a place BEFORE leaving it. That hurt me in Pompeii in 2012 when I missed the Villa of the Mysteries...)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagia_Sophia More on the Hagia Sophia
After that, and a couple annoying carpet touts, I went back to the hotel and had dinner at a place called the Red River Pub - looked American Western theme, was playing Cuban music when I got there, and I had the Turkish meze plate of some things I couldn't tell you what they were, but were tasty spread on bread, and a doner lamb wrap with fries. And Efes beer (Turkish). Booze is expensive here since it's heavily taxed-- and it helps discourage the 98% Muslim population from drinking too too much. A rum & coke will run you about 20 TL in a tourist-oriented pub ($10) and I don't think that's due entirely to the tourist markup. The local beer is more reasonably priced but I didn't think to check what it was before I paid up.