Stay In Sultanahmet
Why choose to stay in Sultanahmet?
With just a weekend in Istanbul we decided to stay in Sultanahmet.After a lot of googling ,we zeroed in on this as our base as we were short on time.The Blue mosque,Hagia Sophia,Topkapi palace and The Grand Bazaar are all within walking distance.I did read that the night life here was non existent but since i was travelling with my little man,partying was not on my “To Do” list.
Walk through the centuries
Sultanahmet is seeped in history matching the image of Turkey I had come with-cobbled streets,beautiful architecture,exotic smells and colourful sights.It was like I had my mystical glasses on.There is the beautiful Hippodrome with the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia on opposite ends.I found quite a few Museums in this area -The Turkish Islamic Arts,Carpet museum and The Mosaic museum.
Find shops,cafes,steetfood and the most friendly people
A surprise I enjoyed was the mini market stalls in the square,I saw on Sunday.Expect beautiful crafts,handmade soaps,souvenirs and Turkish sweets.Also along the square are shops where you will see shawls and scarfs being woven.
The shopkeepers here were the friendliest.Agreed they were trying to woo potential customers but it was always done with a smile and banter.Since I am from India I was sung Bollywood numbers every ten steps.
We ducked into a couple of cafes(The ones closer to the square are more expensive) and were always offered Turkish Tea as a sign of hospitality.The dondurma along the square has to be tried to experience the fun and magic of eating icecream.
Nearer the monuments we found a lot of red and white striped stalls selling simit ,hot roasted chestnuts and sweetcorn.Simit is a kind of Turkish bagel- a bit chewy with a sprinkling of sesame seeds on top.
During the day this area is crowded and bustling with locals and tourists.The area is traffic free and was easy to navigate on foot.I didn’t take the little one’s stroller as the roads in Sultanahmet are a bit hilly.The roads might be tricky for people with bad knees.
End the day at a local cafe
As the evening approaches things do get a bit quiet here.However I was lucky to be here during the holy of Ramadan.I got to experience the communal iftar at the square and it was beautiful.The neighbourhood shuts down by 11 pm and it gets pretty dark and deserted.There isn’t a party scene but you can venture out to the cafes. It might be near empty but you might end up with interesting conversations.I ended up not only trying some wonderful local food but also hearing some amazing stories.And that to me,would always remain the best part of travelling.