We flew into the Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, which is on the Asia side of Istanbul. We had arranged for a car to pick us up and take us the almost 2 hours to our hotel on the European side of the city.
We arrived at the Renaissance Polat Istanbul Hotel and got ourselves settled. We were only going to be in town for a few days so we had to make use of our free time to see as much of the city as possible. This was during the riots in Istanbul but we never encountered any protestors and never felt like we were at risk during our time in Istanbul.
We boarded the hotel shuttle and were dropped off at the Golden Horn. The Golden Horn is where the majority of the historical sites are in Istanbul. We had to climb a huge hill, but we first made our way to the Basilica Cistern, which was built in 532 A.D. It is the largest of hundreds of cisterns that lie beneath the city.
We then walked a little but further up the hill and found ourselves between the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. These two buildings each have so much history and draw millions of tourists each year. The Hagia Sophia was closed the first day we went, so we would have to wait to go inside.
We then went to the Palace gardens. They were beautiful and offered incredible views of the city. We did see a few military guards in the gardens with machine guns, which was the only military presence we saw while in Istanbul.
We the. Made out way to the Grand Bazaar. Istanbul boasts one of the oldest and largest bazaars in the world and it is an experience not to be missed. You can get lost weaving your way between merchants and you should know ahead of time if you want to buy anything because you will be haggled!
These are just a few of many incredible sites to see in Istanbul. Tomorrow I will be sharing our tour of the Hagia Sophia!