I am woefully behind in blogging, but I just had to post a few highlights from the trip that Gabe and I took to Istanbul last month. It was such a fascinating city. Istanbul is an interesting mix of East meets West, ancient meets modern, and secular meets religious. I studied some history of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires before the trip to make the experience even more meaningful.Our first night out we stumbled upon the Hagia Sophia without even trying. It was so breathtaking that I got a little emotional. I can't even imagine how awed a traveler would have been to see the site 1500 years ago!
It is impossible to feel the scope and enormity of this man-made wonder without walking inside and gazing up at the tall dome.
A little ramp for royalty that leads to the top floor of the Hagia Sophia.
Gabe in front of one of the ornate ablution fountains outside the Hagia Sophia
This picture was taken inside of the Topkapi Palace. I loved these gorgeous tiles from the Ottoman Empire.
A courtyard in the Harem portion of the Sultan's Palace
Outside the Topkapi Palace of the Ottoman Empire
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
We spent a full afternoon wandering along the old Byzantine city walls. I really love this picture of Gabe. He looks like some Irish gentleman and I have to say he was just as charming to travel with. Being able to spend a full week together was like one really long romantic date.
"Do Not Dring the Tab Water," was only one of the funny English translations that we came across.
Our hotel was along this charming European street and was walking distance to most of the major sites. I loved the morning breakfasts of olives, thick Greek yogurt, spreadable cheeses and Turkish dates that were served.
The spice market smelled as marvelous as it looked.
The famous Grand Bazaar filled with thousands of shops. We left the main tourist scene and let ourselves get lost in the local markets just outside the Bazaar. There were huge masses of people and it was a delightful sensory overload.
The spooky underground cistern built by the Byzantines. This site was also made famous in one of the James Bond films.
This is the outside of the gorgeous blue tiled mosque. I loved hearing the call to prayer throughout the day as we explored the city. Istanbul was unseasonably cold during our visit, but it did mean that I always had a hoodie or scarf handy to cover my head for entering the Mosques.
We took a day cruise down the Bosphorus. We saw beautiful waterfront mansions and stopped at the ruins of a castle that overlooked the Black Sea. We also had lunch in a charming Asian fishing village where we munched on fried muscles and sticky sweets.
Just looking through all my pictures makes me want to return. I hope to visit again someday and to have the opportunity to see many of the other sites that Turkey has to offer. I also left very impressed with the friendly Turkish people.