Today was our 4th visit to Istanbul and our aim was to visit a couple of places we have missed on previous visits, incredibly we have not been to Hagia Sophia so that was our main target of the day along with the Galata Tower. Almost as soon as clearance had been given we were off the ship and navigating the new and massive cruise terminal in Istanbul. It’s huge and not too dissimilar to an airport. Once through we set off on foot towards the Galata Bridge and then on to Hagia Sophia.
The walk took 50 minutes but seemed to take no time at all. Thinking that by being early we would beat the crowds, we were very disappointed to see a massive snaking queue of people waiting to go in. It wasn’t moving so we decided to go elsewhere then come back later in the hope that the line had shrunk.
Heading off to the Blue Mosque instead and finding hardly any queue at all, so in we went, spending around 30 minutes inside taking a few photos and admiring the interior.
We then returned to the Hagia Sophia to find a shorter queue that was actually moving so we joined it. We waited for about 40 minutes in line and were rewarded with entry at 10:00am.
The building is once again a fully functional Mosque and a strict dress code is now required to enter, not only that all but two items depicting human form have been removed, not sure why some are still there and can only assume it has something to do with it being a UNESCO site. It is a stunning place and one that I can now happily say that I have visited.
We grabbed a quick coffee before setting off back over the Galata Bridge and onto our next stop, the Galata Tower.
After a bit of a climb, we made it to the base and tickets were purchased to get us to the top. We had a short wait for a lift to take us up and were soon enjoying the views over Istanbul.
Our final stop before heading back to the ship was for lunch at a vegan restaurant we found on the Happy Cow app. After a delicious and filling meal we headed back to the ship. Off for 6½ hours with 20,000 steps recorded on my Fitbit. The rest of the afternoon was spent out on one of the sundecks taking a well-earned rest and reminiscing about the day’s activities.
This evening we are eating early in one of the speciality restaurants called Teppanyaki, they have said that they can and will facilitate Nicole’s vegan diet with the only drawback being the only available slot was at 5:30. This worked out to be a blessing as we were both feeling fatigued after the days walking.
Teppanyaki was a huge success for Nicole, we were wondering how they would cope and in the end, all concerns were dismissed because they cooked her food before anyone else’s.