Istanbul in a few hours
I was very lucky to visit Istanbul in the first place but unfortunately, I only spent a couple of hours in that bustling with life city.
I was there with a lovely family from Bahrain, applying for a nanny job, they invited me to join them on their holiday in Turkey (to check if I could work with their daughter). I had a whole week in Istanbul without actually seeing Istanbul. We've spent all the time on rollercoasters and in shopping mall's fun zones for kids, playing.
One day the family surprised me with booking a private tour guide who took me to see the most iconic places of Istanbul.
1. Sultan Ahmed Mosque known as the Blue Mosque was the first place we went to. It was my first time in a mosque and visiting a Muslim country so I didn't know what to expect. At the entrance, I was asked to cover my hair and clothes and was given appropriate outerwear with a scarf attached to it. I also had to take my shoes off. This mosque is still used for prayers and that's why everyone visiting has to act respectfully, follow the rules, and don't interrupt people while praying. The building is beautiful inside and outside. It has carpet all over the floor and stunning chandeliers.
2. Across from the Blue Mosque is famous Hagia Sophia. I've been dreaming of seeing this place since I've learned about it in art history classes in High School. I was definitely not disappointed. As Wikipedia says: 'Hagia Sophia is the former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral, later an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum'. So it's been through everything, at its best it was the largest building in the world but that was a long time ago. I absolutely loved it! Inside you see Christian paintings next to beautiful Arabic calligraphy and cats! They're just everywhere acting like tourists.
3. Obelisk of Theodosius brought to Turkey from Egipt in 357 by Constantius II.
4. Arasta Bazaar - a very short walk from the above and it's the best place to spend some monies. Lots of souvenirs, rugs, and home beautifying accessories.
It was way too short to actually experience the place but considering how little time I had I managed to tick off the most iconic spots. So if you have a layover, even about 5 hours, spend it in Istanbul, do it! Go and explore and you won't be disappointed...