My First Full Day in Istanbul and I Need the Closest Hammam

Written by Katie Parla on March 2, 2009

This morning I had delusions of grandeur: I was supposed to wake up at 6am, go for a run, write for an hour, find a nice place for breakfast, eat menemem, pay my tuition bill at my language school and take 500 photos, all before lunch. Now, for the record, I am not a morning person so this plan was doomed to fail.

In the end, it was a good thing I skipped the run since I ended up walking for 6 hours (I refuse to take public transport until I learn a city on foot), from Nişantaşı to Taksim, down the hill to the Bosphorus, along the water to Karaköy, and over the Golden Horn. I sat beside the rocking boats selling fish sandwiches for a while and watched a good many of the city’s 16 million come and go. I was enthralled by a man who was selling squeaky puppets at the entrance to the underpass and snuck photos of him from afar for a while.

Next, I grabbed a quick döner kebap at Hamdi to gear up for the most important task of the day: photographing Ottoman architecture for Travel+Leisure’s May issue. My photos will accompany an article on Context Travel’s Ottoman Architecture walk. I headed straight for Sinan’s (the Ottoman’s greatest architect) masterpieces: Rüstem Pasha Camii, Süleymaniye Camii, and, finally Şehzade Camii. After exceeding the 500 photo mark with a total of 521, I was exhausted and delirious. In a daze, I wandered back to Galata Bridge, over to Tünel, up to İstiklal Caddesi. By then it was 4pm, I had burned off all of my döner, and my blood sugar was dangerously low. I hopped in a cab and returned home with no intention of suiting up for a run…

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