Waking up to morning prayers from the Blue Mosque

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↑ Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque

One of my very first memories of visiting Istanbul was walking up at the crack of the dawn and hearing musical azans (Islamic prayers) broadcasted from scores of mosques, small and big, dotting the city. Most of the times you’ll have the local neighbourhood mosque delivering the loudest prayer, but during pauses in between the muezzin’s lines you’ll also hear echos of prayers broadcasted from other mosques in the city. It feels quite lovely, and interesting to watch how two mosques will take turns in singing the prayer, sometimes in varying melody.

Where to stay in Istanbul

The whole point of visiting Istanbul is to experience the finest of Ottoman architecture, historic sites and places of cultural interest. Most of these are concentrated in the Sultan Ahmet area, also known as the old city of Istanbul. I always advise people to stay in the old city, and indeed every other building in some parts of it is a hotel. Search on tripadvisor and you’ll find numerous options.

My two night stay in Sultanahmet was courtesy of Hotel Sarnıç (pronounced sar-nuh-ch) luxury hotel located in the heart of the old city. Best part about this hotel was its proximity to top tourist attractions in Istanbul – the Blue Mosque, Haghia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, etc.

Breakfast in Turkey is a treat to look forward to and this hotel is no different. My favourite part about Turkish breakfasts is the large number of cheeses and preserves, as well as interesting mix of flavours you can taste by popping an olive or two between bites. The hotel was no different and offered a complementary breakfast with a dazzling number of options. Freshly baked bread, pastries, delicious homemade jams, Turkish cheeses, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, honey, butter, dry fruits like apricots and figs, cereal, yogurt, fresh fruits and more.

The hotel staff is friendly and helpful. As with many hotels in Turkey, we were greeted and offered tea to start with. If you are looking for a place to stay in the heart of Istanbul, I would certainly recommend hotel Sarnic.

↑ Immaculately decorated rooms in the heritage building

↑ The rooftop restaurant offers some really romantic views of the vicinity, including the Blue Mosque. It’s quite impressive.

Between two trips to Turkey, I spent about ten days in Istanbul, staying on the European and Asian sides, as well as both the historic centre and the modern town.

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