On checking in and settling in our hotel room, we decided to unpack all our new york winter gear and set out into the cold Istanbul evening..

What a marvellous idea! On procuring basic directions form the receptionist on duty, we walked out of the hotel, turned left and began our mini adventure! First things first- we needed to exchange cash, and walked in the direction of Sultanahmet. The blogs I read all stated that Sultanahmet was a 5 minute walk away.. but seriously.. it is not.. Maybe it took us longer since it was our first time and we (rather I) decided to people watch! My favourite way to spend time- I tell you:)

The first thing that caught my eye whilst walking, was the number of street vendors; from food to first copies of bags.. Oh the Burberry’s, LV’s, and Chanels that caught my eye! I really need to find out if there is any law against counterfeit goods in this country. It is unacceptable! In Dubai you have to go into the narrow recesses of Karama and Deira, to buy horrible copies of such brands- one look and you know that they are fake! But here… on the streets of Istanbul, they were peddled without any fear! Was I tempted? Sadly not- though I wish I was.. Personally I don’t see the point in buying a fake bag- I’d rather save up and buy an original or not buy one at all. You get really good bags in the market- why help an economy- or rather, a business that thrives on selling fake items.

On exchanging money, we spotted a crowd of tourists right near the university and walked up to it, clicked a few pictures and moved on.. We were still wondering if it would make any sense actually going up to Sultanahmet at this hour, as all the major attractions shut early. It was almost 5:30 ppm when we spotted a sign for the ‘Grand Bazaar”  It kind of  called out to me.. a sweet lulling sound saying, ‘Come check me out’! And so I headed there… Not very impressed as such, untill I looked up and saw the roof, and the little signs offering trivia about the Grand Bazar.

http://www.urbaneye.in recommended that I go check out a small cafe called ‘Fes (Fez) Cafe’, which I did. They had tiny models of the whirling dervishes on their tables, and Mr. R had his first cup of turkish coffee in Turkey. It was served with water to clean your palette, alcohol to burn your throat! and a piece of ‘lokum’ or Turkish delight!

Surprisingly, we did not buy a thing from the Grand Bazaar and headed out in search of the Sulemaniye mosque, which we finally located, after asking around and a long walk in the freezing cold. The mosque was breathtaking,  but we didn’t go in.  A beautiful spot to click pictures and absolutely amazing architecture on the outside. Makes you wonder how they did it then.. without our modern day technology, tools and ideas!

On leaving the premises of the mosque, we were officially lost! Apparently our hotel was now on the opposite end. Our blackberry cum GPS didn’t help at all, and a policeman did! Oh and let us not forget- he warned us not to go into ‘Taksim’ as it was not a ‘safe’ area, and then asked if we were muslim. I will never understand why this question.. Anyway- we were too tired to go into Taksim by then, and headed to our hotel, stopping at the University for some corn on the cob- which was cold…and landed in the trash!

Our tiredness knew no  bounds. and the joy we felt when we got to our room…….It was obviously super cold but nothing that Mr. Chivas and Bacardi could not handle!