August 13, 2013
Saturday was our last day in Istanbul and we decided to split up so that everyone could try to do the final things on their list.
Zach, Jenny, and I got up to have breakfast on our street at a nice little café and then had coffee with our buddy, Fatih, at Supermind Coffee.
We wanted to see one more mosque before we left so we decided to visit Süleymaniye Mosque. It was commissioned by the richest and most powerful of the Ottoman sultans, Süleyman the Magnificent, and was designed by Mimar Sinan, Turkey’s most famous architect. Of the 321 buildings he designed in his lifetime, 85 are still standing in Istanbul. (The Ayasofya Hamami we visited was also designed by Sinan.) Sinan chose to be buried at the mosque and we passed his grave on our way to the entrance.
The walled green space surrounding the mosque lent an aire of serenity that we hadn’t experienced at the Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque). There were far fewer visitors as well and the entire atmosphere felt more reverent. Jenny and I decided not to wear mosque-appropriate clothing this time so we were given zip up dresses with attached headscarves to wear inside the mosque. The interior was certainly smaller than Sultanahmet, but was far grander. We took the opportunity to sit on the floor and bask in the grandeur. It was stunning. As the afternoon call to prayer approached we were asked to leave the mosque.
So we wandered the grounds a bit before heading to a café Fatih had recommended. The Mimar Sinan Teras Café was located just down the street from the mosque and had excellent views of the city. We sat outside on their terrace and had some snacks and drinks. Their view is magnificent. You can see the opposing European side and Galata Tower; the Golden Horn meeting the Bosphorus; the Asian side in the distance; Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia.
Our original plan had been to visit the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market to do some last minute shopping, but those plans were dashed when we arrived and realized they were both closed due to Bayram. Although there were stands outside the markets that were open, the crowds were so much more intense than usual that we forfeited. So instead we headed back to our place. Tim and Rudy had recently left to go to the Spice Market themselves after chatting with Fatih too. Jenny and I left Zach at the apartment to rest and made a run to Istiklal for some baklava, tea, and coffee. We returned shortly before Tim and Rudy.
Zach, Jenny, and I had wanted to go to one last place – Pierre Loti Café – so we left Tim and Rudy to rest and made our way down to the bus station. The bus station was pure chaos and our guidebook was no help. After making a few inquiries we realized which bus we needed to be on and got in line. Luckily the bus we needed was coming quite frequently so we didn’t have to wait long. Unfortunately in Turkey they operate on the “more is better” mentality and we were packed like sardines into that bus. The trip itself was brief and we were at our stop fairly quickly. It took us a little searching the find the funicular to get to the top and once we did we quickly realized we weren’t the only ones with that idea. The line for the funicular was incredibly long and though we could have made the 30 minute walk uphill to the café we decided against it. So we wandered around a bit and then went back to the bus stop.
Once we all got back to the apartment we worked on packing up our bags for our early departure to Amasra the next morning. Tim and Rudy had arranged to meet up with Fatih for drinks and around 11:30 so we left to meet him on Istiklal. We ended up going to what I believe is Fatih’s favorite bar, Peyote. It’s a rooftop bar off of Istiklal in the bar district. It was really nice and we had a great time chatting with Fatih and his friends.