Weekender Bahrain, Monday, March 18 2019

The Realistic Wanderlust

admin 02-Mar-2019

The Realistic Wanderlust

Travel the world on a budget with "Rizwan & Nazneen”

Meet Rizwan Abdulla and Nazneen Najeeb. The couple who believes in: “work.save.travel.repeat”. The stars of popular social media channel ‘boardingpassports’ have collaborated with Weekender to present their interesting travel stories in a way to allow the wanderlust in you to set your travel plans in motion. It is practical and it can happen. This week, let’s set our exploration sights on: 

TURKEY- AN EPIC WONDER!

The initial spark that triggered the love for travel in us, was in 2016 when we got to see a beautiful picture of a street in Istanbul, on the internet. That’s it! We started planning! This time, we take you on a “Turkey Travelogue” of 5 episodes! 

Points to note:

  • Sultanahmet Camii:
  • Opens: 8:30 am
  • Closed during the prayer times.
  • Open to all.
  • Modest clothing preferred.
  • No entrance fee

 

Hagia Sophia:

  • Open: 9am-5pm closed on Sundays
  • Entrance fee: 60TL approx. 4.5BD
  • Open to all. 

Accommodation:

  • Days spent: 5D/4N
  • Emine Sultan hotel @ Sultanahmet - 10bd/night
  • Airport pick up and drop available.
  • Delicious breakfast included.
  • Book well in advance as there are limited rooms only.
  • Excellent location.
  • Neat rooms with the Blue Mosque and Bosphorus sea views.

 

Getting around

Hike, Tram, Uber.

EPISODE 1:

We had little idea about this beautiful country, its people, culture, and history. If you are a rookie and ready to take your first ‘leap of travel’, pack your bags to Istanbul! Words are not enough to describe the wonderful vibe you get when you are in this magnificent city.

This city brims with history and culture; there is so much to see and experience while there. Being the largest city in Turkey, it straddles Europe and Asia on either side of the Bosphorus Sea. Almost all main attractions being in close proximity, a major portion of this city can be explored on foot, moreover, tram services are very reliable, cheap and always available.

Staying in Sultan Ahmet is highly recommended due to its proximity to the attractions, tram stations, and various other services. The Sultan Ahmet Camii, popularly known as The Blue Mosque, and The Hagia Sophia, stand on either side of the Sultan Ahmet Square. There are seats set up at the square, which gives you a splendid view of both the architectural marvels. Relax at the square with a cup of Turkish Cay (pronounced as ‘Chai’) and Simit, listening to the Adhan from the mosque in the evening. That is a moment you would cherish forever. Emine Sultan Hotel is where we stayed which is just a 2-minute walk from Sultan Ahmet square, and Arasta Bazar, the miniature version of the Grand Bazaar, is on the way. The hotel offers a breathtaking view of the Bosphorus Sea at its restaurant, on the top floor and the terrace has seats to enjoy the view in the open air. Every day we woke up with great zeal and were the first ones to be at the restaurant for breakfast! It was indeed delicious, and often, seagulls come to have breakfast with you- dining galore for all!

Now let’s get down to the streets of Istanbul. As you walk, to the Sultan Ahmet Camii, the Arasta Bazar welcomes you with Turkish fragrances, sweets, carpets, crafts, boutiques, and souvenirs. This is a small Bazar, where prices are cheaper than at the Grand Bazar. The scents cast a spell that drives you into the shops. Passing by the soap shops gives an aroma that hangs around for a very long time. Turkish delights are highly recommended when you are in Istanbul. Grab a few flavors, freshly made from the bakeries, to munch on while you chill at the square or at the hotel. Simit is another must try snack, and is available in abundance all over the city. Simit, with a cup of hot Turkish Cay, along with the view of the majestic Sultan Ahmet Camii is a remarkable experience.

Several tour operators are seen throughout the streets, offering tours to various parts of the country and other day tours. Compare the prices and services from different tour operators to end up with a good deal and to stay away from frauds. The Blue Mosque, an iconic symbol of the Istanbul skyline is surreal. It is an architectural masterpiece, which depicts Islamic art, Ottoman architecture, and stands tall to marvel the beauty of its design! The perfect symmetry in the structure can be seen from the entrance gate, doors and courtyard and projects the ancient engineering expertise. Spare some time just to sit and find your “inner peace”. A pair of binoculars will be handy to observe the intricate designs all over. The ambience inside the mosque takes us literally to a different world. Getting there during the opening hour, can help save a lot of time standing in a queue, and get some quiet time inside the mosque. The mosque is famously known as the Blue Mosque due to its blueish interior decorations.

The famous Hagia Sophia, can be seen from the entrance of the Blue Mosque. Initially a Christian church, then a mosque, it is now a museum which is open to all. Islam and Christianity dwell here in harmony, with verses from the Holy Quran, names of Prophets and Khalifas are found on the walls and ceilings along with images of Mother Mary, Jesus, Constantine the Great, various biblical characters made with golden mosaics. Expect a long queue at this place where an hour or two can be spent in visiting the whole museum. We were greeted by a scanty rain as we finished visiting Hagia Sophia, to find that the city looked even more beautiful right after the rains.