The second day’s weather started out much like the first day — overcast and gray. We took the tram to Taksim Square first thing in the morning, to see the Monument of the Republic before too many other tourists arrived. There were old ladies selling little cups of seeds for tourists to scatter and feed the pigeons in the square.
We walked down Istiklal Avenue, a pedestrian street that is popular with tourists for the many shops, cafes and boutiques, and for its unique, Ottoman-era architectural style. The next stop on our list was a confectionary shop named Haci Bekir, which opened in 1777. One of the first places to sell lokum, also known as Turkish delight, they have been in the business for many many years. We sampled a few different types of lokum, finally settling on their signature flavour, a double-roasted pistachio nut lokum that tasted like it had a hint of honey in it, delicious!
In the afternoon, after the clouds had cleared up, we were faced with clear blue skies. We went back to Sultanahmet Square, this time, to go inside the Hagia Sofia. Part of the building was undergoing restoration when we went, so there was scaffolding all up one side of it. However, you could still appreciate the grandness and the sheer size of the place. Back in history, the structure was first built as a church, then later, was converted to a mosque. The interior is decorated with many many mosaic tiles, leaning predominantly towards gold and dark green colored tiles. There were murals from the time it was a church, as well as decor reminiscent of its time as a mosque. Now, as a museum, there are plaques at different parts of the building, explaining the history.
We walked back along the waterfront to the metro station, enjoying the bustle of people and tourists alike, enjoying the afternoon sun and the breeze by the water.