When mention about Istanbul, image of Aya Soyfa, Blue Mosque will come into mind and also all those fairy tales and love stories about Constantinople will come alive. Istanbul is a great place to be and among world favorite travel destination. You can see Europe and Asia in one place, living in harmony here. Actually it is not so easy for me to reach here. There were so many procedure to follow and in fact I get the approval the very last minute before the day I depart for istanbul from Kuala Lumpur.
To cut the story short, it was a long flight from Kuala Lumpur to Istanbul on 7th November 2009 at 01:00 AM in the early morning our flight Boeng 777 MH30 take off to Istanbul, it is a direct flight, non stop from Kuala Lumpur to Istanbul which take us approximately 11 hours to get there. Alhamdulillah the journey was very smooth and the hospitality of MAS crew members on board make the long haul journey seem shorter. By 7:45 AM local time we reach Hilton Istanbul not far away from Taksim Square. I’ve a great experience while our vehicle passing through Galata Bridge and watching magnificent mosque along the journey really get me excited.
There were few minor problem when registering for our room at the hotel and thanks to Malaysian Embassy in Turkey, the problem solve quickly and before 9:00 AM I’ve already got my room key No 092. We have a brief Media briefing by the officer from Ministry of Foreign Affair regarding of coverage of our Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin for the COMCEC Economic Meeting at Four Seasons Hotel Bosphorus Istanbul. After that, we a group of eleven local media are eager to tour some part of Istanbul because the very next day when our Deputy Prime Minister arrive, we don’t have so much free time on our hand.
By 2:05 PM local Istanbul time we are in the compound of Aya Sofya, it was really big and with my kit lens on my camera won’t fit the grandeur structure of the Aya Sofya. Some of media members wanted to visit the Grand Bazaar and for me I’m not interested to shopping but more interested for photo shooting. So we split and will meet at this area of Aya Sofya in two hours time. I was walking alone without any media members with me, from one place to another place, this area called Sultanahmet where a lot of major historical site are within a walking distance, Aya Sofya, Topkapi Museum and Blue Mosque.
A lot of people here and what I can say it is really a photographers haven. Among the place that I really want to visit is Aya Sofya, I’ve to pay 20 Lira to get here or about MYR50 but it really worth the visit since I don’t know when I will be coming here again so the amount is nothing much compare with the experience.
I wish I’ve a wide angle lens, wider than my kit lens 18-70mm, if you guys planning to visit Aya Sofya, please make sure you get a super wide lens, something like 10-20mm or 11-16mm for DX Nikon camera but if you have FX camera like D3 or D700, 24-70 mm will do just fine. It is really big, the dome is massive with great decoration, islamic and also with christian motif. Fast lens really help here since it was dimly lit and this place is pack with tourist. Since I’m alone here, I don’t have my personal picture here, pity me. I did not spend much time here simply because I’m running out of time and have few other place to visit.
My next stop is Blue Mosque just a minute of walking distance from Aya Sofya, this is a mosque so you don’t need to pay anything to get inside but you need to take off your shoes and put it in the plastic bag that was made available in the entrance of the Blue Mosque. Once again super wide angle lens really help here and I just have to satisfied with my kit lens. I really enjoy shooting here inside and outside of Blue Mosque and if I’ve more time I’ll definitely looking for much higher place to shoot Blue Mosque from the distance and get the Bosphorus in the frame as well together with the Blue Mosque. By 6:00 PM, we finish our tour and get back to our hotel.
About the tram picture and people walking on the street, that was taken in Taksim and the street is famously known as Istiklal Caddesi and according to wikipedia, the street is approximately 3 km long but I did not walk the whole street just part of it because of the time constrain. People are very camera friendly here, they really doesn’t bother much about people taking their picture, this street is full of tourist, you might not feel like you were walking on the Turkey street but more like walking in the European country.
There were shops on the left and right side of the street, only tram allowed to pass through this street, it is for pedestrian but cars only allowed to pass through to get to the other side of the road. If you guys have plan to visit Istanbul, please make sure you spend a day here in the Istiklal Avenue and have fun watching people going through their lives here, this is really busy street with people from all walk of life and from all over the world.
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