After the 8.5 hour flight from Boston to Istanbul we were glad we’d made the decision to layover for the night, despite the fact that there is now a visa requirement for US citizens! Getting one through e-visa is $20 versus $30 at the airport. We were also happy that we’d arranged for a pickup from the airport rather than slogging with luggage on public transport – we are getting soft! Anyway, we arrived at the Hotel World Heritage, a charming little boutique hotel a stone’s throw from the Blue Mosque in Sultanahmet, in time to drop our bags and go explore before the sunset.
Both the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia are beautiful when illuminated at night, and there is something very beautiful about the minarets that reach skyward. We had not visited the cisterns on previous visits, and decided to make that our “tour” option. The Basilica Cistern (Turkish: Yerebatan Sarayı – “Sunken Palace), is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul. The cistern, located 500 feet (150 m) southwest of the Hagia Sophia on the historical peninsula of Sarayburnu, was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian.
Food – Turkish food is some of the best! and we had a great dinner, seated al fresco at the Old Ottoman Cafe – a spicy Adana Kebab, and Ottoman Moussaka with Efes beer to wash it down! The sweet shops are works of art with wonderful displays of turkish delight, nougat, baklava and much more.
Time for some much needed sleep! Onward tomorrow!