The timeless city, the treasure trove history, the bridge between East and West, the 'Nea Roma' ("the new Rome") of the Romans, the capital city of the Ottoman and the Byzantine empires and the end of the silk road - it is Istanbul! I have more than one reasons to be excited and here is my quick five pointer to do list for my short two day visit -
- Visit the must visits - It would be blasphemy in the religion of travel, wouldn't it be to return from the timeless city of Istanbul without paying visits to the remarkable buildings of Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Topinaki Palace. Of course, I have scheduled 3 hours to walk around the Archaeological museum to dive into the history of the city!
- Cruise in Bosphorus - also called Istanbul strait, it is a natural water body 32 km long which connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara marking the separation of the two continents - Asia and Europe. There seem to be many options for cruise on the strait - cheap 2 hour government run ferries or half day tours or night cruise with food and entertainment. Again, I will see what it is worth after getting on ground but as of now all I want is glide in peace watching Istanbul glide away.
- Food, Food &; Food - After long intense day of walking and exploring that I have planned, what one relishes is a hot cup of tea. I will dig in with my spoons and hands and explore the culinary tradition of the city. I have a list of 15 food items I want to eat in Istanbul. I may as well walk along in one of the many food tours in Istanbul that I have found in my research so far.
- Watch the whirling dervish - Would I pay a touristic profit based organization to watch a religious, spiritual ceremony is a big question for me? Maybe not. It would make me feel really small inside almost like buying Rumi for money because money is what I have. I hope to find a religious organization that allows visitors to watch the religious ceremony for a small donation. I am hoping to get some cue when I land in Istanbul and talk to a few locals.
- Many other joys of Istanbul: List is long and could I choose one additional to fill in a blank? I want to spend an evening Taksim Square, read Orhan Pamuk on a Sunday morning with tea, walk on Galata Bridge and and climb Galata tower for the wonderful view of Istanbul.
"If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul."
-Alphonse de Lamartine