Saturday 06 May 2023
Highlights: Exploring the Basilica Cistern, Visiting the Grand Bazaar
A 5 am wake up call plus the local call to prayers had everyone ready for today’s early morning start. Leaving after breakfast at 6.15 am we were on the road for a 50-60 minute drive to nearby Denizli Çardak Airport. What we didn’t know is that our 8.20 am flight (see review here) wouldn’t leave until 10.30 am meaning extra sleep in time was missed.
The worse thing about the Istanbul Airport is it is about an hour out from the city, especially the old district that we are staying in. As a result despite landing at 11.39 am it took us almost to 1.30 pm to get to our hotel. We had an included 3 hour orientation walk of the historic district but everyone decided against it in order to do activities that had planned for the afternoon before we lost so much time. We so many people leaving tomorrow this was their last chance to visit particular places.
Charlotte, Nicole, Dan and myself opted for a visit to the Basilica Cistern also know as the Subterranean Cistern or Subterranean Palace, is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul. It was constructed in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.
The Cistern is approximately 138 metres by 65 metres or roughly 9,800 square metres in area and is capable of holding 80,000 cubic metres of water. Entry was 300 Turkish Lira.
The lighting changes at set intervals between white, green and red lights with the different lights highlighting different aspects of the Cistern. There was also a very cool Medusa setup in one corner. An astonishing architecture that helped what is now Istanbul for centuries.
Next up was a visit to Grand Bazaar. Charlotte and Nicole went into a Turkish Delight store which result in many free samples enjoyed by all four of us and some very neat purchases for the women. At this point by chance we came across Pat and Susan who joined us as we explored the Bazaar.
The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops on a total area of 30,700 square metres. We visited only a small proportation of the Bazaar but it seemed to sell almost everything you could want and was full of life and activity.
From here it was back to the hotel for a brief stay before meeting the rest of the group for a nice farewell dinner. While there is include breakfast tomorrow this is the last time the majority of the group will be in the same place. This was a quick tour but a good one and some great people in particular the barter between Gemma and Dean was a highlight.