I awoke surrounded by an ice cold mattress. Anywhere that had not been covered by the blanket was as cold as a British female prime minster's heart.
I leapt out of bed and rapidly got changed. I really had expected to hear the early morning call to prayer, still not sure why I didn't as the windows weren't that thick and I could see a mosque from my room.
After a shower I ventured out , I had some travel suggestions from my Russian friend who has visited Istanbul several times so felt safe under her guidance.
I wandered down İstiklal avenue to hit the first building of interest , namely Galata tower.
The tower is actually a little forboding, maybe because I knew it was a prison, but then the gloomy weather added drama, a nearby murder of crows would have been appropriate.
Here is a much nicer shot of the same tower:
Around the old lockup were nice looking touristy restaurants and cafes, a friend back in Bristol said they had stayed in a hotel in that same area, apparently there are some really cool little independent cinemas nearby.
From Galata tower I headed down the street to a busy mass of roads and tram lines and the bridge I wanted to cross galata bridge crossing the Golden horn area which was the name of my favourite kebab shop in Colchester.
To be honest Galata bridge could have been London, check out this short little video I filmed the next day.
The view across that bridge was amazing , beautiful mosques were rolling into view and as I later found out they weren't all that big!
The wind howled, trams and cars sped past while ferries shipped hundreds of people across the busy waterways. Lots of fishermen lined the bridge trying to make a living selling their catch to the restaurants under us.
Having crossed the bridge I wandered around the nearby mosque then found myself in the incredibly busy spice market with so many stalls packed tall with quality wares. I expected to get some hassle but got none, the stall keepers try to entice passers-by with enthusiastic chants and clapping but I figure don't want to waste time so I just avoided eye contact. I really wish I had bought some spices from there but I wasn't in the mood to haggle which "is all part of the sport"
After having a wander around the spice market I was feeling hungry and my days instructions had mentioned the fish market but I was the wrong side of the water.
I walked back along Galata bridge and then about halfway the call to prayer kicked in , bellowing out of speakers atop buildings, hearing it on the bridge was brilliant as that exotic melody rang out across the city, travellking between the many places of worship, it was quite something!
At the fish market I wasn't enticed into buying a whole fish to cook and wasn't too fussed by the sheltered restaurant areas instead opting for some 'fish bread' which my guidebook had mentioned, from a small stall at the market entrance which seemed popular with the locals.
Fish bread is basically just a fish sandwich, the mackerel was sizzling away on the griddle served up in some chunky bread with warm onion slices , a big halved fresh chilli , some lettuce and sumac, it felt wholesome and quickly satisfying and all for 4 lira which I thought was pretty damn good.
After my sandwich which helped fill a gap I fancied popping back to Galata tower for a coffeee, this was breaking my schedule badly but I reckoned I could still fit in quite a lot.
At the posh cafe I had a latte for a staggering 9 Lira, took advantage of the cafes wifi then decided to walk back to my room as my phone was getting dangerously low on juice. Again this was eating into my time but I knew from Taksim square I could catch the tram and quickly regain some lost ground.
I got back -> charged phone -> left
Back outside my aim was to see two of the 'pearls of Istanbul' , the blue mosque and the Ayasofya. I knew I needed to get to Sultanahmet and I was now more familiar with this part of the cities tram system, basically I needed to head back to the spice market area and just stay on the tram for a few stops.
So off I went.
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