What are you looking for?
8 October 2015

travel | istanbul, day two

sunday was my birthday, and after yet another night of broken sleep - no thanks so all of the noise in all of istanbul being made directly outside our window two nights in a row, we decided we were too old for this shit, and so rebekah treated us to a hotel stay for the rest of our trip. that was probably the best birthday present i could have been given to be honest, because i was gagging for a good night's sleep, some peace and quiet, and some bloody wifi - everything our 'luxury hostel' was lacking. we weren't able to check in until two that day, so we figured we'd make the most of the day we had to our disposal, and headed out after a lazy morning and quick breakfast before we headed off.

the walk from the hostel to the really... busy part of town was a good 40 minutes or so, so we grabbed the starbucks and made our way there. our first stop for the day was the rüstem pasha mosque on the golden horn, which we could see as we crossed the bridge. or, so we thought we could see anyway. in that picture above, see the mosque to the left? that's where we thought we were going. if you concentrate really closely though, it'll soon become apparent that that is actually ~two mosques, not one. 

further up the hill from rüstem pasha is the súleymaniye mosque, which is a quiiite a bit bigger. and from afar looks like both mosques make up one really big one. don't you think? yes well, so did we.

rustem pasa was absolutely beautiful. it was the first proper actual real-time mosque we'd been in, that wasn't now a museum, and was a real in-working-order mosque. because of this, we had to scarf-up, which i was a bit worried about. not for any other reason than i really didn't want to insult anyone or dress inappropriately at all. i needn't have worried, as each of the mosques we went to over the trip had their own cupboard of scarves and wraps for men and women to borrow if they were dressed less than suitably to enter.

i wouldn't say that i'm particularly spiritual. i went through 13 years of catholic schooling, did a few terms of sunday school, and have attending a couple of easter and midnight masses in my time, but i was brought up mainly athiest. not because my parents are heathens, but because i suppose they thought it would be best for me to make up my own mind. and, i suppose i would say that naturally i am inclined to say i am "christian" when asked the question, but also that i am a realist, and i don't really believe a word of the bible. i believe in big bang. i believe in science. but i also believe that the minute i walked inside rustem pasa, i felt ~something.

hard not to really, when you're inside that beautiful building, covered in over 80 types of iznik tiles; no other mosque we visited in istanbul had such a variety of these patterned tiles on display, and this little (in comparison) mosque would certainly be my favourite of the trip. it's only a small, local mosque in fatih, but something about it gave me all the feels, and the minute we walked in, i fell in love.

we were kicked out just as the call to prayer started, so we wandered around the grounds, snapping pics and perfecting our selfies before we decided to move on up the hill to súleymaniye and see what the deal was up there. to get up to it we had to walk through a local market, and seeing as it was already like, after midday and stifling hot, we grabbed a couple of drinks to slurp on the way up the steep hill. oh, and a selfie stick because lol. it was about 80p with the conversion rate, and i am not mad at that.

the selfie stick came in handy once we reached the top - the views from up there were absolutely incredible; out to the asian side of of istanbul and back over to the side of the horn that we were staying on, and being that high up you could see for days. it really hit home how ~spacious that city is. or - well, not spacious as such, but... full. it's very full.

we had a wander around the bigger mosque, which was a lot bigger, but not necessarily better. a lot of chandeliers lit up the high domey roof which was really pretty, but without the prettiness of the tiling from the smaller mosque, there was just not a lot of personality. the stained windows were absolutely stunning, but not as big and open as catholic churches, so the light was mainly coming from the lights above, and not the natural light through the high windows. pretty, but not pretty enough... yaknow?

we headed back to the hostel, packed our bags and shipped out. by the time we got to the radisson blu it was after 5 and we were knackered. hot, bothered, tired, and keen for a sit down. we checked in and the concierge noted it was my birthday... and that's the moment the upgrade happened. from a twin room to a superior king, we not only ended up with smashing views of the city, but a mahooosive king size bed made directly out of clouds, as well as a sweet little tasting platter of dried fruit and nuts, and sparking water to cool us down. absolutely blown away from the staff in the hotel, we were - then and there - sure that we'd made the right decision leaving the hostel.

with a rooftop dinner on the cards we took long, luke warm showers, washed out gross heads, and had a lay down on cloudiness before heading skyward to eat the "best kebaps in all of istanbul". legit marketing. i mean, it was tasty, yes, but the baklava and pistachio ice cream was better. what wasn't better was the creepy old man waiter that kept hitting on rebekah, while we were eating. i mean, old enough to her own father old. asking her how many children she had, why wasn't she married, and holding her hand while she stood there looking all awkies. it was ~probably meant all in a really complimentary way, but sometimes those things get lost in translation, right? 

and it kind of ruined the mood, so we left after the wildly inappropriate chat got mistranslated even more. just like the time another gross old man told her she reminded him of an arabian horse, and that she was worth more than 100 camels. i mean, these are the types of cattle calls you get outside of london, guys - i think the western world needs to up their game on the weird pick-up line front, eh?

thirrty one was a weird (but awesome) birthday, ~that is for sure.

Add your comment

thank you for your comment, you lovely thing you.