A freedom-oriented lifestyle blog

Category: Turkey

Madam Tussauds Turkish style & goodbye Pina

Visiting Madam Tussauds was not in our plan for Istanbul, but we just happened to stumble upon the entrance and there was not so much people there, so we decided to walk inside and see what all the fuzz was about. We have to say that we really enjoyed the visit and it was a lot of characters that you were allowed to interact with. Then it was time to leave Turkey for Croatia and visit a long time friend that has recently relocated to this beautiful country.

Ett besök på Madam Tussauds var inte i vår plan för Istanbul, men vi råkade bara gå förbi entrén och det var inte så mycket människor där, så vi bestämde oss för att gå in och se vad Madam Tussauds handlar om. Vi måste säga att vi verkligen tyckte det var roligt då det var många karaktärer som man kunde interagera med. Sedan var det dags för oss att lämna Turkiet för Kroatien och besöka en gammal vän som nyligen flyttat till detta vackra land.

We got a surprise seeing Madam Tussauds here in Istanbul. There was no queue and the entrance fee was only 50 TRY, so we went inside and got to meet E.T!

There was wax figures of both International stars, like Michael Jackson, and Turkish famous people.

Here is Ulrika with Sabiha Gökçen (born in 1913), who is a Turkish female aviator and the world’s first female fighter pilot. The airport we landed on has been named after her.

Şahika Ercümen (born in 1985) is a Turkish world record holder in free-diving, meaning diving without bringing air supply.

There was also a room for famous scientists and technology innovators

Pontus with Steve Jobs, wearing matching sneakers.

And a setting from World of Warcraft. They also had a number of different actors and singers as wax figures, which you can see in our video from Madam Tussauds below.

The entrance to Madam Tussauds is on the shopping streets near Taksim square, so we found it just by chance, walking down the street.

The shopping street in Istanbul. Not so crowded right now.

We found a number of interesting shops on our walk there.

We also visited the famous Taksim Square, while being in this part of Istanbul.

And went through The Tünel, the world’s second oldest subterranean urban rail line according to Wikipedia. It is 573 meters long connecting Karaköy and Beyoğlu, and it’s a regular fare on the Istanbulkart to go with it.

Then it was time for us to leave Istanbul for this time and say goodbye to our new buddy Pina. She was an abandoned kitten, found in our hotel, when she was really young, she had barely opened her eyes. The Owner at Family Istanbul Hotel, Ayvaz, took care of her and she is now part of his hotel. We loved staying at Family Istanbul Hotel near Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, and we can highly recommend staying there for anyone who comes to visit Istanbul.

Topkaki Palace & Islam Medieval Science Museum

The Topkaki Palace was a place we wanted to visit while in Istanbul and we can highly recommend it. We bought a five day Museum pass, for 85 TRY (approximately 21 Euro) and it covers both Hagia Sofia and Topkaki  Palace (and a number of other museums around Istanbul), but it doesn’t cover the entrance to the Harem inside the Topkaki Palace. The entrance fee to the Harem costs 25 TRY (around 6 Euro), but they were renovating a large part of the Harem, so we didn’t think it was worth paying for a visit there after having been inside.  However, the rest of the Topkaki Palace was very interesting. The Museum pass included the Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam, which we wanted to visit before we said goodbye to Istanbul. Pictures, videos from both the Topkaki Palace and the museum can be found below.

Topkakipalatset var ett ställe som vi ville besöka i Istanbul och vi kan starkt rekommendera att spendera några timmar där. Vi köpte ett fem dagars museumskort för 85 TRY (ca 21 Euro) och det inkluderar både Hagia Sofia och Topkaki Palace, samt ett antal andra museer runt om i Istanbul, men det täcker inte inträde till haremet på insidan av Topkakipalatset. Entréavgiften till haremet kostar 25 TRY (ca 6 Euro), men de var i färd med att renovera stora delar av haremet, så vi anser inte att det var värt att betala extra för att gå in där nu efter att ha sett vad det har att erbjuda. Men resten av Topkakipalatset var mycket intressant . Museumkortet inkluderade också “Museum of History of Science and Technology in Islam”, som vi ville besöka innan vi sade hejdå till Istanbul. Bilder, videoklipp från både Topkakipalatset och museet finns nedan.

The entrance to Topkaki Palace, built in the 15th century. It was the residence for the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years, and was home for 4000 people during the golden days of the Ottoman Empire.

A 3D-model of the Palace.

The Palace has 4 courtyards with lovely gardens.

And the insides are beautifully decorated.

The tobacco room with mannequins dressed up according to the fashion at that time.

The last courtyard with a beautiful rose garden. We’ve also made a short movie, which can be seen below, showing the different parts of the palace.

Both the Topkaki Palace and the Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam are situated in the Gülhane park.

The world according to the medieval muslim scholars.

Muslim scientist did do a lot of technological and science discoveries involving astronomy, time and navigation.

As well as in Medical technological innovations. Here is devices used by medieval otorhinolaryngologists, or ear-nose-throat doctors.

And these things are for the gynecologists, the bottom ones are specifically used for crushing the fetus head if the fetus was stuck in the birth canal and threatened the woman’s life.

There was also a section about war and defense innovations. This is a battering ram and a illustrated video of how this thing works can be found below.

Gülhane park is also a place to hang out in, so we did what the locals do there laying in the grass and enjoying the sun.

Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque & Turkish food

We had just landed in Turkey where we last left you and now it’s time to show you some pictures from our stay in Istanbul.  Ulrika was sick most of our time here so the energy to edit movies and pictures was not there, but we managed to see  a lot of Istanbul anyways, probably due to Ulrika’s persistence, and tried a lot of different Turkish food. Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque was also on our to-do list, so here is some pictures and videos from our visits there.  

Vi hade just landat i Turkiet där vi lämnade er senast och nu känner vi att det är dags att visa några bilder från vår vistelse i Istanbul. Ulrika var sjuk mestadels av vår tid i Istanbul, så energin att redigera filmer och bilder fanns inte då, men vi lyckades ändå se mycket av Istanbul, troligtvis beroende på Ulrikas envishet, samt prova mycket turkisk mat. Hagia Sofia och den blå moskén var också på vår att göra-lista, så här är några bilder och videor från våra besök där.

Bosphorus – the waterway that separates Europe from Asia, and this view has been on Ulrika’s bucket list for a long time. We landed at the Sabiha Gökçen-airport on the Asian side of Turkey and took a bus over to the European side.

We had been travelling all night, with a transit in Iran, so seeing how the turks spell the word toilet was funny to us Swedes. It reminded us of a funny tv-sketch “Svenska för nybörjare” or Swedish for beginners 🙂

One of the reasons for our choice of destination was the food, or the craving for Turkish Kebab. Here, we’re eating two of our favorite dishes – Iskander Kebab and Beyti wrap drinking Ayran, a Turkisk sour milk drink which is really good, and ice tea.

The other reason to travel to Istanbul was this- Hagia Sofia. the 1500 year old church that is now a museum.

Hagia Sofia was a church for the first 1000 years, before the Ottoman empire transformed it into a mosque in the 15th century, It was a Mosque until 1935 when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk the first president of Turkey, transformed it into a museum.

The christian mosaic was covered with islamic patterns, because of the “do not portrait the image of god, which humans are”-rule in islam. However, the cover up has now been removed and the old mosaic pictures are being restored.

But you can still see the mix of islam and christianity in the church.

Inside the Hagia Sofia:

And some really old remnants are on display inside Hagia Sofia. Here is the lustration urn from Pergamom, an urn carved in a single marble block.

Hagia Sofia has a second floor from where you get a beautiful overview of the inside of the church, which you can see in the video above. The tunnel to the second flor is also remarkable. Think that here has humans walked up and down for 1500 years.

Here you also find a viking tag from a viking who took work in the guard force of Hagia Sofia approximately 1000 years ago.

When Ulrika was not feeling sick, we also tried to explore Istanbul. Public transportation in Istanbul is really cheap and easy to use. The Istanbulkart is the thing you want when using the trams, metro, buses etc in Istanbul.

Love the trams!

Also love the colors and patterns that are common here. The Shisha can be smoked everywhere here.

Turkish carpets!

We mostly enjoyed eating Turkish food, here is Pontus with an eggplant kebab.

Another favorite was the Turkish ravioli.

And the baklava. Here, together with apple tea another Turkish delight!

The Turkish ice-cream is our new favorite. It is similar to our Swedish favorite brand “Lejonet och björnen”.

We also tried roasted chestnuts, but Ulrika didn’t fancy them.

Turkish people really like their sweets!

We also visited the Blue Mosque while we were in Istanbul.

The Blue Mosque or the Sultan Ahmed Camii, was built under much controversy in the beginning of the 17th century. Sultan Ahmed I was not fortunate with winning wars, so he was not so popular. Then he financed the new mosque from the empires treasure promising a great mosque that ended up looking like the Hagia Sofia church, which just stands a few hundred meters from the blue mosque. However, the hand-painted blue tiles inside the mosque are beautiful to see.

Inside the Blue Mosque:

You have to cover up if you want to visit the church, so here is Ulrika looking like a “Påskkärrring”
Påskkärringar are seen in Sweden during Easter, where children dress up as witches and “travel” to Blåkulla on Maundy Thursday, for meeting with the devil. The children go around as witches, knocking the doors in the neighbourhood requesting treats and sing a song or give you a drawing.

We noticed that the number of tourists coming to Turkey are really low, illustrated by the picture. The prices has gone down because of that, so now you can find cheap accommodation in the old parts of Istanbul and it is not so crowded. We loved Istanbul so much that we decided to extend our stay here.

You’ll find the Hippodrome of Constantinople, today the Sultan Ahmet Square, with the obelisk remnants from the old days, just in front of the blue mosque. The first obelisk was erected during the 18th dynasty by Pharaoh Thutmose III (1479–1425 BC), but was transported to Constantinople in 390. The second obelisk is called the walled obelisk and it was erected in the 10th century by the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. It was originally covered with gilded bronze plaques. The third obelisk (not shown here) is the serpent column, which was erected to celebrate the victory of the Greeks over the Persians during the Persian Wars in the 5th century BC.

Istanbul is beautiful and we met really nice people and animals here. Unfortunately, Ulrika caught the air-condition sickness just before we left Malaysia, so she’s lagging behind with the blog posts. She is much better now, so we will try to catch up in the coming weeks.

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