This was not on my list of must see countries but Mitch wanted to go so I acquiesced and was so happy I did. It started with the taxi ride from the airport to our hotel. The most scenic, picturesque drive - with the ocean, the parks, the high rise modern buildings, definitely not what I expected. Then we hit the “old town” and we were even more amazed. Yes, the town is amazing but the taxi drivers with the way they maneuver their vehicles is cringeworthy. They get within inches of parked cars and don’t even slow down.
We stayed five nights and I feel comfortable stating the we were in the best location. A two minute walk and you were surrounded by some of the most beautiful historic sights in a park like atmosphere. You never felt the crowds hovering or fearful of your surroundings, which was one of my apprehension about coming here. Of course, all you had to do was walk to the Grand Bazaar to get that feeling so we went there to experience it but didn’t stay long. We journeyed mostly on the European side but did venture to the Asian side for a few hours one day. The Asian side is mostly residential but it is kind of cool to take the metro from one continent to another in less than 5 minutes.
There are long lines to see the historic sights so either be prepared to wait, or buy a museum pass to skip the lines. There are also a lot of free guides to help you if you are willing to listen to their pitch of buying a carpet. The carpets are beautiful but do your homework before buying or be prepared to be taken in by their sells pitch. One thing we did come to realize is the truth has very little meaning when it comes to making a sell.
We enjoyed our time in Istanbul, mainly due to where we stayed (The Magnaura Palace). Every staff member was kind, friendly and very helpful. The owner (Mehmet) was gracious and exceptionally helpful explaining all the sights, how to get there and he even taught us bargaining 101. I’m convinced that our visit to Istanbul wouldn’t have been half as fun if it wasn’t for his guidance.
The flag of Turkey
Hagia Sophia is a former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal basilica, later an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum. Built in 537 AD at the beginning of the Middle Ages, it was famous in particular for its massive dome. Took 5 years to build
This circle on the floor of Hagia Sophia is where the Byzantine emperors were crowned.
The Blue Mosque (Called Sultanahmet Camii in Turkish).. The mosque is known as the Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles surrounding the walls of interior design. Mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 years, during the rule of Ahmed I.
German Fountain, together with its magnificent dome. This fountain has quenched the thirst of Istanbul residents throughout the last century, and also stands as a symbol of many important historical events from the 20th Century. The German Fountain was presented as a gift to Sultan Abdülhamid II. It was first unveiled at the beginning of 1901.
The palace was is a blend architectural styles including Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical and modern Ottoman, dripping in luxury. No pictures were allowed of the inside. It has an area of 45,000 m (11.1 acres), and contains 285 rooms, 46 halls, 6 baths (hamam) and 68 toilets.
The Galata Tower, Galata Kulesi in Turkish is a medieval stone tower just to the north of the Golden Horn's junction with the Bosphorus. It is one of the highest (206 feet high) and oldest towers of Istanbul (formally Constantinople) built in 1348.
Views from the Galata Tower
Obelisk And In the background some minarets
The Grand Bazaar, is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world housing over 3000 shops. Every day locals and visitors are haggling to get the best bang for their buck.
The Spice Bazaar
The Valens Aqueduct is a Roman creation dating back to the 4th century.
The Basilica Cistern, is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul, Turkey. It is a chamber able to hold near 80.000 cubic meters of water, with the roof supported by 336 columns made of marble and arches in between.
Making a living
Terrible fish sandwich, but had to do the tourist thing
Three different escalators to get to the subway that goes across the continents (Asian and Europe)
Asia side fountain and walkway
The famous Maiden’s Tower has also been the subject of a few legends, this is the legend we were told on our tour: A soothsayer told the king his daughter would die of a snakebite. To protect her, the king constructed a castle out at sea where she could live safely; however, a snake hiding in a fruit basket made it onto the islet and the princess died after the reptile bit her.
Beautiful night for a walk in Istanbul
the Obelisk of Theodosius. It’s Egyptian, was built around 1400 BC, and was erected in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in the 4th century.
Before you ask, no, we did not do the Turkish bath
Odd architecture in Istanbul
You have to earn your Turkish ice cream. ?