A friend recommended our hotel which was perfectly located for touring. We could easily walk to all sites in the old town area or to the ferries to either the modern city or to the Asian side.
Our first stop was the Blue Mosque - to make sure we avoided prayer times when we wouldn't be allowed inside. Having been to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi in October, I had an idea of what to expect here. The Blue Mosque is impressive, but in my opinion, not as beautiful as the other.
As expected, all women had to cover their heads and shoulders. Everyone had to remove their shoes.
Not all evidence of Christianity was removed. (Madonna and child - top left and also in mosaic)
|stained glass with Arabic text|
|looking from Haghia Sophia to Blue Mosque|
As we walked between these historic sites, we were approached by many Turkish salesman. Most were trying to sell us carpets. I didn't even want to look at any for fear I'd never be allowed out of their shop. We did see plenty of colorful shops on our way.
And of course, street vendors:
|corn on the cob|
|mussels in foreground, plums in background|
|pay blind man to use scale|
|anyone want a flower halo?|
|Turkish style bagels|
|making cotton candy in the back of a car|
|I don't think they'll live long!|
People sit in these little shelters to sell bird seed. It's not very lucrative in the rain - better when it's dry.
Sitting on cushions on the floor for our lunch break was fun for some, but not very comfortable for the one among us who has really long legs. Next time we opted for chairs.
This woman was seated near the entrance continually making fresh tortilla type bread that could be ordered with many different fillings.
Topkapi Palace and Harem - 1460's
|entrance to palace complex|
We took a ferry across the Bosphorus to get to the more modern or "new" city.
Galata Tower - in the new city
Views from Galata Tower:
|view towards old town|
|how many mosques do you see?|
View from Galata Tower with the new city on the bottom, old city to the right, and Asian side in the distance.
We found a church!
|I like the crowns|
Dolmabahce Palace (1856)
|entrance to grounds|
After wandering around the grounds and waiting in line, we were finally welcomed in for the English tour. But wait! Everyone has to put on booties over their shoes before entering.
Photo op while waiting taken by Alicia, our very own "selfie queen!"
|unique use of glass on stairway|
It was fun having Maura along - she seemed right at home with silliness. Everyone knows that Tom and Alicia both have a good sense of humor!
Spice Market - which I will point our does not sell only spices. The spices are very colorful therefore the displays are very pretty.
|dates and baklava in many varieties|
|Alicia loved these|
|sorry to disappoint - I did not come home with one of these outfits|
Grand Bazaar - haggling is necessary for every purchase which isn't my idea of fun. Our strategy was to walk through and see what was available and after a lunch break go back in for any purchases. None of us bought much. Every vendor is pushy in their attempt to get you into their shop. If you glance towards their wares, they descend upon you. I think all of us were uncomfortable with that style, but we had to see it.
|scarves in every color|
The market was a bit like a maze and knowing how to find the exit is important. The exits were marked (here gate 5) so you could find the right one.
Turks drink tea all day. The tea sellers bring tea around and any vendor can just take a glass. The glasses are left with a pre-purchased token as payment to be collected later.
Our purchase: Ottoman Turks vs Crusaders chess set to add to Tom's collection
In my German class last Spring, I had a few Turkish colleagues. They all raved about Istanbul. I e-mailed the one who spoke English and asked for restaurant recommendations. He told me about a fish restaurant on the Asian side of Istanbul. We asked our concierge about getting a taxi to go there. "You don't want to take a taxi." Evidently, she lives over there and knew a taxi would take too long. What she recommended was taking a ferry across and then a taxi to the restaurant. There was quite a long line for the "taksi" and then the driver didn't want to take us where we wanted to go since it required him to make a U-turn in the middle of the road. There was a lot of stopped traffic so it really wasn't that horrible and we'd seen other cars do it. The person running the taxi stand convinced the driver to take us. We got to the restaurant and no one spoke English. This was a place for locals. They came around with a tray of sample small plate appetizers and we were able to figure out some things from the menu. After we'd eaten that, we were still confused.
|restaurant view of Bosphorus Bridge|
Medusa head column. Why is she upside down? No idea.
We went on a Bosphorus dinner cruise complete with entertainment:
|hazlenuts, clotted cream, chocolate and honey = decadent|
|Turkish coffee with Turkish delight|
You have been trying hard on something for a long time and you should definitely consider changing the way you try it. Being more polite and positive may work better than being aggressive. Soon you will be extremely proud of one of your family members success. The news you will receive in a time zone of 2 (2 days, weeks or months) will double up you and your families happiness.
The wealthy guy that acts like a friend is very hypocritical towards you, be careful. Think twice about your decisions and your big steps nowadays. because of the decisions you will make, your senses will be alerted and sensitive. Around Fall, you will make 3 short trips. One will be with family and others look like with friends. Time to time you are feeling alone but these thoughts are useless as you have great friends and family members care and pray about you a lot. Your partner loves you so much. There is a girl that I see in your coffee fortune. There are the letters "E" and "T" in her name. She is extremely skilled at a subject and she wants to build her life on this skill but she needs support. Your support. (FYI from me - I have no clue who this could be so it all seems a bit far fetched.)
|candied olive, tomatoes, eggplant = very weird|
|pickles of all sorts|
Pictures on left become what you see on the right.
|ice cream - not the best|
|soup including feet, head and tongue, but very tasty|
|our guide, Korhan|