The Istanbul district Beyoglu has a large amount of street art sprawled over its alley ways and walk ways. I, but mostly Sonya’s sister, Sukey, took a large number of photos which I thought would be cool to share.
Bursa and the Iskender Kebab
On the way from Ephesus back to Istanbul we stopped at Bursa which is famous for the Iskender kebab. We found a small street restaurant and order three Iskender kebabs, not knowing what to expect. After a little while we were served with one of the most unattractive dishes I have seen. Picture a large pile of sliced kebab meat on a plate with glistening pools of butter. Hidden underneath is pide bread which soaks up the tomato flavoured sauce and butter. The only redemption was the few slices of pickles and tomatoes.
From Bursda we crossed the Sea of Marmara by car ferry and crossed from Asian to European Turkey. Instead of staying at old Istanbul to the south of the Golden Horn we thought it would be a nice change staying on the northern side in the Beyoglu district. After a nightmare time trying navigating the narrow one-way streets and looking for parking, we decided to not touch the car till our departure.
During the walk to our hotel, we started to realise we were staying at the hip part of town, boutique stores and street art everywhere. Our hostel was also a pleasant surprise, a small loft room with private bathroom and main window overlooking the street.
Galata Tower, Istiklal Avenue and Taksim Square
That evening we decided to wander the streets, first visiting Galata Tower. Originally built as a light house, Galata Tower offers amazing views of the Golden Horn and Beyoglu.
From Galata Tower we followed the tram tracks along Istiklal Avenue an elegant pedestrian street to Taksim Square taking photos of the Monument of Republic. We ended our night with dinner at one of the restaurants.
In the morning we decided to visit Dolmabahce Palace one of the main administrative centres of the Ottoman Empire. Walking towards the Gate of the Sultan which marked the entrance to the palace there was a lone Turkish Guard guarding the entrance. I guess similar to the Queen’s Guards in Buckingham Palace. The Turkish Guard also did not move which made for some good photographs. Inside the palace grounds were neatly trimmed gardens and extravagant fountains. Inside the palace was what I would describe as an ‘old person’s home’, many styles clashing together with the view of more is better. There was also one of the world’s largest chandeliers in one room, though those went out of style years ago.
From Dolmabahce Palace we walked over the Golden Horn Bridge with the aim the try a famous fish sandwich. We found a number of restaurants under the Golden Horn Bridge who severed nothing move then a fillet of fish in a bun with salad, it was delicious. At the Old Istanbul side was a large open area with many small stands selling snacks, the first think we tried was a glass of red water with floating pieces, it turned out picked vegetables in brine (turşu). From salty we tried sweet, deep fried balls of pastry in syrup (kemalpaşa tatlısı).
We made one last stop at the Grand Bazaar stocking up on Turkish Delight and souvenirs.
For our last day in Istanbul there was no better thing to do then a cruise up the Bosporus River. After a rushed boarding, narrowly missing the departure we took our seats on the ferry. The ferry passed a number of key sights including Galata Tower, Dolmabahce Palace, Ortakoy Mosque, Bosphorus Bridge, Beylerbeyi Palace, Küçüksu Palace and Anadolu Kavağı were we made a stop. Anadolu Kavağı located on the Asian side of Turkey is the location of Yoros Castle which on a hill overlooking the Black Sea. We climbed up to Yoros Castle, but unfortunately it was closed for restoration.
For lunch we had mezze at one of the restaurants on the shore before heading back down the Bosporus crossing from the Asian to European Turkey for the last time. One last walk across the Golden Horn Bridge heading towards the car ended our Istanbul holiday.
From Ephesus we rushed to Pamukkale, hoping to reach before sunset. The Pamukkale translates to cotton castle due to it snow white travertines formed by the flowing hot springs. Situated overlooking Pamukkale is the ancient city of Hierapolis, translating to Holy City, one of the cities feature is an extensive Necropolis following the main road.
We arrived at the north entrance to Hierapolis late in the afternoon, a little confused as we couldn’t see any sign of the white travertines. As we entered the old city, we released we had come through the back and had to make a two kilometre journey through the necropolis. It was an amazing experience though and nothing I had seen before, hundreds of giant tombs and stone coffins on either side.
Approaching the city we reached the Northern Roman Baths with stone arches still intact. The entrance to Hierapolis is marked by Domitianus Gate consisting of three large arches with the remains of two watchtowers on either side. The main ancient city consisted of a Nymphaeum, the Temple of Apollo, a Plutonium and an Agora.
Moving to the southern outskirts of Hierapolis we reached Pamukkale, initially travertines were very small, but as we moved closer we were presented with a cliff of white. We removed our shoes (to protect the formations) and walked down. An amazing experience. We took as many photos as we could before the sun set and then made our way back through the Necropolis.
That night we made a long drive to Kütahya, where we stayed at a old, dingy hotel for the night on the way to Istanbul.
We awoke early in Selçuk the following morning after a pleasant stay at the Australian New Zealand guesthouse, run by a Turkish Australian man who had lived in Perth for eight years. Our first stop was the Aqueduct which then led us to the 6th century Basilica of St. John the Apostle which some believe, is built on the site of the Apostle’s tomb. It is believed that the Apostle John fled from Jerusalem to the city where he remained for the rest of his life, writing his gospels. We spent some time wandering around the Basilica grounds – it was serene and peaceful with no other tourists around. From the Basilica we could see the grand fortress of Selçuk on Ayasoluk Hill and the İsa Bey Mosque.
Ephesus was our next stop located about four kilometres from the city. When we arrived a few tour buses had already unloaded. We decided on opting for a guided tour and were approached by an English speaking guide, Volkan, who held the record for longest tour (51 days) in Turkey. The history of the Ephesus site spans thousands of years, beginning in the Neolithic age (around 6000BC) across the Bronze, Dark ages, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras before being conquered during the Ottoman Period and abandoned. Now, Ephesus contains the largest Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean and only 25% of the site had been excavated.
Highlights of Ephesus include the Library of Celsus, a façade of which has been carefully reconstructed from original pieces, the Theatre which has a 22,000 seating capacity, the outdoor/communal latrines which were also a key social area, The Temple of Hadrian, The Temple of Domitrian and the agora (market places). After the tour we decided to also visit the recently excavated Roman apartments, the living compounds of where wealthy Romans lived. They were surprisingly spacious, bright and airy and beautifully decorated with mosaics covering walls and floors. The rooms were also huge and numerous.
After our morning in Ephesus we decided to taken on Voltron’s recommendation and visit one of the local restaurants nearby to the Seven Sleepers, for some Gözleme (pancakes / crepes) before heading off to our next stop, Pamukkale.