Hah gituhhh.. Takde daily basis post dah.. Day 2 terus sampai last day kita letak sekali. Boleh lah eh kita cite sikit sikit, here and the...
Hah gituhhh.. Takde daily basis post dah.. Day 2 terus sampai last day kita letak sekali. Boleh lah eh kita cite sikit sikit, here and there, a little bit about this and that since this is no travel blog.
As you all know and made aware already, we are all travelling in a big group of 3 families this time. Thus, big numbers of kids we're talking about. 10 kids in total. They outnumbered us. Therefore, itinerary which involved a lot of on the road travel and package tour is not very ideal for us. We've been doing a lot of that during Europe tour in summer, hence self planned, more relaxing and laid back trip this time, Insya Allah.
Day 2 ~ Museum tour and sighting around Sultanahmet area. Plan is to cover Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque.
:: On our way to Topkapi Palace, around 10 minutes away from our hotel. We can also take the tram but we haven't purchase our Istanbul Card just yet, at this moment. Yeah I know, I don't looked pregnant. I just looked fat!! It took me all my wills and determinations just to post all this pictures of mine, you have no freaking idea. Furthermore, I don't blog while I was pregnant with my previous 2 and Facebook what?? during that time so I realized I don't have that many of pregnancy photo. Therefore, this time I make a point to capture as much photo of pregnant me for keepsake ::
: It's a very relaxing and we're enjoying a nice brisk walk since there's abundance of interesting shops all along our route for our eye candy and soon enough, we had reached Topkapi entrance ::
:: The nearest tram station, Gulhane station. Say about 20 steps away ::
:: With my big family ::
:: The entrance. It went ascending starting from this point and goshh I was out of breath and felt like dying ha ha ha.. Dramatic giler.. Mind you, it was not even 45 degree of climbing involved but I was pancit like nobody business ::
:: Halfway through ::
:: Catching a breath. You'd have full view of Gulhane Park from here and it was so breath taking and mind blowing ::
:: European style palace with a hint of islamic influences here and there ::
:: There were many small small sections displaying various historical items but photographing is prohibited. Their security guards were very strict too. They'll checked your cameras and phones to make sure you did not take any photo inside and should they found any pictures of inside, you will made to delete all of it immediately. It is wise to respect and abide to local law especially when you're at other countries, therefore, no photo inside ::
The palace is hugeeee with so many museums inset I lost count, so do take your time to explore and if possible visit all of them. I had to admit that the girls doesn't find this part of the trip fascinating since they don't understand all the history talks and whatnot no matter how simple I tried to explain to them. But, there's a few things you just cannot afford to miss like Prophet's Muhammad s.a.w's footprint, his beard, the robe, swords and daggers used by him and his companion and many many more. Turkey is an ancient, historical country with so many interesting story to tell therefore most of attractions here revolved around their historical buildings, unique architectures, mosques, museums to even their local mixture of cultures. Therefore, although you might not into history or architecture junkie, just like me, try to spend some time to appreciate what Turkey has to offer as that was their main charm.
:: Freshly squeezed pomegranate juice ::
:: Mommies infront Blue Mosque. It's almost Dzuhur so we decided to have our Dzuhur and Asar at Blue Mosque ::
:: Stumbled with a group of Malaysian student from Germany so the gentlemans caught a light chat over cuppa coffee and wraps ::
:: Blue Mosque ::
A bit about Blue Mosque, it's open for almost all the time but was closed during prayer time. They had prepared plastic bags for your shoes at the entrance and you had to return it back upon heading out. We were blessed to be given a chance to pray, not once, but twice in this mosque, Alhamdullilah..
:: Blue Mosque at night. Masha Allah ::
:: On our way out, we were captivated by this street vendor selling home made lollipop. As can be seen, there's so many different flavors and the colors was tempting. Plus, the seller made the lollipop before your eyes and I believed that's this man selling point cause man I was sold! It is only natural all the kids wanna have a bite of it so we got for them one each and regret it immediately ha ha ha. Unlike normal lollipop you usually get in the market, this one melted much much faster, like an ice cream and wayyyy too sweet. Sweeter that sugar! You'd get sore throat almost immediately. And, since it melt too fast, the aftermath is we had a bunch of sticky and messy kids. Blearghhh... Calls for abundance of wet tissues ::
:: Don't you dare to move until you finished yours! Not even an inch! ::
:: Dinner around Sultanahmet area ::
Since it was rather late when we're done at Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia had already closed for public therefore we just strolled around Sultanahmet area until all the shops closed. Managed to get ourselves Istanbul Card from a kiosk here yeayyyy so we took a tram back to hotel. Honestly, I can't take any more walking for the day. There's always a vending machine at every station selling jeton ( token) for tram ride. However, it is more economical to buy the Istanbul Kart since you can use it for every transportation in Istanbul including ferry ride to Kadikoy Asian side while jeton only usable for tram. 1 jeton cost you around 3 liras one way, while Istanbul Kart charged you 2 liras each way. Now you see why I said Istanbul Kart is more economical ?
Day 3 : Bosphorus Cruise and Taksim/Istiklal Road area
On Day 3, we've decided to take on the famous Bosphorus Cruise. There's many ferry and boat services offered everywhere and even on the pier itself. Be extra careful when choosing what package for you because all packages were vary in prices and also type of route. We chose ferry service run by the government instead of private, which is among the cheapest, say about 25 euro for whole day trip. Others may offers cheaper or mostly, higher prices though, so pick wisely.
Just for the sake of sharing, we met a group of Malaysian from Subang and they shared with us their experience taking private boat for Bosphorus Cruise. The price was almost double from what we paid and they were promised that the boat will make a few photo stop. What actually happened was the boat cruised in one straight line along the stretch and make a u turn after an hour. No photo stop at all.
:: Our cruise ::
:: Favorite pastime among locals, fishing. This bridge, by the way, called Galata Bridge. Smart smart nelayan kat sini ! ::
:: We headed straight to upper deck at first but eventually transfered to lower covered deck. It is tooooo cold it's unbearable! ::
:: This part of the route reminded me so much of my Belgium's trip last summer. I thought I have seen enough, my oh my I was wrong! Don't you just wish you own that house?
:: The boat did stopped a few times but only to pick other passengers. Our main destination was a fish village, right beyond those fog. ::
:: Yeppp, THAT fog ! ::
:: Within the thick fog. I was taken aback by how cold it is considering it was bright and sunny whole day ::
:: Cinta hati ::
:: The pier ::
:: The village called Anadolu Kavagi. It is a fisherman village with seafoods as their main attraction so it is only natural that the village is full of seafood restaurant to the brim. Gahhhh they everywhere and while I was there, I was strongly reminded of Kuala Besut, you know due to it's strong fishy smell. You can also climb up a to an old castle uphill and view the picturesque-postcard quality scenery from up there.
Why I had a feeling like I was going to "explode" in this picture? ha ha ha.. Seriously!!! At times like this I can get used of some photoshop skills ::
:: Something apparently caught the girls's attention so I was curious and went to check. Oh anyway, did you see the fog? Yep, that's the fog we've seen from afar before this, the I'm talking about earlier. Somehow, the fog added some mysterious value to this village because the village is not visible from the other side, you just have to go penetrate through the fog to be able to see it:
:: Well, this is basically what distracted the girls's attention. Jelly fish! Like a thousand of them, emerged to surface. Very unique and interesting view. Just make sure you don't fall into them ::
:: Beside seafood shops which is abundance, you can also find numerous waffle and home made ice cream shops. If you must know, Turkey ice cream is among the best int the world, therefore, a must try! One more thing, the ice cream seller has a very unique way of selling and passing the ice cream. They'll scream, and joke and teased you as if the ice cream was about to fall down while passing it to you, and they were very good in what they do because even I watched the seller in action few times, I still fell for his trick ::
:: You'd find stall like this in every corner in this small isolated island ::
:: Macaroon shop. Their macaroons comes as big as my palm size ::
:: I asked my husband to take a photo of me in front the macaroon shop. One click and he all went ' Ermm sama bulat dah dengan macaroon belakang tu! ' . Awwww ain't he sweet?
:: Mussels celup tepung. Hits of the day.. ::
:: Grilled trout. Although I don't particularly hate seafood because I am a prawn and crab lover, but my kinda style is more like sweet and sour fish, chilli or kam heong crab, sambal udang and whatnot. Seafood like above, is not really acceptable in my book because I can't stand the strong fishy and seafood-y smell so unfortunately, I can't really enjoy all of this. On the contrary, my husband and my girls had a time of their life. I had waffle ( in the earlier picture) as my lunch instead ::
:: Our lunch stop by the bench, quick and simple lunch it is ::
:: Mussels and calamari set. 10 liras each. My girls had few helping for themselves ::
:: The one Alis had is fish grill set that comes in kebab style. We spent 3 hours here roaming around and enjoying each other company. It was really a pleasant day out ::
:: My girl soon to be big sis of 2, all grown up. On our way back to Eminomu Pier ::
Once reaching Eminomu, we headed to Istiklal Road in Taksim area. In short, it's a street full of high end boutique, cafes, roughly translated as a shopper's heaven. From Eminomu, we took tram to Kabatas, changed to Metro to Taksim ( eh betul ke eh? Rasa cam betul ).
:: A must, group photo at Taksim Square ::
:: The beginning of Istiklal Rd ::
:: Doner Kebab, Turkish staple food ::
:: A very tired looking me ::
:: Keto polis ::
:: Admiring probably the few last batch of tulips in Istanbul. They're already out of season ::
:: Old school tram that still very much functioning ::
We spent a few good hours in here till probably till 8-9 pm. Took a tram back and called the day off.
Day 4 : Kadikoy market, Asian side.
My husband read about Kadikoy market or famously known as Sali Pazari from trip advisor ( Sali as in Tuesday and Pazari is market or pasar ), and the word cheapest clothes in town on sale here tempted us big time so we decided to check it out. Lives up to it's name, the market was only open on Tuesday so should you happened to be in Istanbul on Tuesday, this spot is a must to slot in in your schedule. On another note, on Sunday, this spot was taken over by stall keepers selling antiques, furnitures and jewellery.
In order to go there, you need to take ferry ride around 20 minutes from Eminomu Pier. Just look out for ferry terminal with Kadikoy name and you were at the right place. You can use your Istanbul Card for the ferry ride and also for bus fee at the Asian Side which is super convenient. Just make sure you had the sufficient amount in the card.
Once boarded out from the terminal, headed straight to the bus station nearby. You need to take bus 8A which will take you straight to the market or the stop called Hassanpasa. To be on a safe side, we informed the driver that we're going to Sali Pazari and asked him to tell us where our stop is but from the way I see it, it is totally unnecessary. It is very easy to recognize the market for it's huge size or by the number of the crowd flooded the area.
They have everything here from wet goods, fruits, dried foods to textiles section, accessories and many more and everything is dirt cheap!
:: Fresh vege ::
:: Olives stall ::
:: Pomegranate or roman in arabic. Not sure what they call it in Turkish language. Some seller do speak Arabic and it makes our life much much easier. Not that we're that fluent in Arabic. Oh trust me you don't need wide knowledge in grammar or whatnot, just a basic knowledge on simple numeric and probably few street words. Experiences dealing with abaya seller and at my local market comes in handy ::
:: Some local snacks I reckon. We didn't try though ::
:: Variety of dried nuts ::
:: High quality laces and embroideries. All local made yer, not china made. Actually it is very rare to find china made stuff here. They proud of their own local made product and they have very strong reason why. Obviously for the high quality offered and competitive price ::
:: Unique blind that caught my attention. Didn't buy though, malas nak angkot banyak barang naik bas ::
:: Safron, dried flowers and many cooking stuff can be found here, at a much much low price compared to Kuwait and even Malaysia. So should you have family who used all of this ingredients frequently, or for example in catering line, this will make a very good and handy souvenir. If you must know, saffron is widely used in nasi beriyani but for it's expensive price tag, most people/caterer opted for substitute or turned to food coloring ::
:: A very crafty guy. He used peeler not much different from what I had at home. Then why the result is far cry from mine? Kah Kah Kah ::
:: Turkish specialty. Pickled juice! Yes you heard just right! This is a very special cocktail here contained a mixtures of pickles of your choice, then the seller will fill the rest of the cup with sourish pickled juice and your drink is ready. Okay, I might be one die hard fan of lemonade but pickled juice is wayy to hardcore for me! And ohh vege is a side dish in my book, never a drink ::
We left around noon and I must say, it was well spent morning. I bought few stuffs and very very delighted with my purchases, albeit regret it later on just because I should've buy more kah kah kah. Seriously.. It was totally worth the visit.
When I first knew about this from my husband, I did a few researches and one comment tickles me. It goes something like, should you ran out of fresh undies, this is the place you must go. I mean, okay everyone need undies, clean one, especially during travel but coming to a place just to buy undies is pretty funny and illogical in my opinion. You can get undieselsewhere for cry out loud. But heyyy I was dead wrong. It is among the main attractions cause the one they got here was made from high quality cotton, laces and satin. Just like the one you can find in La Senza or any designer lingerie shop, quality wise but with much much cheaper price, I swear. So, as dead serious as I can be, please get yourself a few piece of undies if you are ever here, even you don't really need one. You won't regret it ha ha ha.
Returning from Sali Pazari, we were distracted by a crowd gathering at one stall selling something so we approached out of curiosity. It was street food seller selling herb rice stuffed mussels. I have a weak stomach and much weaker appetite for exotic stuffs so I let my husband and my girls do the trying on my behalf. The verdict : Since the mussels was boiled and stuffed with herb rice, the herbs from the rice pretty much overpowering the taste of mussels, so you can't really taste the mussels.
If it's up to me, I wish to stay a bit longer in Kadikoy Market cause there's still few sections we don't get to cover yet. But there's something else, not less exciting, awaiting for us in the evening part. Therefore, we need to make our way back, fed the kids dinner beforehand because that said activity involved only adults. Aina and Nurin, Kak Anis's daughter will help us babysit Alis and Erin and the rest while we were out. As for Anis, since Azalea is still a baby, she volunteer to stay at hotel and babysit Azalea and twins while Sukri joined us.
Before headed back to hotel, we dropped by at Mahmud Pasha, a street famous for it's textiles, filled with laces, embroideries, house wares and so much more I was intoxicated with laces. We don't take much photo here because everyone is exhausted and not in a mood of posing for a photo so I just don't have proof to show you how delicate and intricate those laces and beading's were. You know, those stuffs in Malaysia could reach hundreds and even thousands ringgit. Stuffs where I can only buy in my dreams, was so affordable here, even for my humble pocket. I was like wowww, woooo, wahhh .. practically gawking and wowing away along the street. Sighh...
Back to our earlier mentioned plan, actually I'm talking about is Turkish Hammam or Turkish bath house. Another MUST try. This hammam was particularly recommended by our hotel because they was only few, among many hammams left, that still preserving the old, traditional and authentic feature from the old days. Meaning, what we were about to experience today, is not much different from what has been practiced thousand years back. Most hammam nowadays, chose to modernized their hammam. Another thing is, because this hammam offered separate facilities for women and men. A must, number one and only rules to us specially the ladies. There's just no possible way I would approve if otherwise. Most modern hammam didn't have this facilities so women and men gather in same space. Big NOOOOO! So guys, do your check first okay when choosing your hammam...
Oh by the way, just like restaurants in Istanbul, hammams here too, offered free pickup to and from hotel. You just picked the time slot you desire and they will arrange transport to pick you up from hotel and send you back once done.
:: Since this is an old hammam, agak seram2 mula2 masa nak masuk yerr since the lighting is very dimm, plus the exterior remind me of an old hollywood and P.Ramlee movies. If we weren't coming in a group, I would've think twice about going in and there's big possibilities that I might back out ::
:: Inside.. The small small room is for changing purpose and served as a place to keep our belonging. We will keep the key and returned only after the treatment is done. For just bath, they charged 90 liras but Kak Anis and me added extra treatment which is oil massage that costed us another 60 liras. The gentlemans otherwise, sticks to just bath. Mak mak mesti lah over !!!::
I'm going to be very very honest here okay, for the sake of sharing info so should any you planning to go, you should know what to expect and what to bring. Consider this as educational bit of this post ha ha. We were asked to strip to our bikinis or just to our 2 pieces undies huhuhu.. we were not told to bring any bikinis beforehand by the hotel staff so undies it is * bang heads on wall *. Alternatively, you may opted for birthday suit hihihihi.. Ohh they do provide towels so you may cover your bodies, during the earlier part of the bath I must say kehkehkeh.. Then we were ushered to the bath area. This is where got the shock of our life. Mind you, people here, especially westerners and Europian including the errrmmm bath-er? is very open minded and open about everything. I mean EVERYTHING. Most visitors that day used to visit hammam previously and we, clearly the only two first timer, hence the obvious shyness and awkwardness. So consider this as a warning, not everyone was properly covered here, not in 2 pieces, heck not even in 1 piece ha ha ha.. Should the view is too much, just look away in a polite way lahhh and try not to offend anyone.
So, useful tips to everyone, bring a bikini with you during your visit. Not necessarily 2 pieces one!
The proper way to enjoy Turkish bath is by following the steps.
First, sauna for around 10 minutes. We stayed only around 4-5 minutes because we didn't get the instruction to enter the sauna, secondly because I was 4 months pregnant so I tried to avoid the sauna worrying it could effect the baby.
Then your personalized assistant will called you out and start bath you. Like a baby!! First she will scrub your whole body using cloth scrubber. This part really made me feel good because it made me feel relaxed and left my skin clean and smooth afterward. Then she poured a good amount of bubbles on your body and start bathing you plus massage in between. Goshhh, after being the person that always do the bathing part ( read: my kids, dun get the wrong idea huhhh) , having other person bathing you for once is really a nice twist. Apart from the embarrassment, honestly I actually enjoyed it.
Then, since we subscribed additional oil massage, we were taken to another room nearby with 2 beds placing next to another and they immediately begin the massage and it was sooooo good and relaxing and rejuvenating. I bet I don't really get the full massage because, again, I am pregnant so my massage lady went easy on me. After probably 30 minutes massage, my bath-er asked me to take a seat at the bath area and she started shampoo-ing my hair and gave head and neck massage. Blissss...
Next step, is taking a dip in a cold pool. The part I least like since the water was soooo freaking cold, totally contrary from the bath water used before which is luke warm, I ended shivering.
Then we we asked to take a shower again, this time under the hot water and given a clean dry towel and was told that the bath is done. We can proceed to change to our attire and return the key to the reception.
We left the GedikPasa Turkish Bath feeling refreshed but my husband unfortunately fell sick the next morning. Must be the detox process ha ha ha.
Day 5 : Grand Bazaar
Purposely left out till the very end of the trip after reading reviews and opinions from internet and also friends who had been here earlier. We were advised to do survey at other places first before visiting Grand Bazaar. This is because, sometimes, other places offers much cheaper price. Well, it is nothing surprising because even at other countries we visited before, souvenirs at main tourist attraction usually comes in higher price. Of course, as a tourist we always wanted good bargain and low price on stuffs we bought but the scenario is understandable. This is where haggling skills came in handy, and perhaps lucks.
:: All geared up for Grand Bazaar ::
:: In front Gate 5. There's so many gate here so we just enter from the nearest gate from the tram station. It was huge bazaar indeed ::
:: Alis and Erin wanted to buy some bracelet for their teachers and class mates so I helped them choose, not the one that suits them, but more on the one that suits the budget ha ha ::
We did not buy many things here. Mostly because, we already bought what we needed from the shops in front our hotel that was going to close in few days and I can assure you that we got pretty good deals compared to other place. I can guarantee on this because I did my check around. I'm not sure if we was pure lucky or what. A shop was about to close in few days while we were there, and it just had to be in front of our hotel.
:: The shop in front our hotel ::
Our main target was more on leather goods. As everyone made known, Turkey leather goods are among the best in the world. I was told, that even some designers from Milan came to Turkey specifically for it's leathers. Of course, the price was a bit high given the quality but make full use of your haggling skills and I'm pretty sure you'll managed to get good deals.
Since hubby was feeling feverish and suffering from flu, we left Grand Bazaar in the noon so he can catch up on his much needed rest. After few hours of good nap, we left around 4 pm to grab our lunch and headed to Spice Bazaar again to do our final shopping. We bought few types of Turkish Delights for ourselves and family as we were told it can last up to 6 months till a year considering we didn't open the vacuum seal, or keep them in refrigerator. This is great as my mom will be coming down again on August to help me during my confinement so I hope it will really last at least till August. My husband has been eye-ing on Beluga Iranian's caviar since day 1, so he got himself a can of those. A bit pricey if you ask me but it's okay. It's not everyday we got our hand on those stuff.The shopkeeper even packed it with ice pack and we were advised to keep it refrigerated until the moment we left the hotel.
:: We bought few types but this one is pomegranate coated with marshmallow. Hits among the kids! ::
:: On our way back, we stopped by Noritake and Royal Albert Factory Outlet. We visited Tefal's the day before ::
For almost every night we're here, especially after the long tiring day, it has became a habit to hang around at our hotel restaurant downstairs either with or without the girls. If they decided not to join, we will left them to play with Kak Anis's kids. The restaurant have a very nice outdoor seating on a patio equipped with a blankets and heater so although it was actually very cold outside, we were comfortable and warm. During one night, they celebrating a guest's birthday, Turkish-style with all the dancing and singing all night long. We didn't join the dance apparently but it was pretty entertaining. Considering that the waiter and waitress had to work since early hours of the day till midnite and yet they still have the stamina to dance like that, I am green with envy. Not of the dance obviously but of the never ending energy they possessed All I did was strolling whole day, shopping to my heart out and eating to my content but before 11 am I'm already good for nothing ha ha ha.
:: Turkish khubs (bread) that came with every meal ::
:: Well spent time with friends. Among my favorite moments during this trip. We chat almost about anything, laugh our heart out and just enjoying the company. Back home, we didn't get this opportunity often because we don't stay nearby, specially Kak Anis so chanches like this is like a treasure. Definitely one of the best holiday I've ever been to ::
We're leaving for Kuwait the next day at 2pm and our airport pickup came by around 11 a.m.
:: Inside airport transfer. Shoulder to cry on, laps to lie on. May their friendship remained for life Insya Allah ::
:: After almost a week of surviving on Doner Kebab and spaghetti, I was beyond delighted when my eyes caught the restaurant signage at the airport. Finally, some Asian spicy food!! And oh boy, the fried mee is so good I gobbled the whole plate in no time ::
And with that, comes the end to our Istanbul trip. I am thankful and grateful to Allah s.w.t for a smooth sailing holiday and feel nothing but blessed and I prayed that some day, we would be able to repeat this.
After all that has been said and done, Alhamdullilah is the only appropriate closure.
Write to you again soon :)