Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Istanbul - Great food, impressive sights and aggressive shop owner

The Blue Mosque

And after 10 hours of desperately needed sleep, we awoke in Istanbul. Our first priority was food. And how do you pick a good place to eat in a city you've never visited? You follow the locals!

We did and it led to a cheap and great lunch. We followed that with a visit to a 150 year old Turkish dessert shop. There we enjoyed fantastic Turkish delight, baklava and Turkish coffee for Vicky. It was not our only visit.

The dessert cafe

Walnut Baklava

We then wondered through crowded streets until we reached the Gunhale Park. This place was cool, shady, relaxing and wonderful. We spent a long time enjoying it and people watching. And of course commenting on everything (you call that a burka? I can still see an eyebrow!)

Sunset found us between the nearby Hagia Sophia and the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (or Blue Mosque). Both were stunning, especially then. When you factor in that Hagia Sophia (or Ayasofya) was built around the year 550AD, it becomes even more impressive.

Hagia Sophia was originally a church but was converted to a mosque when the Muslims invaded. After they fled, it became a museum.

The next day we actually went inside the Sultan Ahmet Mosque. It was pretty but disappointing because so much stuff was hanging from the ceiling that the walls and the roof were heavily obscured.

After that we headed to Taksim Square and decided to spend half a hour hiking uphill in the hot sun instead of taking the 3 minute tram up because apparently we hate ourselves. The square itself was pretty boring but at least we figured out where to catch the bus to the airport.

A random, cool Egyptian obelisk.  I have no idea why it's in Istanbul though 

The rest of the day held more good cheap food, of course more dessert and another park visit before Vicky's stomach started acting dumb again. Thankfully some prayer and an early bedtime left her feeling much better the next morning.

The next morning we stopped by the Grand Bazaar before leaving. It was a shoppers dream, so Vicky and I left after 15 minutes. Now we're winging our way towards Belgrade (which sounds like the beginning to a bad horror movie or Taken 6). More updates coming soon.

The Grand Bazaar

Best sales lines Turkish shop owners actually said to us.
1) "Excuse me. How can I get your money?"
2) (after eating a free sample) "Ah, now you are poisoned. I will give you the antidote after you buy something."

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